decades of fun

Improving The NFL

Just doing my part to improve the NFL.

1 – Bring kickoff returns back

These now-rare plays used to always be among the most exciting plays every game. Why did the NFL get rid of them? Did they mean to? What could possibly replace a long kickoff return for excitement?

Punt returns are still around and still exciting but the NFL needs to bring kickoff returns back. They killed Cribbs and Bess!

If player safety is the issue here then rework the blocking and the speed of the defenders — but please stop the kicker from putting it out of the end zone. Josh Cribbs get on ESPN, let’s get this done!

Josh Cribbs Cleveland Browns Pittsburgh Steelers
Josh, we need you! Someone give this man a microphone so he can kill touchbacks.

2 – Show more widescreen and full views

There are two great views of football that TV coverage rarely shows – overhead, and end zone. Most fans have big screens and have played Madden and they like these analytical views.

Yet TV coverage these days is all closeups between the standard sideline-pressbox view. Even when they go to the end zone camera they zoom in on the quarterback so you don’t get to see the action downfield! They almost never pull out the blimp view even though it’s awesome for long plays (specially the kick returns also going extinct as outlined above).

One new improvement is the floating birds-eye camera, but I wish they’d use it for over-the-QB view in big games.

3 – Less commercial breaks (no really!)

I know the sponsors pay the bills for the telecast. This is not an attempt to reduce sponsorship dollars. It is, however, an attempt to improve the viewing experience and fan interaction to the point that it could lead to better ROI for sponsors.

All that the networks would have to do is group the commercials into longer breaks around the game, not during it. That means that commercials are played during pre-game, at quarter ends and  halftime, and all day Sunday between games during Football Day In America.

During the game – whenever play stops for more than a few seconds from things like possession changes, scores, timeouts, and injuries, simply go back to the studio for discussion about the game in progress.

No one wants to see a boner or car commercial for the 17th time after a big momentum change in the game. It’s the most horrible moment in entertainment.  Big Play! OMG! Old people boner commercial.

During the action is when you are intrigued and most engaged, and that’s exactly when american TV cuts away to an irrelevant sponsor spot. Greed over programming quality IMHO.

The current coverage immediately breaks the mood and leaves the game seemingly every 2 minutes to sell me so much crap it’s hard to even watch.

Then the commercials are always louder than the game, impossible hard to ignore especially with repeated airing during the same game. They also couldn’t be further from sports and not tied to the moment at all. A huge missed opportunity for sponsors to befriend, not alienate, the viewer.

The end result? We lose attention so often we have to force ourself to watch an entire football game without leaving for something else — the internet, another channel, chores, a magazine, something happening outside. It’s popular now to watch multiple games at once, that’s how boring most of the coverage has been.

And this is on your favorite team — sitting through that presentation on other games is for the hardcore only. Even hardcore fans hate the constant commercial interruptions and the commercials themselves.

Think of the alternative: a group of sponsors are featured by logo, mentions, even product tie-ins, but the focus stays on the game and on football except for 1-3 breaks per half, and those breaks are a solid 4+ minutes so you can do your thing without missing any action. I personally would appreciate those sponsors far more than the intrusive ads ruining my football now.

I don’t believe the NFL would ever go full-soccer, where there are literally no video commercials during each half and sponsors only have sideline and uniform placement during the game. But the model that could be implemented for the NFL is how the NBA is presented in European and South American coverage that I’ve been able to view.

Their NBA coverage goes back to the studio when play stops, where 2-3 analysts immediately react to the pace of the game and even review fan tweets while watching a feed of the game and waiting until play resumes. When play resumes they jump right back to the game and you never lose your place or your mindset.

They do sneak some commercials in every few breaks and they end being way less distracting and work perfectly as a bathroom or snack break.

Watching the game with these guys is far more enjoyable than watching with Viagra, Buick, Verizon, Samsung, Crooked Politicians, Viagra, Progressive, GMC, AT&T, Verizon, Apple, Exxon, Cialis, Buick, Crooked Politician, Viagra, Geico, Honda, Buick, Viagra …..

I actually have experienced this for an NFL telecast once or twice, and I believe it was Sky or ESPN Europe type of thing, where they went to the studio for in-game breaks and the 3 analysts were watching the game and waiting to comment and fill the time during the break. It was a far more enjoyable way to watch american football.

Like most american males I think about football most of the week, waiting in anticipation of the big showdown on Sunday. The ritual of it, regardless of your teams success, is alluring and keeps the NFL at the top of the ratings.

But I also feel like actually watching the games these days either requires serious channel surfing or having something else to do so you don’t s mash the TV or slit your wrists during every commercial break. We all make weird small talk about the lame commercials and/or put food in our mouths to pass the awkward breaks.

And the snacks don’t taste as good with boner commercials as the soundtrack. Fix this please, NFL+TV networks. I know you are an all powerful ruler in America, I appeal to your wisdom oh master please fix my beloved football!