Formation | Community | Culture

How to Save the NFL

An Open Letter From the Fidelity Sports Council of Champions

 

18 Sept., 2014
Fidelity Sports, Inc.
One Fidelity Way
Louisville, Ky. 40207

Dear National Football League,

We would like to thank you for selecting our founder/editor, JS Linneman, to become the Interim Commissioner of What’s Left Of The NFL. Mr Linneman has reluctantly agreed to run the world’s largest sport for the remainder of this season. Given his schedule as a very important pastor with a sports and culture following of roughly 60 people, Mr Linneman will be working mostly on Monday mornings, except for when he needs to sleep in or isn’t “feeling it.”

(First, read Part One: The Seven Issues Facing the NFL, or else most of this won’t make sense.)

***

Mr Linneman has recommended the following changes, and has already chosen a permanent Commissioner to replace him after this season. We unanimously support said Editor’s brilliant decisions, and virtually everything else he suggests, because, in the words of Mr Kanye West, his life is dope, and he does dope stuff.

1. Accept Roger S Goodell’s Letter of Resignation

We think the seven issues facing the league are reason enough to suggest that Goody-bags has served his time, and it’s time to clean house. The fact that Rog established himself as “the most powerful man in sports” instead of fulfilling his job description to serve team owners, establish high moral/social standards, and manage the league’s public image seems to clearly point to his massive failure.

“But what about these great changes he’s enacted in the past few weeks?,” asks basically no one.

Sure, he admitted that his two-game suspension of Ray Rice was a bit soft—and by “a bit soft” we mean that the two ways you can get suspended for a whole season is to either (1) get caught with marijuana twice or (2) unapologetically knock a woman/child unconscious eight times.

Sure, he appointed three women to serve as “senior advisors on domestic violence.” Having three “advisors” who aren’t on the payroll, don’t have a clear job to do, and probably have no actual influence isn’t exactly a cultural revolution. You can put this one down as Too-Little-Too-Late Move #1. As the National Organization on Women (NOW!!) stated, more or less, “it’s a step in the right direction, but you’re all still a bunch of delusional morons.”

Sure, he created two new senior-level positions—VP of social responsibility, community affairs and philanthropy (current NFL exec Anna Isaacson) and Sr VP of public policy and government affiars (Cynthia C Hogan)—but both of these positions sound made up and will hardly affect the deep-seeded prejudices of the current leadership structure. Chalk these up as Too-Little-Too-Late Moves #2 and #3.

Farewell, Mr Goods.

2. Make the Game Safer By Eliminating Kickoffs and Punting

As die-hard, life-long football fans, it comes as no small thing to suggest such major revisions in the game itself. But given the recent research that predicts that 1/3 of all NFL alumni will experience crippling long-term effects, a few minor changes are just a start. Your half-hearted attempts to minimize the contact on the most dangerous plays—by moving kickoffs forward five yards from the 35 to the 30, trying some shifty stuff in the preseason—is just not enough.

Sure, we’ll lose punters, kickoff specialists, long snappers, and returners, but does anyone really consider these guys essential to football? But now that we’ve identified the most dangerous plays for major head and neck injuries, now let’s tap our inner Rough Rider and make the changes that need to be made for the good of football for the next 100 years.

So how will this work? On fourth down, you have two options: (1) you go for it, or (2) you move the ball forward 30 yards or half-the-distance-to-the-goal, whichever is shortest. So if you’ve got 4th & 5 at your opponent’s 46, you can either give the ball away and it will be placed at the 23, or you have much more incentive now to go for it!!

And on change of possessions? Rather than receiving a kickoff, the team simply gets the ball at the 25. What about last-minute onside kicks? No more. Can you think of anything more conducive to broken vertebrae than chipping a football ten yards into the air and letting eleven over-grown men run full speed at eleven men standing still and looking up into the air? We can still maintain the integrity of football without onside kicks.

We never said changes won’t be hard. In the words of Tupac, “that’s just the way it is.” The greatest loss will, of course, be in the excitement of kickoff and punt returns. It pains us to declare this, especially after re-watching the greatest punt return of all time, but these are changes that have to happen.

[Interesting Interlude No. 1: You could probably convince me to get rid of field goals and extra points altogether, especially since the Chiefs would have won the Super Bowl in 1993 if placekicking didn’t exist, but my three sons have to have a way to earn a college football scholarship. Plus, we still need the one-in-a-million chance of this making Alabama lose a football game.]

3. Invest Heavily in Improved Equipment and Medical Research

Remember when Wes Welker, who we believe became the first receiver in history to catch more passes (122) than he weighed in pounds at the time, came back from that concussion wearing a really big oversized helmet? Didn’t that seem to send the message that equipment companies have the technology available to make players’ heads safer—we just don’t like the way it looks? Granted it looked kind of ridiculous, but I bet every helmet looked crazy at once, and we already let the Broncos get away with wearing hideous orange-and-royal jerseys, white pants and navy helmets AT THE SAME TIME!?!, so you can’t possibly suggest team owners are overly concerned about on-field aesthetics. Seriously, their current home uniforms have to be the worst uniforms since Tampa Bay’s 80’s fiasco.

