A lot of people have been asking me recently: if you could be completely and unquestionably in charge of the NFL, what changes would you make?
Now, the doctors assure me that, with proper treatment, these people will go away, eventually. In the meantime, however, there’s little to do but sit around the room and indulge them, since they won’t let me out (the doctors, I mean). And the question is an inherently interesting one, considering that there is so much about the NFL that is, to use a technical term, fucked up. The treatment required is radical; but the first step in recovery is admitting that you need help. Does the NFL admit that it needs my help? It does not. Which, of course, proves that it can’t recover without me. QED.
The biggest problem is: how to keep the owners from re-fucking everything? So a lot of the changes I would make are structural ones. For instance, I would mandate that every team set up a Fan Council, composed of ten season-ticket holders chosen at random by the independent auditing firm of Price Waterhouse. Those council members would be forbidden to take any compensation for their service, and each member could serve but a single term. That way, nobody gets to sell—or buy—influence.
But what would such councils do? Glad you asked. The most important changes to the bylaws would be these: all future changes to the bylaws, and to the game rules, would require a unanimous vote of the owners, and ratification by three-quarters of the team fan councils. That will make changing the NFL even harder than amending the U.S. Constitution.
So what bylaws changes would there be? Oh, how about: the league shall be composed of no more than 32 teams. No franchise shall be awarded for any city outside the continental United States. The season shall be no more than 16 games long. No games, other than pre-season exhibition games (and then, only upon agreement by both teams) shall be played outside the United States. (Sorry, London. Well, no I’m not. You still have soccer, inshallah.)
These bylaws will guarantee that football remains an American game, as it should.
The new bylaws will also virtually guarantee that the annual ritual of tinkering with the rules will stop. It’s starting to seem that springtime is NFL swarming season, as rule changes emerge from their winter hives and blanket the country like Formosan termites. But, oddly enough, I’m first going to make some rule changes of my own…and some of them are pretty radical.
Such as: behind the line of scrimmage, the ball is live. An incomplete screen pass? Live ball. A batted pass? Sorry, Drew: that’s essentially a fumble. And, of course, no more tuck rule: it won’t matter if the quarterback’s arm was coming forward or not. So long as the ball doesn’t cross the line of scrimmage, it’s up for grabs.
Now, this would have one very interesting effect on the future of the game: fewer quarterbacks would get hurt, because sacks would become less important than batted balls. That’s not to say that all quarterback injuries would disappear, because every once in awhile a quarterback is stupid enough to dive into the pile after the ball. (That usually works out well for us, however.)
And here’s another one: a pass completion equals possession and two feet down. Period. No more “football move.” No more “completing the catch all the way to the ground.” What looks like a catch, is a catch.
And let’s get back to actual “touchdowns,” too. It used to be, you had to touch the ball down in the end zone in order to score. I won’t take it back that far; but no more of this “breaking the plane” shit, either. To score you must possess the ball and be physically down in the end zone. That means, of course, that if you jump over the pile, and the defense pushes you back before you can land in the end zone, you didn’t score. It means no more holding the ball over the goal line as you run out of bounds at the one. It means, in fact, that a lot of the Saints’ most iconic scores from 2009 would never have counted.
And all cheerleaders have to be naked. Except in wintertime, when they’re allowed to wear boots. Snow, wind, frozen mud, and naked women in boots: how football was meant to be played.
Let’s see, what else. Oh yeah: no more cheap “12 men on the field” penalties. If you’re coming off the field, and you can’t make it to the sidelines before the snap, simply raise one hand in the air and wave it, as for a fair catch, thus declaring oneself ineligible. (If you actually get in the way of the action because you’re a slow lardass, that’s Unsportsmanlike Conduct.)
Same thing on a field goal: once the kicker is set, he raises his hand, and after that point there are no time outs. No more freezing the kicker, assholes. It doesn’t work, anyway.
And no more sideline bimbos, unless they’re cheerleaders. I’m getting real tired of seeing sideline reports coming from some superannuated chickie who never played organized football at any level. You want to watch? Fine: get your boyfriend to buy you a ticket. And quit asking questions, we’re trying to watch the damn game. Jeez. Why hasn’t anybody else caught on to that: the network uses women reporters in one capacity only…to keep asking distracting questions while the game is going on. I wish someone on the sidelines would send Pam Oliver for beer. Make her do something useful.
I’m sure there’s more to do. I’m willing to take suggestions before everything is finalized, but just remember: apres moi, l’effing deluge.