The ridiculous new NFL bag policy

Reacting to this story on ProFootballTalk: League alters bag policy for safety, convenience

What an absolutely stupid rule change.  It only becomes more obvious that the NFL doesn’t give a crap about the fan experience.  I love how their primary reason for this change is to reduce the wait times for fans entering the stadium.

I realize that NFL brass are used to going through their VIP entrances, so let me enlighten them on the typical fan experience: there are already express lines for fans who don’t bring bags to the games! The fans that do bring back already choose to sacrifice their time by standing in a longer line.

There are good reasons why fans choose to bring a bag:

  • Trying to gear up for a cold weather game. In Denver, there’s always at least 1 game that requires a multitude of blankets, layers and hand warmers.
  • You somehow have an aversion to paying $4 for a bottle of water, electing to bring in the same bottle that costs 1/10th as much – same is to be said for snacks.
  • You have young kids that require a diaper bag

The NFL can hide behind “safety” they want, but the reality of the situation is that bags cost the NFL money: be it in the form of additional security that screens them and lost revenue from outside food sales.  For them to claim safety being the issue is deplorable – they just want more Coin.  Let’s be honest: anyone who is looking to bring or do something terrible would already be causing plenty of damage outside of the stadium, or find another way in – just like how two random guys managed to wander their way into the Super Bowl.

I don’t blame the NFL for wanting to operate like the business they are, but I do take offense when they do it in the guise of safety, showing little regard for their customers.  I wonder if their “Fan Conduct Committee” actually includes any paying fans. It’s only a matter of time before the NFL’s customers grow tired of repeatedly being kicked in the ass.

“I Hate* Tim Tebow**”

Tebow

“I Hate Tim Tebow”

I Twittered those words last night, sitting in a rain-soaked Mile High Stadium finally fed up with the 18th series of boo’s coming down and the 10th chants of Tebow that started no sooner than halfway through the 2nd quarter of the first game of the 2011 season.  So I posted the following to Twitter:

I hate Tim Tebow – and it’s because of all you jackasses at this game that chant his name. What about him drives you to boo your own team?

So I rang that bell – and I can’t un-ring it. Since then I’ve engaged in some Twitter discussion with Tebow supporters – some of them friends & family – about my comments and what spurred them.  While I can’t put this toothpaste back in the tube, I feel like I need more than 140 characters to explain what I said, and why I wrote what I did:

“I Hate* Tim Tebow**”

* ”Hate” is a strong word, but it’s important to understand Sports Hate vs. Real Hate.  Because of the affiliation nature of sports, you have the ability to hate a player for what they do on the field, or you hate that they’re on a team that you rival.  You don’t hate the person personally, or want anything bad to happen to them or their family – you just don’t want to see them do great in sports at that moment.

** In the case of Tim Tebow, I don’t have a problem with Tim as a player or as a guy. He’s a charismatic athlete who has found success in a conventional game through unconventional ways – it’s easy to understand why people gravitate to him and root passionately for him.  At the same time, Tebow has (unintentionally) bred an aura of mal-content and distrust amongst Broncos fans against the coaches, management and team in general.  Over the years as we have watched the team suffer some fallbacks, it seems that fandom has taken a turn for the worse.  Once unconditional supporters, Broncos fans have now become fickle, ready to turn on their team with a series of boo’s after every bad play.

This is nails on a chalk-board for me.  There are very few exceptions, but generally you should never boo your own team at home! Last night when the game started, I commented to my wife that there was a great sense of energy in the stadium that hasn’t been felt for some time – that all lasted all of 1.5 quarters, when the boo’s rang down amongst the stands after an interception was thrown.  A steady stream of boo’s persisted for the rest of the game, much like the rain that fell throughout the night.  The boo’s then degenerated into chants of “Te-bow, Te-bow” throughout the third and fourth quarter.  In the storied South Stands, fans started to turn on each other, with one fan profanely ripping into a guy for saying Orton should get the benefit of the doubt.

I hate to say it, but last night the Raider fans showed more class towards their team.  It was no surprise that they egged on Broncos fans that chanted for Tebow.  Why not root for the continued fracturing of fanbase of your rival?

I realize Tebow didn’t ask for this (at least not directly – Tebow has no shortage of endorsements, public appearances, and has written memoires at the age of 23).  Tebow didn’t ask to be drafted in the first round. Tebow didn’t ask to play for John Fox and John Elway.  Tebow didn’t ask to sit on the bench while his team is struggling – I get all that.  What I don’t think Tebow fans get though is that putting him in isn’t going to solve all of your problems.  John Fox and his staff have forgotten more about football than most fans know.  As fans we have a right to second-guess the coaches, but in the first game in the first season: the coaches deserve the benefit of the doubt. They feel Tebow isn’t the right guy to play in this situation, we should accept that.  If you don’t agree with that – fine, then don’t cheer Orton – but to boo the guys that put their health on the line to ultimately entertain you – that’s classless.

