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The NFL has a new Deacon Jones Jersey kickoff rule. Whether the NFL will still have a kickoff remains to be seen.
After multiple attempts to make the so-called most dangerous play in the game less dangerous by using it less frequently, the NFL has made the play less dangerous by making it safer. Which is fine, but one question remains: How safe does the kickoff have to become in order to save it?
Both teams’ odds took hits over the offseason (the A’s started at 80-1, Pirates at 75-1), but neither team is hopelessly bad: The PECOTA projection system, for instance, has the A’s winning 76 games (ahead of the Rangers) and the Pirates winning 78 (same as the Rockies). Last year’s Twins and Diamondbacks were each projected to win 78 and they each made the playoffs. And both teams have at least a handful of guys who have either been stars in the recent past (Starling Marte), looked like they were maybe turning into stars in the recent past (Gregory Polanco, Jameson Taillon) or played like stars for extended periods in the recent past (Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, maybe kind of Sean Manaea and Josh Bell). You have to squint to see four great players on either of these teams, but you don’t have to squint so hard that your eyes hurt.
Prediction: It’s not going to end well.
Regardless, it’s going to end on Wednesday. Or, more accurately, the owners will craft a new anthem policy on Wednesday. Which will close one chapter and likely open another, as players, the NFL Players Association, plenty of fans, and many in the media push back against any effort by the league to taketh away that which the league previously has given. Eth.
How about this one, folks? he’ll inevitably say at a rally, somewhere. They didn’t want to make the players stand for the national anthem but you know what? We made them do it. We did it. Together. If we can do that together, what else can we do? Or should I say, ‘What can’t we do?’
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There’s simply no easy path out of this maze for the NFL, but owners who are used to getting their way whenever and wherever and however they want it seem to think they can find one. They can’t. The sooner they accept this, the better off everyone will be.
And they only have themselves to blame. By making the players props in the effort to wrap The Shield in The Flag nearly a decade ago, the league made this mess by creating a right to protest. Whatever the next step, the NFL will be putting its big toe on a land mine.