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The NFL is Broken – No Problem, I’ll Fix It
When I say the NFL is broken, I’m speaking primarily as a Browns fan, the most profoundly broken team perhaps in the history of U.S. professional sports. I have a solution that might fix this franchise (and a handful of other teams), but it requires that contracts and compensation be completely restructured across the league.
Here’s my plan.
At the beginning of the season, every player selects five charitable organizations. Three rules: they cannot name their own foundation or a non-profit in which they participate as a board member, etc., at least two must be local to their viewing area, and at least 150 different non-profits must be named per team (this is to mitigate collusion).
Next comes the fun part. Every player and coach gets paid 50% of their contracted salary per game. If the team wins, each player receives the other 50%. If they lose, the balance of their salary goes to charity (there would be a cap on the amount a non-profit can receive, hence 150+ per team).
In addition, the front office must match 50% of the amount donated (effectively up to 25% of their players/coaches salaries that season if they lose all 16 games). This way everyone feels the pain of a loss, and responsibility for tightening the ship goes all the way to the top (where systemic failures, such as the Browns, originate).
And now for free agents. Instead of the current free agency model, there will be a free agency draft that takes place the week before preseason. Free agents can name their price, lock it in, and then teams draft from the pool. Traditional free agency may continue into the season, however contracts are capped at 75% of the free agency draft average contract amount. If you didn’t get picked during the draft, then you overvalued yourself – your fault.
So with these punishments in place, there must be rewards, right? There are – they’re called the playoffs. You succeed as a team, you get to play bonus football, rake in bonus fan money, make bonus salaries, etc. That’s your reward for not sucking.
One last thing – to phase it in, current players are grandfathered in. The new structure applies to newly eligible players starting in 2017. In 15-20 years, the entire league is converted.
No more laughing and joking on the sidelines while you are failing at your job. No more partying when you should be doubling down on game film and drills. No more ownership allowing its team to languish while they collect from their fans. Everyone feels the pain, everyone is invested, and everyone must work together to affect change. Everyone’s performance is tied to everyone’s success.
Is this plan perfect? Not by a long shot. But even if a team goes 0-16, no one’s having trouble putting food on the table, and if you want to be really successful financially, you have to prove you’re successful on game day first. If you can’t succeed, then the community you let down benefits from your lost salary instead.
NBA, NFL etc. are welcome to co-opt this model.