As many of you may have learned today, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has high aspirations for expanding the NFL's Regular Season. He would like to add an additional game or two to the schedule and has an interesting plan to make that happen.
As of now, the NFL runs on a 20-game schedule. Sixteen regular-season games and four preseason games. According to Goodell, "If the NFL's name is attached to it, it should be high quality. Preseason games do not represent that quality, that's clear."
So his plan is to take one or two of those preseason games and turn them into regular season games.
I'm not sure how everyone else feels about the preseason, but I am very supportive of it.
People might complain about the quality of the games but they have to understand that preseason is nothing more than a glorified practice. It enables players to have the opportunity to prepare for the regular season by practicing against opposing teams instead of each other.
The issue with preseason games is the fact that they are meaningless.
Whether a team wins or loses, it does not impact the future of their regular season. At the same time, fans should not expect the same level of competition out of these games.
In the same way that if you visit your local team's training camp, you also realize that it is practice that you are watching.
The NFL stands to make additional income by expanding the regular season. Obviously, fans are going to pay more to see the starters compete for longer, during games that are relevant.
I'm not as much against the expansion of the regular season as I am with Goodell's perception of the preseason.
Who is he to determine the value of preseason games? The problem is that he is judging them as if they are on-par with regular season contests when they aren't.
The value of preseason games is the player's ability to become game-ready. They gain this far more through exhibition contact than through practice. Goodell says that you don't need four preseason games to become ready to play the regular season.
Again, who is he to make that determination?
Jeff Fisher spoke on an alternative that could be provided for the missed snaps that younger players would lose.
Obviously shortening the preseason would take away opportunities for less proven players to showcase their talent. Fisher feels that the snaps could be made up in training camp or practice.
I have to question that.
I'm certain that these developmental players could in-fact get more practice snaps, but that is not enabling them with the same opportunity that preseason games do. Not by a long shot.
Goodell touched on the possibility of establishing a developmental league (similar to NFL Europe). While that is a nice thought, where are the actions being taken to establish such a league because I don't see any. I also don't see any proposed ideas for keeping a future developmental league from going belly-under like NFL Europe did.
Another concern is the health of the NFL players. How will their bodies hold up after playing an additional game or two?
Goodell's counter to this concern is that they are establishing new rules to better help protect the players.
The vibe I got from him is that the new protective rules would off-set the additional playing time. He didn't say that in so many words, but that is the message he delivered.
Again, I'm concerned with Goodell making these kinds of assumptions while not going into greater detail about the pluses and minuses involved. He said that, "Any time you have change, there is some reluctance," as if that is all the explanation needed for the many concerns that people would have.
My personal take is that expanding the season by a game or two might prove to be a good idea. It certainly worked when the league expanded the schedule from 14 to 16 games.
My issue is with removing preseason games in an effort to add regular-season games.
Judging preseason games and regular-season games by the same standard is ridiculous. Anyone who watches or goes to these games understands what it is they are going to see.
Preseason games are not provided for our entertainment. They are played as more sophisticated practices so that way teams can better prepare for the games that we do get so excited for.
With serious issues such as facing an uncapped season in 2010, I do not feel that now is a time to complicate issues further. My advice would be to settle the salary-cap issue before attending to these revolutionary concepts.
These ideas might prove to be beneficial in the future, but that doesn't mean that they are being handled in the best fashion.