Personally, I am a big time fan of the work of Commissioner Goodall and think he was an excellent choice to lead the NFL. With that said, of course I have some suggestions to make that will only help the NFL maintain it’s standing as the most dominate sport in America. The recent moves of a third game on Thanksgiving, a player conduct policy, and the launching of its own network have all proven to be great successes. The following are just some more suggestions (I realize some are more realistic than others) that would only benefit the NFL and their loyal fans.
NFL Draft Weekend: Possibly the biggest weekend for an NFL fan, except for maybe the opening weekend, since it is the time everyone can see their team add talent and get better, and everyone ends the day 0-0. My suggestions to improve the draft are as follows:
1. Go forward with the plan to lower the time between the first round picks from 15 minutes to 8 minutes and then five minutes in each of the following rounds. There is no reason teams need 15 minutes between picks when they have months of studying leading up to the draft.
2. In an effort for balance and to satisfy those teams that will complain change the draft from seven to eight rounds. Not a huge difference, but allows teams an additional player to bring in and not have to get into a bidding war for them.
3. Don’t move the draft to Friday, Saturday and Sunday. There were rumors that the first round would be moved to Friday night prime time. That’s a mistake!!! Fans watch the whole draft because you get them in with the first round. If you move the first round to Fridays, you will lose a large number of those people who sit and watch it on Saturday. Stick to Saturday and Sunday!!!
4. Create a celebration the draft weekend. Have events like Kick, Pass and Punt; have some of the top picks from last year there for autograph sessions, the NFL experience for fans, and create a family event that people can go to and get excited for the upcoming season.
5. Change the location of the draft every year. The NFL Draft is so popular, but why should the NY fans be the only ones to get it. Have cities bid like they do with the Super Bowl, and move it throughout the country. One year in Indianapolis, one year in Seattle, one year in Philadelphia and one year in Tampa Bay would be a great thing for the NFL and their fans.
6. Move the draft from the end of April!!! Why can the NBA have their draft a week after their season ends, MLB has it during the year but the NFL needs three months to do their draft. The combine is in February and pro days are done after that, but someone will have to explain to me why the NFL Draft can’t be the second Saturday on March. It would be before NCAA Basketball Conference Championship weekend and St. Patrick’s Day; plus it would give the NFL teams a better indicator on what they need to pursue in free agency. It would likely reduce huge free agent contracts since free agency could start that following Wednesday. Teams could fill needs and then go into free agency knowing what is left to fill instead of the other way around; after giving away tens of millions of dollars only to find out the top prospect at that position would end up “sitting available at your selection.”
7. Work with DirecTV and The Sunday Ticket and allow the pre-season games to those of us that shell out the big bucks for the ticket. I know the NFL Network prides itself on replaying preseason games; but “come on,” if we are going to spend huge money for the ticket, give us the pre-season too. It seems to work for the season ticket holders.
8. Although I understand why NFL Europe was done away with I would give some serious thought and research into creating a developmental league to run during the same time period because there simply have been too many success stories not to have such a league. My suggestion would be to buy the CFL with the direct purpose that it becomes a minor league/developmental system for the NFL. Keep the teams in the current cities, simply connect them with an NFL team and then of course, expand from eight teams to 32 teams in an affiliation with an NFL team (look for a full story soon on this idea)
9. Encourage the sale of traditionally bad teams to owners who spend the money to put a winner on the field for their teams. Can’t be an accident the Lions, Cardinals, and some other teams seem to always be in the top 10 of the draft.
10. How about improving the programming on the NFL network? What about having a few hours of the Sirius NFL Radio on the Network (ala Mike and Mike on ESPN). I know most fans would rather click on the TV and hear current conversation with Adam Schein, Solomon Wilcots and Jim Miller instead of seeing highlights of the 2005 Baltimore Ravens or 12 hrs of the NFL Total Access repeats.
11. Make Saturday games, when they start in December, run at 1PM, 4PM and 8PM. It will be a chance to spotlight some teams and fills the void created by the end of the regular college football season.
12. Two last things: Do something with the NFL Pro Bowl! Maybe move it to the week between the Championship game and the Super Bowl or cancel it altogether and have a Super Bowl Pre-Season Rematch in Hawaii so they don’t lose the revenue. The last thing: how about some DVDs with the Hall of Fame speeches? I think it would be amazing to add to a collection.
Well, Commissioner Goodall, there you have it. My thoughts on how to make the great game of football just a little better for all of us that actually like September through January more than we do summer. It’s an amazing game that clearly dominates in popularity over all other sports, but like with anything else, it can always be tweaked. Feel free to contact me with your thoughts and anything else that needs to be added to this list.