NFL owners (the majority of whom earned their position by being a member of the Lucky Sperm Club rather than merit) don’t care about player safety, the fan experience or honoring veterans.
So what do they care about? Cheddar, dough, lettuce, cabbage, dead presidents; money.
To that end, the annual owners meetings usually result in a number of changes to the league that are billed as helping the game but really are designed to help the owners’ bottom lines. Here’s what to look forward to (or not) in seasons to come, along with our well-informed and perhaps not wholly objective take:
The change: All replay reviews will now be carried out at the NFL’s office in New York City.
Why they're doing it: To get tablets shown on TV.
Why it sucks: The change itself doesn’t suck — having a team of refs in an office review plays using multiple large-screen televisions rather than a single referee using a small sideline TV makes all too much sense — but having the central office communicate with the on-field ref via a headset and an in-hand Microsoft Surface is product placement at its finest. Make that paper.
The change: Leaping the line to block a field goal or extra point will incur an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
Why they're doing it: The Patriots are too good at it.
Why it sucks: It's a manuever that injects a little life into a play that is otherwise pretty boring: the extra point (even with the recently added distance). The change also underscores how willing the league is to manipulate rules to target a particular franchise.
The change (possibly): Stricter anti-celebration penalties to be enforced after touchdowns.
Why they're doing it: To ensure advertisers aren’t offended.
Why it sucks: As Marty Bennett not-so-eloquently pointed out, touchdown celebrations are one of the ways NFL players who would otherwise be faceless, helmeted giants are able to separate themselves from the pack and make themselves attractive spokespeople for companies. Football is supposed to be fun, and stripping that away from it to appease corporate interests is BS.
The change: The Raiders are moving to Las Vegas.
Why they're doing it: The Raiders' attendance numbers have fallen off in recent years. Vegas is full of tourists who will go to football games. So, money.
Why it sucks: It doesn’t so much suck as make no sense. The Raiders playing in Vegas will be cool for about a year before everyone figures out they’d much rather be gambling, lounging at a pool or watching football from a sportsbook than sitting in a stadium with a bunch of fans who paint their faces, don body armor and give off a vibe that physical harm is a real and immediate possibility.
All of that said, the season can't start soon enough. Is it September yet?
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