Much to the delight of players around the league and the entire football world, the NFL is finally giving in and relaxing its rules on player celebrations.
As it turns out, the long-awaited change actually came after commissioner Roger Goodell sought out the advice of a player who was known for his creative celebrations during his playing days, Chad Johnson.
That got us thinking. With the league having so many things that need to be addressed, which other retired NFLers could Goodell reach out to for advice?
Look no further for Exhibit A on the NFL’s archaism. Despite the fact that there is clear, scientific evidence of marijuana being a more effective and safer alternative to more addictive painkillers – not to mention an ever-increasing number of states now making it legal – the NFL has held firm with its policies and is continuing to suspend players for usage. This needs to be addressed yesterday. Along with outspoken activists like Eugene Monroe, Goodell could seek out some important insight from Williams. The longtime Miami Dolphins running back who admitted “it’s kind of true” he briefly retired from football in 2004 to smoke weed, later adding that he’d be a Hall of Famer if marijuana hadn’t been banned by the NFL.
Issue: Developmental league
Of North America’s four major sports leagues, the NFL is the only one that doesn’t have a farm system. And no, college football doesn’t count. Having a true developmental league, where players can be groomed specifically for the professional ranks, and by NFL-caliber coaching, would do wonders for talent depth and identifying potential that may otherwise go unnoticed. Just ask Warner how well things worked out for him after getting an opportunity to show what he can do in NFL Europe. The former Rams and Cardinals quarterback will be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this August.
Issue: Player marketing
It’s befuddling how a league filled with superstars manages to so poorly market its most marketable assets. Perhaps it’s by design, making everything about the “shield,” but that’s no justification. The NFL should be taking a page out of the NBA’s book in recognizing that the players are what make this machine run. Having done well to market himself both during and after his Hall of Fame career, this is one of many aspects for which Manning could share some helpful advice.
Issue: Catch rule
We can’t afford to go another season without at least some semblance of clarity on the catch rules. Competitive factors are at the forefront of this matter, to be sure, but this has also gotten to the point where it affects even our sanity. Dez Bryant is, of course, the first name that comes to mind in relation to infamous catch controversies. But Goodell won’t be limited to active players if he’s looking to find others who’ve been the victim of the apparent rule-book guesswork. Johnson can let Goodell know, both from the perspective of a player and anyone with a pair of eyes, how ridiculous it is that plays like this get called back.
Issue: Thursday Night Football
Forget the inexcusable quality of play for a second. How is it that a league preaching player safety can’t see the issue in forcing players to suit up for Thursday Night Football, often on just three days rest following their last game? It makes zero sense. Hall of Fame coach John Madden, who also spent 30 years in the broadcast booth, summed it up nicely in an appearance on a Bay Area News Group podcast in November.
“Something has to be done about Thursday night football,” Madden said. “It just doesn’t work. It’s not only a fan thing, it’s a team thing. It’s a safety thing. It’s a competitive thing. It doesn’t work. I know about money, and I know about business. Maybe you have to tweak stuff a little more. To help teams, maybe you get a bye the week before.”
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