Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football
Ed Hochuli
NFL referee Ed Hochuli was at Packers training camp this week to discuss changes to NFL rules.

I know I said last week’s Surviving Sunday was the last until the Packers 2014 season ends, but I’m kind of down about the Jared Abbrederis injury and don’t feel like cranking out 500 words about Khyri Thornton, Richard Rodgers or some other Packers player we should probably wait until after a couple preseason games to even begin evaluating.

So, I’m reneging on my promise to shelve Surviving Sunday until 2015 and bringing it back one more time in 2014, mostly to get some random, whacked out thoughts out of my NFL brain and onto your screen.

RIP defense
NFL referee Ed Hochuli was at Packers training camp this week and shared some news about stricter enforcement of pass interference rules this season.

I hate how far the NFL game is tilted toward offenses these days. I know I sound like an old man in full “get-off-my-lawn” mode, but I don’t care. I miss the days when it was OK to nail the quarterback and receivers were taking a risk when reaching out for that pass over the middle.

I also miss the game-within-a-game played by receivers and defensive backs. A crafty DB could push the boundaries of illegal contact or pass interference just far enough to throw a receiver off his route without drawing a flag. If Hochuli is to be believed, those days might be over.

A good defense is still a good defense, regardless of rules changes. The great ones adapt. But Hochuli’s words earlier this week reminded me of just how much I miss the days when defenses could play without one arm tied behind their back.

I know the days or defensive freedom are long gone and never returning. If you think Roger Goodell and the NFL will be loosening the reigns on defense anytime soon, you’re whacked.

Here are a few other ideas about the NFL that are whacked, but at least make you think a little bit. These are all just random thoughts running through my head. I’m not endorsing any of these ideas or realistically expecting them to actually happen, but they will probably make for some interesting Sunday conversation (and hopefully a chuckle or two).

In-stadium daycare
I have a 9-month-old son, and while I’d like to take him to his first Packers game as soon as possible, it probably won’t realistically happen for at least a couple of years. When we go to games, we need to either get a babysitter, or leave our son with grandma and grandpa.

Both options are feasible, but not all new parents have relatives nearby or a babysitter on call to watch their kid(s) for an entire day while you’re drinking beer and yelling at grown men in tight pants throwing around an odd-shaped leather ball. Plus, if you’re like me, you want to make sure your kid starts absorbing all that is great about the Packers and football as early as possible, even if the kid is still too young to sit through an entire live game.

That’s why NFL teams should offer in-stadium daycare. Parents can bring their kids to the stadium, tailgate and hang out before kickoff, then drop off their kid at the in-stadium daycare during the game.

Instead of worrying about how little Junior is doing with the 14-year-old you hired to watch him, you can focus all your attention on the game. If you want to check on your kid, you just pop into the in-stadium daycare and make sure everything is alright. You can even bring your kid out into the stadium every now and then to see their first Aaron Rodgers touchdown pass or Morgan Burnett blown coverage.

NFL owners, money-grubbing rascals that they are, should embrace this idea. Have you seen daycare prices lately? They are outrageously expensive. NFL teams could charge an arm and a leg to watch your kid during the game and a lot of people would pay it.

Plus it helps NFL teams begin the indoctrination process at an early age. For example, one of the activities at the Lambeau Field daycare would be teaching the youngsters how to sing the “The Bears Still Suck” or how to ask “How many Super Bowls has your team won?” when annoying Vikings or Lions fans start spouting off at the mouth.

To me, in-stadium NFL daycare is a no-brainer.

Ignoring crimes
Were people more upset about the fact that Ray Rice knocked out his wife? Or were they more upset about the lack of adequate punishment handed down by the NFL?

In my opinion, the lack of adequate punishment caused much more of an uproar than the actual crime. I’m not saying people didn’t care about what Rice did, but the incident was already off people’s radar. What brought it zooming back into the spotlight and has kept it there for more than a week is the fact that the NFL “only” suspended Rice for two games.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell seems to think he’s improving the NFL’s image by acting as judge and jury whenever players break the law. I’m not so sure he is.

