Sports department for the student run radio station 90.3 WRST at UW-Oshkosh
The way the NFL is set up right now, the action is far from over once the Super Bowl hits. We have the NFL Combine in Indianapolis just a few weeks after the Super Bowl, a frenzy that lets everyone get just a little bit more football action on the field before it shuts down for a while.
Then we have NFL Free Agency beginning a few weeks after that, and the start of a new calendar year for the NFL. At this point, it’s basically like Christmas for hardcore NFL fans, who are desperately trying to get any bit of football action they can. Everybody tunes into NFL Network or ESPN right at 3:00 PM CST for the new year to start and to see which teams will come flying out of the gate in the first few minutes, signing as many free agent veterans as they can to try and improve their team. For example: This year’s team to come flying out of the gate was the Miami Dolphins, signing almost every free agent they set their eyes on, including top WR free agent Mike Wallace. The Dolphins, a team that has not made the playoffs three times since the year 2000, had a fan base that was looking for something to cheer for and they got it. Dolphins fans are beyond excited for the start of the season, and we haven’t even seen the draft yet!
Speaking of draft, the NFL Draft is the final piece in the puzzle for fandom in the off-season. What other sport televises seven rounds of draft coverage across three days, including the first round being held in the primetime TV slot (Thursday at 7 PM CST)? The draft in the NFL is unlike the draft in any other sport because fans make it that way. They show up to Radio City Music Hall to see the Commissioner announce what player is picked where, each and every fan listening closely deciding whether to cheer at thee top of their lungs when their team picks the player they want, or boo their team’s pick until the deafening sound drowns out the entire music hall.
After the draft in late April, however, the media frenzy surrounding the NFL at the national level seems to die down until pre-season play starts up again in August. Fans still follow their teams throughout Organized Team Activites (OTAs) and Mini Camp, but as far as national coverage goes, the NFL loses out to the MLB, NBA, and even the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. It’s expected that a league in it’s playoffs would generate higher ratings and web hits than one in an off-season stalemate, but try telling that to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Roger Goodell has a plan to make everything all better.
The plan proposed by Goodell would move the entire NFL calendar back, spreading out the amount of time between big national NFL events, making it more nationally covered and talked about, and giving the NFL media (thank God) something to do during the treacherous months of time between play.
Goodell wants to play Ceasar in changing the calendar, but so far there have been no reports of him wanting to name a month in honor of himelf. Instead, he is proposing that the NFL canendar be overhauled, pushing back the combing to early March, making free agency start at the beginning of April, and holding the draft in early May. That way, the league has ratings and national news all the way up until mid May, and right after the summer break we’re back in full football form with pre-season games.
The one snag in his master plan is that as Mark Maske of the Washington Post pointed out, the NFL owners and players union would have to approve the changes before they went into effect. Therein lies the real intrigue about all of this, wondering whether or not the owners and players would actually want this reform passed. It would give the players a longer vacation and would give the scouts a little more time to go over film and prepare for the draft. On the other hand, it would hurt team publicity, because teams wouldn’t be able to market their new look teams until later in the year now, which ultimately means less money. Think about the excitement of signing a new free agent to your favorite team. Mike Wallace jersey sales are already booming in Miami, just like Brandon Marshall jersey sales did in Chicago or Peyton Manning in Denver. People get excited about their favorite teams just getting the chance to improve, regardless of whether they do or not.
Free Agency is the start of a new calendar year for the NFL, and it will be interesting to see how the owners and players react to the proposed change. Goodell has gotten things changed in the past (New NFL logo, moving the beginning of the draft to Thursday, even getting rid of the infamous Tuck rule just a few weeks ago). He has also hit a snag when trying to bring bigger change to the NFL, like getting rid of the Pro-Bowl or expanding the regular season to 18 games. Yes, Roger Goodell certainly has made his mark on the NFL, and in continuing to try and bring about change to the league. Whether that change helps the league or sends it spiraling into declivity, however, remains to be seen.
As for now, the draft will still be held in 21 days, and the entire football world is still hanging onto anything that will get them through the NFL dry spell that is summer, with everyone hoping for any bit of news to keep the league relevant until those glorious final days of August bring school, colder weather, and of course, NFL games once again.
WIDE WORLD OF SPORTS
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past week, then you already know of the horrific and graphic injury that Louisville’s Kevin Ware suffered in an NCAA Elite Eight matchup with Duke. And if you know of the injury that Ware received, you also know about the extreme media coverage he has been getting over the past week as well.
It’s understandable that he is getting all sorts of coverage. People want to know if he’s okay. Judging by how quite the stadium got, and how physically upset his teammates were (some even reportedly vomited on the bench when seeing his leg), it’s natural in this day and age for people to smother him and want to see if he’s okay, and show their support for him and his teammates. After all, this guy wasn’t a professional player like Joe Theismann was when his leg snapped in two, he’s just a college kid who was trying to win his team an NCAA National Championship in his home city of Atlanta.
That is why it was so alarming to me to see the “All In For Ware” and “Rise To The Occasion” shirts with the number 5 big and bold on the back of the shirts. The shirts are officially Adidas licensed, meaning the entire team can wear them on the bench and in warm ups. But where is the money from all of these shirts going? Well, since they are licenses by Adidas, they make most of the money off of the shirts. The school will probably get a cut of the shirts sold to the public, and of course the NCAA has to jump in and get some money too.
So let’s look at this again. A player suffers a horrific, gruesome and downright dreadful injury on live television during one of the biggest games of the year. The team rallies around him, and makes it to the Final Four, presenting him the trophy in the hospital room when he wakes up from sugery. Ware says he’ll be fine, he intends to return to the game of basketball again, hopefully with Louisville. And the big winner in all of this is the NCAA and Adidas, who make hundreds of thousands of dollars off of the event by making T-Shirts with his number on it. As ESPN college basketball analyst tweeted yesterday afternoon “Glad to see the NCAA making money off Kevin Ware. Or, is the value in this only the school, and the No. 5 is random?”