Eric Winston wants to change the league

NFL_winston_250.jpgTexans 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.

29 responses to “Eric Winston wants to change the league

  1. I enjoyed his piece for SI. The Super Bowl on a Saturday sounds like a great idea to me. Not sure about doing away with divisions though.
    Good to see a player that actually has a brain.

  2. Lastly, Eric would remove one of the linemen from the defensive side of the ball. Preferably the guy who plays opposite him each week. Just as a small personal touch to make the game more enjoyable.

  3. I think the franchise tag should only be allowed to be used once during a players career and that only the original drafting team can apply it. It would give original drafting team an additional year to trade or extend the player contract.

  4. Eric Winston’s main new idea however was to have the Houston Texans reach the playoffs. This idea was laughed off by the editors of Sports Illustrated (AKA Not ESPN).

  5. Winston’s schedule change would be 1 game against all conference foes and 3 games against the other conference as he is talking about an 18 game schedule.
    But as much as I hate to agree with Florio division rivalries is what makes the league. Winston’s idea is to bring more fairness to the schedule which his schedule would but at the expense of rivalries.
    That being said if the league does switch to an 18 game schedule where do the other two games come from? Presently its 4 games against one division and 1 game against each of the other 2 divisions in your conference. I suppose that could easily be switched to be 2 games against each of the other 2 divisions. Bringing more fairness to the schedule as well.

  6. Good getting a player’s own thought out opinions on their respective sport. Maybe he’s setting the stage for becoming NFLPA prez a few years down the road…

  7. Super Bowl will never be moved. Sunday is still a better day for viewing than Saturday is. This is why during the NBA and NHL finals you saw the games go on Sunday and not Saturday. To many it may seem like a great idea but Sunday night is still king as far as getting ratings.
    The scheduling idea is ridiclous to me. Won’t work and the NFL wouldn’t be the NFL if the Cowboys and Eagles didn’t face off twice a year. IMO the 16 game schedule with 4 teams a division is perfect right now. Don’t screw with it unless more teams are added. [No added game too].
    I agree on a developmental league and it is already in the making. We will see this in the next 2 or 3 years.
    I am against limiting to what Rookies or any player can make. This is the capitalist in me but every player should be allowed to negotiate his deal freely. Most players never see a 2nd contract so who are we to tell them what they can make. To me its unamerican and I wouldn’t want those restrictions placed on me when I negotiate my salary.
    Agree on the overtime rule other than taking out the coin flip. Won’t matter if both teams get the ball.

  8. Unless you read the whole blog you are missing some of the points he makes about the conference format.
    The way he wants it with each team in each conference playing each other one time a year every team has the same chance of making the playoffs. There is no one team playing an easier or harder strength of schedule! Hey I would hate not getting to play certain teams twice a year but if you want fair and you want your team to have the best chance then this would be the best way.
    Overall he has a lot of good point of views and it was a good read.

  9. i originally thought an overhaul of the conference division system would be interesting and it would fix the problem of having the rams in the nfc WEST and the cowboys in the nfc EAST. division rivalries would likely be gone. thats why the scheduling would need to be changed up. like 2 or 4 of the games each year are discretionary, so the team could play an old rival that moved out…
    idk its just spitballing

  10. Love em all except the schedule change……….who says guys at the U arent going to class.

  11. What I would like to see are more opportunities for teams to make the playoffs as wildcard teams. With only two wildcard teams per conference, there are years when excellent teams are excluded and weak teams are included. Within the last few years we have seen an 11-5 Patriots team left out and we have seen an 8-8 Chargers team make the playoffs.
    If two teams were added to each conference and they were split into three divisions each, the three division winners and five wild card teams could make the playoffs. The top two teams would no longer get an extra week off, but there would be three additional wildcard teams making the playoffs, which would significantly increase the excitement and importance of year end games.
    With two teams added to each conference, the NFL could put a team in L.A. and possibly teams could be established outside of the U.S.

