As teams scramble to prepare for bowl games and play-offs, let’s take this week to consider the following.
The emergence of soccer as a viable non-violent alternative to youth tackle football, concussions continuing at all levels leading to lifelong health complications, and so many parental doubts about sons playing football are all reasons why fans are searching for an alternative to the NFL we’ve all come to know and love.
With tongue only partially tucked in cheek, may I propose the National Forensics League as that alternative? The name denotes an entity dedicated to safety while embellishing those aspects of tackle football that have made it such an exciting sport.
First, Herculean-sized interior linemen must go. Why we’ve ever had them, I am at a loss to explain. All they do is slow down the action by getting in the way. Giving up those huge salaries will be tough for them but lucrative half-time compensatory pie eating/log throwing contests should lighten somewhat their financial loss.
The game thus becomes a seven-on-seven contest, pitting lithe men of blazing speed catching passes from unencumbered quarterbacks exhibiting unerring accuracy in testing the reaction times of stealthy defenders no longer paid to remove the heads of wily receivers.
Helmets will be mandatory to thwart the occasional acts of malfeasance by overly aggressive combatants but all other pads will be unnecessary. Gloves and stockings will be optional.
All seven offensive players will be eligible receivers and the removal of a flag attached to the ball carrier’s belt will call for a whistle to end the play. Such flags will represent all fifty states plus active paid-up members of the European Union–(sorry, Greece)–adding an international flavor to the league.
The number of referees needed will drop from eight to two because no zebras need watch for the gouging, tripping, probing, holding, biting, knuckling, kneeing, clawing, scratching, kicking, punching, clipping and spitting heretofore associated with the soon-to-be dispatched eight interior hippopotami look-a-likes.
Quarterbacks will wear brightly colored jerseys equipped with beeping sensors that go off when a rusher gets within a foot, immediately halting play. Helmets, for quarterbacks only, may be optional so the traditionally more handsome signal callers can commercially capitalize even further on their good looks.
The kicking game will prove challenging. To prevent injuries inherent on kick-off and punt returns, all members of the receiving team are eligible to receive forward passes from the kick returner. Ergo, only one member of the kicking team will run full-speed ahead, damn the torpedoes toward the kick returner while all others will have to play man-to-man coverage to prevent long pass receptions to any and all members of the kicking team.
Rules for games starting at 4 PM dictate that teams use zone pass defenses only because of the unsettling effects of the Western sun. (Don’t ask.)
The consumption of alcoholic beverages will be limited to the first three minutes of each half, both in the stadium and at home. The league foresees the difficulty of policing the home portion of this new rule and will ask for an honor system on the part of Lazy Boy viewers, a violation of which will short circuit reception of the NFL network in those homes. It’s only fair.
Overtime will consist of a sudden death game with a best two-of-three coin toss determining who gets first possession at mid-field. A team will undoubtedly choose defense upon winning the coin toss because if action by the offense on that first series does not result in a score, the defense automatically wins. (This seemingly unfair rule change was heavily debated but eventually enacted as a compromise because of the overwhelming anger at the drinking time restrictions, primarily by the at-home Sunday afternoon whining male NFL wannabes.)
Purists may rebel initially against the loss of linebackers blindsiding receivers and maniacal muscle men piling on ball carriers, but frequent viewing of the “NFL’s Greatest Hits” on huge television screens playing loud gangsta music throughout the stadiums should, over time, gradually ease withdrawal pains.