Frantz: Forcing NFL teams to play starters will never work

A little of this, and a lot of that …

– NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says the league will look into decisions by the Indianapolis Colts and other teams to sit star players after their playoff positions were already secured. Fans and NFL purists rightly protest that they were robbed of a chance to see a historic undefeated season when Colts coach Jim Caldwell chose to yank Peyton Manning and other starters in the second half of their 15th game, against the N.Y. Jets.

But what is the NFL to do? Any league-wide order to force playoff teams to go full-throttle until the final gun of the final game could be averted by simple phantom injuries. Why didn’t you play Peyton Manning in the second half, coach? “He didn’t feel well. Sore throat.” And who could argue?

– Beyond the undefeated-season-down-the-drain complaint, the NFL must seriously address the impact that such decisions have on the postseason chances of playoff-bubble teams.

The Colts’ kneel-down against New York, for example, drastically improved the Jets’ playoff chances, and hurt those of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the process. Might a team choose to lie down in an admittedly meaningless game in order to keep a more dangerous opponent out of the playoffs?

Such a charge would be nearly impossible to prove, but fans become justifiably upset when the integrity of the game and competitive balance are in question.

– A few weeks back, I wrote of how difficult it is watching the NBA anymore because the overly ink-stained players look like a bunch of gang-bangers playing in the recreation yard at Pelican Bay. So what are the odds that the two players who pulled the worst “gangsta” move in the league would be two of the few players in the league who are visibly tattoo-free?

Regardless, ink or no ink, I’d like to thank Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton for validating my point. A league filled with guys that look like thugs is bound to be filled with guys that act like thugs.

– Did you enjoy “bowl season”? Is it over yet? For the second straight season, I have not watched a single bowl game. Call it my own personal protest against the most asinine sporting concept in the history of competition. I will not contribute .01 of a ratings point nor a single dollar to the pirates who continue to hold college football for ransom. Not until Boise State, Cincinnati, TCU and even the outstanding one-loss teams who deserved a shot at the title are given a system in which they can compete for it. John Swofford, along with every conference commissioner and every university president who participates in this farce, should be arrested for larceny.

– OK, I lied. I did watch a bowl game … the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl between Wisconsin-Whitewater and Mount Union for the NCAA Division III championship. This bowl game came after a national playoff in which the Warhawks and the Purple Raiders proved themselves to be the two best teams in the country. And for the “student athletes are students first” crowd, let it be known that the Stagg Bowl was the 15th game for each team this season. Perhaps those Division III guys, who have almost no shot at NFL contracts when they graduate, don’t take academics seriously, huh?

Sports personality Bob Frantz is a regular contributor to The Examiner. E-mail him at bfrantz@sfexaminer.com.

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