The NFL took something simple and made it complicated. You could apply that saying to a plethora of subjects around the multi-billion dollar business since Roger Goodell took over as commissioner. Ever since Goodell has been commissioner, logic has become complicated. Goodell, with his law background, has thrown enough legal jargon and mumbo-jumbo into having complete control in the form of a dictator when it comes to proceedings and manners around the league off of the field.
Now, he has taken that boring, read the fine print nature of the courtroom onto the field of the NFL that we turn to for entertainment. Yes, this is about the Pittsburgh Steelers and their 27-24 loss to the New England Patriots that essentially flipped home field advantage in the AFC.
Yes, this article could question Ben Roethlisberger not deciding to spike the ball and throwing the game-sealing interception. But that just didn’t feel like what sealed the game. What felt like sealed the game was a touchdown catch by Jesse James to take the lead with under 30 seconds to go. The team celebrated, the kicking unit started to come onto the field, Jim Nantz and Tony Romo were sure the Steelers had just exercised their demons against the Patriots.
Then, Romo realized the refs wanted to review the catch.
Back to the emphasis on entertainment. This is a game. We all know that. We tune in, we debate, we push the troubles of our lives aside to unite as a city and take on another city for a few hours every week.
This is not supposed to be so complicated. We are now to the point where we are freeze-framing blades of grass to see if they moved at a specific moment to change outcomes. This is not fun. We are debating the difference between “falling to the ground”, and “lunging to the end zone”. We are all wondering what a football move is and why the imaginary line of the end zone separates a specific plane of grass when compared to every other plane of grass on the playing surface.
This is not fun. When did this become fun?
We are all drawn to our televisions watching Jesse James hands in a super slow motion review wondering had his hand been placed a quarter of an inch lower, would that would have satisfied the legal jargon of Goodell to properly be deemed a touchdown.
You know what is more exciting than that? Wondering whether Dustin Johnson is going to pull out his 3-iron or his 4-iron on this long par four at Palm Springs.
The NFL has a lot of problems. The majority of them lie within the game. Injuries lead the way followed by a pipeline not tailored to fit the league making a learning curve for rookies much harder. On top of that, the new CBA made the veteran salary floors higher and rookie scale contracts lower making teams incentivized into playing those rookies with those huge learning curves earlier into their careers. This is already diluting the product on the field.
Do not dilute it anymore. Make the game fun. Tailor to your audience. If ten guys at a bar say touchdown, it is a touchdown. They are the ones paying to watch your games. They are the ones buying the clothing and drafting their fantasy teams. They do not care about the “process of falling to the ground” compared to “lunging and making a football move”. They care that a player caught a touchdown.
Sure, Roger Goodell, or anyone with a comprehension of the rulebook can legal jargon into explaining why they are not intellectually sound enough to understand the rule. But think about what you are doing. If you have to go out of your way and use technical language and explain proper body verbiage in a freeze frame vacuum to get your point across that the rule was applied right, maybe its not them. Maybe its the rule. Just maybe.