People seem to accept the fact that a certain number of NFL players are going get arrested and do dumb things. People don’t like it, but they’ve accepted it. When a player gets arrested, people grumble, shake their heads, then move on and continue preparing for their fantasy football draft.

What drags the NFL’s image down is the extra round of press, and in cases like the Rice situation, the outrage that follows after the NFL issues punishment.

So what if Goodell just says the hell with it and declares that the NFL will no longer be fining and suspending players for off-field transgressions?

“From now on, I’m here to oversee football, not what players do off the field,” Goodell would say at the news conference announcing this radical shift. “I’m not endorsing misbehavior, but I’m sick of getting dragged through the mud when fans, media and social media mobs think my punishments are too harsh, too lenient or too whatever.”

If the commissioner did this, I wouldn’t necessarily agree with the move, but I’d understand his overall point.

Eliminating ties
I was at the Packers-Vikings tie last season. It sucked. Four hours of trash talking your Vikings friends and getting all jazzed up about the Packers comeback, and it all ends in…nothing.

Ties need to be eliminated from the NFL (from all sports, really). However, NFL games are already too long. Nobody wants to see a four-hour game go five hours if nobody wins after the first overtime. So, here’s how NFL overtime needs to be overhauled.

  • Keep the current overtime rules as they are, but shorten the overtime period to 10 minutes.
  • If the game remains tied after those 10 minutes, then the first team to make a “positive play” wins.
  • What’s a “positive play?” Let’s say the Packers and Vikings are tied after overtime. The home team would be given the ball at the 50-yard line and would have to pick up a first down to win the game.
  • However, if the team with the ball doesn’t gain at least 3 yards per play in its pursuit of a first down, then the defense wins the game.
  • So, the Packers get the ball on the 50. Rodgers hits Nelson for six yards. The game continues. Next play, Lacy runs for 5 yards, the Packers get a first down and win the game.
  • Now let’s say the Packers get the ball on the 50 and Rodgers is sacked on the first play. The Vikings win since they prevented the Packers from gaining at least 3 yards.
  • There would also be a special teams option. The home can decide if it would like to kick off or receive a kick off instead of playing offense. If the receiving team returns the ball to the 22 yard line, the receiving team wins. If the kicking teams stops the returner before the 22, the kicking team wins.
  • A touch back means the receiving team gets the ball at the 50.
  • The kicking team wins if the kicker kicks the ball through the goalposts on the kickoff.

This is a genius idea. Make it happen, NFL.

Fewer commercials
If NFL refs are really going to get stricter about calling downfield contact, games will go from already-too-long, to oh-my-God-NFL-games-are-now-longer-than-baseball-games-and-I-want-to-stab-myself long.

Games can be shortened ever so slightly if the NFL would eliminate its stupid policy or running a commercial after a team scores, then running another commercial immediately after the ensuing kickoff.

This drives me crazy. I could maybe forgive the NFL for putting handcuffs on defenses if they stop this maddening strategy.

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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  • marpag

    Totally agreed about the NFL’s shameless campaign to eliminate any and all forms of defense. I hate it. I. Hate. It. :)

    Totally disagreed about the overtime idea. IMO, a single “positve play” (or lack thereof) as you have described it is just too small a thing to determine the outcome of a game.

    • Sven

      This years Super Bowl was fantastic, because the Seattle defense surprise almost everyone, and shut down Manning defense. The NFL owners and Goodell must have hated it, and said “never again”.

      Defense keeps games exciting. If every drive turns into another score the game gets dull and just and often more boring than a 0-0 tie.

      Speaking of ties, I like them. The add a little grey to a black and white world. It is also what got the Packers a division title last year.

      • Stroh

        The game is already too high scoring… By about 10 pts per team per game. I like good football games w/ the scores in the 20’s, not approaching 40 pts. Like Tramon said, the NFL rules are ridiculously favoring the offense and only getting worse.

        Packers/9er’s playoff game was a Great game and both teams scored in the 20’s.

