But after the 2014 NFC Championship game between the Packers and the Seahawks, I quit the NFL.
Before I quit, I hadn’t seen a game in years. I hadn’t had cable in years. I hadn’t had three-and-a-half consecutive free hours to plant myself in front of a tv in years. But I still followed along every week. I watched highlights, read articles, and reviewed statistics on nfl.com. I listened to NFL podcasts like the brilliant Dave Dameshek Football Program, Move the Stix, and even the sometimes irritating Around the NFL podcast.
This was a serious ongoing weekly investment. The NFL regular season is a seventeen week long soap-opera of drama from September to the end of December typically. The playoffs span another five week period after the regular season. And then there’s the off season–which for me, is even better than the regular season.
Directly after the conclusion of the Super Bowl, the off season begins and NFL media pundits shift their attention to the NFL Combine that takes place in Indianapolis at the end of February. The combine serves as a showcase for college players who are eligible for the NFL Draft. It’s a chance for the NFL to generate buzz about new talent that will be entering the league. It also serves as a stepping stone to the premier off season event in all of sports, the NFL Draft.
The NFL Draft is a three day extravaganza where future stars make their debut and where every franchise has a chance to reinvent itself by selecting the right new talent and making the right key trades.
If you have never seen the NFL draft I recommend that you watch about an hour of predraft show and then watch the first round selections.
So you see, I really like the NFL…so why did I stop following it?
Coaches don’t try to win, they try not to get embarrassed.
In the NFL, it’s OK when you lose the game as long as the outcome was close and your team wasn’t embarrassed.
Mike McCarthy, Green Bay Packers, NFC Championship game 2014 season. This was the game that ended it for me. I really wanted Green Bay to destroy smug Seattle. Green Bay took an early lead. Then they changed their approach and became conservative and you could see it all just start to fall apart. By going conservative Packers coach Mike McCarthy was trying to avoid big mistakes that can happen when you have an aggressive approach. But going conservative also means not taking advantage of opportunities and reducing your chances of big plays. Seattle ended up winning the game in overtime.
Coaches should be going for it on forth down way more often. Between the 40 yard lines, if it’s less than forth and fifteen, you should go for it. It’s too long for a field goal attempt and a punt will net you like thirty yards. Your pass happy offence should have a lot of high percentage plays in the playbook that will get you ten to fifteen yards. Most teams end up punting or attempting a long field goal.
Teams draft quarterbacks in the first round or high in the second round but then in the regular season they don’t play the new QB enough to know whether he’s your guy heading into the next year. Then you don’t know whether you need to draft another QB in the first round or high in the second round for the next season. Cleveland, reaches for Johnny Football in the first round of the 2014 draft. He is projected to start day 1 but he gets beaten out by Brian Hoyer and ends up sitting on the bench. Hoyer is not taking you to the super bowl. Just play Johnny Football and see what you have in him. If you go 1-15 but at the end of the season you know you have, or don’t have, your QB, you’re better off than if you sit Johnny Football, play Hoyer and go 8-8, but have no idea whether to draft another QB because you have no idea what you have in Johnny Football.
Now at the end of 2015, Johnny Football has played in something like eight games and the team won’t be able to properly evaluate whether they should be moving forward with him or drafting his replacement.
Players are Supposed to be Role Models
Whether you think professional athletes should be role models for kids or not, the fact is that millions of kids do look up to them and many have lucrative endorsement deals. Start giving much longer suspensions and kicking players out of the league for unacceptable behaviour like domestic violence. There’s a draft every year with plenty of young talent that can take the place of poor role models.
On the flip side, some players are wonderful role models and the NFL needs to spend more time promoting the efforts of standout individuals and encouraging more of this. NFL players are in a privileged place and giving back to the community in some capacity needs to be practically mandatory.
I see being a member of the NFLPA as similar to being certified in other professional associations in that you need to maintain continuing education. Perhaps the NFLPA needs to mandate that players “keep their noses clean” and do basic levels of charity work or “giving back to communities” in some capacity, in order to keep membership in good standing.
So I started watching the NFL again.
I abstained all off season and into the first week of the regular season but life just felt so empty without the drama that the NFL provided and I slowly let it seep back into my routine. I’m now full on following the NFL again. I still have the same complaints about its failings but there was a huge hole in my life without it.
It’s good drama, so go get you favourite NFL player in all his Funko Pop glory on Amazon.com
Shopping from Canada, like me? Here it is on Amazon.ca