  12. If your overtime idea isn’t “play an entire extra period until someone wins,” it’s stupid.

  13. I liked it as well except for dumping the divisional format…
    It’s a blessing and a curse to be in the NFC East. While you wish your team could have an easier road to the playoffs, that is not going to happen in the NFC East.
    I may be biased (feel free to agree), but there is nothing like NFC East football in December. As the NFCE was kept intact, even though 3 of the 4 teams are within 200 miles of each other with the other being 1,500 miles away, it was because this division is one great big, nasty, ugly rivalry.
    While I realize weak divisions like the AFC West, NFC West and the NFC NASCAR (South) division would probably benefit, I wish to keep the divisions intact.

  14. The schedule change makes sense. No longer would you have 10 win teams sitting at home watching 9 or 8 win teams in the playoffs. The best 6 teams in the conference go to the playoffs and what is wrong with that? A division rivalry would still be in tact, only one game a year and as home game every other year. That’s not that bad of an idea and seems to work rather well in college, Michigan vs Ohio St; Florida vs Georgia and Texas vs Oklahoma.

  15. they just need to throw in paranthetical notes when they steal from other sites.
    proper MLA formatting of course

  16. Smart Guy.
    The four-division format is the worst thing the NFL has ever done. One team to make the playoffs (the fourth div champ) shouldn’t go. Ever since they changed it to the four div format.

  17. What would Jerry Jones say if he was asked to trade his home game vs the Redskins for a visit from the Rams every other year? What if the Jets traded their home game vs the Patriots every other year for one against Jacksonville?
    Doing away with divisions is a terrible, terrible idea for all but the least relevent teams. Some of you have severely underestimated the amount of “invisible” revenue generated by having these divisions and rivalries in place, and do not understand how these rivlaries have helped the NFL become the dominant American sport it is today. When fans have clearly visible enemies, their support of their team is that much stronger. Eliminating that is akin to ripping the heart out of the NFL.

  18. afiresnake says:
    June 28, 2010 1:01 PM
    Smart Guy.
    The four-division format is the worst thing the NFL has ever done. One team to make the playoffs (the fourth div champ) shouldn’t go. Ever since they changed it to the four div format.
    So exactly what was the NFL supposed to do when expanding to 32 teams?

  19. Hell…….I didn’t know it was Christmas……..Let me make a wish list too….Anybody here work?…Or what?…Go in the HR department with a wish list, and see how that works out….He’s an employee, hello?…..But, oh it makes sense, hell alot of things make sense……Trying to tell an owner how to run HIS business isn’t one of them

  20. Everything he said is a bad idea except the Super Bowl on Saturday.
    A Monday morning Superbowl in Asia is not a good thing.

  21. Interesting… makes you wonder what a players league would be like. The NFL is a owners league, the money drives it, so the question is does the sport suffer? If there was a league run by the players, how would that change the game?

  22. I will say, I was VERY impressed with the article the Raders cornerback did last week. He is a very impressive player. He was impressive when he went on the NFL channel too. He’s articulate and intelligent.
    Winston’s article was as bad as Nnamdi’s was good. All of his ideas were bad and he doesn’t write very well either.

  23. too much is being made of the divisional rivalries. although how you would make out the playoff system may be a little screwy. i for one would love to see 16 different teams vs my team per year. as far as the superbowl on saturday, anyone thats against that idea is probably someone that gets up early to go to church on sunday. talk about a freakin waste of time, someone that wouldn`t know a good time if it hit them right in the face. i myself don`t drink but plenty of people have a tendency to dislike hangovers from what i hear.

  24. A full divisional round-robin would be terrific. The next best thing to that entirely unlikely outcome, though, would be eliminating the stupid wild cards. Why should a team that has already lost its division have any shot at a league championship?

  25. This was a good read, I agree with some points, esp with the SB being played on Sat. Plus he didn’t sound like a retard and actually had something constructive and new to say, instead of just “you know what I’m sayin?” The savings that the owners want to make , thats a new angle (at least for me) about the whole CBA thing and at least sheds some light that I didn’t previously know. Not sure I want to destroy division rivalry, but his proposed format at least gives everyone, more or less the same strength of schedule

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