Texans offensive lineman Eric Winston takes the reins of Monday Morning Quarterback this week, during Peter King’s hiatus. (Peter already was scheduled to be off while covering the World Cup; last week his brother, Bob, died suddenly, and Peter’s family has been in our thoughts and prayers ever since.)
Winston brings his fastball to the keyboard, offering up five ideas for changing the game.
First, he’d move the Super Bowl to Saturday in order to let fans better enjoy the game, since they won’t have to worry about work and school the next day. But if the league adds two regular-season games and continues to start the season the weekend after Labor Day, Winston possibly would get his wish, since the Super Bowl would likely land on President’s Day weekend, when Monday is a holiday.
Second, he’d make a radical change to the conference format and schedule, dumping the divisions and having each team play the other teams in its conference once, with one game against a rival from the other conference.
We see three potential problems here. First, it would essentially wipe out most interconference play, since each team would play only its assigned rival from the other conference every year. Second, by putting the top six of 16 teams from each conference into the postseason, the subtle genius of giving every team a plausible path to the playoffs by giving them a one-in-four crack at a division crown would diminish the hope that runs rampant throughout every NFL city when each team resides in the valley of 0-0. Third, division rivalries fuel much of the sport’s popularity; under this proposal, they’d be gone.
Next, Winston wants a larger roster and a minor league. We agree on both counts. Young players who otherwise sit on the bench would benefit from a chance to use live reps against other NFL-caliber players as a way to improve.
Winston also favors a “sensible” rookie wage scale. He proposed a four-year deal for first-rounders and three-year contracts for rounds two through seven, with no franchise tags or other restrictions. (We’d be shocked if the league ever agrees, unless in exchange for that arrangement all player salaries would be paid in Monopoly money and/or foam peanuts.)
Fifth, Winston believes that overtime should be changed for the regular season, with the first possession determined by something other than a coin flip and both teams getting a crack at the ball before it converts to sudden death. We agree on both ideas — but the first one becomes far less necessary if the second is adopted.