The NFL has finally done it. Thanks to parity scheduling, league imbalance and a ridiculous playoff scheme, the golden goose has given sports fans a rotten egg. In the greatest tradition of the NBA and NHL, the football enthusiasts of America have been given the Los Angeles Rams in the Super Bowl.
Forget the blown calls by referees and quarterbacks shoving newsmen. Rozell's biggest embarrassment should be the matchup in his biggest game.
The Los Angeles Rams have the potential to bring to football everything that Leon Spinks gave to boxing.
This is not the first discussion of a team with a 9-7 record being in the championship. What needs to be done is to devise a system to avoid future travesties.
One simple improvement would be to have interleague playoffs. Here's how it would work. According to the ranking system of the NFL, the playoff teams in this year's postseason play were rates as follows: AFC 1. San Diego 2. Pittsburgh 3. Miami 4. Houston 5. Denver NFC 1. Dallas 2. Tampa Bay 3. Los Angeles 4. Philadelphia 5. Chicago
The most glaring problem with this list of teams in the imbalance. Any realistic viewer of pro footbal would admit that at least four of the five best teams listed are in the AFC, thus the interleague playoffs to balance the inconsistency.
In the playoffs the top wild-card team from the AFC (Houston) would play the bottom one from the NFC (Chicago) and vice versa (Philadelphia vs. Denver). Assuming victories by the Oilers and Eagles, the rest of the pairings would be the No. 1 of one league against the wild cards of the other and the 2s squared off with the 3s. Thus, this year's playoffs would have been Houston at Dallas, Philadelphia at San Diego, Los Angeles at Pittsburgh, and Miami at Tampa Bay.
What good are different pairings of the same teams? Primarily they will give each playoff team a more valid test. These matches will not eliminate the Rams, only make their route to the Super Bowl more strenuous. The idea is not to rule out the upsets but rather to test the teams more fairly.
There are, of course, many arguments against this procedure. Some people will say that it is not fair to the fans to have teams from the same conference in the Super Bowl. Is it fair for fans who have endured Paul Hounung, Howard Cosell and Jayne Kennedy for five months to have to see the Rams in the playoffs as a reward for beating Tampa Bay, 9-0?
Others will argue that the Rams can beat the Steelers. You know the old on-any-Sunday routine. Of course, they can. The Bengals beat the Steelers. That is not the point.
The point is that after 16 weeks of play and three weeks of playoffs, an inferior team should not be in a position to win by an upset. Let Los Angeles beat Pittsburgh, Houston and San Diego in the playoffs and they will deserve the trophy whether their record was 9-7 or 12-4. But stumbling past an overrated Dallas team, sleep-walking by Tampa Bay and maybe getting a lucky bounce in the Super Bowl are hardly earthshaking credentials. g
An interesting statistic reveals a great deal about this year's playoff teams. On the way to their 12-4 record the Steelers played 11 games against teams with winning records and won eight of them. The Rams only played seven games with similar teams and lost five. But the most disturbing fact is that the Chargers played nine such games and won seven of them. A single victory over the young Bucs should not even everything out.