The NFL has made a few changes since you last watched

Watching a linebacker in a # 9 jersey bag a quarterback is like watching a cat catch a Frisbee. It’s so strange it’s a bit disorienting...


Watching a linebacker in a # 9 jersey bag a quarterback is like watching a cat catch a Frisbee. It’s so strange it’s a bit disorienting.

The NFL relaxed long-standing uniform numbering policies for the 2021 season, by making single-digit jerseys available to linebackers, defensive backs, running backs and wide receivers. The change will take some getting used to. There were so many short-run jerseys running around the field in preseason games that it looked like the punters and kickers had staged an uprising.

The single-digit revolution wouldn’t be so shocking if the league’s biggest stars received the first blows on the coveted jerseys. After all, the numbers 1-9 have been common in almost every college football position for decades, as they are effective lures for sought-after rookies.

But the NFL, boutique short as it is, is forcing any player who wants a single-digit uniform to buy back the existing allocation of their old jerseys first. The more famous the player, the more jerseys in circulation, the higher the price of a switch. As a result, most of the lesser-known players or those who recently switched teams have taken advantage of the new rule. Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard, who wore No.87, will wear No.3 this year, for example, while linebacker Matt Judon, a newcomer to the New England Patriots, will drop from 99 to 9.

So instead of trophy skins for the All-Pros, single-digit jerseys look more like vanity plaques.

The new uniform numbering system will certainly be unpopular initially among neo-traditionalists old enough to denounce any changes as evidence of further easing of society. (“Seventy-three: Now there is a number that a REAL MAN can count!”) but not old enough to remember Giants Hall of Fame center and linebacker Mel Hein was number 7.

Fans will have to adapt to other unfamiliar views.

The NFL announced in its August official video that it would make a bigger effort to apply his rules of mockery, flagging players for “acts or words of bait or mockery” and “abusive, threatening or insulting language or gestures”.

History tells us that the league’s sportsmanship sting operations inevitably turn game officials into 16th-century clerics eager to stifle dancing, laughter, and display of any emotion other than penance and penance. shame. Sure enough, overzealous officials penalized a few players this preseason who celebrated while looking in the general direction of an opponent.

History also tells us that the grill vanities bonfire usually goes out in October, either because officials tire of judging boobs and arrogant smiles, or because the public outcry prompts the league to order them to stop acting as high school dance chaperones.

In 2015, the NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell said that the league was “open to our position that we oppose legalized sports gambling” and that he “did not” expect us to change that at all in the future “.

Last week, the league announced agreements with FOX Bet, BetMGM, PointsBet and WynnBET to join Caesar’s Entertainment, DraftKings and FanDuel as licensed sportsbook operators for the 2021 season. approved that remains is the one Uncle Junior pulled out from the back of his candy store in 1962.

The new deal means more choice for punters and even more pre-match gaming and programming ads that are even more visible to everyone. TV analysts may not yet openly comment on the spread of the points, but it will likely happen before Al Michaels retires.

If the league’s new permissive attitude towards the game seems to clash philosophically with its policy of Puritan mockery, keep in mind that one activity increases direct income while the other does not.

Eleven NFL games on Thursday night will be available on Amazon Prime Video in 2021. The games will still air simultaneously on Fox and NFL Network, but the league will begin to seriously cut the cords in 2022, when some games will be available exclusively on the streaming service.

The phasing out of traditional television should give cable audiences time to prepare. Bartenders won’t have to hook smartphones to 80-inch televisions so their customers can watch the game right away, and stepdads won’t panic at 8:30 p.m. Thursday night to ask which “channel.” Amazon is on.

For the tech-savvy segment of the population, the switch will be as easy as logging into Amazon Prime Video… oh, I forgot the password… “Cincinnati Bengals vs. Jacksonville Jaguars.”

Well, at least the delivery is free.

Practice teams consisted of 10 players with less than two seasons of accumulated NFL experience. they have been enlarged to 16 players in 2020, six of whom could be veterans, so teams can put reinforcements into the training squad in the event of quarantine. Those rules have been postponed for 2021, and teams are taking full advantage of them, especially when it comes to emergency shifts. Neither team wants to throw an undrafted rookie receiver into quarterback due to a virus outbreak, as the The Denver Broncos made last season.

Seeing a 12-year veteran like New England Patriots quarterback Brian Hoyer relegated to the practice squad is like finding out that an old college buddy with an MBA delivers for DoorDash and drives for Lyft to make ends meet. Quite normal for the 2020s, in other words.

The NFL has wisely asked officials to be less strict on offensive gear in 2020, lest games be marred by endless flags after the pre-season canceled by Covid. According to Football Outsiders Almanac, offensive penalties fell from 3.6 per game in 2018 and 2019 to 2.6 per game last year, with detention penalties dropping from 725 (1.41 per team per game) in 2019 to 430 (0.84) in 2020. It’s no coincidence, the rating rose to an all-time high of 24.8 points per game, and the games themselves were noticeably crisp and enjoyable.

The NFL must have thought everyone was having too much fun (see: taunting rules), as the 2021 preseason hold rate dropped to 1.58 penalties per team per game. That rate may have been inflated by the shenanigans of the fourth quarter, but it is still a daunting trend. Then again, a wave of maintenance penalties, like a swarm of cicadas, can be an annoying sign that nature is healing itself.

All of these changes in the NFL can be off-putting at the start of the regular season. Rest assured, however, that in a few years it will seem quite natural to place a bet, buy your favorite cornerback’s -3 jersey and stream the game from a single mobile phone app for that Goodell and the NFL’s business partners are watching us from orbit.

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Newsrust - US Top News: The NFL has made a few changes since you last watched
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