  • Since ’61

    I agree with Marpag and the article in that I hate what is happening to the defense. Too many games will be decided by bad and unnecessary interference calls.
    In stadium day care won’t happen because the liability to the team and the league is too high. Think of the lawsuits if a child is hurt or becomes ill in one of these facilities. That could wipe out an NFL owner and their team. For overtime, I’m OK with going to back to sudden death. That would help reduce ties. Fewer commercials, very unlikely. TV revenues are the major source of NFL income. It pays the bills and the players salaries. No end in sight there. As for crimes, Goodell is totally off the mark. Suspensions need to be much stricter as a method of enforcement and hopefully prevention. Rice, for example, should be suspended for at least 1 season. That should be the minimum for any violent crime. I remember when Paul Hornung was suspended for 1 year for betting on his own team to win. I would hope that assault is still considered a more serious crime. Goodell is not helping the players or the league. He just doesn’t want the league’s drawing cards off the field for any length of time. Someone should accuse him of aiding and abetting criminals and maybe he will wake up. He is a disgrace to the league. But forget him and Go Pack! Thanks, Since ’61

    • Stroh

      Longer suspension for Rice might have been warranted. But there is probably a lot we don’t know, or will ever know about the back story.

      If you suspend Rice for a year, that’s also a year of income out of his Wife’s too. Hurting him more, also hurts her more! Somehow I doubt its a 2 income family and she has her own income.

      Maybe thinking things thru a little more would be in order. I’m guessing that Goodell took that into account, while you did not!

      • Stroh

        Have to find a way to punish Rice w/o also hurting his wife!

      • http://allpackers.com Nick Perry

        This 2 game suspension is a joke. He dragged her out of the elevator after knocking her the F out! At NO TIME is it alright for a man to put his hands on a woman, I don’t care what she does to provoke it. To further rub salt in the wound Rice was suspended for 2 games and 3 games checks. The 3rd game check however is figured from his 2013 salary, not his 2014 salary. It’s 3 million more in 2014.
        Suggesting Goodell took the Rices “Family Incomes” into account, well I wouldn’t ever call a person or the comments they make dumb or uninformed but….

        • Stroh

          Did I say it was OK for him to touch her? Hell no!! But like I said how does taking his almost 9M this year help her in any way?! All that does is add punishing the Wife to punishing Ray Rice, just for the sake of looking better to fans who don’t look at the big picture. Since that incident she married the man. How are they going to, as a COUPLE, not just Ray Rice going to pay the bills w/o his income this year? Even if its just his salary and option bonus your taking almost 6M from the FAMILY income.

          I’m guessing Goodell took A LOT of facts into consideration. Not just his income or hers. He did interview his wife, so I’m guessing he based a lot of his decision on Rice’s otherwise outstanding conduct off the field, as well as the testimony of his wife.

          Like I said, there is a lot more to the back story than we are getting here.

          • Oppy

            I’m guessing the Rice family can survive a one-year hiatus without pay, without suffering.

            Call it a hunch.

            • Stroh

              Maybe, but that’s certainly not our call is it? I would say that is something SHE should have say over, instead of you or I or Goodell.

              I just think there’s a lot we don’t know to make a blanket statement like “the 2 game suspension is a joke”. Judging by the fact that she did talk to Goodell, it would seem that she DID have something to say on the matter.

              • Since ’61

                Stroh – your point about the income is a reasonable point and if that is the issue preventing stricter or longer suspensions I am sure that the attorney for the victim (Rice’s wife in this case) can make arrangements with the league to provide for her with a portion of Rice’s significant salary. But a short 2 game suspension is really degrading and demeaning to the victims of these crimes. Basically, the league is saying our players can smack you around and knock you out and your physical well being is only worth 2 games to us. And we want your attacker to get back on the field so that you won’t be hurt financially. That’s not a good message to send to the players or the victims and doesn’t do much to protect the victims either. I realize that we don’t know the whole story but 2 games is not enough for a violent crime. Thanks, Since ’61

              • Stroh

                So then your paying a player who is on suspension. How is that a punishment? Whether you give the money to her doesn’t matter much, its family income. And they have since the incident become married.

    • Adam Czech

      Yeah, a lot of kids probably would get sick if Bears fans are ever hired as daycare providers.

