On Covid-19 and the Potential Impact on the 2020 NFL

| April 2nd, 2020

For those of you who don’t know, I live in Woodside, Queens (NY). That’s less than a mile from Elmhurst Hospital, the current epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic. This thing has pretty much consumed my brain and kept me from seriously sleeping for weeks. Thankfully, I have this site. So here’s what all this craziness could mean to the NFL season.

  • The schedule release is delayed until May 9th. Normally the schedule release is one of my favorite days of the year, as it sets a lot of my travel schedule for the coming fall and winter. But there is a 0% chance the NFL will know what it’s looking at for this summer and fall by May 9th. (The peaks or apexes of the virus won’t be reached in several areas of the country until late May, early June.) It’ll be the latter by the time the league knows when the season will start and – most importantly for them – when it will finish. How can anyone make travel plans with any confidence? How can teams do any kind of serious prep?
  • There’s no way the NFL season will begin without an off-season program. What that off-season program will look like is another conversation. Nobody in the league would bemoan the cancellation of the entire preseason. But without a several-week practice period, how are coaches expected to get teams ready for action? Says a league insider I often refer to as [REDACTED], “We can’t do anything with less than three weeks.”
  • Like many of you, I have consumed more information about Covid-19 than a non-epidemiologist should. And I have yet to find a single doctor who believes the virus will NOT be coming back this fall/winter. (Dr. Fauci confirmed so much at a briefing this week.) What does that mean for the league? What will their contingency plans be? Are they really going to pile thousands upon thousands of people into tight buildings and just hope the virus stays away? We’re all hoping there are medical and testing advancements by this period. But that’s all this is: hope.

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Lowering the Helmet on Roger Goodell, a Commissioner Who Gets Everything Wrong

| August 23rd, 2018

Nobody has yet named this “lowering the helmet” penalty. But soon, most likely on Sunday September 9th, it is going to cost an NFL team a game.

The Edison Park Pirates are going to be driving the football, down 6, late in the fourth quarter. On 4th-and-8 they’re going to complete a seven-yard pass and the tackler, the best safety on the Naperville Nincompoops, is going be flagged for lowering his helmet while tackling with his shoulder. The drive will be extended. The outcome changed. Pirates win. And this flag will be the lead story on every sports radio station in the country Monday morning.

Many have argued the uproar over this penalty is overblown, with only 1.5 flags being thrown for it per game over the first two weeks of the preseason. But the quantity of the calls is not the issue. It’s the egregious nature of the fouls themselves. The NFL has clearly heard the complaints because last Sunday they sent several of their media mouthpieces out to the public with new information.

ESPN’s Dan Graziano:

…NFL is looking at a “probable three-yearadjustment period for the new helmet rule, will continue updating its teaching video for officials, coaches and players. League is going with this, period. Everyone needs to deal.

Graziano went on and on about how it’s perfectly fine to have a rule the league doesn’t know how to legislate in the short-term as long as they figure out how to legislate it down the road. Make sense? Of course it doesn’t make sense. Football player Richard Sherman responded:

There is no “make adjustment” to the way you tackle. Even in a perfect form tackle the body is led by the head. The rule is idiotic And should be dismissed immediately. When you watch rugby players tackle they are still lead by their head.

The NFL invented this rule for one reason: they are desperate to show the world their sport is NOT gladiators in the arena, with spectators marveling at the spectacle and not particularly caring about the health and safety of the combatants. They must give the appearance of caring about “player safety”.

It is yet another example of Roger Goodell, the worst commissioner in professional sports, leading this sport down a dirt road to nowhere. Great commissioners are defined by how forward-thinking they are, how they can see what’s coming for their sports 2-3 years before it happens. They are also judged by how they handle controversies, on and off the playing surface. In both regards, Goodell is a remarkable failure.

Just look at the breadth of his incompetence.

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NFL’s New Anthem Policy is Another in a Long Line of League Blunders

| May 24th, 2018

When players started kneeling for the national anthem, the reaction broke down into three separate categories:

Category One

“Good for them, exercising their first amendment rights and using the only pulpit they have to protest injustice.”

Category Two

“How dare they not stand for the anthem! It’s disrespectful to the flag and troops! The troops!”

Category Three

“Who gives a shit?”

Well, people did give a shit. One specific group of people, a loud group currently led by the President of the United States and his incoherent, grammatically-challenged Twitter feed. (Besides the stupidity and lies found on that feed, I’m always fascinated by the words Mr. Trump chooses to capitalize. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to it. He just randomly chooses a words and CAPS.)

Suddenly, the sideline became the big story.

State Television – Fox News – started blaming the kneeling players for the league’s declining TV ratings every single night on every single show. Oddly, the company pushed this narrative while preparing a $3.3 billion offer for the league’s Thursday Night Football package, which they acquired in January. It’s almost like those folks had an ulterior motive behind what they were incorrectly stating about television ratings. Almost like they were trying to devalue the package.

