Lewis: Proposed changes to NFL out of touch with sport

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Lewis: Proposed changes to NFL out of touch with sport

So NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says the league is looking at expanding the playoffs, which comes on the heels of him saying he would consider removing kickoffs from the game. Those are two drastic moves that would have big impacts on the game and its players.

Let's start with the kickoffs. I'm not sure why the commissioner feels he can just change a game that was around long before he ever got his powerful position. Kickoffs are an integral part of the game and it makes no sense -- including injuries -- to simply remove it.

Several players enter the league and later thrive in other positions becuase of playing on special teams. The play itself can be one of the most exciting aspects of the game. Think of Devin Hester returning kicks for touchdowns.

You can't just decide to change the game. Imagine the NBA taking free throws out of the game because they thought it slowed the game down. Ridiculous, right? It's just amazing that this is even being considered.

If that's not bad enough, Goodell wants to expand the playoffs from 12 teams to 14 or 16. C'mon man. Stop the madness now.

We already have seasons when 8-8 teams make the post season. Now he thinks that adding teams will somehow benefit the game, the shield the league talks about? He should say it's about money, which it is and it still makes it wrong.

Making the playoffs is and should only be a reward for the very best teams in the NFL. The battle of the NFL season is special for that very reason. Why dilute it with teams that didn't earn the right to play in the playoffs? This isn't pee-wee football, where everybody gets a trophy. The is big boy, grown man football. Some teams just are not good enough to be included. Period.

If the league office talks about the integrity of the game and the shield, well part of that should be making the value of the product mean something, not selling out for money. It certainly can't be sold to real football fans.

Look at the college game. Everybody plays in a bowl game that nobody watches or cares about and most schools actually lose money by going to bowl games when travel costs are finally tallied. Six-win teams are now rewarded, why? Because they reached mediocrity, it's a shame.

When I played in college at Arizona there were only a handful of bowl games. Sometimes top 25 teams didn't make a bowl game. It actually meant something. Seven-win teams were left out and we only played 11 games then, not the 12 that schools play now.

So now the NFL wants to celebrate mediocrity too? It's enough to make me become a curling fan...

Blackhawks score late but can't get past Jets

Blackhawks score late but can't get past Jets

The Blackhawks’ offense has been struggling for some time now. Nevertheless, the Blackhawks, more often than not, have found a way to get just enough to get them a point or two.

But this weekend, their mediocre offense was downgraded to anemic, and the inevitable disappointing results followed.

Artemi Panarin scored his second goal in as many games but the the Winnipeg Jets scored late to take a 2-1 victory over the Blackhawks on Sunday night. The Blackhawks dropped their second in a row. It was also the first time they didn’t record at least a point at the United Center since their season-opening loss to the St. Louis Blues on Oct. 12.

Jonathan Toews missed his sixth consecutive game with a reported back injury that coach Joel Quenneville said is “not getting better.” Toews will stay off the ice for a few days and be re-evaluated in the middle of the week.

Scott Darling was strong, stopping 30 of 32 shots. But it was one more game in which the Blackhawks leaned on their goaltending and provided little offensive support.

“Yeah, it’s been frustrating,” Duncan Keith said. “We’re obviously not doing what we need to do to create enough offense, putting pucks on the net or getting to the net or even just having enough offensive zone time.”

No, the Blackhawks’ zone time wasn’t so good in this one. That was especially true on their first power play, during which the Jets were more of a threat on Darling than the Blackhawks were on Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck.

Still, thanks to Panarin’s goal with less than seven minutes remaining in regulation, the Blackhawks once again had a chance. Andrew Copp diminished those chances some with his goal with 4:45 remaining. The Blackhawks got a four-minute power play with less than three minutes left in the third period but couldn’t get one past Hellebuyck. Their best chance, coming from Marian Hossa, was stopped with 2.6 seconds remaining in regulation.

“That was a good chance to get the equalizer and we had a couple of decent looks but not the finish we were looking for,” Quenneville said. “We didn’t generate much tonight. It was one of those games. They came into our building, what was it a year or two ago, where they beat us back-to-back Sunday nights. They shut us down. The first two games [this season] they’ve shut us down pretty good.”

There’s no doubt the Blackhawks are missing the void left by Toews. Sure, they got points in four of the first six games he missed. But as Patrick Kane said, eventually you start feeling the void left by a top player.

“When you’re missing a guy right away for a couple of games, it may not really show up and guys are excited to get that chance. The longer you go, missing a great player, there’s going to be a hole,” he said. “Nothing we can control. It’s something guys like myself and other guys have to step up and try to [help], whether it’s taking on more ownership and leadership, playing the right way and do whatever you can to help this team win.”

The Blackhawks are going to have to find ways to win without Toews, as they did when he was first absent, because it sounds like he’ll be missing at least a few more games. Even when Toews was in the lineup, however, the scoring issues were there. Are the Blackhawks lacking confidence? Darling said no – “I’d be surprised [at that] with the great offensive players we have in here.”

Still, the Blackhawks need to find answers, no matter who’s in their lineup.

“We just have to figure out a way to get that chemistry going,” Darling said. “Because when it’s going it’s pretty lethal.”

The Right Combination: Bears receivers get it done vs. 49ers

The Right Combination: Bears receivers get it done vs. 49ers

In snowy conditions the Bears receiving corps had a solid day in Sunday's 26-6 win against the 49ers.

Josh Bellamy led the way with four receptions for 93 yards, while Cam Meredith, Deonte Thompson and Daniel Brown each had multiple catches.

Watch the video above to see the Bears Postgame Live crew discuss the performance of the wide receivers.