The problem I have with Tebow is that his presence is turning a segment of Broncos fans into Tebow fans, who couldn’t care less about the state of the team.  All that matters to them is to see their guy play. Nevermind the other 44 players on the team. Nevermind that Tebow is currently the 3rd-string QB after a training camp where he seems to have regressed in his performance.

Orton shares in some of the blame for last night’s loss, but there’s plenty of it to go around. Orton didn’t make the running backs anemic in their 38 yard performance. Orton didn’t commit 6 holding penalties on the offensive line.  Orton didn’t drop passes.  Orton didn’t let the Raiders rush for nearly 200 years last night.  Tebow is not going to make all of this better.

I realize that I’m extremely fortunate to be able to attend home games, and that there are people far more deserving than I that don’t get to go, but it’s not fun going to the games anymore – not because we’re losing, but because being completely infatuated with a single player, the fans have lost sight in what it means to support their team.

Mark Schlereth is a stud

As a biased Broncos fan, I’ve always loved Mark Schlereth, and love his contributions on ESPN.  However today he took it to a completely different level today, addressing the recent crackdown by the NFL against players who are violently hitting: a complex issue, no doubt, but Schlereth makes some excellent arguments. This video is definitely worth watching.

Mark’s right, the NFL is being very hypocritical, sitting on Mt. Pius and leveling hefty fines against players and now threatening suspension.  It was surprising to me that Schlereth has more an issue with the fines than he does with the suspensions, especially considering that NFL player fines are donated to charity.  Also, when a player is suspended, do they not receive a game check for that week – so you’re they’re still getting money taken away from them. I wish Schlereth would clarify that point.  I also think that there’s some built up reprehension in his statement for the mistreatment of retired players suffering health conditions (and rightfully so).

I’m pretty much lock-step with Mark here, but the only issue I take is that he’s rallying behind James Harrison. Please Mark, rally behind anyone but Harrison, who called his incoming fines “travesties” and then went on to say that he’s out to hurt players.  He goes on to explain the different between “hurt” and “injured”, except he said this right after two players he tried to “hurt” could no longer play because they’re “injured” – Harrison has a pretty crappy sense of timing and when to say the wrong thing at the wrong time.  And to cap all of this, Harrison is now threatening to take his ball and go home, not exactly the most mature way to participate in this debate.  It’s not like this is a momentary lapse in judgment for Harrison, as two years ago he justified bailing on the Super Bowl White House trip because Obama’s not a Steelers fan.  Politics aside, if you won the championship in your sport, you go meet the President – that’s just the way it is.

This is shaping up to be a very interesting week, with many more NFL legends weighing in the current state of professional football.  Remember this was all started by Rodney Harrison calling the kettle “black” on Sunday Night Football. Stay tuned.

MNF

I’m probably not making any big posts tonight due to my attention being focused on the Broncos/Chargers game.  Usually I’m able to blog during Monday Night Football, but I’m too focused on this game to collect any thoughts.

As I watch this game, the more I realize how much I loathe the Chargers.  I think there are some teams that the national media becomes infatuated with, maybe it’s due to the supposed level of talent, or a specific player they want to rally behind – but it seems like the Chargers are one of those teams that the media is simply in denial about.  The Chargers have been pretty sub-par for the last two years, yet the media still tries to see them as a Super Bowl team.

Even tonight, when the ESPN pre-game show was going across their screen, they had 3-4 of the commentators going for the Chargers.  Never mind the fact that they’re injured on their offensive line, that Shawne Marriman isn’t the player he once was before he got injured, or that LaDainian Thomlinson has fallen from grace.  Somehow they manage to ignore that and still see the Chargers as the darlings of the AFC West, which they’ve penciled into their playoff brackets.

Media infatuation aside, I also loathe the Chargers because of Phillip Rivers and the way he gets a pass for all of his trash-talking that he does.  He always looks like a spoiled kid whenever they are on top, but if they face a shred of adversity he’s nowhere to be found.

So yes, it was fantastic watching the Broncos win tonight and continue to prove the national media was wrong: both about the Chargers and about the level of play coming from the Broncos.

NFL Things I Think I Think

Throughout the NFL season, part of my Monday morning routine was to fire up my browser and read Peter King’s “Monday Morning QB” column.  At the end of each column, King lists his “Top 10 Things I Think I Think About Football”.  They usually turn out to be more than ten things, but great insights on the week in NFL.

