So the NFL is flexing its muscle on the side of good for once. The league now says it will order teams onto Hard Knocks if none volunteers. There are conditions—no operation with a new head coach will be made vulnerable to national embarrassment, and playoff teams can be exempt, meaning there is now even more incentive for the secretive likes of Bill Belichick and his disciples to qualify for the postseason.

This is an excellent development, especially in this season, as traditional powers like the Giants and the Steelers pratfall to unheard-of records. Who wouldn’t love Giants coach Tom Coughlin’s penance for his awful season be to have to appear on Hard Knocks? And Mike Tomlin, the Shaft-like coach of the Steelers, is born for the program.

Sure, the league has its dark side, but this time it has come to the light.


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Robert Weintraub is the author of The House That Ruth Built. He is a frequent contributor to The New York Times and Slate, and a television writer/producer based in Atlanta.