NFC West: 2011 Commish for a day

A chops-busting blog network colleague, upon reading my "Commish for a day" piece lamenting 10 a.m. PT kickoffs for West Coast teams, expressed mock concern for "all the NFC West wusses who don't get enough of a pregame beauty nap the night before early East Coast games."

My reply: Let's have a staff meeting to discuss the matter one of these nights at, say, 10 p.m. PT.

I've gone through all our suggestions and liked a few in particular:
  • Create a minor league: Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. envisions a minor-league system much like the one in place for baseball. Williamson: "It would be a fantastic place to cultivate young talent -- especially at quarterback. Players would get valuable game experience. It would be a breeding ground for young coaches and scouts as well. Practice squads and game-day inactives would be a thing of the past, and the major league team could send players up and down as it wished." I like the idea, but this league would have to play its games during the NFL regular season, making it potentially tougher to draw crowds. Perhaps the minor-league teams could operate outside their parent team's immediate markets. The comments section of Williamson's item included solid feedback, including jimmycyo's suggestion to have the minor-league season run 8-10 games and end about two-thirds of the way through the NFL regular season. The minor-league teams would run the same schemes. NFL rosters would expand late in the season, allowing select minor-league prospects to assimilate.
  • Abolish the Pro Bowl: Paul Kuharsky is right on when he says there's no sense in playing the game itself. There would still be Pro Bowl honors for players. Kuharsky: "Guys who make the team still get pineapples with the year on them in their media guide bios. They still get a week in Hawaii -- the week AFTER the Super Bowl. Rather than practices, they participate in clinics and charity events. Then, rather than the game, there is a live skills competition Sunday afternoon. Quarterback target practice. A skill position race to establish the league’s fastest man. A linemen lift to find the strongest." The dynamics that make football compelling simply aren't there during all-star games. Kuharsky is on the right track.
  • Concussion prevention: Kevin Seifert would push for uniform safety standards on the helmets players wear, building upon the research Gregg Easterbrook cited at Virginia Tech. Seifert: "There should be no mystery, in public or private, about the latest and best innovations for preventing concussions. To me, head injuries are the biggest long-term threat to professional football. As we learn more about their causes and symptoms, and observe the long-term effects, I wonder if prospective players won't reach a tipping point on tolerable risk and if fans will begin disassociating with the game as a result." Easterbrook nailed it when he wrote, "The belief that trying to act regarding helmet safety would only create liability for the NFL seems deeply seated in the league's thinking." It's time to move past that thinking.

Check out all the commish-for-a-day pieces here.

What changes would you enact as NFL commissioner?
NFC: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Our divisional bloggers discuss one thing they'd change as commissioner for a day:

Serving as NFL commissioner for one day would have its perks, such as not holding the job for the other 364 days in the year.

Roger Goodell has cut his pay to $1 this year amid labor turmoil. He's become a reviled figure among players -- "Fraud-ger" to some.

Give me his job for a day and I'd stand up for the West Coast. Those 10 a.m. PT kickoffs we've complained about for years would fly away forever. I'd level the playing field for teams traveling West to East.

This isn't complicated stuff. Guys were writing about it in Alaska science forums more than 15 years ago.

NFC West teams have repeatedly asked the league to give them 1 p.m. PT kickoffs for games they play in the Eastern time zone.

West Coast players naturally have a harder time when forced to wake up at 5 or 6 a.m. PT on game days.

"From having been an East Coast team that played in the NFC West when I played for Atlanta, it was much easier going East to West than it is going West to East," Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said earlier this year.

The league took action quickly when the New England Patriots complained about playing two games on the West Coast in succession several years ago. Owners voted to change the scheduling rotation so that Eastern teams drawing Western divisions in the rotation would not visit San Diego and Oakland or Seattle and San Francisco in the same season.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals are scheduled to play six road games this season at 10 or 11 a.m. Phoenix time. The 49ers and Seattle Seahawks each play five road games kicking off at 10 a.m. PT.

"We need to come together as a group of West Coast teams," San Francisco 49ers president Jed York said back in 2009.

That, or make me commissioner for a day. I'll even waive the $1 salary.