15 New Year’s Resolutions The NFL Should Adopt

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15 New Year's Resolutions The NFL Should Adopt

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

I started a new diet this week, so I guess I have something in common with about 90 percent of the population. It’s tough, but it’s for the best. This is the time of the year when we all can take a moment to evaluate where we are, and make our best efforts to be better in the new year .

The NFL should do the same thing. While it is undeniably the best professional sport in the land, they still have plenty of things that they could do to improve the quality of the product on the field. The fans would be better off, and so would the players. It’s always a truth that no matter how good things are going, there is always room for improvement.

Making tough changes is never easy, but nothing worth doing is ever easy. Sticking to my diet past the usual week or so is going to be hard, but the rewards will be worth it. The NFL has taken care of so many little things in the past decades that what they are left with are hard truths and hard changes that will set them up for many more decades of success.

These are the 15 New Year’s resolutions that the almighty NFL should adopt this year.

Ben Sullivan is an NFL writer for Follow him on Twitter @bensullivan52, "Like" him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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15. Give The Players More Freedom Of Expression

Freedom Of Expression
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL has long stood for the “No Fun League”, but so much more so in the last decade or two. All the players look the same on the field, and are expected to act like robots both on and off it. Letting the players be themselves, whether it be with how they wear their uniforms, how they talk to the media or how they celebrate big plays, will only endear them to fans even more.

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14. Hold The Draft In A Different City Every Year

NFL Draft
Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

A new city hosts the Super Bowl every year, and the second-most important event of the NFL calendar is the draft, so why not do the same thing? How great would it be to see a new fan base get excited about cheering or booing their team’s picks every season? They could even let the team with the No. 1 overall pick host the draft, giving that team’s fans something to be happy about after a terrible season.

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13. Double Down On The Passing Explosion

Passing Explosion
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL is all about the offense today, and the fans can’t get enough of it. Keep protecting quarterbacks and receivers and the league will keep growing. It’s really that simple. I mean, who ever says there was too much excitement in a game?

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12. Let The Fans Hear The Coaches On Their Headsets

Coaches' Headsets
Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Football fans are more savvy to the intricacies of the game than ever before. There are a huge number of them who would love to be able to tap into the in-game conversations that go on over the coaches’ headsets. I know that the fear is that opening up the lines of communication would lead to teams spying on each other, but its 2014 and I just can’t believe that there isn’t a way to let the fans in while keeping the other teams out.

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11. Have More Patience With Coaches

NFL Head Coaches
Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports

Firing the coach has become a crutch for teams that can’t seem to put a winning team on the field. It makes the fans think they’re doing something about the problem, when often the problem is the ownership itself. If the last five extremely qualified head coaches couldn’t succeed in your city, doesn’t it make more sense that it isn’t the sixth’s fault that you're watching the playoffs again? Yeah, that’s right -- I’m looking at you, Cleveland Browns.

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10. Start A Minor League

NFL Minor League
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL already has a minor league, but college football players shouldn't be forced to audition for professional jobs while not getting paid to play. They could let teams draft players straight out of college, pay them a small amount and have them play on minor league teams in smaller cities until they’re ready for the big time. The college ranks would suffer, but at this point I can’t help but feel a little dirty when I watch young men beat themselves up for nothing. At least they could make a living playing in the minor leagues while they prep for the NFL.

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9. Step Up The Security At The Stadium

NFL Stadium Security
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There are a lot of reasons why fans are staying home to watch the games rather than flocking to the stadiums like they used to, but out-of-control drunk patrons starting fights and being vulgar is at the top of the list. The league has done a good job of cracking down on anti-social players on the field, and they need to do the same thing to fans in the stands.

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8. Lose Some Weight

Lose Some Weight
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Okay, I had to throw that one in there, but the NFL needs to address its growing weight issue. Players are bigger, stronger and faster today than ever before. Get serious about the performance-enhancing drug issue, and the players will go back to looking like superior humans, not made-up superheroes. Not having Ray Lewis in the league anymore is a good start, of course.

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7. Start Making More Calls From The Booth

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

I just don’t get why the NFL still has all the initial calls being made by officials on the field. There are about a dozen different angles that are available in real time for the league to look at, so why can’t they just have a few of those refs in a booth watching them and radioing calls down to the field? We can all see when a call should or shouldn’t be made in about 1/10 of a second, so can they. It’s all about getting the calls right, and more calls would be right if they were made from the video screen rather than from the field.

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6. Promote More Defensive Stars

Defensive Stars
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Just because the league is all about the offense doesn’t mean the defense has to be marginalized to the point where they're faceless patsies. Game-changing defenders like pass rushers or ball-hawking defensive backs should be highlighted just as much as quarterbacks or big-play receivers.

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5. Make The Playoffs A Seeded Tournament

NFL Playoffs
Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

The fact that you have a barely over .500 division winner hosting a wild card team with at least two or three more wins is ridiculous. Even worse is when a double-digit win team is watching the playoffs when that division winner is hosting a game. The six best teams in each conference should get a shot at the championship — period.

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4. Make The In-Stadium Experience Better

NFL Stadium
Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Some may think that concussions are the biggest issue the league faces moving forward, but that isn’t the case. The biggest issue they face is that more and more people would rather watch the games at home than at the stadium. Whether its more internet access, the Red Zone on the jumbotron or cheaper ticket prices, the NFL needs to do something to get fans back in the bleacher seats.

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3. Give Everyone Access To Sunday Ticket

NFL Sunday Ticket
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

I know this has a lot more to do with legal contracts than common sense, but how can it not be true that the NFL would make more money if they let anyone with a cable subscription pay a fee for Sunday Ticket instead of having an exclusive deal with Direct TV? Almost everyone I know would pay at least $100 to choose which game they get to watch every Sunday.

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2. Crack Down On The "Knee Hunters"

Knee Hunters
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

A few years ago, we would be talking about getting rid of head hunters. Now that the league has taken a hard stance on hits to the head, they've created a small, but vocal group of players who are going out there and targeting knees when they tackle in the open field. Start fining and suspending them in the same way that they punish the head hunters, and they’ll learn to make safe tackles.

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1. Get Rid Of The Veteran Minimum Salary

NFL Salary
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

This one kills me. Because the league and the players, wanted veterans who paid their dues to get more money were effectively priced out of jobs. Now, a team is better off giving a roster spot to a marginally worse young player who takes up much less of the salary cap. The players lose out, and so do the fans because the teams don’t have the best rosters possible. Just let veterans play for the same amount as their younger counterparts and we all win.