[Side note: I worked for Nielsen for several years in their television department. No issue has been more incorrectly reported than the TV ratings issue. But here’s what you need to know. TV ratings are declining across the board. NFL football ratings are declining at a much slower rate than the rest of the medium. It has actually INCREASED the value of the commodity. And now with sports gambling, look out.]

A lot of other shit went down too. Bob McNair and the “inmates”. The Steelers debacle at Soldier Field. Whatever the hell Jerry Jones and the Cowboys did that one time. But it was this ratings debate – the economic one – that seemed to truly bother Roger Goodell at the home office on Park Avenue. With the NFL, it’s always money.

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Everything Wrong With the NFL, In One Play

| November 3rd, 2017

There were audible screams in the basement bar on Waverly Place. Zach Miller had caught a perfect Trubisky toss in the end zone but nobody seemed to notice anything but his leg. My God, his leg. On replay it was even worse. Maybe it was shown a third time on television, maybe it wasn’t. I wouldn’t know. I wasn’t watching. I went to the toilet, disgusted.

When I came out of the bathroom, Miller’s season was over and somehow the NFL had determined they had enough visual data to overturn the touchdown. Not sure which of the two sickened me more.

The Zach Miller Touchdown illuminated everything currently dragging down this great sport and formerly great league.

Forget about anthem protests. They’ll be a thing of memory in a few months. Forget about declining ratings. Television ratings are plummeting everywhere, and will continue to as cable companies lose their monopolistic grip on home entertainment. Forget about head injuries and CTE. People will always play this game and people will always watch.

What will bring the league down?

Injuries & Greed

Aaron Rodgers. Andrew Luck. Deshaun Watson. David Johnson. Dalvin Cook. Odell Beckham Jr. Julian Edelman. Joe Thomas. Jason Peters. JJ Watt. Eric Berry.

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Brandon Marshall Fine Continuing NFL’s Disgraceful Treatment of Mental Illness

| December 1st, 2016

The following piece originally ran on DBB on May 19, 2014. Two years later the NFL is finally allowing players to showcase their personal causes on the field. It’s probably the best thing ever published in this space, non-game related.


Josh Marks liked to cook. He was good enough at cooking and handsome enough to land a spot on the television program MasterChef. He finished second. At twenty-six years old and with a seemingly limitless future before him, Marks took his own life Friday. In a CNN article Marks’ family recount the young man’s struggles with mental health issues, with the family lawyer going so far as to say “It is overwhelming to think that with proper, intensive treatment, Joshua may still be with us.”

He was found dead by his mother in an alleyway on Chicago’s south side.

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Everything We Learned About the NFL This Season.

| February 3rd, 2015


Top NFL Teams Separated By Merely a Play

Look at the fates of the NFC’s best teams in the month of January.

  • Detroit loses to Dallas after a pass interference flag is announced and walked off by the game official and then ludicrously picked up. (Has anybody yet given an explanation of this?)
  • Dallas  loses to Green Bay after a Dez Bryant catch – a spectacular catch – is deemed a non-catch by one of the more ludicrous rules in the NFL rulebook. (And in my opinion a gross misinterpretation of that rule.)
  • Green Bay loses to Seattle with a ludicrous late-game collapse featuring a tight end dropping an onside kick that hit both of his hands and his face.
  • Seattle loses to New England with the worst play-call in the history of professional football, asking a non-pocket passer to pocket pass a tight-window slant route on the goal line, at the death. (And do so with the league’s most physical runner just, you know, standing around.)

In all four of these games a serious argument can be made for the losing team deserving victory. That’s how close the league has become at the top.

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Around the League Tweets – March 28th 2013!

| March 28th, 2014

ATL Tweets

Once again, this feature will fill the Wednesday void throughout the 2014 season and sneak in each week until then on random days. 

Around the League Tweets, Dayton Flying Since ’13! 1 of 10. If you change evaluation of a player based on pro day, you lose all credibility.

2 of 10. No two figures mean more to Buffalo Bills fans than the late Ralph Wilson & the seriously ill Jim Kelly. Tough week in Western NY.

3 of 10. Most Bills fans I know believed once Ralph died the hourglass would flip on the team in Buffalo. Would be a sports tragedy.

4 of 10. If you had an emotional reaction to goalpost dunk ban, I question your stability. Unless you’re under 12 this shouldn’t matter.

5 of 10. So you can’t use the N-word or dunk. Goodell would have a heart attack watching the basketball court near my apartment in Queens.

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Weighing in on NFL’s Prospective Rule Changes

| January 21st, 2014



When I first heard the NFL was going to add another playoff team, I was against it. The exclusivity of the NFL postseason is what sets it apart from the likes of basketball and hockey – two sports that have relegated their regular seasons to sub-meaningless status.

Then I thought some more about it. And thought a bit more. And you know what? I like it. Here’s why:

  • Unlike basketball or hockey or ever baseball, there is no series involved. By adding a single team to each conference it would simply add two games to the already-existing wild card weekend. A six-game playoff weekend? Marriages be damned!
  • There is now EVEN MORE value placed on winning the top seed in each conference as the top seed in each conference will be the only team receiving a bye.

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