What should you do on a fourth and two with only one minute left on the clock and a three point difference? Should you punt or should you try a field goal to create a tie? These kinds of decisions plague coaches throughout their history and career in the NFL. From the sidelines to the head office, decision-making is a large part of professional sports. However the NFL is on a recent series of decision-making or decision-stalling that has led many to criticize the commissioner’s office and the way decisions are made.
45 second rule
It’s no secret that one of the providential prosperities of the NFL has been its relationship with the media. From Monday night football to ESPN Sports Center, access of the media to NFL players, parks and offices has been the hallmark of a stellar relationship. However, online journalism with its independent reporters and the streaming videos has posed a problem for the NFL as they have no ability to control content or manage a relationship with every blog writer with a webcam. The NFL created the 45 second rule, which states online journalists may only show 45 seconds worth of material about their club or players each and every day. 45 seconds is not a long time for any form of journalism and many complained that it should be brought up as an inhibition of the right of free speech. The NFL maintains they own their clubhouse property and team franchise and have the right to look out for the best interest of the club.
While the American system of justice sustains that you are innocent until proven guilty, there’s only so much common sense people have to have to know someone is guilty of damaging the sport through their image and behavior. Nowhere is this been more evident than the case of Michael Vick. The Atlanta Falcons athlete who has been accused, with a copious amount of evidence, of running a dog fighting ring in his Surrey, Virginia home. While Michael Vick maintains the house was used by a relative and that he had no knowledge of the numerous dog carcasses found on his property or of record books recording gambling and dog fighting deals, the fact remains he is tacitly responsible. Analysts and fans alike are calling for his suspension until the case is resolved, and the decision of the NFL to avoid this controversy strikes many as lack of leadership at top levels.
Supporting retired players
Players, trainers and fans alike can tell you one of the reasons NFL players require so much for contracts, is that they are selling their future health and the rest of the life of their body to play this game. Retired football players suffer crippling back and bone injuries, endure skull fractures and incur the inability to have good health. A35 year-old man walks like an 80 year old with a cane after 10 years playing professional football. Unfortunately, the NFL has been called by Congress to justify why the players league and union has not been supporting these retired veterans at the level required. Many are not getting medical assistance, physical therapy or in some cases even living expenses. Just as the NFL has used these athletes and their ability to create revenue for the sport they have an obligation both moral and legal to help them continue in their life after football.
Every arena is made of tough calls and bad decisions. The NFL commissioner’s office must start to make better calls to protect the integrity and image of football.