The 2013 NFL season is in the books and most of us are talking about free agency, the draft and the 2014 season. Roger Goodell lucked out and a Nor’easter didn’t ruin the Super Bowl and all appears to be well.
Well, I’m here to tell you: It’s not.
There are some issues, serious issues, confronting America’s most popular sport. While television ratings have never been higher, the league is making Billions (with a “B”), the players are rock stars and there is labor peace, there also is an undercurrent of troubles that could (in the future) undermine your NFL. Like all great empires, the NFL could be like Greece and Rome and eventually cave in on itself if it does not wake up to some serious problems. These are in no particular order but, here are 10 issues that the NFL better confront now, or deal with the consequences later.
10. The schedule
First, let’s talk about the preseason. Too many games and it is extortion to charge full-price for what amounts to a practice. Fans and players both want a shorter preseason, so just do it. While we are at it, scrap the idea of an 18 game season. I’ll get to player safety in minute, but 18 games turns the NFL season into a war of attrition. Nobody wants to see that and the players are universally against it. So, don’t do it. Oh yeah, and more Thursday night football? Not a good idea. The fans know it is killing the players and most of us have to get up for work the next morning. The Thursday night schedule needs to be scaled back, not expanded. Stop tinkering with the schedule. Sunday and Monday is NFL football, Saturday is college football, Friday night we go watch the local high school play and Thursday the wife and daughter get the TV. Stick to that and all will be right in the world.
This one really irritates me. I am a Buffalo Bills fan, and the Bills play in Ralph Wilson stadium. A stadium that was built in 1973. A stadium that is younger than I am. Yet, all the Bills are talking about is a new stadium. The Metrodome in Minneapolis opened in 1982 and they already tore it down. Do you know when Wrigley Field was built? How about Fenway Park? 1914 and 1912 respectively. Guess where the Cubs and RedSox are playing next season? Yep, Wrigley and Fenway. The Meadowlands lasted a measly 33 years before the Giants and Jets had to have METLIFE Stadium. The RCA Dome in Indy? It was built in 1984 and lasted 24 seasons before the Colts moved into Lucas Oil Stadium.
Who are the architects and engineers designing and building these stadiums that can’t last longer than a generation? We aren’t tearing down and rebuilding the Jefferson Memorial and White House every 40 years. I once owned a house that was built in 1919. It’s still standing, and there is a family safely living in it today. Yes, yes, relax, I know, this is about luxury boxes, fan friendly entertainment zones, sight lines and cup holders. I get it. But this has gotten insane. What’s really insane is the NFL is holding the taxpayer hostage for these state of the art playgrounds they want built. The American taxpayer can’t afford to repair the roads and bridges that are crumbling all around the stadium, let alone build these owners new ones. Enough already. The stadiums are for the most part fine. Listen if you’ve got $44 million to pay your commissioner, then Ralph Wilson Stadium (and the ones like it) are making you enough money. Speaking of…