If it were to happen anyway, what is the ideal set of merged rules that could be played in American stadiums?
I'd prefer as much of the Canadian rules to be preserved.
Most stadiums are built to accommodate soccer. A soccer pitch is roughly the same length as an American football field and more often than not with a width slightly wider than a Canadian football field.
So it would be American length (100 yard field of play, 10 yard end zone) but Canadian width at 65 yards. If the Canadian width can be salvaged, then I think that sets the stage for many other features.
With goal post placement, the limited endzone space might force it to the dead ball line to promote offense and make teams drive at least to the opponents' end of the field for a reasonable chance at a field goal.
Hashmarks I'd keep at 24 yards from the sideline on the wide field to maintain the boundary and field side strategies.
Players per side:
A wide field let's you have 12 players per side.
Spreading the formations out would in turn open up the offensive game which would lend itself to 3 downs instead of 4.
I'm torn on this.. I like the Canadian dynamic of the linemen taking a stride before engaging but I also loathe getting to inches of the goal line only to have the ball backed up to the 1 yard line.
I loathe even more that an offense scrimmaging from their end of the field gets the 1 yard line as a minimum for no particular reason.
How about a hybrid where scrimmage can happen anywhere between the goal lines. The defense lines up a yard off the ball unless scrimmaging within the defensive 1 yard line where the defense would be entitled to defend the goal. The defense would scrimmage at the lesser of 1 yard to the ball or their own goal line.
Offensive motion rules:
60 minute game played in 4 x 15 minute quarters with the typical break at the half.
Simplified fast pace timing. Clock starts at the kickoff and stops for the things that typically stop the clock in football: scoring, dead ball out of bounds, incomplete pass etc.
Otherwise its 30 seconds from the previous play to put the ball back into play. No referee blowing the "20 second" play clock in after some arbitrary time (10 to 25 seconds) have been wasted setting sticks and allowing for substitutions.
No rule changes at a 2 or 3 minute warning to artificially jam in plays at the end of the game. If you need that to excite you, just get more excited at 3 minutes to go instead of a buck 30. We can play the same average plays per game by way of better pace during the 54 minutes of what is now non-3-minute-warning play.
I would adopt the Canadian convention of the clock having to expire on a live ball to end the quarter or half. No walking off the field with 25 seconds to go. 1 more play at least with 0:00 on the clock.
Canadian rules for the most part. Legal kicks from scrimmage, onside recoveries, no yards and the rest.
The only thing I'd change is to require all kicks to land in bounds or pass over the goal line or through the endzone to be legal. As it stands now, kickoffs cannot exit the sidelines through the air or bounce, punts cannot leave the field in flight outside the 20 yard line and place kicks from scrimmage I'm guessing can go out any which way..
Just simplify all that and require kicks to land in bounds or out through goal.
Typical gridiron scoring and keep the rouge. However, shorter end zones will finally require that the rouge count only if returnable.
I'd try and get the rosters back to 40 or less per team.
Perhaps the ratio could be replaced with some sort of regional requirement with consideration paid to for demographics and quality of football talent in a given region. If a given American team is too close to too many football factory schools, tighten the radius or something.
Obviously a game with that much Canadian content would be weird to the majority of potential paying US consumers and would never happen.
But the above I might, might be able to accept in the event of a merger.