The Wednesday Show Prep

posted by Steve Bortstein -

Dez caught it. So did Calvin Johnson, maybe so did Jesse James and countless other so-called catches that didn’t pass muster at the time thanks to the over-analyzing of instant replay. The decision by the NFL’s competition committee to make the past go away doesn’t do a thing, except offer an explicit rebuke on the replay process and give Cowboys fans a reason to complain, if they needed one. 

The NFL's competition committee made the announcement yesterday, which doesn't really address much of anything other than that officials would be allowed to call those plays a completion on the field, only to be reviewed as necessary.

One other rule change being considered this week by the committee is regarding the changing of the pass interference penalty.

The committee is discussing changing the penalty for pass interference to 15 yards instead of the current spot foul.

Mark Murphy, president of the Green Bay Packers, told reporters, "there's a lot of debate on that," according to an article posted on ESPN.com"Obviously it's a huge penalty -- 40-, 50-yard penalty at times. It seems to have worked in college. I think there's a concern that our defensive backs are so skilled that the end of the games we'd just have a series of 15-yard penalties. You don't see that in college."

I really want to see this rule changed to better reflect the college game. I disagree that we'd see more pass interference penalties on downfield "Hail Mary" type plays at the end of games, but even if there were, plays at the end of games do provide some additional drama, not only for the outcomes of games, but also for those sicko gamblers out there (excuse me while I look at my reflection in a mirror). 

Let The Great Pizza War Commence

Attention Little Caesar, 

It's time to come claim the National Football League as your newest conquest.

It was announced yesterday that Papa John's, a longtime corporate partner of the NFL, mutually decided it was in the best interests for the national pizza chain to give up the designation as the official pizza of the league, a brand it has held since 2010.

The brand is the first NFL sponsor to leave in the midst of its deal. The company said that there was no additional cost for undoing the deal.

According to a statement from both the league and the company, "The NFL and Papa John's have made a mutual decision to shift from their official league sponsorship to a focus on partnerships with 22 local NFL teams, presence in broadcast and digital media, and key personalities in the sport."

If I'm working in the corporate offices of the NFL, I'm already working on a deal where the new naming rights for the official pizza should come down to an animated commercial war between Little Caesar and the old-school Noid character from Domino's.

The NFL could allow fans to vote, giving each national chain an equitable amount of commercial time, and offering prizes to random people who choose to go online and vote for their favorite character (and in turn, their preferred national pizza).

No offense to the people at Papa John's, but the corporate spin of holding the league hostage based on the so-called "anthem protests" has run its course. Former CEO and Papa John's founder John Schnnater has already walked away from the position after he publicly was ridiculed for his decision to call out the league and those players who chose to not stand for the playing of the anthem last season.

Schnatter also publicly apologized for those comments, 12 days after making them and after experiencing a 12 percent drop in company stock.

Schnatter, who was the face of the brand, was later replaced as CEO on Jan. 1. 

Sales for Papa John's were down nearly 4 percent across the country from October through December versus the same time period a year before, the company announced Tuesday, due to promotions that didn't pan out and negative consumer perception. 

The company had positive comparative sales for the 14th consecutive year, narrowly accomplishing the mark in 2017 by growing 0.1 percent.

Can We Finally Just Address This For What It Is?

According to a piece published on ESPN.com, support for the United States-led bid to host the 2026 World Cup is more divided than most predicted, with some estimates of voting totals having Morocco not just threatening the North American bid, but actually beating it.

The United States won't be playing in the World Cup in Russia this summer, but bringing the 2026 tournament to North America had always been seen as significant solace. Yet now, with just over three months until the pre-tournament FIFA Congress -- at which the body's 211 member nations will vote on those hosting rights -- even that consolation prize for American soccer fans might be in doubt.

Finally, let's just call this what it is. We're not interested in this damn sport.

For as many times as I feel we've been force-fed international soccer matches and made to believe that MLS has some rabid fanbase among our national collective, the reality is simple. The majority of American sports fans do not and never have supported international soccer.

Somehow painting the lack of support for the United States hosting of a tournament eight years from now as a plight against our better instincts is an insult to those who have more than several times voiced their disinterest in the sport.

This isn't about soccer's popularity somehow escaping us and trying to gently remind us how foolish we are, and this isn't going to change no matter how many times NBC Sports or ESPN or Fox attempt to remind us through carefully and cleverly edited promos for soccer matches that this is a sport we just don't care about.

Let Morocco host the damn thing. 

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