The Ideal NFL

What would the NFL look like if Sport Change ruled the world?  What if Sport Change could turn back the hands of time and change the course of the league’s history?  Read on to learn more, and please throw in your two cents.

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Please read the introduction to the Ideal League concept to understand the basics.  For the NFL, we’re going to look at things a few different ways, but the primary method will be rewriting the historic narrative of the NFL.  Time for some genuine fantasy football!

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THE NFL: A REVISIONIST HISTORY

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1968

We start in the year of our lord, nineteen-hundred and sixty-eight.  The NFL is comprised of 16 franchises: the Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions, Minnesota  Vikings, Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, Cleveland Browns, New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers, St. Louis Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Colts, Los Angeles Rams, and San Francisco 49ers.  The scrappy upstart AFL is made up of nine teams: the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, Boston Patriots, New York Jets, Houston Oilers, Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, and San Diego Chargers.  Cincinnati is pushing for an AFL franchise, but their efforts are shelved.

1970 Merge

The two leagues make a decision to merge into one NFL for the 1970 season, and split into two conferences.  Four NFL teams move to the new AFC: the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Colts, and St. Louis Cardinals.  An expansion team, the Seattle Hawks, is added to balance out the conferences, and is placed in the new NFC.

Two teams decide to make name changes in anticipation of expanded exposure of the newly merged league.  The Washington Redskins embrace changing sensibilities of the cultural zeitgeist and choose the alliterative Washington Warriors as a moniker.  The Buffalo Bills grow weary of explaining their overly-clever name, and choose to take on a nickname formerly used in the NFL: the Buffalo Bisons.

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Buffalo looks to the past for a new brand.

1975 Expansion

The league expands yet again.  The city of Cincinnati finally succeeds in landing an NFL franchise, and the newly minted Cincinnati Cats are placed in the AFC.  Out of left field comes a market that has yet to host a major pro sports team, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers become the newest member of the NFC.

1985 Expansion

The league grows in unexpected ways.  Cities like Baltimore and St. Louis nearly lose their beloved franchises, but are able to hold on to them.  The NFL awards the aggressive pursuits of cities making a push for teams by expanding again.  This time around, the Indiana Knights are added to the AFC and the Arizona Scorpions are added the NFC.

1995 Expansion

Two more upstart markets are awarded NFL franchises when the Carolina Panthers and Tennessee Titans become the 31st and 32nd NFL teams.

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Two new expansion teams for the 1995 season.

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2005 Realignment

The league decides that 32 teams is an ideal number, but it becomes clear that realignment into 8 divisions of four teams each is the optimal scenario.  The realignment is undertaken with care, and most historic rivalries are kept intact.

The Oilers and the Dolphins, who had shared a division since Dolphins’ inception, form a brand new AFC South–taking the Indiana Knights and Tennessee Titans with them.  The Patriots, Jets, Colts, and Bisons form the AFC East.  The Browns, Cardinals, Steelers, and Cats form the AFC North.  The Cheifs, Raiders, Broncos, and Chargers remain together as they always have, and form the AFC West.

The Falcons, Saints, Buccaneers, and Panthers form a new NFC South.  The Rams, 49ers, Hawks, and Scorpions form the NFC West.  The Cowboys, Giants, Eagles, and Warriors stay together to make up the NFC East.  The Packers, Bears, Lions, and Vikings remain together as they always have, and form the NFC North.

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Some things change, somethings remain the same.

Present

Here is the structure of the historic Ideal NFL in the present day:

AFC

East: Baltimore Colts, Boston Patriots, Buffalo Bisons, and New York Jets

South: Houston Oilers, Miami Dolphins, Indiana Knights, and Tennessee Titans

West: Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, Denver Broncos, and San Diego Chargers

North: St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Cats, Cleveland Browns, and Pittsburgh Steelers

NFC

East: Washington Warriors, Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, and New York Giants

South: New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Carolina Panthers, and Atlanta Falcons

West: Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Hawks, and Arizona Scorpions

North: Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, and Minnesota Vikings

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THE NFL: CLEAR & PRESENT

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Let us now take a look at the current state of the NFL and discuss changes in a realistic way.

Expansion.  The NFL is at 32 teams, which is the max that any Big Four league should take on.  There is no compelling enough case at this time for expansion–certainly not London!

Relocation.  Aside from one glaringly obvious need, there are not many compelling cases for relocation in the NFL.  Toronto would certainly like a team, but the Bills are going nowhere at this point.  Besides, they’ve got the Argonauts.  Los Angeles has been screaming for a team for nearly twenty years now, and that’s the prime focus in the NFL.  The team that most deserves to move is the Jacksonville Jaguars, so let’s imagine a simple relocation of the Jaguars to Los Angeles.  If L.A. needs another team down the line, there always exists the San Diego option.

Realignment.  The NFL has the best alignment structure of any sports league around, so the eight divisions in two conferences should remain intact.  When the Jaguars move to L.A., they should be placed in the NFC West to compete with the Niners; while leaving the door open for an AFC team in L.A. should the Chargers or Raiders move.  The St. Louis Rams should then move to the AFC South to play with the Titans, Colts, and Dolphins.

Rebranding.  As much as I’d like to suggest “Visions of Reversion” that would send the Cardinals moniker back to St. Louis and the Colts back to Baltimore, that is just not going to happen.  The most pressing need is to rebrand the Redskins.  This will likely happen, and if it does, I hope to see the Washington Warriors hit the mark and assume the old arrow helmets as a primary.  If the Jaguars do move to L.A., they could choose to either keep the moniker or start anew.  Starting anew would be the best bet, so I suggest Los Angeles Wolves.

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If these changes were to go into effect in say, 2015, here’s what the realistic Ideal NFL would look like:

AFC

East: New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, and New York Jets

South: Indianapolis Colts, St. Louis Rams, Houston Texans, and Tennessee Titans

West: Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, Denver Broncos, and San Diego Chargers

North: Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, and Pittsburgh Steelers

NFC

East: Washington Warriors, Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, and New York Giants

South: New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Carolina Panthers, and Atlanta Falcons

West: Los Angeles Wolves, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, and Arizona Cardinals

North: Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, and Minnesota Vikings

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Whaddaya think?

So there you have it.  What do you think?  Please leave comments and become an active participant in the Sport Change Ideal Leagues.  Thank you for reading–have a great day.

SPORT CHANGE

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