If I Was The NFL Commissioner: The Rant of The Week

Chris Schisler’s Rant of the week

Let’s dive into a hypothetical that won’t ever happen; what if I was the commissioner of the National Football League. I may only be 23 but I’m an old school football man. I believe that football is a business but its so much more than that. Dollars and cents, ridiculous lawsuits and potential liability should not drive the decisions of NFL executives. The most popular sport in the United States of America will always have its business thriving; my job would be protecting the game itself. The NFL is the gold standard of American football. It sets the bar for every lower level of football from college to pee wee. This is a responsibility that no man should take lightly. As long as the quality of football is maintained the business will be as well.

Football is a violent sport, this is something that will never change. We will not reduce the game to a glorified game of two-hand-touch with bubble boy quarterbacks. We will not fine players for playing the game hard because this is how the game was meant to be played. We will only fine and suspend in the name of player safety if the player is using poor and or irresponsible technique. There will be no defenseless receivers, quarterbacks will not receive special treatment. Football players will play football.

What the National Football League has done is make superficial changes to appear to make the game safer. It is akin to a young boy pushing everything under the bed and saying his room is cleaned. Injury rates have not decreased. This serves as quantitative and measurable proof that the new rules do not have the desired effect. With this we have two options. We can either pretend that everything is working fine or we can strive to make real change. The first step is understanding that you cannot regulate injuries and risk out of the game.

Trying to take the head out of football is a good thing. This is something the NFL is actually right about. Concussions are nasty and they should be given the medical respect that they deserve; the brain is the greatest asset a human (or any animal) has. We should teach proper technique. There’s nothing subjective about that. We do not have to measure intent, there is no guessing required. If a linebacker tackles with his head down, risking his own neck and spine injuries as well as concussions, he should be penalized. In the same light if the receiver purposefully drops his head to draw a penalty for helmet to helmet contact he should be penalized. This part does require subjective judgment but it is necessary. Coaches are literally teaching receivers to risk injuries that could end their career for 15 yards; this should have no purpose in our game or place in our game. A defender should not be penalized for helmet to helmet contact if he launched before the receiver lowered his helmet. He’s trying to tackle a moving target what’s he supposed to do, let him score a touchdown?

The priority action in the player safety movement under my control would be as follows:
1.) A player must sign a waiver acknowledging that he can have severe injuries that could affect him for his entire life.
2.) If the player union does not want to agree with this, we will not play football. I am confident that this issue would dissolve and we would reach this agreement. The league informs players of the risks, the players chose to play.

Last year Roger Goodell made $44 million. If I were the commissioner I would give 20% of my salary to charities. I would give to former players and the foundations that help them with their medical care. I would give veterans of the US military, especially the Wounded Warrior Project. I will give to cancer research. I can afford as the NFL commissioner to live off $32 million instead of $44 million. Anyone who cannot live off $32 million has series problems; but think of all the problems the NFL commissioner could help solve with 20% of his salary.

I really admire the National Football League’s commitment to fighting breast cancer. However I do not admire making the support of cancer a business deal rather than goodhearted charity. When Chuck Pagano was battling leukemia the Indianapolis Colts were not not allowed to wear orange for leukemia charity. In fact they would be fined if they wore orange. If I were commissioner of the NFL, supporting those fighting cancer would not be a marketing campaign but a good deed. Players and coaches would be allowed to wear teal for Ovarian cancer, orange for leukemia, pink for breast cancer, any color of any cancer research they wish. Cancer affects so many people, it hurts so many lives, we should treat every type of cancer patient with the same love. If you want to beat cancer, if you want to make a real impact, let’s fight it all!

There would be a lot of changes if I were the commissioner of the NFL. It is a job I’ll never have and never want. If I was to do it I would do it with integrity. I would protect the great traditions and the great beauty of the game. I would make player safety a priority but I would require evidence that my actions would make a difference. Maybe more importantly I would try to make the NFL an engine of good. The National Football League is such a gigantic business and such a marvelous thing. The NFL can bring positive change to the world. Football has helped make my life a truly wonderful thing. I would go about my job with a high level of altruistic intention.

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