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Incentives To Teams To Play Starters Not Sit Them In Late Season Games

Posted By Eddie Garrison On January 4, 2010 @ 2:22 pm In Colts News, Featured | No Comments

In recent weeks the NFL has received some heavy criticism after the Indianapolis Colts made the decision to pull their starters against the New York Jets in week 15 and used their reserve players after already previously locking up their division, home field advantage and first round bye in the post season.

Commissioner Roger Goodell said, “It is something we’ll look at. We heard the fans loud and clear. It’s something our competition committee has looked at in the past, but we’re going to ask our competition committee to look at it again in the future. We want every game to be competitive.”

During a recent interview with CBS, Goodell stated that possible and varying incentives would be presented to teams to discourage or prevent them from benching their starters in late-season games.

How can the league actually do that? Is that not showing favoritism to certain teams? How can they legally, above all else, offer ’said incentives’ to certain teams but not to others?

And what right does the NFL have at that point to determine what the owners of a team does or does not do with the organization that ownership posses?

Can the league really tell an owner what to do with something they do not own in any way form or fashion?

I say no.

I mean they are virtually saying that they are going to punish a team for playing good all year and having a good record to show for it.

It is that team’s luxury and right to sit whomever they want whenever they want during the course of a season. They sign the player’s checks, not the NFL.

Goodell went on to say “We are considering a lot of different things. I don’t think you can punish them for not playing. The other thing that has to happen is you have to make it clear to the public that you are not going to be playing someone, like we do with our injury reports.”

Really Mr. Commissioner, really? You most certainly cannot punish a team for achieving a good record. Any rational person could tell you that.

I do, however, somewhat agree with what he and the league are saying about perhaps publicizing who they are going to play or not play, but that too posses its own issues.

Take the Colts’ situation as an example. They actually did play their starters for the entire first half of the game against the New York Jets. It was not until after the first series of the second half they pulled their starters for backup players.

How are the organizations to inform fans of this in advance of a season or game?

Colts to fans: “Well we may pull the starters around the second half but we aren’t really sure just yet. Sorry, but please come out on to the game anyway to support your team.”

Yeah, that will go over like a ton of bricks.

The media and fans alike made the argument that when they [the Colts] pulled their starters, it gave the Jets an almost unfair advantage to win the game and ultimately make the postseason with a win the next week against the Bengals. Which was not guaranteed either.

When in essence, the league should have NOT moved the Bengals versus the Jets game to the Sunday night game to show the Bengals exactly what they would be playing for (if anything) after already becoming aware of the outcome of the Patriots/Texans game which was played earlier that day.

To me, the bottom line on this issue is that the league cannot punish or give incentives to any teams for either playing their starters in late season games or sitting them. It would be showing favoritism in my eyes and I bet to a lot of other people’s eyes as well.

If you do not want your team to be knocked out of the playoffs because another team is resting their starters late in the season, my advice to your team is simple: win more games. This way, you’re taking your own “destiny” out of someone else’s hands.


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