  • Slim11

    Two things…

    First, the comparison Since ’61 made is a fair one. Hornung’s suspension, to my knowledge, not widely criticized as doing too little or too much on the part of then-commissioner Pete Rozelle. Alex Karras of the Lions was also suspended at the same time for the same offense. Two games is a slap on the wrist, if that much.

    Second, if the NFL adopted a portion of the CFL scoring system, some ties would be eliminated.

    In the CFL, a kicking team can score a “single” when a punt or an unsuccessful FG attempt is not run back out of the end zone. The returning team scores the “single” if they return the kick out of the end zone not accepting the touchback. The return team can kick the ball back giving up a point and possession. I remember seeing a a CFL game years ago where the margin was margin was two points. The offense was forced to punt with less than a minute in the game. The receiving team put their punter in the end zone as the PR. If he kicked it back his team gave up a point and possession. Then the margin would have been one point and a FG would still win the game.

    Instead of kicking the ball back, which the announcers anticipated, the punter ran the ball back out of the end zone increasing the margin to three points. He also kept possession for his team and they were able to pick up a first down and run out the clock.

    What made this even more interesting was watching the punting team use their only time out to reorganize their game plan. They were caught flat-footed because they didn’t anticipate the other team’s punter being used as a returner.

  • http://www.skeletaldrawing.com Scott

    Man, I would have LOVED in-game day care. Now my daughter is old enough (6 and 3/4, as she tells everyone) to sit through a proper game, but a couple of years ago I’d have ponied up some serious coin for this option.

    Also, let’s see how the in-season calls shake out before worrying too much about the PI emphasis. It would be horrible if it stays like it’s been in practice, but I think the NFL realizes what a horrible product that would make. My guess is they expect that the refs and the players will end up meeting somewhere in the middle, which is why they are instructing the refs start from such a ludicrous position at first.

  • Stroh

    In Stadium day care during games is about the dumbest Idea I have ever heard! Get Gma and Gpa to watch the infants. If kids are too young to attend and enjoy they don’t belong at football games! What do you take your kids out to bars on Fri nites happy hours too?!

    • Adam Czech

      Northbound Smokehouse and Brewpub is a personal favorite of my 10-month-old and happy hour is his favorite time of day!

    • Oppy

      Not every family has Grandma and grandpa to lean on for child care. And seeing as you are a GB native, you know how many families- entire families- go to the games on Sunday.

      The whole point is that NFL teams could supply a service that makes planning a trip to the stadium more accessible. How is that a horrible or dumb idea? It could provide even more revenue for the individual franchises, make the planning necessary for a family with small children to get to a game a little less of a burden, while also making the game day experience for fans in the stadium who DON’T have children more enjoyable as well.

      What’s not to like?

      I personally think that the only reason why NFL teams would shy away from the idea is that if something tragic happened to a child in stadium-sponsored day care, the PR backlash would be absolutely devastating.

      • Stroh

        “I personally think that the only reason why NFL teams would shy away from the idea is that if something tragic happened to a child in stadium-sponsored day care, the PR backlash would be absolutely devastating.”

        There it is! Its an absurd idea for exactly that reason. Not too mention if a child is too young to enjoy a game, bringing them into a stadium w/ a lot of licquored up adults doesn’t seem like the best way to raise a child. Much like bring a child into a bar w/ a lot of licquored up adults.

        • Oppy

          You did say you’re from Wisconsin, right?

          Kids are in taverns all over the state on gameday. Drinking is cultural for the average Wisconsinite. Open bars at weddings, etc and so forth. Families who do stay home for games are often popping tops, drinking old fashioneds, or perusing the bloody mary bar.

          I’m not saying I promote it, but the average child in WI is exposed to adults drinking regardless if they were to go to a stadium or not. Most counties in WI have more liquor stores than supermarkets. I don’t think the drinking angle plays much into this one. Just sayin’.

          • Stroh

            So lets take the kids into bars and subject them to too much drinking so we can continue to have WI be among, if not the highest states in alcoholism. Yeah that makes sense too.

  • Stanky

    The daycare idea is absurd. When my kids were too young to go places, we stayed home. If you’re not willing to sacrifice some things to be a parent, then don’t become a parent!

