If you were starting the NFL from scratch today, what would you change? Some rules, sure -- probably make catches actually count as catches, rather than requiring the receiver to maintain control all the way to the ground, back to his home, and through his 37th birthday or the year 2021, whichever comes first. Maybe you'd put more games at 4 p.m. Eastern to spread things out. You might even tweak with the playoff system if you felt like it.
At some point, however, you'd have to figure out where to put your teams, and I'm willing to bet you wouldn't pick the 31 cities currently home to one. So let's just put it out there: some of these locations make no damn sense in 2013. This is a more current, exciting spread of teams, NFL, and it's free for you to take.
New England, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Houston, Indianapolis, Tennessee, Denver, Kansas City, Oakland, Dallas, Philadelphia, Chicago, Minnesota, Atlanta, New Orleans, San Francisco, Seattle, and the New York Giants all get to keep their current teams. That's a majority of the league, and proof that we're not attempting something insanely radical. (In truth, we did look into moving the Chiefs elsewhere, but the CDC's quarantine regulations are a nightmare to navigate.)
The Portland Bills. Buffalo's population keeps decreasing, and the Bills desperately need something to revitalize them after so many nondescript years. The optimistic view is that they're doing that with better personnel moves, but it's hard to forget that this is the same team that drafted J.P. Losman and Trent Edwards, which is like drafting J.P. Losman twice. Oregon's going to give an opportunity to start over, Bills, and, like everyone who goes to Portland in a moment of crisis, there's a 50 percent chance you'll end up addicted to meth.
The Honolulu Dolphins. The Marlins should have effectively killed any chance to get a new or renovated stadium in South Florida, and maybe that's for the best. The Dolphins were never going to succeed in Miami without winning the hearts and minds of the region's top demographic -- shady dudes who will bet on anything and don't ask where they got this money unless you want to lose a hand. The move to Hawaii starts to open up the NFL's geographic footprint and rewards a population that had to watch the fucking Pro Bowl for 30 years.
The Brooklyn Jets. It's not a big move, distance-wise, but jumping to the other side of Manhattan could be the jump start the Jets need to turn around the last few years of bad press and even worse play. Just look at the Nets -- gone from moribund basement dweller to PLAYOFF APPEARER! And, once the Islanders move to Brooklyn, I'm sure they'll also improve and make whatever it is hockey has to decide its winner. Bonus -- there's a decent chance Mark Sanchez will be listed for a game as "Doubtful -- Bedbugs."
The South Bend Ravens. It's not you, Baltimore. It's the people of South Bend. They desperately need a team that can win championships. (Also, it's a little bit you.) (OK, it's a lot you.)
The Memphis Bengals. Before you go getting all bent out of shape, Ohio, know that we're not just going to leave you with the Browns, because that would be cruel. But you've seen the crowd at a Grizzlies game -- how can we not bring that into the NFL? Plus there's the tantalizing prospect of Zach Randolph, Tight End Who Can't Really Jump But Just Trucks Linebackers.
The Columbus Jaguars. See, promise kept, Ohio citizens! Plus, once the Jaguars move to Columbus, they can sign Tim Tebow and get Urban Meyer to just drive a few blocks to reteach him his magic football skills. It's the best of all possible worlds. Don't worry, Jacksonville, we'll send you a SlamBall team or something.
The Los Angeles Chargers. This is a move purely designed to stop the rumors that every NFL team ever is going to move to L.A. unless their current city passes a three cent tax on children (not children's items or childcare, just straight up kids) and finances a $40 billion bond that will end up costing $300 billion with interest by the time it's paid off in 2073.
The North Eagle Butte Redskins. Surely the team name will play well in this town that's 92 percent Native American, because honor and respect.
The Las Vegas Lions. Look, Detroit, when you lose your job, you sell your Mustang, no matter how cherished it is to you. It's just the responsible thing to do. The Lions also have a natural tie-in with the MGM Grand, and I think we'd all enjoy Jim Schwartz consulting a Who's The Boss? themed slot machine to decide whether or not to challenge a play.
The Orlando Packers. It makes zero sense to have a professional football team in the 155th largest Metropolitan Statistical Area. You're almost half the size of Wichita, Green Bay. This move bumps you all the way up to No. 26 on the population rankings, and if you don't think Packers Football 'n Fondue Dinner Theater is going to sell major tickets in Orlando, you're crazy. (Eat it, Medieval Times.)
The San Juan Panthers. Because who the hell wants to go to London in the fall and winter?
The San Antonio Buccaneers. It's better this way, Tampa, and you'll realize that when Coach of the Year Gregg Popovich leads the team to six consecutive NFC championships while never averaging more than 17 points a game.
The Louisville Rams. Papa John's money + bourbon + a confusing and possibly immoral scene where a ram mascot rides around on a thoroughbred horse to pump up the crowd = Barry Switzer's second Super Bowl title, y'all!
The Circuit Riding Cardinals. The Cardinals are denied a home until they can beat somebody in a Super Bowl, at which point they take over the home stadium from that team and said losing team is forced to play nothing but road games until THEY beat somebody in the Super Bowl. The cycle continues year after year until the heat death of the universe.