Did you know Roger Goodell’s middle name is Stokoe? (Did his parents believe he would be the next big thing in American Sign Language?) How about that Goodell secured his intern position with the NFL back in 1982 through a letter-writing campaign? (I’ve got my pen and paper ready.) Alright, those were a little tough. But you are probably aware that Goodell and the NFL are currently working on a five-year extension, which would extend his reign as commissioner through the 2024 season. That’s right, prepare yourself for another eight years of questionable decisions on player discipline, replacement officials, and more.
Ok, so it obviously hasn’t all been bad under Goodell if the owners are willing to keep him around. Since Goodell took over as commissioner in 2006, the NFL’s annual revenue has gone from $6.16 billion to the projected $14 billion it will take in this season, and the average value of NFL franchises has more than doubled from $898 million to $2.34 billion. Plus he’s more than happy to sanction the Patriots. (Go Broncos!) So yes, the Wu-Tang Clan was spot on back in ’93.
In spite of all the issues the commissioner has botched (here’s a memorable one), the 32 owners are just thrilled to be stuffing more money in their pockets under his rule. I mean, can you believe Goodell had the audacity to suspend Wade Wilson five games and fine him $100,000 for using HGH? The dude is a mutant cancer survivor! Where is your empathy, Roger?
Ok, it might be a different Wade Wilson. But it is still a strange story, since Wilson was the QB coach of the Cowboys when he was suspended. Were the steroids helping him coach?
An increase in discipline isn’t all that has changed under Goodell’s 11-year rule. During Old Stokey’s tenure: NFL Europe shuttered and was replaced with real NFL games overseas (good); the 2011 NFL lockout came to an end before the regular season (also good); we endured a full season of replacement referees in 2012 (bad); and there’s been consistent denial towards football causing CTE (even worse).
With another eight years ahead of us, what other changes should we be expecting? Here are the odds of what the league will look like in 2025.
ODDS THE NFL HAS MORE THAN 32 TEAMS IN 2025: 4/1
It’s no secret that the NFL wants to expand into new markets like Mexico and the UK on a permanent basis. Starting a new franchise in either city is not the most plausible route, though. Relocating a dismal franchise like the Jacksonville Jaguars makes more sense. Why else would the league keep subjecting Londoners to Blake Bortles if not to build a fanbase for the team?
ODDS TO HAVE AN NFL TEAM IN 2025
- Mexico City, Mexico: 9/2
- London, England: 6/1
- Oakland, California: 9/1
- San Antonio, Texas: 9/1
- Birmingham, Alabama: 12/1
- Portland, Oregon: 15/1
- Toronto, Canada: 19/1
I can’t be the only one who would love to see Mexico get an NFL team during Trump’s presidency. As much as the idea makes me laugh, it’s a real possibility. In 2005, the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers played at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, marking the first regular-season game played on international soil. The 103,467 spectators in attendance accounted for the NFL’s highest attendance at that time. The NFL decided to go back to Mexico last year (Houston Texans vs Oakland Raiders) and drew 76,473 fans at the Estadio Azteca again.
Mexico’s proximity to the United States makes it a much easier option than London. Putting a team on the other side of the Atlantic would create a major travel headache, for both the London team and its division mater. What lucky group would get stuck making that trip on a yearly basis? Meanwhile, Mexico City is less than 1,000 miles from Houston and about 1,100 from Dallas. Seattle-to-LA and Foxborough-to-Miami are both longer trips.
If the league wants to stay within American borders, San Antonio already has the Alamodome and the state has a love for football. Alabama is in the conversation, too, since it’s hard to find a more passionate fan-base in college sports.
ODDS NFL VIEWERSHIP CONTINUES TO GROW: 4/5
Some NFL fans are saying they’ll be boycotting the league for (a) the perceived collusion against Colin Kaepernick, and (b) all the anthem protests currently going on around the league. It’s one thing to say you’ll abandon football on Sundays, but a whole other to not turn that TV on come Sunday afternoon.
Some fans showed the discipline last year, as viewership took a sizable hit — an average of eight-percent. With no end in sight to the aforementioned issues, it’s not crazy to think the NFL’s viewership may have peaked. Plus, a large part of this next generation only appears interested in watching YouTube videos of other people playing video games.
On the other hand, the NFL is one of the most powerful businesses in America; it’s consistently found ways to attract eyes and betting against them continuing to do so is a risky prospect.
OVER/UNDER NUMBER OF DIFFERENT SUPER BOWL WINNERS IN THE NEXT EIGHT YEARS: 6.5
The previous eight seasons have seen seven different franchises hoist the Lombardi Trophy: New England (twice), Denver, Seattle, Baltimore, New York (Giants), Green Bay, and New Orleans. Though the Patriots roster suggests they’ll be heavy favorites over the next couple of seasons, the salary cap and draft create too much parity.
Mark my words, they will be beat in the next eight years …
ODDS ANY FRANCHISES WIN THEIR FIRST SUPER BOWL IN THE NEXT EIGHT YEARS: 1/5
There are currently 13 franchises that have never won a Super Bowl: the Bengals, Bills, Browns, Cardinals, Chargers, Eagles, Falcons, Jaguars, Lions, Panthers, Texans, Titans, and Vikings.
The Ravens won their first Super Bowl recently and at least one of these teams will end their droughts in the next eight years. Atlanta and Philadelphia will be top-contenders over the next few years, while Houston, Jacksonville, and Minnesota appear only a QB away. And don’t sleep on the Browns, either.
ODDS OLB AND DE ARE STILL POSITION NAMES IN 2025: 1/2
American football positions have evolved quite a bit over time, and we appear to be on the verge of another change. With defensive alignments getting more and more exotic, Mike Mayock has made “edge-rusher” into a well-known position.
However, the phrase is used when talking about hybrid players capable of playing with or without their hand in the dirt. Not all players can do that, and I don’t expect them to be able to in 2025, either.
ODDS MARIJUANA IS STILL A BANNED SUBSTANCE IN 2025: 11/2
The current NFL collective bargaining agreement is set to expire after the 2020 season, and marijuana is shaping up to be the next major battle between the players and league. However, the NFL has already begun softening its stance on the natural drug, and have offered to work with the NFLPA to study the benefits of marijuana use as a pain killer.
In order for there to be NFL football in 2025, marijuana will have to be a part of it.
ODDS TOM BRADY IS STILL PLAYING IN 2025: 99/1
Brady would be 48 years old at the start of the 2025 season. Though I’m reluctant to doubt the five-time Super Bowl champion, conquering Father Time is probably more difficult than coming back from a 28-3 deficit.
ODDS THERE ARE STILL KICKOFFS IN 2025: 1/1
Player safety is becoming a top-priority and the kickoff is something the NFL has been working on for a while now. In 2011, they moved the ball up to the 35-yard-line, which resulted in more touchbacks and therefore fewer concussions. Last year, the NFL continued its assault on kickoffs, approving a one-year trial of touchbacks on kickoffs coming out to the 25-yard-line (creating more incentive for the returner to take a knee in the endzone). Again returns were reduced, and the league has announced it will keep the rule for the 2017 season.
Instead of going through all this trouble, why not just get rid of them entirely?