    • Sven

      The game is on TV, Thanks to companies that pay for the commercial time. Turn on the DVR kick back with the kids and enjoy. Day care at a game sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.

    • Oppy

      Wait… So is there ANY situation where parents should be allowed to get a baby sitter?

      Is it okay for parents to get a sitter for date night?

      To go to work?

      How about a weekend jaunt to Door county? Can parents ask someone to watch their kids for a long weekend?

      What do you deem as acceptable and not acceptable situations for day care or a baby sitter? What’s your criteria?

      • Stroh

        Nothing wrong w/ getting a babysitter for any reason the parent feels its warranted. But getting a babysitter for a game is a far cry from expecting the team or NFL to provide a day care service. Both are going to cost money, so why not leave the infants at home where they are comfortable and safe?!

        • Oppy

          Who’s expecting anything?

          • Stroh

            Seems quite a few are proponents of it. Or haven’t you been reading the comments?

            • Mike H

              I think what people are missing in this argument is no one is saying it should be required. They are saying it’s a possible service the packers could provide and profit off of.

              Also I think the whole point of what was being proposed was the children would be in an area Away from all the drunks at the game. Perhaps in a separate area off of the atrium that is only accessible by their parents. A properly licensed daycare wouldn’t be more of a risk than having children come to games at all. Parents could come check on their children at breaks in the game, I think it sounds like a great idea.

              I don’t think it’s going to happen, but it sure sounds like a great idea.

  • Adam Czech

    Would you mind watching our kid for a few hours one Sunday so we can go to a game this season? You don’t sound creepy and angry at all.

  • Nopainnogain

    completely agree on the defense. the NFL is essentially turning the defense in the Washington Generals vs. the Harlem Globetrotters. I don’t care if it hurts all teams equally. When I watch football, what makes it exciting isn’t just the fact that both teams in a game have a reasonable chance to win. it’s that each UNIT on the field has a reasonable chance to win on a given possession. seems like every year, they are doing more to take that away. ruins it for me. and this time, it has nothing to do with player safety.

    if they are so concerned with enforcing existing rules in the rulebook, why don’t they take a look at the rule where OL are not allowed to hold & enforce that one for a change. NBA did all sorts of offense-centric changes and I’ve abandoned watching their games. haven’t seen one in over 2 years now. there is a tipping point, and the NFL is crossing it.

    • Mojo

      Agree.

      To me there’s no penalty in the NFL(PI) that bugs me more. It’s so arbitrary. What goes on one play doesn’t on the next. And the worst of it is the PI penalty has such open-ended yardage.

      Add to this the emphasis on the five yard rule and additionally DB contact outside the five yard zone.

      It can easily decide a game for a crappy team if the refs are inclined to throw the flags.

      The message is, if you’re in a close game, close your eyes and heave up a prayer. There’s a good chance you’ll be rewarded, whether you deserve it or not.

      If they enforce these types of plays as much as they say they will it will turn the game into a farce.

  • WKUPackFan

    Anyone who has ever had children should be in favor of the day care concept. What a fantastic idea! And Adam is exactly right, some of us weren’t lucky enough to have grandparents or any other relatives around when our children were little. If people (i.e., Stroh) don’t like that, that’s their problem.

  • WKUPackFan

    I must be the only person who doesn’t care the length of games. If the game lasts four hours that’s just more time to watch the Packers! I’m OK with that.

  • marpag

    I don’t think people are understanding the logistical and legal problems of having a “gamedaycare.” Given the realities of things, it’s inconceivable that you could just show up, say “Hi, this is Jimmy,” and then somebody else will be legally responsible for little Jimmy the next four hours. Heck no.

    You’re going to spend a boatload of time filling out basic information forms, medical history forms with immunization records and a list of known allergies, not to mention a consent form for emergency medical treatment. Then you’ve got to indicate and prove your insurance, and you’ll need to sign a liability waver in case God decides to strike your little hellion with a bolt of lightning, and you’ll need to provide contact numbers to call, and the staff will certainly want to have a little “meet and greet” with the kid to see if maybe he’s the spawn of Satan… and now imagine thousands of people wanting to do this in the 45 minutes before the game starts. No way in Helsinki.

