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League needs to make changes, do away with nonsense


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League needs to make changes, do away with nonsense

June 7, 2010

By Clark Judge

CBSSports.com Senior Writer

If NBC can make the tough call and pull Law and Order off the air after 20 seasons, then the NFL can take the hint from one of its broadcast partners and clear the deck, too. What I have in mind are 10 traditions, players, rules, ideas, you name it, that the league can lose. Let's get started:

People not named Brett Favre making assumptions about his future need to stop wasting our time. (Getty Images)

1. The annual Brett Favre speculation: So now we have kicker Ryan Longwell saying that his golf buddy's return this season is 50-50 and that he wouldn't be surprised if Favre retired. Oh, really? C'mon, guys. Only Brett Favre knows what he's going to do, and he won't make a decision before August. I mean it. I wouldn't trust what even he says now. If we've learned anything about Favre and predicting his future, it's that nothing, absolutely nothing, goes until training camps open and Favre is sick of the summer swelter in Mississippi. People like Longwell can tell us what they think Favre will do, but I remember last year when people close to him told us he was finished with football and wouldn't play again. Or, was that two years ago? Anyway, trying to predict what he'll do is like trying to broker peace in the Middle East. This guy has more sequels than Rocky Balboa, and, frankly, I'm tired of persons not named Brett Favre telling me what's next. Only one guy knows, and he's not talking until August.

2. Thursday Night Football: OK, so maybe you'd rather watch this than 30 Rock. I don't know why, but at least you have the choice. Players and coaches who draw the short straw for Thursday night games do not. They must show up four days after they last took the field, and, sorry, but that's not fair to anyone. Players have little time to recover from body soreness, and coaches have little time to prepare for their next opponents. So why do we do this? Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to TV ratings. The NFL wants more prime-time games, especially when it can put them on its network, so we move second-half games to Thursday evenings -- or when Law and Order once aired. Not good. I only wish Ben Stone or Jack McCoy were around to prosecute the cruel and unusual punishment.

3. Throwback uniforms: The idea was nice when it started, especially when we got around to San Diego's powder blue jerseys. But then we had to swallow the 1933 Philadelphia Eagles, the 1929 Green Bay Packers, the 1925 Chicago Bears and the 1960 Denver Broncos, and, pardon me, but there's a reason these uniforms were retired -- just as there's a reason your next-door neighbor stashed the Zubaz pants. Some things are better off gone. Once, I thought the idea of celebrating 50 years of AFL franchises was terrific. Then the Broncos pulled on their socks, and I realized just what we were celebrating -- the end of a color scheme that was just as dreadful when the San Diego Padres took it out for a spin. From now on, before anyone is allowed to wear outrageously awful throwback outfits they should be required to pass inspection of a Fashion Police consisting of Chelsea Handler and her three comedians du jour. That will put a stop to this nonsense.

4. Regular-season games overseas: It was bad enough when we exported Disneyland to France. Now we're dispatching regular-season games to London, and, I don't know, maybe this is the payback for sending us John, Paul, George and Ringo. What I do know is that it's a bad idea. Fans lose one of eight home games, while head coaches sacrifice the competitive advantage that comes with playing at home. That's not fair, only fairness has nothing to do with this. Merchandising does, with the NFL trying to create global markets by taking its game there. I have no problem with that. If you want to introduce American football to England, do it. Send the British the Pro Bowl. They get to see star players -- er, at least the ones who show up -- and the players get to see London. Plus, they can achieve the improbable -- spend an evening with Big Ben and do it without a chaperone.

5. Charging regular-season prices for preseason games: If you're not going to drop a preseason game, and the NFL won't this year, then cut season-ticketholders a break and reduce the costs for games that don't count. Commissioner Roger Goodell already is on record saying he wants to reduce the number of preseason games, and it's easy to see why -- because starters barely play. Fair enough. But if Goodell doesn't want to see the games, why should fans? More to the point, why should they pay full price for half-baked contests? I understand the value of the preseason game, and it's mostly to the coaches and players involved. But I also understand the value of public relations, and the NFL could reap plenty by cutting its fans a break, especially considering the economic climate we live in.

6. Flyovers: I like them for special events, but the third game of the regular season is not a special event. Neither is the sixth. Flyovers should be. So save them for season openers, the playoffs and the Super Bowl. Period.

7. Warren Sapp on the NFL Network: There is a difference between a difficult interview and a difficult guy. Dan Fouts could be a difficult interview. He was not a bad guy. Warren Sapp could be a bad interview, but he's a worse guy. I can't tolerate him, and that's based on numerous visits inside the Tampa Bay locker room when he was one of the so-called "leaders" of the defense. Some leader. I saw him bully reporters. I saw him humiliate a teammate after a tough loss. I saw him bump into an official, get fined and then get threatened with a suspension. I saw him behave in such a boorish and churlish manner that I wondered why anyone would spend two seconds trying to get to know a guy you couldn't wait to get away from. Then he retired, and the NFL Network hired him. Huh? Sapp isn't the "laughable, loveable Warren Sapp" he's made out to be; he's a self-absorbed jerk who treats people the way he treated quarterbacks. He doesn't need a timeout. He needs people to do unto him as he does unto others, and that should start with the NFL Network. (He got this part right except he failed to mention the Chad Clifton incident)vafalconfan

8. The phrase "commitment to excellence" in connection with the Oakland Raiders: When you lose 11 or more games in each of seven straight seasons and compile a 29-83 record how exactly is that a commitment to excellence? It's a commitment to something, but excellence is not the word that comes to mind. And while we're on the subject, I suggest we lose the "greatness of the Raiders," too. I mean, Alexander the Great didn't earn his name by losing three of every four battles. So why do the Raiders get a pass? They don't. If there's anything great here it's the head-first plunge the Oakland franchise has taken since last appearing in a Super Bowl.

9. Coaches' halftime interviews: The only things more useless are JaMarcus Russell and mittens in July. Coaches have 12 minutes to spend with their coaches and players at halftime, yet we're supposed to gain insight into what just happened as they jog off the field? I don't think so. My favorite halftime interview was a Monday night game several years ago when Philadelphia's Andy Reid was asked a question he didn't like. "I can't believe you asked me that," he said. Not only didn't he respond; he walked away. Perfect. Reid gave the halftime interview the treatment it deserved. He flushed it. So should TV.

10. Regular-season OT rules: I didn't like what the league did with overtime this spring. It could've accomplished its goal of leveling the playing field by moving the kickoff ahead 5 yards from the 30 to the 35, but that ship has sailed. Now we have a different set of overtime rules for the regular season than we do for the playoffs, and someone please explain why that's such a good idea because it's not. There is more at stake in playoff games, which means there's more preparation, more headaches and more pressure. So now you're going to shake things up by introducing a new set of rules? Sorry, I don't get it. The NFL has said this is no experiment and that the new rules are here to stay. OK, great. But if it likes them so much make them uniform. Make OT for the playoffs and regular season the same. That way you end the confusion -- and Donovan McNabb, don't say you weren't warned.

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