There are few truths more resolute than the hatred NFL fans feel towards commissioner Roger Goodell. Everything the man does does nothing but bring out the venom of the fan base.
Now, let’s be clear about something, more fan bases than the New England Patriots despise Goodell. The Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t fond of him, along with the strong majority of teams and fans who think he is only a puppet for the owners, and in it just for the money.
However, despite his often arrogant persona, Goodell has to hear the criticism. Whether it is online, on media networks or even in person, Goodell realizes he is enemy No. 1 in most fans’ minds.
To combat that, Goodell went on the offensive and released a letter to NFL fans talking about how the owners, at their annual owners meeting, will be discussing how to increase the pace of play.
Check out the complete letter below:
Here at the NFL, we have a relentless drive to improve—particularly when it comes to the way fans experience our game.
In order to understand how we might deliver a better and more exciting entertainment experience for you, we embarked on a specific project before the start of the 2016 season to gather feedback about the in-stadium and live NFL game viewing experience.
Consistently, we heard from fans that we can improve in two key areas: the flow and pace of the game, and commercialization and the number of unnecessary disruptions to the game on the field.
Today, I want to tell you about some of the ways we are working to address that.
On the football side, there are a number of changes we are making to the mechanics and rules of the game to maintain excitement and also improve the consistency of our officiating.
For example, next week clubs will vote on a change to centralize replay reviews. Instead of a fixed sideline monitor, we will bring a tablet to the Referee who can review the play in consultation with our officiating headquarters in New York, which has the final decision. This should improve consistency and accuracy of decisions and help speed up the process.
Regarding game timing, we're going to institute a play clock following the extra point when television does not take a break, and we're considering instituting a play clock after a touchdown. We're also going to standardize the starting of the clock after a runner goes out-of-bounds, and standardize halftime lengths in all games, so we return to the action as quickly as possible. Those are just a few of the elements we are working on to improve the pace of our game.
Together with our broadcast partners, we will be working to meaningfully reduce down time and the frequency of commercial breaks in our game. We will also be giving our broadcast partners increased flexibility to avoid untimely breaks in the action. For example, we know how annoying it is when we come back from a commercial break, kick off, and then cut to a commercial again. I hate that too. Our goal is to eliminate it.
We also know that you feel there are too many elements in the broadcast that aren't relevant to the play on the field. With our partners, we will be looking to instead focus on content that is most complementary and compelling to you–whether that is analysis, highlights or stories about our players.
All of these changes are meant to give you more of what you want: a competitive game with fewer interruptions and distractions from the action.
There is much more work to do in the coming seasons as we continue to listen and learn. But these positive changes are intended to create a better experience for you, our fans.
We hope that you will continue to give us feedback on how we can improve.
Thank you for all that you do for our players, our teams and our game.
— Roger Goodell
The question now remains, does anyone actually believe him? Will Goodell actually turn down ad revenue from commercials to improve the pace of play?
I have my doubts, but it would be nice to see the change made.
Nothing is more infuriating than a touchdown scored, extra point is made, cut to commercial, kickoff results in a touchback and cut to another commercial. It does more than just kill the game experience for fans, both at home and at the game, but also kills momentum within the actual game.
To me, this is about more than just commercials and pace of play. This is about a commissioner, who works for the owners, trying to put a positive spin on a potential change which he can’t make by himself. Notice in the letter he speaks of the vote which will need to take place before any changes are actually made, but is this letter and incentive just smoke and mirrors?
The real issues surrounding the NFL aren’t about commercials. Yeah, they are annoying, but the safety of the game, the length of the season and the potential expansion of the game overseas are the real burning topics at hand. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for any type of correspondence on those topics, but in the meantime, enjoy Goodell’s plea to root for him as he tries to change the game.
You’ll find me, and many others, rolling our eyes in the corner.