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The NFL is Turning Into a Joke, Part 3

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The complication of the NFL rulebook makes the game confusing and over-saturation of commercials have ruined the flow of the game.

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

The third and final installment of my rant against the NFL goes into the logistics of the game. The topic will focus on how the NFL rulebook has become too vague and complicated to completely enforce as well as the annoying stream of commercials that hit right around the 2-minute warning of the first half of football games. Having a standard set of rules for the game as well as the revenue generated for airing commercials during the games is important to the success of the NFL, but in some cases it is getting out of whack. The league needs to rectify the issues with inconsistencies in the rulebook so that way they can be enforced consistently from game to game.

Perhaps my biggest beef with the rulebook comes with the defensive pass interference flags. The foul is enforced as a spot foul, no matter the distance. That means a QB can try to throw a prayer and the DB doesn't play the ball, which could result in large gains from the penalty. That in itself needs to be fixed and the enforcement of the penalty should be consistent with the college game, where it is a spot foul within 15 yards and 15 yards for anything further downfield. The defensive pass interference penalty is too much of a game-changing play. In the Patriots win over Jacksonville, the Patriots moved the ball 76 yards on two plays due to pass interference flags. Shrinking the penalty to 15 yards gives defenses more of a chance to make a stop on the drive.

Another problem I have is that every defensive penalty generally results in an automatic first down. That needs to change as well. The only penalties that should come with an automatic first down should be pass interference and personal foul penalties. The automatic first down rule allows for games to be decided on potentially ticky-tack foul calls because it extends drives. For example, a defensive hold on 3rd and 8 results in a first down with the 5-yard penalty. Take away the automatic first down and it's 3rd and 3. 5 yards is still a big difference, but I believe the rules should not be unfairly stacked against the defense.

I believe another area that should be standardized is the air pressure inside of a football. Instead of a range, the NFL should mandate a number. Since the range is 12.5-13.5 psi, they should probably just make the rule 13.0 psi for every football. In addition to standardizing the air pressure, the league should take measures about the supervision of footballs. Perhaps adding an alternate official to the normal game staff that can supervise the footballs at all times so the Colts equipment staff aren't messing around with footballs. That probably won't happen, given Roger Goodell and the 32 owners' propensities to throw away common sense for greed.

The last issue comes with the amount of commercials that go on during the game. Commercials are a necessity for the league, because that's where they can make money off companies advertising their products to a very large audience. There are some instances where the broadcast cuts off to commercials too often. Examples include the two-minute warning, commercials sandwiches the kickoffs following an offensive score, and when teams take timeouts in the first half inside the two minute warning. In those cases, there are too many commercials and not enough game action. In some cases, that becomes an automatic turnoff since it disrupts the flow of the game.

To combat that issue, I suggest only having commercials for full timeouts, the end of drives, and at the two-minute warning. The end of a drive is either a field goal, PAT attempt, a punt, or a turnover. During a challenge or booth review, I believe the viewers would be more interested in seeing replays of the play in question and any input from the broadcasters or on-air tools experts. For 30-second timeouts, there is no need to go to commercial and when the broadcast usually comes back the play has already started. That puts the audience in a momentary state of confusion as the play is unfolding and it's up to the broadcasting tandem to fill in the blank. There is nothing wrong with the NFL selling commercial space, but I do think they need to cut down on the commercials during the broadcast.

Between the shortened offseason and training camp programs negotiated in the CBA, the corrupt power structure of the league office, the complication of the NFL rulebook, and the over-saturation of commercials during the broadcast, the NFL is starting to become less watchable for the die-hard fan. The product is still very marketable, which is why it is still America's most popular professional sports league. At some point, when people see how the sausage is made the tables will turn on the league unless they fix the issues that are presented ahead of them. We'll see if the NFL is concerned with improving the game or if they are consumed by greed, which will eventually lead to their own downfall.