Football season is closer than you know! Training camp is this week, in which 32 teams will begin their own road to Super Bowl 51 in Houston. The offseason has had many storylines, from deflategate ending (finally), to top players such as Josh Norman and Brock Osweiler changing teams, and future legends like Calvin Johnson and Marshawn Lynch retiring from the sport. In the spirit of the election year, it's time to make the NFL great again, so here are six ways to make the NFL better.
1. No More International Games
At first, the idea of playing games in England and Mexico sounded like a cool idea. I could actually wake up and watch football while I eat breakfast. But now the NFL wants to have games played in China. It's gotten to the point that I'm sick of it. The British don't necessarily like it, not everyone enjoys American football, and the NFL tried in Europe a long time ago, and it failed. Plus, traveling overseas to play games can be taxing on the players, coaching staff, and refs themselves. Therefore, we need to eliminate the International Series as a whole. It doesn't mean anything to teams if they win, so there's no point in playing in England, Mexico, and China.
2. Two Strike System for Domestic Violence Charges
Now, let me clarify on this before we go anywhere else: domestic violence is bad, and we need to make anyone who partakes in this heinous crime accountable. After the Ray Rice incident and aftermath of his suspension, and the Greg Hardy fiasco, the NFL enacted a new domestic violence policy to send a message to its players that it's wrong. However, when one looks at it, there's that sense that the policy is not strict enough, and it tells me that the policy needs to change.
So here is what I propose: taking the MLB's performance-enchancing drug policy and, the NFL should enact a "two strike" system for domestic violence. Whenever an NFL player, coach, referee, or executive (including the commissioner) is charged with domestic violence, then said person will be suspended one full season without pay. Should said person be dumb enough to be charged with domestic violence a second time, then they shall be banned from the NFL for life. Both strikes are not eligible for appeal by the NFLPA, or subject to any kind of lawsuit in a court of law.
In the near future, I can see this rule being used for other violations, like DUI and performance-enhancing drug use. But right now, it's all about getting rid of the notion of football players being woman-beaters. It's time that the message be sent across the entire football world, that we will not take domestic violence lightly. I feel this is the way to do it.
3. Connect With The Fantasy Universe
It's hard to deny that fantasy football has made it's mark on the NFL as a whole. The Kansas City Chiefs actually opened Arrowhead Stadium to fantasy leagues to host their draft, for a price. As a fantasy player myself, it would be a dream to have my fantasy draft at the home of my favorite team! In ad space alone, fantasy sites make $2 to $5 billion annually. It's gotten so big that sports stations, such as ESPN and Fox Sports, have shows designed for fantasy football only, usually on Sundays two hours before kickoff. I think the rest of the NFL teams should follow what the chiefs have done, and make a bridge from the team to their fans using fantasy football. Whether it's opening their stadium to leagues for drafts, or offering free wifi so fans can check their lineups and scores, there are opportunities for teams to embrace fantasy football with open arms for their fans.
4. Pro Bowl Is Gone
Is this seriously not a no brainer? The Pro Bowl, out of all the All Star games in the world of sports, is the worst event ever. The game has no meaning, and instead of trying to make it better by having teams captained by legends take the field, it's only made it worse. This past season's edition drew a 5.0 in the Nielsen ratings, which was a huge drop from the past two editions. It's nice to be named an All-Pro for a player, but that title has no reverence anymore. I'm down with a flag football game for charity, or a players-only Madden tournament. The point is, the Pro Bowl has to go.
5. Create A Wellness Group In The NFL
The NFL has been in the news for players getting suspended for drug use. From marijuana to PED's, the league essentially has a zero-tolerance on drug use. Now while it is commendable what the NFL has done when it comes to drugs, there are players recovering from injuries that could be suspended from this rule. So, I would create a Wellness Group, comprised of doctors and physicians from NFL teams to help those who are injured get better quickly and safely, as well as improving some of the rules, like researching medical marijuana use to help those injured get better, and legal steroids to improve strength without gaining an unfair advantage. The group would do a lot better than the NFL itself.
6. Keep Kickoffs The Way They Are
Seriously, stop messing with the kickoffs. I understand it's a dangerous play, but then again, so is a deep pass, a run up the middle, and a huge sack of the quarterback. Football itself is a dangerous sport, but these players are aware of the possible long term effects of playing the game. Trying out new kickoff rules doesn't improve the game, it makes the game run slower because everyone is calling for fair catches and touchbacks. Keep kickoffs the way they are, and life's all good all around.