Hey NFL….. Quit Playing With Yourself!


This is the 40-Something Files! 

A weekly take on the state of Seattle Sports through the lens of a guy whose four decades of fandom has earned too many scars, and seen too few celebrations.

Sorry for the delay on this subject… had to give my head a chance to reset from the violent, involuntary “cartoon double take” courtesy of the NFL Rules Committee.

Hang on… you must think I’m talking about the Deflate-gate punishment? I’m not. But don’t think for a second that one thing doesn’t have something to do with the other.  Fasten your seat belts, I’m about to take you on a conspiracy ride for the ages, if conspiracy rides were hosted by Hotel.com’s, Captain Obvious.

For starters, deflate-gate’s third party investigation and ensuing results-based punishment, plus the ensuing agent/investigator battle heading for the octagon, rocketed to embarrassment altitudes for the league on a trajectory towards an actual “GATE!”

Subsequently, the NFL powers that be (and I don’t have any concern that I’m guessing that most NEVER played the game at a significant level in their lives – actually, my money’s on the OVER that 90% only played the game on a vibrating field), cock-sure of themselves that their sport’s dominance can’t be broken, worked up a game of misdirection.

Aside from trying to turn our attention away from “deflate-gate wars” by re-directing our attention to extra pointless items, this all comes down to the seediness of the business of the NFL.

As the Tom Brady punishment backlash started to spin out of control, there was this little (in their minds, insignificant) news-cycle-altering item, sitting on the back burner… The EXTRA POINT ISSUE (not an issue, never was an issue).

I imagine an NFL front-office brain-storming session where, without fear of retribution, everyone agrees it’s time pull their “ace” from the sleeve. “Let’s change the extra point, and shut down this deflate-gate twitter fest once and for all!”

Because how else in the world could something so absurd come raining down from the top of the nation’s most popular sport?  How else could rational people think it’s ok to change something so not in need of change?

The NFL, whether it’s Roger Goodell, or the owners, or the various committees, see no end in sight to their ability to defy time-tested words to live by… and in order to get the microscope’s focus off the “flat ball scandal,” they chose to dip their toe in the “WTF? Pool” once again.

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It is clear that the NFL’s front office has come to the conclusion that there’s one playbook that doesn’t apply to them.  The playbook of common sense.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” “Let sleeping dogs lie.” “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.” “Mess with the bull, you get the horns!”

“If it ain’t broke… If it ain’t broke… If it ain’t flippin broke! DON’T FLIPPIN FIX IT!!!!!!!”

The NFL continuously misses on these bullet points in so many ways, especially since Goodell, the insincere-draftee-hugging-commish, came to hold office.

Take, for example, adding rules to the game to create more points scored via the air, attempting to remove old school, ground and pound, defensive battles entirely. The excuse being, “This is what the fans want!”

Says who? Someone please point to the fan that cares if their team wins by air, by land, or by sea! For all the mind-blowing things Al Davis stood for during his time as the NFL’s crazy uncle, his motto, “Just Win Baby” at least showed an understanding of what’s important to the fans.

But this is today’s NFL, and with zero consideration for their existing fans, and the 24 hour news cycle on the brain, it was time for them to make a move…

Changing the extra point distance is not only an uninvited guest to my Sunday NFL viewing party, but it will also show up, unintended consequences in hand:

1) With the new farther kick in place, there is a better chance that a KICKER, that’s right, a KICKER, can effect the result of a game. Not one NFL fan who understands the game and how hard it is for the other 52 guys on a given team to get themselves in a position to win a game, want their kicker to decide the game for them, if it can be helped. Even punters know this.

2) Moving the kick for one point to a different spot than the try for two takes away the possibility of a fake.  Has anyone clarified whether or not you can fake kick from the new distance and end up with two points for the offense with a TD? And if so, how is it OK to have a try for two from the new distance be worth the same score as a try for two from the much easier ACTUAL try-for-two distance?

3) Whatever the true reasoning, the NFL made this change sighting the premise that excitement is lost on the extra point try… Well, if you know (by where a team lines up) that they are exclusively going for one point vs. two, no matter what, then you’ve effectively removed an element of suspense from the game, not added to it.

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And yes, I know they added the ability for the D to score on the extra point play. GREAT!  Welcome to the world of possibilities that the college game already discovered long ago, and without moving a damn thing!

But look, let’s be honest. This all comes down to the seediness of the business that is the NFL.

These guys, making all these mind-boggling changes to the most successful U.S. sport of them all, are not focused on us, the fans. They’re not focused on improving the game. They’re focused on the eyeballs whose attention they haven’t yet grabbed.

And if that means putting their hands on elements of the game they really shouldn’t touch, so be it. Because if the folks in the NFL front office have taught us fans anything by now, it’s that they love to play with themselves.

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