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It doesn’t feel like injuries


are decreasing any. If the NFL were to follow every marquee player injury with added rules about hitting, it would be field basketball within 10 years. Some defensive players might shake their heads and tell you it’s half way there already.


Barely Time for Anything Football is a hitting sport. If nobody’s hitting, it isn’t football. The surest way to reduce hits is to shorten the game. So let’s try that: no overtime, more ties. Same goes for college football, which is playing more and longer games with more bowls and now a playoff. However, injuries and concus-


sions may not be the only incentive to play shorter games. Longtime Sideline readers may recall that for all my football fervor, I’m an unrepent- ant geek too (and most recently, professionally so). At this year’s Gen- Con, Indianapolis’ massive annual convention for the tabletop games industry, board games were resur- gent, while wargames increasingly boast their quick-play credentials. Roleplaying games? Dungeons & Dragons didn’t even take a stand. What’s this got to do with sports?


Another symptom of the increasing demands on people’s spare time. In the ’80s and ’90s, people had time for sprawling RPGs; now it’s roll the dice and get off the table. It isn’t just indoor pastimes. Reacting to criticism, the MLB has been working hard to get its product back under three hours, and I believe football will eventually follow suit. The NBA has talked about and experimented with 11-minute quarters. Not that people will make less time for football, but the way in which it is packaged may change. While NFL


Red Zone satisfies those whose NFL devo- tion is either interwoven with fantasy football (more geekery) or who simply can’t settle for a whole game, the root ques- tion is this: how many people have more than three hours to devote to anything on a regular basis? (Well, Minecraft players, maybe, but apart from them?) The NFL needs to find a way to offer more football, but in smaller units.


Increased Airtime During this Commissioner’s tenure, Thursday NFL football became a weekly event as well as a Thanks- giving treat, and over the past two years, we’ve seen the three-game Sunday haul start to become a four-game stretch, with London offering the opportunity for morning viewing Stateside. Putting a team in Europe gives the NFL four Sunday games, eight weeks a year. A second Euro-team (hello, Frankfurt?) offers a morning game all but one week of the season. The NFL (and its players) can survive shorter games if the league can claim more TV time slots.


Adrian Peterson has shrugged off last year’s suspension to lead NFL rushers, spearheading the Minnesota Vikings’ drive towards the playoffs. PICTURE COURTESY OF THE MINNESOTA VIKINGS


The restoration of teams in Los


Angeles (a decision is hoped for in January, with the Chargers, Rams and Raiders all reportedly eager), and the establishment of morning football from Europe would give the NFL a sportscasting domain from beyond the Atlantic to the Eastern edge of the Pacific. Roger Goodell called NFL expansion beyond the United States a ‘possibility’ during his first season in the job. Rather than concussion realities, miscel- laneous ‘-gates’, and a sometimes perplexingly-calibrated suspension policy, Goodell may hope that this emerges as his legacy. After all, It can’t be assumed that his time as Commissioner is unlimited.


Follow Richard on twitter @1STandGEEK The American


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