We complain about the officiating, injuries, players making too much money, ticket prices being too high and the salary cap. Certainly, the NFL is not beyond criticism.
But if we can say one thing in defense of the National Football League, it's that it gives us a fair and equitable means for determining a champion. College football does not.
Have you spent seemingly all of your holidays life watching bowl games? Did you park yourself in front of the television yesterday, ignore your family and alienate yourself from your wife and children, only to go to bed last night feeling used by a college football system whose first priority is money and whose second concern is the integrity of its championship?
Who would doubt today that Oregon, not Nebraska, should be playing Miami for the national title tomorrow night? Colorado killed Nebraska and Oregon killed Colorado; is there any doubt?
How about the Gator Bowl passing over the Big East's second-place team, Syracuse, to invite the league's third-place team, Virginia Tech, solely because Virginia Tech buys more tickets?
No one will accuse the NFL of not having revenue at the top of its priority list. Professional football is all about money. It's the only reason for the NFL's existence. But through sound principals initiated by former commissioner Pete Rozelle, the league has been able to satisfy its business concerns without compromising the integrity of the game.
Over the next month, the league will determine its 2001 season champion, and we'll all be satisfied that, whoever that team is, it is the best. We'll have closure. The time we spent watching NFL games for five months will seem to have been worthwhile.
We can't say that about college football. The system didn't work this year, again. Oregon was cheated. We all were cheated. We should be sitting down to a head-to-head confrontation between the two best teams in the land, but one of them won't be allowed to play in the game. Do you have a sour taste in your mouth? You should.
Revenue priorities are here to stay; in professional sports and in college sports, too. The key to maintaining integrity, in the face of greed, is the ability to deliver a true champion. That can't happen without a true championship game.
College football continues to allow itself to be crippled by an antiquated bowl system. Meanwhile, the NFL has given us a system that gives every team a chance to win the league's title.