Jay Greenberg of the Post today suggests one of the most ridiculous proposals in the history of football writing.
The Jets are 10-point favorites Sunday night against a team two games superior in the standings. But an NFL otherwise obsessed with the integrity of its game officially pretends to smell nothing wrong.
"The position of the Competition Committee, and affirmed by the clubs, when it was reviewed in 2005 was that a team that has clinched its division title has earned the right to rest its starters for the postseason and that preparing for the postseason is just as important as protecting some other team's playoff opportunity," Greg Aiello, NFL senior VP of public relations, said in an e-mail yesterday.
Perhaps the undefeated season that Colts fans wanted enough to boo their team when it packed it in on Sunday didn't die in vain. Maybe the Steelers, Ravens and Texans will be martyrs toward change should the Jets, fortunate enough to close the season against consecutive teams resting starters, make the playoffs by beating J.T. O'Sullivan rather than Carson Palmer.
A league fastidious in monitoring the reporting of injuries, that offers a $1 million reward for evidence of circumvention of the salary cap, looks the other way when Peyton Manning gets pulled in the third quarter of a game that could determine up to four teams' postseason chances. The NFL does so in the apparent ongoing belief that requiring teams to go all-out is unenforceable.
"How can somebody tell you to play anybody?" Jets coach Rex Ryan said yesterday. "I don't think it's realistic.
"Those [early clinchers] earn the right to do what they think is in the best interest of the organization," argued Ryan.
Coaches and GMs who man a Competition Committee would think that way, of course. The best interests of the game have to supersede those of any team. And that's where Commissioner Roger Goodell comes in, or should.
I understand it's difficult to come up with a fresh take. I appreciate how hard it is to come up with a unique perspective on sports. This column is just dumb beyond belief, though. The reason this game is significant to the Steelers is they didn't take care of business against the Browns. The Bengals should have to overlook what's in their interest because of that? It's nonsense to say the Steelers are martyrs. They put themselves in a position to need help.
Imagine if Peyton Manning had played and been injured because the NFL mandated he had to be in the lineup. This doesn't strike Greenberg as a potential scandal for the league? He also doesn't explain how it would be implemented. Would there be a quota for how many carries a given running back would need to get? Could guys take a break? What about a situation where a coach wants to pull a starter for a performance related issue? What would be punishment for breaking the rules? Who would evaluate it.
It goes without saying this kind of thing would be impossible to implement and a ridiculous conflict of interest. Greenberg missed the mark more than Michael Bay when he made Pearl Harbor in this column.