Since the NFL is roughly a Trillion dollar industry, we need to at least double whatever it is we’re investing into safer equipment and medical research on brain, neck and back injuries.

[Interesting Interlude No. 2: Did you know that the National Football League is a non-profit organization. If that’s not shady, then we need a new definition of shady.]

4. Provide Long-Term Healthcare to Retired Players

For every year you spend in the league, you get five years of complete healthcare coverage, no exceptions, minimums or exclusions. Three years in the NFL? You’re covered 15, until you’re probably about 37 years old. Six years in the league? Full coverage for 30 years. At eight or more years active in the NFL, you get full coverage for life. Done and done. We’ve seen the numbers and can probably afford it.

5. Establish a Panel of Team Owners and Media Personnel to Impose Fines and Suspensions

Rather than the Commissioner being Prophet-Priest-King, an annually rotating panel of NFL owners, GM’s, retired players, media personnel and former Secretaries of State can be hired to review and hand out all penalties—from unsportsmanlike on-field hits to off-field issues of domestic violence, child abuse, drug possession, PED use, and poor movie cameos—on a case-by-case basis. I shouldn’t have to state that this panel should be composed of both men and women, white Americans and black Americans, but, of course it should.

6. Identify and Install a Brilliant, Humble, Proven Leader as Commissioner

This is where things start to get fun. We the Council have selected three great candidates to take over and implement the changes Mr Linneman has ingeniously brought about, beginning after Super Bowl 49.

There are three things we wanted to see in a candidate:

Character: Doing the right thing, the right way, at the right time, even when it is costly or inefficient

Leadership Success: A track record of leading a major team or organization to the highest level of success

Football Brilliance: Knowing football inside and out, preferably from a number of perspectives (playing, coaching, managing, and/or providing commentary)

[Interesting Interlude No. 3: Did you know the NFL’s first commissioner was Jim Thorpe, Olympian and multi-sport professional, often considered the greatest athlete of all time? If he were still alive, he’d be ranked highly here too, with double points for Native American heritage.]

So while a number of good candidates have one or two of these traits (sorry Tim Tebow fans, I think “football brilliance” would be a bit of a stretch here), we at the Fidelity Sports Council of Champions need to see all three. And for reasons that may be obvious, we are also ruling out white men. Which leads us to these candidates.

Candidate #3: Anna Isaacson

The aforementioned current NFL VP of social responsibility, community affairs and philanthropy would make an interesting choice—she’s the only person who knows the NFL’s corporate structure that could also represent female football fans across the country. So she gets high marks on qualifications 2 and 3. And I have no reason to doubt her personal integrity, but her connection to the flawed current administration doesn’t help. Evil Goodell’s apparent trust in her sadly makes her a less-than-ideal candidate. The NFL needs an outsider.

Candidate #2: Condoleezza Rice

Dr Condi has gotten a good bit of speculation here, and it’s a great idea. She’s got character and leadership success—even if you weren’t a fan of every one of her policies, she was recently the third-most powerful person in the world, the U.S. Secretary of State. (Sorry all other countries, all three top positions belong to U.S. world leaders and #4 goes to the NFL Commissioner.) Can you think of a more generally popular Republican since Ronald Reagen? Her brilliance is unquestioned, too: she’s been a professor of Poli Sci at Stanford, which is basically the Mizzou of the West Coast, since ’81. And she’s a world-class symphony musician? And she’s made a 30 Rock appearance? She must have gone to private school growing up.

The only question folks are raising is of her football knowledge. Was she a token female addition to the college football playoff committee and the membership at Augusta National? Hardly: she’s a die-hard sports fan, and has previously stated that her dream job is NFL Commissioner. If we were betting people, and we’re not, that’s the other inappropriately named Fidelity Sports—we’d say Ms Rice has the highest chance of getting this position when Goodell gets shown the door.

Yet still, as much as we love Condi and would rejoice over her election to this critical world position, we have an even better candidate in mind. Think of this person as basically Condoleeza Rice, except plus NFL head coaching experience and a Super Bowl ring…

Candidate #1:
Your New NFL Commissioner, Tony Dungy

Woo hoo!! Absolutely no one would be better than Coach Dungy. I’m not even a Colts fan, and I like him. Character? Check. The man’s written two bestselling books on it to boot. Leadership skill? One of the best coaches of our generation, regardless of sport. Football brilliance? Discount double check. The man’s got it all, including our full support to be the Tenth Commissioner of the National Football League—not counting Mr Linneman’s temporary and game-changing interim role.

Photo by ESPN

Photo by ESPN

Mr Dungy made the wise decision to step away from coaching a few years ago when his family needed him, but now the NFL family needs him. Dang, all of America needs him. Welcome back Tony!!!

Haters are going to say his Michael Sam comments or surprisingly consistent moral views make him irrelevant. But the Council is unanimous as usual:

Tony Dungy should be NFL Commish.

Done and done.

Yours truly,
The Fidelity Sports Council of Champions

 

 

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