What We Learned This Week in the NFL Offseason:
- NFL pushes back start times for afternoon games; degenerate gamblers everywhere rejoice
- Vilma files new lawsuit trying to stay on the field this season
- Goodell getting closer to bringing the NFL back to LA
- NFL bringing Wi-Fi into stadiums, relaxing on blackout rules to get butts in the seats
We’ve finally made it to the final stretch ladies and gentlemen of Steeler Nation. Just a few short weeks are standing between now and the opening of Training Camp, and there will be NFL preseason games played next month. In the mean time, the NFL news keeps churning out and this week is no different.
The NFL announced early last week that the start times for the later games of NFL doubleheaders will start 10 minutes later. This affected 5 Steeler games including the home opener Sept. 16th against the Jets, which will start at 4:25 pm est. rather than the originally scheduled 4:15. I don’t know about you guys but whether or not the games were scheduled at 4:10, 4:15, or 4:22 and a half, I’ve always referred to them as the 4 o’clock game. This makes not a whole lot of change in my world, living on the east coast. It could give me a few moments between the early and late game to order another pitcher of beer or have a hot dog, but what first popped into my head when I heard of the time change is how all the degenerate gamblers will now have 10 extra minutes to place their last minute bets for those 4 o’clock games. Not sure if Goodell is a fan of degenerate gamblers, he should be of course, they are part of what makes the league so profitable and sustainable after all these years.
Suspended Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma filed a new lawsuit in federal court, claiming the Commish is failing to make a timely appeal ruling on Vilma’s suspension, also asking for a temporary restraining order to allow Vilma to continue to play if Goodell upholds the suspension. Vilma and his lawyers are citing that the suspension undermines “the integrity of the NFL and the Commissioner’s office” since the punishments were handed down to Vilma and the other players based on evidence they are stating is either flawed or cannot be substantiated. The NFL released portions of the evidence used in determining the suspensions for Vilma and his Saints teammates of 2009, but not the entireties of the evidence as the sources were not named to protect their identities. The biggest issue here is Vilma and his lawyers are trying to argue points of law and reason and that’s not what the CBA that Vilma and his teammates all signed last August. Basically, the NFL players all signed a collective bargaining agreement that states Goodell could suspend them for whatever he wants, whenever he wants and hear the appeals himself and if he really really wants to, his appeal rulings can simply state “You’re still suspended, Nanny Nanny Doo Doo!”. I’m not a legal genius or anything (although I do watch a ridiculous amount of Law & Order) but I have a feeling none of these lawsuits are going to work out the players way no matter how much sense they make.
In between catering to the gambling population and not ruling on the Saints players’ appeals, Goodell has been busy trying to make it possible to get an NFL franchise back to Los Angeles. The Commish sent out a memo stating that any current NFL team thinking of moving to LA for the 2013 season must apply between January 1st and February 13th of that year and prove that they have exhausted all attempts to remain in Jacksonville, or whatever current city they are in. With a brand-spanking new stadium in the works in LA, the Commish is clearly salivating at the idea of having a new Super Bowl location, as well as some fancy new studios for his network. He has stated several times that the league is satisfied with the current 32-team assemblage but is not ruling out the possibility of including one or two expansion teams.
Possibly in the hopes of not getting booed the next time he is announced in a public arena, Goodell is also attempting to improve the fan experience in NFL stadiums. One attempt to boost attendance in stadiums is enhancing the stadiums with Wi-Fi, and including smartphone apps to let fans listen to players on the field wearing microphones. Increasingly of late, the at-home experience for NFL fans has gotten cheaper and better each year while the in-stadium experience has gotten more expensive and more of a hassle to deal with. With the amount you have to pay for a ticket, parking, refreshments, and any other travel costs to and from the game, it’s almost not even worth it to be there when you can have such a better experience on your couch, while keeping an eye on every other game going on at the same time. The idea of being able to actually post to Facebook your picture of you in your seats during the game rather than 4 hours later when you can finally get your signal back might not exactly make up for paying twice face value for your tickets and $8 for a beer, but hey it’s baby steps.
In addition to trying to enhance the stadium experience for fans, Goodell is also taking pity on the smaller market teams that can’t sell out a game by relaxing the blackout restrictions. The NFL owners passed a resolution to allow for games to be televised in the local markets even when as few as 85% of tickets are sold. That means the dozens of Jags or Bungles fans that can’t make it to the game can finally watch them lose on TV. Several teams no longer have long-standing season ticket waiting lists like has been the usual years before. None of this would ever affect the Steelers, who have one of the longest standing season-ticket waiting lists in the league and hasn’t not sold out a home game since 1972. Unfortunately this affects Steeler fans outside of the motherland, which rely on their inferior local teams being blacked out and the Steeler games being televised in their place.
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