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KingPriest2
10-15-2004, 08:26 AM
Free the Inactive Seven, and pity the poor bustards!


By Gregg Easterbrook
Special to NFL.com


(Gregg Easterbrook will contribute his column to NFL.com readers each week during the NFL season. He is a senior editor of The New Republic, a contributing editor of The Atlantic Monthly and a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution. His latest book, The Progress Paradox, released by Random House, is in bookstores now.)

Printable version
(Oct. 12, 2004) -- Good golly Miss Molly, injuries are devastating the NFL, leaving teams shorthanded. This brings to mind a longstanding Tuesday Morning Quarterback cause: Free the Inactive Seven!

Pro football teams have 53 gentlemen on the roster, but before kickoff, seven must be designated inactive, condemned to watch in street clothes. The third quarterback may dress but play only if the first two quarterbacks leave the contest and do not return, so in effect the Inactive Seven is really the Inactive Eight.

Tuesday Morning Quarterback has long wondered why the inactive list exists. Certainly not to save the owners money. Inactive players occupy slots on the regular roster and, watching in street clothes, get full game checks exactly as if they had played. (The "practice squad," which draws only token pay, is a different outfit.) Gentlemen on the inactive list also accrue credits toward free agency and pensions, exactly as if they had played. No, the inactive list doesn't save anyone a dime.

All the inactive list accomplishes is preventing fully paid NFL players from suiting up and performing. Sometimes players on the inactive list are hurt and wouldn't go regardless, but because a minimum of seven is required, almost every inactive list includes healthy players. Surely the Inactive Seven are a factor that increases injuries. Having healthy players sitting around in designer jumpsuits forces active players to take more snaps, especially on special teams, increasing their exposure to injury. The more players who can perform, the thinner the injury risk is spread.


And consider the third quarterback, who can play only if the first two leave for good, which almost never happens. Quarterbacks are the most valuable members of football teams, and their development is a multi-million-dollar matter in the NFL. If third quarterbacks were free to take the field, they could hold for kicks and come in for specialty plays, gaining some game-speed experience. Instead, third quarterbacks never get grass stains, while most teams are reluctant to use the second quarterback on trick plays for fear that he'll get hurt.

The inactive list arose when rosters were expanded to 53 years ago, then the old "moves" system, under which each team could make a limited number of roster changes annually, was discarded. Now teams can change their rosters as often as they please, with the provisos that seven cannot dress; purists seem to feel that 45 players, the roster maximum, was the "correct" number dressed for a football game. No immutable law dictates this number, it's just arbitrarily chosen. The league could have teams dress 20 and require everyone to play both ways, or dress 90 as do many Division I-A colleges, or any other number pulled from a hat.

Having an inactive list only forces owners to pay for performances they don't receive, while complicating the already-bad injury picture. Free the Inactive Seven!

In other football news, the crazy-pass fad continues to sweep the NFL. This week, Marc Bulger threw a crazy pass into double coverage, and it yielded a touchdown. Kerry Collins threw a crazy pass into double coverage, and it yielded an interception returned by Indianapolis for a touchdown. Brett Favre repeatedly made crazy throws into coverage, and the yield was 402 yards passing but also three interceptions and defeat.

Sportscasters constantly declare that NFL stars must "make a play," by which they seem to mean, "do something crazy." But at times, the best move for the quarterback is to throw the ball away, or check down to the safety-valve receiver for a short gain. This year, there seems an epidemic of trying to "make a play" by forcing the ball into coverage, perhaps because quarterbacks know the officials are calling pass interference more tightly. Dear NFL quarterbacks, anybody can heave the ball into coverage: This is not a skill. Nine out of 10 crazy passes backfire, and TMQ is seeing a lot of crazy passes this year.

In still other NFL news, were the Seahawks "looking past" the Rams? Seattle led 27-10 midway through the fourth quarter at home; the Hawks knew the Patriots had already won the early start; you could see on the faces of Seattle players that they were beginning to savor a week of hype and national attention in the runup to their "battle of the undefeateds" at New England on Sunday. Oh ye mortals, count not the chickens until the clock reads all-zeds. And looking ahead to that battle of the almost-undefeateds -- New England may be 4-0, but its victories have come over teams that are a combined 5-14

ROYC75
10-15-2004, 10:06 AM
Cutting those 8 players means the NFL Players Assoc. would raise hell, that's 256 players without jobs..... then you have the 8 man practice squad.

