Restructuring NFL Football Operations – The Players

This is Part Four of a series on how the NFL should restructure its Football Operations Department.  If you missed the previous three articles here are the links;

  1. Time to Restructure Football Operations in the NFL
  2. Restructuring NFL Football Operations – The Game
  3. Restructuring NFL Football Operations – The Process

The Players – The most important of the two cornerstones.  “Treating players as Assets vs Commodities”

TGC The Players

Development

  • Football Personnel – Assist in formulating player development programs, e.g. expanded PS, Football Academy, etc…
  • R&D – Player development efforts, development league, academics, etc…
  • Other areas – Liaison with USA Football on youth & high school player development

Player Personnel

  • Competition – Work with the Competition Committee for on-going assessment of the Scouting Combine and other entry level assessment programs.
  • Football Personnel – Evaluate current personnel rules, analyze effects of current personnel rules on competitive balance & propose alternative where appropriate.
  • Other areas – Liaison with NFLMC Player Personnel re. Player Personnel matters

Performance

  • Game Operations – Player health & safety, Player discipline
  • Other areas – Liaison with medical committee, physicians & trainers in conjunction with SVP Player Health and Safety.  Liaison with Player Safety Advisory Panel.  NFL/NCAA Trainers Liaison

TFE’s Points of Interest

Shifting the emphasis of the NFL Football Operations Department to a “support organization” in proactive service of the 32 NFL Clubs.

Convey an attitude and understanding to the Clubs that, “We are there to guide and assist them in maximizing their own internal efforts” regarding ALL aspects of the Football Operations Pyramid.

Creation of Supervisory oversight in each of the 4 areas of the Football Operations Pyramid and attention paid to staffing with personnel having background and or experience in the particular area of responsibility; Game Operations, Football Processes/Procedures, Players, and Coaching/GM’s.

Looking for comprehension and knowledge of the various challenges that face the 32 NFL Clubs in each of the 4 areas, using that experience to assist in continuing to build strong programs in support of finding strong solutions.

The Players

Individual “birth to earth” player profiles with “at a minimum” requirements of reporting/tracking of player development in various agreed upon areas.  Similar to a Military Personnel File.  Will travel with players from club to club and will require agreed upon collaboration with NFLPA.

Currently nothing and no one keeps track of the progress a player makes during his career through participation in the various programs presented by the NFL.  The intentions of the League are great, but once the season gets started things tend to get lost at the club level.  Coaches and GM’s focus on the task at hand – Winning football games.  Little is done to keep the player on course in areas that are of concern to all of us outside of football.  When a player changes teams or support personnel change within his current team, nothing from a records point of view is there to pick up where the last help or assistance left off.  If the League truly cares about Player Development, it will implement a system that keeps track of EVERYTHING, not just medical records.

TFE would appreciate feedback from its military readers on the idea and usefulness of Personnel Files.

Single or bi-coastal (Football Academy) Developmental Site.  Emphasis on creating repetitions & digital content via controlled drills & scrimmages.  Emphasis on player skill & technique development, injury rehab.  Would be in conjunction with Coaching and Officiating Developmental Programs, as well as new technologies testing.  TFE favors in place of a Developmental League.

The idea of “Developmental Leagues” isn’t going to work in my opinion.  There have been numerous opportunities within the NFL (NFL Europe) and outside of the NFL (AFL, XFL, UFL, the pending return of the USFL, the new SPFL) that have been touted as alternatives to for professional football fans and an avenue for developing next level talent.  That formula has yet to take hold.

A single or bi-coastal Football Academy would allow players to participate in the drills (1 on 1, 7 on 7, 9 on 7) that coaches and scouts want to see.  It would to a degree limit the liability of injury that comes with playing in a second level setting.  It would keep players not in the NFL system (active or practice squad) physically and mentally prepared for any opportunity.  It could serve as a conduit to train coaches (primarily technique) and officials, as every drill would be monitored by developing refs.  The NFL could use the Football Academy as a testing ground for new technologies and equipment.  Such a site would be continuously open to NFL scouts, football fans, and media.  It could become a vacation destination and a highly marketable platform for the League.

Review Underclass Advisory Committee effectiveness and revise if necessary.

The Advisory Committee needs an overhaul.  A record number of underclassmen declared for the 2014 NFL Draft on the heels of the record number from 2013.  Each and every decision made has a “ripple effect” and this appears to be emanating from the new CBA negotiated after the lockout that put restrictions on rookie contracts.  The state of college football is already stressed enough with the recent decision on the unionization of Northwestern University football players.

TFE doesn’t feel that the current system is working by advising a player “what round” he might be selected in.  Perhaps a numeric scale (1-5 or 1-10) would be a better indicator to a player and send less of a financial message (one way or the other) than predicting what round.  This gets skewed by the hundreds of mock drafts and prognosticative predictions being thrown around by the media anyway.  Players and their families look and listen for what they WANT to believe.

More on this solution in a future post. 

A more consciously integrated role in the principles of leadership  and management techniques with regard to GEN Y (Millennials) player pool on & off the field; development, coaching, discipline, etc…

TFE has addressed this issue in numerous posts in the past.  The old techniques aren’t necessarily the right techniques in coaching, managing, developing,  and motivating today’s modern professional athlete.  Given the current climates in both business and society, it’s hard to expect a young player to fully buy in to the outdated messages of “team first”.  Focus should also be on personal growth/development as an athlete/businessman and the direct relationship it has in building championship teams.  This is a controversial topic for many, but one that I truly believe will only strengthen players, clubs, and the NFL in the long run.

For more information type “Gen Y” or “millennials” in the search box on the homepage.

Other areas/topics of consideration and support;

  • Support 90-man rosters in Training Camp, revised IR/PUP designations, expanded P-Squads for International players.
  • Support any and all efforts in new NFL I.T. initiatives within Player Personnel.
  • Support enhanced technology & military collaboration in areas of concussions and heat stroke.
  • Review and analyze NFL Regional Combine effectiveness and the need for.

Next up – The Coaches

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