This is the third part in a series on the restructuring of Football Operations at the League level. Part one discussed the need for compartmentalizing the scattered programs the NFL is currently implementing. In part two we looked at the importance of maintaining the QUALITY of the NFL’s product – The Game. Now in part three TFE reviews The Process of Football Operations in the NFL.The Process – Supports “The Game” through pragmatism and consistency of execution. The Game is supported by the Process. Not often seen nor fully understood by the outside (fans/media). It joins & holds the outer most Divisions together on all 3 sides. Football Operations is a HOUSE OF CARDS without it.
Competition & BalanceThe Philosophical Foundation that supports the GAME.
- Competition Committee – Liaison to Commissioner, non-voting member
- Other areas – Liaison with broadcast department on competitive aspects of game scheduling
CBA & RulesThe elements of Competition and Balance.
- Game OPS – Playing rules
- Football Personnel – Evaluate effects of current personnel rules such as 90-man preseason roster, cutdown dates, IR designations, PUP, etc…
- Football Personnel – Analyze effects of current CBA & personnel rules on competitive balance and propose alternatives where appropriate.
- Other areas – Liaison with NFLMC Player Personnel re. League rules
EnforcementThe “rebar” of the foundation & its elements. Gives Competition & Balance its strength.
- Game OPS – Player discipline
- Football Personnel – Assist in developing & enforcing Anti-Tampering rules
Personal Points of InterestThe Process – EMPHASIS on Safety
I’m in favor of holding Clubs, Club Leadership, and Coaches more directly responsible for repeated violations of player conduct policies, on field rules violations, and policies such as concussion protocol. This would include the administering of fines to parts or all of this group in conjunction with direct player discipline.
The NFL has attempted to gain the attention of its player pool by enforcing points of emphasis through the administration of fines and suspensions directly to the offending player. “Spanking your children” does get their personal attention , but over the long haul this type of punitive recourse doesn’t necessarily change the actions of your other “52 kids” on the roster. It’s in my opinion, having faced these issues in the past, that changes are necessary in the culture of the club and this starts with the club leadership; owners, GM’s, coaches. The “buck has to stop somewhere” and in the NFL nothing will get an organization’s attention faster than a good “spanking” of its own.
As we mentioned in part two of the restructuring, the NFL walks a fine line between the entertainment business of football and football as a source of entertainment. However the game extends well beyond those that are just played on Sundays and the NFL would be well served to remember the game belongs to the fans.
With that thought in mind, any and all changes to the rules will have ripple effects down to the base levels of competition. The NFL’s Competition Committee wheels a heavy hammer when it comes to changes to the game. Professional football’s version of the Politburo can be as slow or as swift as it wants to be. Though no executive leadership from the NFL sits as a voting member, the League does play a pivotal role in formulating the agenda that guides Rich McKay and the rest of the committee. It’s my opinion that there tends to be a knee jerk reaction to this agenda, and fear vs facts sometimes rule the day.
Fines and suspensions appear to be the motivational modus operandi of choice for the League. I’ve been a strong proponent of changing player behavior at the root level – Club culture.
If you’re a regular follower of The Football Educator or have had an opportunity to read my book Taking Your Team To The Top you understand my passion for the development of Gen Y or Millennials. Football is a unique sport that lures to it a unique individual in so many aspects, yet you can’t remove a person from their generational pool because of the sport they happen to play. There’s an inherent distrust of authority built into the way they see the world.
The old coaching and management techniques that got Baby Boomers to jump and ask “How high?” doesn’t work with this talented and driven group of individuals. You have to earn their respect and this is done by a more hands on coaching and management style that many clubs just aren’t willing to put forth. In turn the League must do their part to assist in this change in almost all of the 32 training complexes across professional football, not by adding more programs at the League level, but by facilitating them into the day to day operations of the clubs. However this isn’t about babying your roster, rather about building an environment of professionalism that includes those areas the League looks to emphasize. The NFLPA would be well served to support and not fight this effort.
The NFL’s promotion of Dave Gardi to Senior Vice President of Football Operations was a good step in the right direction towards tightening up the process that supports the product.
And Anti-Tampering rules . . . good luck.
*Note – Since posting this article NBA owner Mark Cuban stated (and I paraphrase) “Pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered. And they’re getting hoggy.” This was in reference to the NFL’s ever expanding television package outside of Sunday and Monday. As noted above and in Part 2, Football Operations should be represented in all business decisions and act as liason with the broadcast department on the competitive aspects of game scheduling. The League, the media, and the fans (at this point) may like the format, but you’d be hard pressed to find players/coaches/staff that are big supporters of Thursday games. Even with the extended week afterwards. The mental & physical stress takes it toll. As Cuban puts it, “I’m just telling you, when you’ve got a good thing and you get greedy, it always, always, always, always, always turns on you. That’s rule No. 1 of business.”
Next up in the restructuring of Football Operations – The Players.