IMHO, I think it does have more to do with the players union than the NFL....

BigChiefFan
10-15-2004, 10:12 AM
Vermeil has been complaining about this stupid ass rule for a while now, too. There is absolutely no reason not to be able to utilize all the players on your team. They need to change the rule, IMO.

Amnorix
10-15-2004, 10:26 AM
Cutting those 8 players means the NFL Players Assoc. would raise hell, that's 256 players without jobs..... then you have the 8 man practice squad.

IMHO, I think it does have more to do with the players union than the NFL....

Reread the article again. You're missing the point entirely.

Crush
10-15-2004, 10:32 AM
useless

ROYC75
10-15-2004, 10:40 AM
Reread the article again. You're missing the point entirely.

Ooops, I never read it, my son was commenting on it, I was busy at work and commented on his question, ...

My bad.

Now I look like a fool ! Gotta stop posting off his comments.

Activate them all, including practice players !

It is stupid to have 53 and only suit up 45.

Phobia
10-15-2004, 10:56 AM
Now I look like a fool !


That's okay - we're used to it.

When the NFL finally opts to change this, it will be known as the Dick Vermeil rule. He hates it more than any single person.

ROYC75
10-15-2004, 11:02 AM
That's okay - we're used to it.

When the NFL finally opts to change this, it will be known as the Dick Vermeil rule. He hates it more than any single person.



4321




















ROFL

Guess I deserved that comment..... Damn the morning was busy, now it is slow, I think I'll go fishing later.

donkhater
10-15-2004, 12:43 PM
The only reason I can see for having this rule is to level the playing field each Sunday.

If a team has five players who can't play, then they are inactive for the week. No big deal, each team goes into the game 45 on 45.

If, however, the inactive list did not exist, that team would go into the game out manned 50-45. A decided advantage considering the potential for injuries during the course of a game.

That's the only reason I can think of for it's existance.

The alternative would just have a weekly injury list and still field 53 players. Therefore, the team with five injured players could put the players on an inactive injury list and sign 5 schmos off the street or their practice squad to round out the 53 man roster for the week.

The owners likely would be against this solution since they would have to pay not only the players playing on the field a minimum game check, but the players on the injury inactive list as well. Hence the current system.

el borracho
10-15-2004, 12:50 PM
The only reason I can see for having this rule is to level the playing field each Sunday.

If a team has five players who can't play, then they are inactive for the week. No big deal, each team goes into the game 45 on 45.

If, however, the inactive list did not exist, that team would go into the game out manned 50-45. A decided advantage considering the potential for injuries during the course of a game.

That's the only reason I can think of for it's existance.

The alternative would just have a weekly injury list and still field 53 players. Therefore, the team with five injured players could put the players on an inactive injury list and sign 5 schmos off the street or their practice squad to round out the 53 man roster for the week.

The owners likely would be against this solution since they would have to pay not only the players playing on the field a minimum game check, but the players on the injury inactive list as well. Hence the current system.
Brilliant!

Hydrae
10-15-2004, 02:15 PM
I think you nailed it donkhater! :thumb:

Iowanian
10-15-2004, 02:48 PM
I think more than 45 should be able to dress. The salary cap would restrict teams from just bringing in more "schmoes" to fill the squad.

I'd like to see it upped to 48-50 players to dress, and give teams the ability to bring up practice squad players without penalty if more than 3 are injured...if they want.

It would have significant impact on teams with alot of injuries and special teams.

Mark M
10-15-2004, 02:52 PM
The owners likely would be against this solution since they would have to pay not only the players playing on the field a minimum game check, but the players on the injury inactive list as well. Hence the current system.

I could be wrong, but don't players who are injured, but still on the roster, still get paid? If so, is it reduced?

I was under the impression that these guys get paid whether or not they step foot on the field.

MM
~~:hmmm: