Two great teams. Star quarterbacks. Offense. A last minute goal-line stand.
And fireworks, like rookie Randall Cobb's electrifying 108 yard kickoff return that dealt a withering counterpunch to a Saints touchdown that had just closed the Packer lead to 28-20 in the 2nd half.
The very kind of play, the league itself was in the infant steps of outlawing entirely.
Now, there's this. The league is still hell bent on ELIMINATING kickoffs, entirely. Yes. Eliminate.
That’s the word from Giants owner John Mara, a Competition Committee member who says the conversations have already started about potentially taking the play that has started every football game in history out of the league for good.
“We had a lot of discussions about whether we should eliminate it and if we did what we could do in its place,” Mara told Giants.com. “There’s no consensus on it right now, but I could see the day in the future where that play could be taken out of the game. You see it evolving toward that.”
Mara says the Competition Committee’s top priority is player safety, and that the increase in touchbacks last year coincided with a decrease in concussions. In the eyes of the league office and NFL owners, that proves that moving the kickoff was the right idea.
What’s unclear is what would take the place of the kickoff if it ceased to exist. Mara says the NFL won’t eliminate the kickoff until it has the right plan for how to get rid of it, but he seems to think the kickoff is just a fundamentally unsafe play.Because the REST of professional football, tackle style, is INDEED, so "fundamentally safe."
I mean, I almost need to look around and see if I am reading a cleverly masked re-write of an article from "The Onion."
A sensible thing for John Mara to say would be this: "Of course, we'll always have kickoffs. I mean, it's been part of the game forever. There are perhaps a few additional rule tweaks we can implement, but we're happy with the reduction in concussions from last year's rule change."
But no. John Mara is not sensible. He's fucking insane. Or, more likely, simply unshaken in his belief that the NFL model of pro sports dominance is un-fuck-up-able.
You see, here's what that kind of thinking really says about NFL owners.
1. What do the fans think? Ha. Fuck the fans! They'll keep coming back no matter what kind of shit we do to this game and league. Next question.
2. Can this help us in court, when it comes to concussion cases? Yes? Perfect. Throw it in there.
3. Now, once we make this insanely violent game "fundamentally safe" with all these new rules, can we push hard for that 18 game schedule? Yes? Super. Onward...
Remember the following about NFL owners...
1. Of the 32 owners, only a dozen (maybe) are genuinely sharp, accomplished businessmen. The rest are a motley collection of sons born into the family business, old coots who got their team in a card game, or high level hustlers with very shady ways in which they made the money needed to buy into this ol' boy network.
2. They are afraid of lawsuits.
3. They think this league is unbreakable.
4. They resent paying big money to everything but a star QB. (And some, even that... ahem.).
5. Many have huge mortgages on their team/stadium.
6. They would love to both shorten the lifespan of players (safely, of course).
7. They know the league has no overseas longterm prospects, and few markets left here to exploit.
8. Thus, they can only EXPAND the season in which their product is offered.
So it's all about 18 games. And along the way, if 18 games can HELP prevent another 20% of players from reaching that dreaded SECOND contract (you know the shitty, desperate deals that make Pierre Garcon and Brandon Carr both horribly overpaid at $25 million guaranteed) - then that's a WIN-WIN!
In fact, if the league was offered an 18 game season, in which they could only still TELEVISE and MAKE MONEY on 16 games (like before), guess what? They STILL would take it, in a heartbeat, because it would grind alot of these players into selling used cars that much sooner.
So the NFL Owners "long game" goes like this: TRY to cut down on concussions, while simultaneously looking PIOUS as hell in doing so. Fine a bunch of players for hits made on a split-second of reaction time (that suspension money might shave another 1% off operating costs, bonus!). Build as much legal armor as you can before this wave of lawsuits hits. Weather the storm. Mutate the game as needed, because what are YOU gonna do, NOT watch? Bwah! Sure. Then get to that 18 game schedule thing, and RAM it through, hopefully using us FANS as the suckers to start clamoring for it.
To which, I am sure, some of you are saying: "Sounds good to me, except the getting rid of kickoffs part."
To many, the players are barely literate numbskulls at best. Criminals at worst. To many fans, you TOO think like an owner, and that there's no joy in watching excellent offensive guard work, so why pay them anything?
Most of the players - save for the rare and transcendent talents who can survive this gladiator circus for up to a decade or more, mostly QBs - are just interchangeable parts. And parts that get delivered via a conveyor belt from colleges every spring, 7 rounds-by-7-rounds.
Remember when Tony Soprano whipped the champagne bucket at that poor underling's head at the Bada Bing for using too much ice?
"Where runnin' a bidness here! Conserve!" (Yes, that's where my soundbite comes from!)
Well, the NFL is just like the Bada Bing.
If you can save a few pennies, save 'em. And guys will keep coming back for the boobie show, even if you are skimping on the ice.