Since imitation is the best form of flattery, I wanted to borrow the idea from Peter and list a season-ending “Things I Think I Think” about the Broncos, other teams and football in general:

1. Despite the let-down that was December, the Broncos still had a decent season in 2008.

-a. I can’t believe we tore through running backs the way that we did: Pittman, Hall, Torain, Hillis, Pope, Young, leaving only mid-season hire Tatum Bell to run around for the last few games.  When you consider the injuries, it’s not surprising the Broncos struggled with running the ball as much as they did.  That said, while injuries are part of the game, it’s pretty daunting to lose 6 running backs in one season. It makes me wonder whether something happened with the blocking that left the running backs so exposed.

-b. Speaking of Tatum Bell – hey media: we get it! Tatum Bell worked at a cell phone kiosk before being signed by the Broncos. It was mentioned so much I was thinking of starting a drinking game.

-c. What an amazing season for both Cutler and Marshall.  When they were drafted three years ago, who would have thought they’d become one of the best QB-receiver Tandems in the NFL?

-d. As any typical Denver fan, I can’t help but make the Elway comparisons – and I’m wondering if we’re seeing a mirror of some of Elway’s early years.  I was too young to remember Elway’s early years, but I’ve heard that Elway also threw some pretty costly interceptions which led to such nicknames as “SmELl-way”.  Despite the worst-time interceptions, Cutler still managed great season-end stats, with a 25:18 TD/Interceptions, and an 86 rating.  Compared to Elway’s 3rd year of 22:23 and a 79 rating those are pretty good. The difference is that Elway led the Broncos to a 11-5 season that year.  Elway also had the ability to take some below-average Bronco talent and place them on his shoulders. Cutler is surrounded by too much receiving talent to have to do that.

-e. There are a lot of comparisons between Marshall and T.O- mainly because they have similar body types.  I hope the comparison ends there, as I hope my fear that Cutler felt compelled to get the ball to Marshall and forced bad passes to do so doesn’t come true.

-f. Another similarity between T.O. and Marshall for 2008: both dropped a lot of balls at really bad times. As it turns out, Marshall never completely healed from his fight with the Entertainment Center and his hand was numb all season.  Get well Brandon.

-g. Let’s be honest about Broncos expectations for 2008: They were pretty dismal at the beginning of the season.  I knew we were going into the year with a very young team, and that we were trying to develop players in very key positions. I was realistic about the chances, yet hopeful that we’ll surprise those teams. We saw a lot of that potential, especially in the first game when we dismantled the Raiders the way we did.  Then the injuries started to pile up, and we never managed to recover from that.

-h. All that said, it’s embarrassing that we weren’t able to cash in one of those last three games, especially with the Bills at home.

-i. When we had our Fantasy Draft this year I picked up Eddie Royal in one of the last rounds.  My friend in Houston said “who’s Eddie Royal”? I replied, “Oh you’ll find out in Week 1”. I was vindicated and Royal didn’t let me down all season long.  If we can keep Stokley & Scheffler healthy and Marshall selfless we’ll have nothing to worry about for a while.

-j. It’s time for Dre Bly to go. I realize that with Bailey out he was put in very tough match-ups, but it felt like every time there was a big play caused by blown coverage, Bly was a key player.  If we are going to free agency to replace Bly, let’s stay far away from Dome team cornerbacks.

-k. Our Defensive Line and Linebackers celebrated way too much and over-trash-talked for the way they performed.  Here’s to finding some humble pass-rushers for 2009.

2. Even if the Broncos were able to win against the Panthers, Bills or Chargers and get into the playoffs – we should have stopped hearing about the blown Ed Hochuli call in week 2, and how that ruined the Chargers season a long time ago.  Yes Hochuli made a bad call that affected the outcome of the game, but Hochuli didn’t make the Chargers lose the other 7 games, took the air out of L.T’s tires, didn’t get LB Merriman hurt, or make the Chargers defense as bad as the Broncos D.  When the Colts ravage through the Chargers this weekend, hopefully Charger fans won’t blame that on Hochuli too.

3. How funny would it be that Favre’s likely last pass was an illegal forward lateral that went nowhere.  Was coming back from retirement worth it?

-a. Also a telling Favre stat I came across: 273 games, 310 interceptions

4. Nice job Lions, at running the table.

5. It’s great to see teams at the bottom of the barrel turn it around the way they have. The Falcons story is the most incredible, closely followed by the Dolphins, and I can’t help but have a soft spot for a Cardinals.  I think the Falcons will be the only ones that advance to the second round – as they are playing the Cardinals.

-a. I also think all 4 home teams will lose next weekend

6. As tempted as it is to pick the #1 seeds, I’d love to see a Carolina/Pittsburgh Super Bowl.

I have plenty more thoughts on the NFL, but I’ll take a break for now. I’d appreciate any thoughts that you may have.