Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tagliabue's Socialist NFL

A half dozen years ago we were talking about parity in the NFL. Paul Tagliabue, former commissioner, seemed to think that a league filled with 8 and 8 teams would be best for maintaining fan interest. Perhaps they should consider not keeping score and giving everyone a trophy for trying hard.

The rules have always given losers the top picks on draft day, but the trading of draft positions and players has gotten so sophisticated that Wall Street is jealous.

Salary caps were adopted in 1994. It was another attempt to create parity in the league, though many believe that the real intent was to control owners’ costs, thus boosting their profits. Ooooo, those evil profits being made by those evil owners. Bad, bad profits. Bad, bad owners.

So what happened to Tagliabue’s socialist dream? A league where, not only can any given team beat another team on any given Sunday, but every team accomplishes this exactly half the time? A league where the playoff teams are selected by the fourth and fifth tie breakers?

Fortunately, the NFL is chock full of competitors. From the owners to the coaches to every player on every team, the goal is to win. This is capitalism and competition in all its shining glory.

After week eight, we still have two undefeated teams (the Saints and Colts) and two others with only one loss (Vikings and Broncos). This is generating huge fan interest. Peyton, Drew and Brett are in a battle for best quarterback. The skilled position players on these teams are plastered on kids’ bedroom walls and admired by all serious fans, trash talking aside.

On the other hand, there are six teams either winless or with only one win. How exciting was it when the Lions finally won their first game since the 2007 season? You would have thought they were headed to Disney World.

And the Tampa Bay Buccaneers? It’s been a bad year for pirates all the way around. Can they lose it all this year? We’ll be glued to the TV wondering just that.

Perhaps one of the most interesting games this year will be played on November 22nd at 1:00 p.m. Eastern time. Depending on what happens over the next two weeks, it is possible that the 9 and 0 Saints will be playing the 0 and 9 Bucs. Wouldn’t an upset on that day be awesome?

That would never happen in Tagliabue World.

Copyright 2009 Randy Hunt


  1. NASCAR implemented the Car of The Future which means every single car has the exact same outside configurations. All in the name of safety. Prior to that Chevy, Ford, and Dodge had aerodynamic advantages over one another but only at certain tracks. That advantage was eliminated. Restricter plates are another measure to keep the horsepower to a level that every driver must use. Teams use the same tires, engine manufacturers and fuel. Quite vanilla but someone always wins every sunday....in both sports.

  2. I suppose it’s a little hard to make the analogy between football and NASCAR, but here goes:

    1) The size of the football field is standard; the configuration of race tracks are not, however every racer has to deal with the same conditions.

    2) Having identical cars, engines, fuel, etc., could be considered equivalent to having to use the same football, pads, helmets, gloves, cleats, shoes, etc. (I know players use different cleats and shoes, but I think there are specifications for what they can use.)

    3) The real difference between the teams is in the athletes, coaches and crews. One wide receiver who can run faster than a particular defensive back might be similar to one driver who is able to take a turn faster, hug the wall tighter, draft closer, etc. The equipment is the same, but the competitors are very different.

    Tagliabue’s dream would be for every NASCAR team to be within a point at the end of the season. And for NASCAR, that would be good for the sport, but for football, it just doesn’t work.

  3. It was an anaology of a sport "leveling the playing field" Not pitting one sport against the other. In any event, as soon as race fans find out NASCAR is nothing more than the WWF on wheels it will become a second class sport of sorts.


I monitor all comments. As long as there are no personally defamatory statements and/or foul language, I'll post your comment. For this reason, your comment will not appear instantaneously. To comment without registering, choose Name/URL and type a screen name (or your real name if you like) into the Name field. Leave the URL field blank.