Happy "International Day of Happiness."
Patriots coach Bill Belichick has weighed in with four proposed rule changes to be discussed at the NFL owners' meetings next week in Orlando.
- Allowing coaches to challenge any non-scoring play for review.
- Moving the line of scrimmage for the post-touchdown kicking play to the 25-yard line.
- Extending goalpost uprights 5 feet higher into the air in order to make it easier to determined which kicks are good or not. [See 2012 regular-season loss Baltimore.]
- Placing extra cameras on the boundaries and the end zone.
And, get ready for it . . .
You can never, ever have enough cameras.
But why stop there?
With today's technology, the NFL has an unlimited arsenal of espionage tools to make sure nothing slips past coaches. Sideline cameras are soooo 1980s. It's time to let the 21st century loose and see what Belichick's genius can unleash.
Belichick cracked a smile on this week's episode of "Family Guy," something he did at least seven times during the regular season, as well. In honor of the "International Day of Happiness," which coincided with the start of spring and the full-blown onset of the NCAA Tournament Thursday, we thought it would be nice to imagine an NFL with Belichick given unlimited control over the rules and tools of the game.
1. Free-Fly Drone Zones: Allow the use of drones above opposing team's practice fields and sidelines during game. Meanwhile, pass legislation that bans them above certain geographic coordinates in Foxborough. Each coach gets one anti-drone missile per half.
2. The Hack Bowl: Host an NFL draft for the best collegiate hackers each year and put them to work a month before the player draft in May. Imagine the best and brightest from MIT working on behalf of Belichick in cyberspace? The ESPN analysts will be stunned when Jadeveon Clowney slips right into New England's lap at No. 29. on draft day. Meanwhile, the chart on Peyton Manning's wrist would end up with nothing but off-tackle running plays and quarterback sneaks.
3. Legalize Everything: PED and drug suspensions can screw up any roster. Given New England's advances in surveillance technology, success in pharmaceuticals should be easy.
4. Allow Phone Taps: You want to know what your opponent is thinking? Sweep his phone record and text messages. Somehow, would any of us be surprised if this wasn't going on already whenever teams are foolish enough to communicate electronically anywhere within the 508 area code? "We're going to blitz on first down Sunday. LOL!" Oh, really!?! Edward Snowden and Belichick have to be related.
5. Utilize Double-Agents: Full-blown tampering, with a twist. Recruit ex-players or future free-agents who are loyal, for the right price. What would Danny Woodhead do for $500,000 in cash? It doesn't hurt to ask. There would be no cap on this spending.
6. Put Informants On The Payroll: Maids, bus drivers, chauffeurs, bartenders, wait staff. How many people come into contact with opposing players and coaches on a regular basis? Lots. None of them are bound by confidentiality agreements or contracts. In their world, money talks louder than anything. "So, did Coach Fox happen to say anything about 'snap counts' when he was chatting with Peyton in the back seat?" If they're in good shape, offer them a spot on the 53-man roster. It can't be any worse than cleaning out the Rutgers alumni club every year.
7. Time Travel: Information is important, but sometimes it is not enough. Making sure the scoreboard clock defies the laws of time can be crucial. [See the 2012 AFC title game.] One new rule would allow any team about to go 19-0 to end the Super Bowl after the 55-minute mark without notice. Another would change the play clock from 25 seconds to whatever suits Tom Brady best. Finally, any use of the word "Omaha" would result in a 15-yard penalty and a 35-point loss in the Super Bowl. The coach with the most seniority in the league will have veto power in any case, until Belichick retries.
8. Replay Revision: There's talk about adding a third person to the replay review process. The issue isn't the number of people, it's what they want to see. Allow teams to appoint their own replay officials for each home playoff game, making home field advantage, and thus regular-season games, that much more important and exciting. Place Pat Patriot in the replay booth and he might get booed so much.
9. Pre-Recorded Press Conferences: Belichick has little time to deal with the media. There's data to mine, game film to analyze and informants to waterboard. Given Belichick's unwillingness to give detailed and/or accurate answers, the current media sessions have become "Onion" parodies. A Belichick hologram with pre-programmed answers would deliver better than we're getting now. "We were outplayed and outcoached. They're a well-coached team with some quality players. We need to execute better in all phases of the game." We don't need the real thing for that. Throw in a smile seven or eight times a season just to keep it real. This could be expanded to injury reports. Just pencil in: "Brady - Shoulder [Probable]" and "Revis - Knee [Probable]" for the rest of 2014.
10. One-year, Pay-As-You-Go Contracts: There's no usually no guaranteed money in the NFL post signing bonus. This doesn't go nearly far enough when it comes to giving teams control over players. Upside, no more need for Brady to renegotiate so his favorite receivers could become free agents every year. They'd all become free-agents. Given the trepidation surrounding "salary cap jail" and the importance of slotting player values, the one-year contract would eliminate a lot of problems for Belichick and his boss, and save the team millions in the process.
There's nothing that would make him smile more than that.
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