NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a letter to NFL fans on Wednesday afternoon addressing the pace of the game and fan experience going forward. These issues will be debated at the annual league meetings which will take place in Phoenix from March 26-29.
“Consistently, we heard from fans that we can improve in two key areas: the flow and pace of the game, and commercialization and the number of unnecessary disruptions to the game on the field,” Goodell wrote.
Goodell wrote that next week, “clubs will vote on a change to centralize replay reviews.” He expanded on that idea, noting that referees will receive a tablet and “review the play in consultation with our officiating headquarters in New York, which has the final decision.”
This model is not unfamiliar in professional sports. The National Hockey League was the first to pick up this method of replay review, as it sent all replays to its situation room in Toronto. Major League Baseball adopted this as well, sending its replay reviews to New York.
Later in the letter, Goodell listed a number of proposed options to improve the speed of the game. These include instituting a play clock after a touchdown, standardizing the starting of the clock after the runner goes out-of-bounds and standardizing halftime lengths in all games.
Lastly, Goodell wrote that the league is working with its broadcast partners to limit the commercial breaks throughout the course of a full game.
“…We know how annoying it is when we come back from a commercial break, kick off, and then cut to a commercial again,” Goodell wrote. “I hate that too. Our goal is to eliminate it.”
FiveThirtyEight published an analysis of the length of NFL games back in February 2016, and the data pointed toward a clear trend: the games are lasting longer.
The article cited that “between replay reviews, commercials, penalties and incomplete passes, stoppages of all kinds have been rising since 2008.”
The issue is one Goodell has been pressed to solve, and one he hopes can be solved at some point this offseason.
The letter is all proposed ideas, and nothing has been approved yet, but Goodell and the NFL head can attempt to push these changes next week in Phoenix.