The Schein Nine  

 

Commissioner for a Day: Changes I'd love to see around the NFL

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The Spring League Meeting in San Francisco is officially in the books.

I heard it was great. My invitation must've been lost in the mail.

No worries -- I can still chime in.

Here are nine things I would do to benefit the NFL, starting with a quick reversal of this week's biggest alteration ...

1) Go back to the old extra point

Be honest: How many times have you watched an NFL game and said, "I'm so bored by the extra point. It's so automatic. I hate it. Let's change it. NOW!"

The answer is zero. It's never been said. Ever. OK, maybe once by Peter King. But that's truly it.

Regardless, on Tuesday, the NFL announced that owners had approved the Competition Committee's proposal to move the PAT back to the 15-yard line (with two-point conversions remaining at the 2-yard line). Why? This is change for the sake of change. The extra point wasn't broken. It wasn't offensive. It wasn't a problem. I don't want drama or strategy after a glorious, hard-fought touchdown drive. I want an extra point. I want to grab a snack.

I can't believe this was tweaked. And if I were commish, I'd immediately turn back the clock to last week, when the PAT was just fine.

2) Go back to the old overtime

I didn't like the league changing the overtime rules a few years ago, to relieve the bellyaching about how some losing quarterbacks never got a chance to touch the ball in the extra period. Last time I checked, there are three phases of football: offense, defense and special teams.

Oh, your team isn't given the ball to start OT? Well, make a defensive play. Make a special teams play.

Remember the 2003 playoff bout between Seattle and Green Bay, when Matt Hasselbeck responded to winning the coin toss by saying, "We want the ball and we're going to score"? Didn't quite work out that way, did it? Nope. Al Harris picked off Hasselbeck and scampered 52 yards for a game-winning touchdown.

Sudden death is sudden death. Football is football.

The one thing I would change about overtime ...

3) Give the home team the ball to start overtime

Fans get heated about the 50-50, pure-luck proposition of the coin flip. So let's put overtime possession under the umbrella of home-field advantage.

This would add some juice and sizzle to the end of regulation. Think about it: Does the road team go for the jugular? Will the home team play it safe? Everyone would know the deal beforehand. It'd be fascinating to see how strategy would be affected.

4) End the season with three straight weeks of division games

What if the regular season's final stanza consisted of a round-robin series in each division? Division races and wild-card chases would reach a fever pitch. The drama would be excellent. Third-place teams could gain ground. First-place teams could come apart. Stakes would be raised in a delightful manner.

The buzz and intensity is always greater in division play. Imagine if, in the regular season's last stretch, it simultaneously meant everything.

5) Detroit and Dallas host every Thanksgiving for all eternity -- period

OK, this isn't a change -- it's actually a promise to maintain status quo. Forever. No matter what.

Remember a few years ago, when the Lions were completely inept and the haters wanted to strip Detroit of the honor of annually playing on Turkey Day? Nonsense.

There are so few traditions left in sports. The Lions wanted Thanksgiving games when nobody else did. I think it is special to have these games in Detroit and Dallas. I love the history. I love when the broadcast teams roll the old footage.

Never even entertain such a change.

6) Move two teams to Los Angeles

Football needs to be in the No. 2 market in the country in 2016. And it sure sounds like it's going to happen. While Commissioner Roger Goodell wouldn't say it's "inevitable" in his press conference on Wednesday, he did say there "is certainly momentum, there is certainly opportunity."

Yes, opportunity knocks. There's just too much money to be made. And I believe football in L.A. will work this time around, with the right organizational approach. The Rams make logical sense. And if the Raiders and Chargers can't find sustainable stadium solutions, L.A. is more viable and lucrative and better for the organizations.

Personally, if I were running things, I'd double down on the City of Angels. The NBA, MLB and NHL each have two reps within the greater metropolitan area. Time for the NFL to get back in the L.A. mix in a major way.

7) Clearly define a catch!

Dez Bryant caught the ball. Calvin Johnson caught the ball. We all agree. So let's spend some time figuring out a way to have the rules reflect this. Instead, we're spending time on the extra point? It's bizarre.

The crystal-clear identification of what is -- and what isn't -- a catch is kind of important. Let's get to the bottom of this, America! Let's pen a rule we can all get behind.

8) Clearly define unnecessary roughness

I always go back to two plays ...

Back in 2006, Mathias Kiwanuka had Vince Young wrapped up for a sack on fourth-and-10 late in the fourth quarter, but the rookie defensive end let go of the quarterback because he was fearful of drawing a flag. This allowed Young to scramble for a first down, and eventually allowed the Titans to complete a stunning comeback win over the Giants.

And two seasons ago, Ahmad Brooks was flagged for seemingly playing football against Drew Brees. A strip-sack that would have effectively given the 49ers the win was nullified, and the Saints went on to prevail.

Here's the bottom line: Players don't know what will (and what won't) be called. I want the game to be safer, but I also want defensive players to be able to make plays and understand the rules. Let's bring more clarity -- and more consistency -- to this aspect of the game.

9) Put football preparation back in league hands

There would be no Deflategate nonsense if the league just took care of its own footballs. Wow. What a concept.

Quarterbacks would be angry, no doubt. Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, of course, led the charge to put football preparation into each individual team's hands. But on the heels of what happened in New England, the league needs to seize control once more. I'm tired of talking about PSI. The NFL should take full responsibility for prepping the game balls and then leave it to the officials to handle them on game day.

This isn't revolutionary. It's common sense.

Follow Adam Schein on Twitter @AdamSchein.

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