League commissioner Roger Goodell also pumped up the propaganda machine last week in trying to build support for an idea that is simply lame in nature. Goodell has also bypassed the bar previously set by great Super Bowl champions like the 1972 Miami Dolphins (14-0), 1985 Chicago Bears (15-1), 1989 San Francisco 49ers (14-2), 1998 Denver Broncos (14-2) and the 1992 Dallas Cowboys (13-3).
Yes, there’s other Super Bowl champions with records comparable with the group above, but not many.
In contrast, recent seasons have seen Super Bowl champions that required two hands to count their regular season losses.
Consider the presence of teams like the 2007 New York Giants (10-6), 2010 Green Bay Packers (10-6) and the 2011 New York Giants (9-7).
See how the standard is dropping, at least where NFL “greatness” is concerned?
Jones and Goodell will refer to the benefits of adding more excitement to the most watched team sport in the United States. They seem to feel that adding more mediocrity to a postseason tournament that could win a Super Bowl is what is best for everybody.
Let’s look at the real reason, however.
This whole idea is about money, period.
Goodell and the NFL owners have been pressing the gas pedal in recent years in doing anything imaginable to make more money, or “grow the pie” as both of the above mentioned NFL figures voiced repeatedly like political talking points during the 2011 players lockout. Saving money and making more of it are the only concerns for this collection of billionaire owners and it doesn’t matter if they have to put players in pink (a small fraction goes towards cancer research), market safety and increase penalties (stealing more player earnings adds up), move to London (Britain’s pound is worth more than the US dollar) or, in this case, add more games however possible.
Remember that the NFL players union has scoffed at the idea of increasing the current 16-game regular season to 18 games. The owners want this so bad they dream about it—this while they have killed the excessive amount of money some rookies used to get when entering the league and also in making it more and more difficult for veterans of four or more seasons to continue making a living via a salary cap that makes them expendable in favor of now-inexpensive youngsters.
Jones realizes that the NFL has peaked in terms of popularity in the U.S. The only ways to make more money are to expand into other countries that don’t care too much or by finding ways to play more games—the latter is much more easily done, obviously.
The irony here, for Jones anyway, is that his core players such as Tony Romo, DeMarcus Ware and Jason Witten are in decline, a fact easily seen during 2013. This could mean that future core players like Dez Bryant, Sean Lee and Tyron Smith might not be surrounded by enough talent to even reach 8-8 as early as next season—have you seen Dallas’ 2014 opponents?
Jones could see his Cowboys heading for another season like the one Dallas experienced in 2010. Following three trips to the postseason in the previous four, the Cowboys collapsed to a 1-7 start that year, which paved the way for current head coach Jason Garrett to embark on his ongoing and successive .500 seasons.
But is 6-10 or 5-11 good enough to make the playoffs in a new postseason bracket that could invite as much as half of the league to the Super Bowl?
Well, we might get that answer sooner than later.
If you ask a “C” student if they’re in favor of their school accepting a “D” instead of simply going right to “F” then they’ll always agree—especially if you’re going to pay them more money for being completely mediocre.
Welcome to the likely future of America’s Team and the watered-down NFL.
A final footnote: 2013 opening round playoff games played in Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Green Bay required both NFL-granted extensions and corporate partners to finally sell out those games to avoid regional blackouts.