What the NFL Needs to Adopt From the CFL and AFL
TORONTO, ON - AUGUST 19, 2016: Video Official Marc Cobb, left, and Replay Official Jake Ireland discuss events of the first half inside the CFL command centre at the CFL headquarters in Toronto on August 19, 2016. (Andrew Lahodynskyj/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

As a sports fan, this time of the year can be difficult to get through. The only major sport going on is baseball since the NBA and NHL seasons just ended and football isn’t here for a few more months. To pass the time, I have been watching the Arena Football League (AFL) and Canadian Football League (CFL). Both leagues are entertaining and for those missing football are a great way to watch it until the NFL and college return. Although the leagues differ from traditional American football, they have some features I believe the NFL should adopt.

What the NFL Needs to Adopt From the AFL and CFL

The NFL Needs to Adopt The AFL Review Experience

One of my favorite aspects of the AFL is during reviews the referee has a mic so you can hear what they’re saying. You can listen to them ask for certain angles and hear what they are exactly looking for. Instead of listening to what the broadcasters have to say, hearing directly from the person making the decision is the best way to understand crucial calls. It gives the viewer a much clearer understanding of why the call stands or is reversed. For some of the controversial calls the NFL has had recently, this would have done wonders for clearing up why calls are decided. Getting to see a referee go through the process of reviewing a play would better enhance the experience of watching a game, and the NFL should strongly consider adding this.

The NFL Needs to Adopt The AFL Pace of Play

The AFL has a running clock that runs unless a timeout or injury occurs until 30 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Once this happens, incomplete passes or out of bounds plays immediately stop the clock. One of the longest delays the NFL has is between touchdowns and extra points, the AFL does not stop the clock between these two plays. If the clock continued to run, it would make the NFL’s games finish much faster. A recent game between the Baltimore Brigade and Washington Valor finished in under two and a half hours. The AFL has four 15-minute quarters just like the NFL, yet games can finish almost an hour sooner in the AFL. The NFL has tried to speed up the game and incorporating this would be an easy way to speed up the pace of play.

The NFL Needs to Adopt The AFL And CFL Motion Rules

Both the AFL and CFL allow at least one receiver to be in motion before the snap and do not require they stop before the snap. The CFL allows anyone behind the line of scrimmage to do this, and it allows for an endless realm of possibilities. With some of the fast players in the NFL such as Tarik Cohen and John Ross, the plays that could result from them getting a head start in reaching top speed intrigue me.

Watching some of the CFL games it seems that more deep throws are attempted and with some of the arms we have in the NFL, I can only imagine what players such as Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers could do with this. One of the most exciting plays is a deep pass caught for a touchdown and allowing receivers to be in motion before the snap would allow for more of these opportunities. The NFL is an offensive league and adding this would only add to the excitement.

The NFL Needs to Adopt The No Fair Catches Rule

In the NFL, returners can signal for a fair catch and give their team possession where the ball is caught. Both the AFL and CFL prohibit the use of fair catches, forcing returners to try and gain something. While the NFL has tried to increase player safety, at some point they must realize violence and danger is always a part of football. Seeing kicks and punts returned for touchdowns are becoming rare, and it can be a game-changing play when it happens. Players such as Dante Hall and Devin Hester became legends since every return had the potential to go the distance.

Fair catches eliminate opportunities for players on special teams to make a play to potentially make the team or earn more playing time. Terrell Davis made his name known on a tackle while covering a punt, and it led to a Hall of Fame career. Eliminating the use of a coverage team with fair catches may cost some players the chance to remain in the NFL, as well as the potential momentum-changing play of a big return or a forced fumble.

At The End Of The Day, Football Is Football

Football is one of the most exciting sports, yet it lasts the shortest time of major sports. While the AFL and CFL are gaining attention in the US, they aren’t close to the NFL. They don’t need to be bigger, but they need to be available for more football fans to watch. Once the NBA and NHL seasons end, all we have is baseball until August. Baseball can only keep your attention for a few months, so you might as well watch the AFL and CFL when it’s on. These leagues have a lot of talent and a lot to offer, and if the NFL incorporated these aspects into their league it would only help the league maintain its dominance.

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