    Never mind that a child’s first day at a strange daycare often doesn’t go well. At all. Never mind that an unfortunately high percentage of kids these days are little bastards that no child care facility really wants. Never mind that the daycare needs to have the right to refuse kids (even if just for the sake of capacity), and that will royal peeve someone who drove up Des Moines. Never mind that Lambeau is always sold out, with or without the daycare.

    I can’t imagine ANY NFL franchise wanting to do this.

  • WKUPackFan

    marpag, we understand the legal and logistical issues. Can’t a person just dream about a concept? Besides, it’s fun arguing with the creepy people who apparently don’t like children,

    • marpag

      LOL. Sure, we can all dream. In my dreams I’ve been married to Kate Beckinsale for years.

  • WKUPackFan

    Guest article coming soon: Stroh presents his manifesto on how you should raise your children.

    • Stroh

      Whatever… used to think highly of u but not so much anymore. Raise your kids how you like, personally I don’t think bars and football games w a lot of alcohol consumption is the way to go!

  • funcrusher

    I, like everyone else, hate what they’re doing to defenses. The idea of rewarding quarterbacks for heaving the ball into double coverage and praying, is ludicrous, but that’s what’s going to happen. I have a feeling refs aren’t really going to enforce pass interference as closely as they say they’re going to.

    In-stadium daycare is an interesting idea, but they would have to dedicate a huge portion of the stadium to doing this. Easier said than done, but it would be pretty awesome.

    As far as Ray Rice, I think that the folks who are up in arms about Goodell’s suspension, are pointing their anger at the wrong person. Yes, it should have probably been longer, but, he’s just the commissioner of the NFL. He’s not a judge. Legally, Ray Rice gets counseling as his punishment. Now that’s an absolute joke that people should be pissed about. No jail time for knocking a woman out cold??? And, Goodell’s considered the one who’s being soft?

    • Oppy

      Funcrusher, I agree whole-heartedly about the fact we fans should be in far more of a tizzy over the lack of firm legal punishment, rather than lack of firm game suspension.

      With that being said, nothing can be done about the soft legal ruling. Fans could, however, have an impact on the suspension ruling, or at least, future rulings.

      • funcrusher

        I’m definitely not buying your second paragraph.

        Judges and lawmakers are influenced every day by citizens making their voices heard. Plus, there’s no way in the world Goodell’s going to add more games to the suspension because the fans are unhappy. The decision has been set in stone by Goodell, much like it has been by the judge.

        But, I guarantee if that judge was called out in the way Goodell has been, he as well as other judges, will come down much harder on domestic violence crimes in the future. And, isn’t that what’s important here?

        Whether Goodell gave Ray Rice two games or eight games, does it really matter if men who knock out women are still getting sentenced to counseling?

        People can’t forget whose job it is to properly punish criminals for their crimes. And, their anger needs to be sent in the proper direction.

        • Oppy

          FWIW, I was referring to the fact that Rice’s case was already heard and sentenced, so there’s nothing more that can be done about his legal sentencing, however, there is the possibility (while not likely) that Goodell could change his ruling on suspension time.

          I agree with the entirety of your sentiment, however, I fear that the bottom line is the US has the best legal system money can buy. It wasn’t that long ago an NFL player killed a man via vehicular manslaughter while under the influence of drugs and alcohol… and only served a month of jail time.

          • funcrusher

            100% agree

  • WKUPackFan

    I hear you on thar Kate Beckinsale dream marpag. I’ll be happy dreaming about her look-a-like, Rhona Mitra (The Last Ship, great show too).

    • Two Bears, One Cup

      Kate Beckinsale or Rhonda Mitra? You guys should dream bigger. In my dreams I’m married to both!

      • Oppy

        Both beautiful women, and both welcomed into my dreams at the same time.. but who on earth dreams of marriage? ;)

    • Stroh

      Beckinsale is pretty hot, but Mila Kunis is the Bomb!

  • Adam Czech

    I think you need to have a beer and relax, Stroh.