Why the NFL Should Keep the 16-Game Season
For years, we have heard rumors of extending the NFL season or "What to do with the preseason?" Now that we are hopefully on the doorstep of a new CBA, those rumors may now become a reality. It seems in many cases it would be wise to fall on the same side of an issue as Ray Lewis and in this case, I'll take Ray's side. Here's why.
The Record Book: Call me old-fashioned, but I'm just not quite ready to throw away the current record book. Its been a few decades since the NFL moved to a 16-game season, and I personally have grown quite fond of the records associated with the current format. With an "extended" 18-game season—suddenly you have to start a new batch of records because everything changes. The 1,000-yard rusher already is somewhat antiquated as a benchmark, but this would remove the magic of the 2,000-yard rushing season as well. What are backs shooting for then? 2,500 yards is the new 2,000? No thanks. And the list would go on—TD passes, interceptions, sacks etc. Not to mention all the team season records for points scored, points allowed and so on.
You would also have to question career records vs the "old days." Does a player who normally could play 10 16-game seasons now only play seven 18-game seasons? Players may retire a year or two early rather than face another "extended season." I'm not good at math, but I think there would be a difference in number of games played. I don't think any length of season will diminish Favre's consecutive game streak, which is truly an amazing achievement. But will it suddenly be put into its own category as a 16-game season streak being compared to an 18-game season streak?
We already have enough asterisks in the record books. Wondering what numbers Jim Brown would have had in a 16-game season. Likewise, the number of sacks Deacon Jones may have had if they even tracked that statistic back then. I've grown to like the NFL record book over the years and the benchmarks it provides. That's how your sport is timeless. You can always look back over the records to learn about and compare different players and teams.
So please NFL, just this one time, do what's right. Not necessarily what's the most profitable. And of course I believe you must come up with a solution if you are to present a serious case on a topic: Eliminate one preseason game. The extended season argues that they'll eliminate those boring, useless preseason games and let the veterans crash into each other two more weeks a year. It seems this isn't wholly embraced by the players yet. Sure, the preseason is somewhat lacking, but the whole point is to give young players reps in a game situation. It helps the development of younger players. You would also lose that benefit, and when injuries occur during your 18-game season, you'll have more untested young players trying to fill roles of veterans whose bodies just didn't hold up.
Reduce the preseason to three games and one "Family Night" scrimmage. Green Bay has held such a scrimmage for years with much success. Very reasonably priced tickets to see a somewhat physical practice/scrimmage under the lights, complete with some music and fireworks and player practice jersey giveaways. It allows some families who couldn't afford any NFL ticket (preseason or otherwise) to bring their children to an NFL stadium and taste some of the excitement at a reduced cost with other entertainment. And who knows, that youngster may just get hooked on the NFL for life.
Anyway—that's just my two cents keeping the 16-game season. Happy 4th of July.
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