Saturday, September 08, 2012

Roger Goodell

There are many problems in the NFL.  Sure labor is relatively tame right now, and fan interest is near the peak.  But the problems are plentiful.  Referees locked out.  Lawsuits.  And Bountygate dominate the headlines.

But lets take a look at how they got here.

Back when Michael Vick was involved in his dog fighting case, the NFL feared that Vick might harm the game much more, because the allegation was that he was bankrolling a gambling operation.  That could have been a black eye, and the NFL dodged it.

Then came Spygate, and Goodell made a decision that the prospect of cheating in the game could taint the game, and maybe have a broad impact.  He was admonished by senators, the FBI, and the DOJ for destroying evidence and the possibility of obstructing justice.  But he took it to avoid at the very least a PR nightmare, and at the worst the fall of the game from grace.  There has been some recent movement suggesting that the Patriots team also had some additional communications systems in helmets, and certainly the NFL hiring "communications consultants" to monitor radio frequencies at games suggests there was at least a possibility of that happening - but this was never investigated (no doubt Goodell smiled over his good fortune).

And now comes the Saints bounty program.  While the coaches being involved is bad, and their suspension is merited, the inclusion of the players was always questionable.  Sure, its possible they were scape goats.  Its also possible that Goodell had evidence to support they somehow were involved with the guy outside the NFL - remember the twice-convicted felon - who was contributing to the pool.  The thing is that we'll never know.  Goodell has - it seems to me - a real problem here because he does not want to reveal specifics for fear that the felon had some influence, paid players, or somehow (because games happen across state lines) that there is an implication of racketeering.

So Goodell acted as judge, jury, and executioner in handing down punishment.  Only the players fought it, and won.  Now Goodell faces a new series of problems. He can retain the special master to review the evidence and work with them to hand out new punishments (thus revealing what he knows to some and opening up the door to possible outside investigation or at least a PR problem), or he can let it go.  If he lets it go, it sets a bad precent for meting out punishment to players.

And worse, the legal challenge proves the NFL is vulnerable.  All of these former player suits for concussions are now very real threats (I don't know, but can guess, that the NFL figured they could win these challenges, and now it seems less certain).

So the NFL is at a bit of crossroads and its not clear what will happen next.  But there is no reason the NFL has to remain the most popular sport.  There is always a chance that will change.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Don't Lose Hope

The start of the NFL season is upon us. Every team starts off 0-0 (unless you count the Cowboys win and the Giants lose) with hopes of holding the Lombardi trophy by the end of the season. It doesn't matter what you did last year, all that matters is what you do this season. Right off the bat we see a perfect example, the Super Bowl champs from a year ago lose to a team that did not make the playoff.

If you listen to analysts they will tell you that good teams from a year ago will do well and bad teams would do poorly. Those same analysts who rank us at the bottom of the league did the same for the 49ers, Broncos, and Bengals all of whom made the playoffs. Then there are the teams that everyone has high hopes for and fail to live up to expectations. The Jets were one of the Super Bowl favorites from a year ago and now they are projected to be a bottom half of the league team.

The point I am trying to make is that no one knows how a team will perform. We have just as much chance to make the playoffs as the Packers do. I know I probably sound crazy for saying that but one hit on Rodgers could sideline him for the year and then their odds drastically change. Or maybe Tannehill lights it up and we get one of those magical runs like we did in 08.

I know at the present moment all looks bad. We have a QB which some are already calling a bust, a rookie head coach, barely any play makers at the WR position and maybe on offense in general. Our defense is solid but might not have what it takes to be elite. We had a losing 6-10 record last year finishing 3rd in our division. I just described not only this years Dolphins but last years 49ers at this point last season as well. Not saying we will be as good as the 49ers were a year ago, but you never know. It's the start of the season, no use being pessimistic, anything can happen.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Optimistic view

The owner says: “At this point, I’m optimistic that we will be competitive and make the playoffs....We are a very young team with a first-year head coach and new coaching staff with a new philosophy and scheme. They are developing the players’ fundamentals and technique during this preseason, so it is not surprising they haven’t stressed winning yet. I believe in this head coach and staff and am looking forward to the regular season, where winning will be emphasized.”

Okay, he's the owner, and he can be optimistic.   But playoffs?  Really?  And *now* he wants to emphasize winning, unlike any of the last dozen years?

I don't see much upside on this roster, so developing players fundamentals is meaningless.

And what if they don't make the playoffs?  Are jobs on the line?  Will someone (Ireland, maybe?) be held accountable?

Sorry, but I don't share that optimism.  4 wins seems like a real possibility - and unless the Bills, Jets, and Patriots have 3 wins each, the playoffs seem elusive.


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