There is little question that the National Football League has seen better days.
The late Pete Rozelle's once-proud league is suffering a number of problems, notably a lack of competitive teams. Right now, there are teams that would have trouble competing in the Canadian Football League. And that is not a stretch.
But perhaps more importantly, the NFL can't seem to interpret the guidelines it has set for its players.
Take the ridiculous situation with Ndamukong Suh of the Detroit Lions.
The league has decided arbitrarily that Suh is a dirty player ... and has been willing to go the extra yard (no pun intended) to prove it.
It has already levied fines on the Lions nose tackle this season for plays that would have hardly deserved scrutiny a decade ago.
Suh was finally forced to go to New York this week to meet with commissioner Roger Goodell to state his side in the whole messy situation.
I can only imagine what the league would have done to such hard-nosed players as Dick "Night Train" Lane of the Lions, Chuck Bednarik of the Eagles, Ray Nitschke of the Packers or Dick Butkus of the Bears.
All of the above players - all in the NFL Hall of Fame by the way - routinely turned in plays that would have gotten them suspended under current league rules.
Sure, there is a movement to protect quarterbacks, and there is nothing wrong with that. But they've handcuffed opposing defenses with the rigidness of the late-hit rule.
The pass defenses have already hampered by rules that protect receivers way beyond reason. Lay a hand on a pass-catcher nowadays, and you will immediately draw a flag from referees who are only happy to litter the field with laundry.
And how about the NFL website that used a picture of Suh and Denver quarterback Tim Tebow to promote the game between the Lions and Broncos this past week? The caption, "Good versus Evil" went way beyond good taste.
The problem is that the league wants to portray the Lions as a modern day version of the Detroit Pistons "Bad Boys" of the late 1980s. Even bad publicity, it reasons, is good publicity.
Unfortunately for Detroit, that kind of exposure is going to hurt it in the long run. Somewhere down the road, a questionable call by the refs is going to cost them big time in a big game.
The Lions certainly aren't the only team that has been hurt by this uneven kind of officiating. The Baltimore Ravens come immediately to mind.
But the Lions are the so-called poster child. And don't look for Goodell, who is no Rozelle when it comes to decision-making, to do anything to change that way of thinking.