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Memo to The Commish

M  E  M  O  R  A  N  D  U  M  

To:  Paul Tagliabue, National Football League Commissioner

From: Doug Coutts, Small Time Writer for

Date: June 23, 2003

RE: NFL Rules Discussion

Mr. Tagliabue, I will get right to the point, and that is that I love the NFL.  There are no two ways about it; by far it is the best run professional league.  Not to mention, that it is clearly the best to watch both in person and on television.  In order to help make your job a little easier, I thought I’d put this together to help you out in a few areas that have come up in the media recently.

Expanding the Playoffs

I don’t think it’s a good idea to add more playoff teams.  If two more playoff teams were added, then we would be having nearly half the teams in the league qualify for the playoffs.  The NFL season has to be worth something, and with sixteen games for each team, there is plenty of time for the good teams to rise to the top.  The current format of rewarding the top two teams in each conference with a week off is a well deserved, having done well during the regular season.  You don’t need me to tell you that the logistics of working out a playoff “bracket” with another team from each conference is extremely muddled.  Don’t add any more games, even though the draw of more television money might be tempting.  There isn’t a single fan that I associate with that wants more teams in the playoffs.  In addition, I find it interesting that the teams that narrowly missed the playoffs are the ones complaining the loudest about the current format.

NFL Refereeing

While I am not a football referee, I’ve done my fair share of officiating in other sports so I know this is a tough job at any level.  In my opinion, the guys you have out there are top notch and do a great job.  All the talk of making the officials “full time” is much about nothing.  There needs to be a human factor in officiating and I am sure that you have a system of assessment and reward for the good officials.  Also, I am very much in favor of the way things currently stand, ie. each team getting two challenges per game.  The only thing I might consider changing is that if a team wins a challenge, then they don’t lose the challenge. 

Overtime Changes

Simply put, if two teams battle for an entire sixty minutes worth of football and can’t come to a resolution, does it really matter how the game is settled?  I find the current system to be fair and equitable.  As you know, football is a tough and physical game and any extension beyond regulation time will simply be too much of a physical strain on the body.  Besides, statistically, the team that wins the overtime coin toss only has a slight advantage over their opponent.  Keep it the way it is. 

NFL Bye Weeks

Finally, when bye weeks were introduced (before the most recent expansions), they were grouped so that many of the teams in the same division would have the same week off.  Since all the current divisions now include four teams, wouldn’t it be a good idea to go back to this system?  Going a step further, perhaps this bye week could be one week before two division games?  That would eliminate any potential “advantage” gained by a staggered bye week, and it would also create an extra week of build up to these very important division matchups.  Just a suggestion. 

That’s all I can think of for now.  I thank you for your time and if I can provide you with anything else, feel free to drop me an email.  Thank you. 

Yours truly,

Doug Coutts

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