Every-Thing Sports

Jermaine Every: NFL roster cut with a twist...reality TV

The NFL should liven up the roster cuts. Tim Bradbury/Getty Images

In the third quarter of Saturday afternoon’s preseason game against the Texans, the Rams had a 3rd and goal from the 15-yard line. Running back John Kelly took a handoff and ran behind the left guard, through the Texans’ defense and into the end zone. At least two to three defenders missed tackles. It wasn’t the missed tackles that got me; it was the perceived lack of effort.  

I posted a tweet that read: “#Texans should cut those two guys who missed those tackles right now. Hand them plane tickets and call an Uber.” Not long after posting that, I began to think: what if the annual roster cut-down from 90 to 53, plus the 10 man practice squad, was done reality show style? What if guys were cut on the spot in practices and/or games? HBO’s Hard Knocks gives us some insight as to how cuts are made every training camp. But what if we spiced it up a bit? Here are some ideas I came up with:

“The Player:” In a Bachelor or Bachelorette style program, potential roster cuts are made known when guys come back into the locker room after practices or preseason games and finds his locker cleared out. That, or nothing but a black rose is in place of his belongings. Imagine the interviews with the guys who are cut that thought they secured a roster spot. The “reunion show” could be a where are they now programmed on Pro Bowl weekend. Guarantee this would get better ratings than the Pro Bowl itself.

Pickup game style: Some of the worst feelings as a kid was either not getting picked to play, or being the last pick when no one else is left to even out the teams. It’d be interesting to see teams fill out their final roster by calling out the names of the guys who made the team and handing them a jersey. The guys who are cut will receive an envelope with a thank you letter and a blank one-way plane ticket.

“The Ultimate Roster Spot Challenge:” It seems as if roster spots often come down to a numbers game. Coaching staffs have different preferences. Some keep three quarterbacks, some opt for two. Most of the 53-man roster is set and only the last handful of spots are up for grabs. What if the final spots are determined through a series of drills and challenges? Sure, the potential ninth offensive lineman can’t compete in a 40-yard dash with the potential sixth cornerback. But we could develop a point system based on drills, practice performance, preseason game play, and have coaches vote be final determining factor. Players will get an envelope with either a pink slip, or contract that’ll get opened in front of everyone in final team meeting one by one.

Too long NFL has stood for “No Fun League.” Hard Knocks has pulled back the curtain some. Allowing more celebrations has made it more enjoyable as well. Although the rules changes and anthem protest unrest has made it unbearable at times, there’s potential for growth in the appeal of the game. Roger Goodell, if you’re reading this, send me a tweet so we can discuss this, and my payout.

 

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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