There are times in life when it is best to be content with just the right amount of a good thing. Consuming too much of anything can often ruin the experience.
Driving down the road on a hot summer night, you feel a sudden urge for an ice cream cone. You pull off at the ice cream stand and order the extra large size. After all, you are craving more, aren't you?
Halfway finished with your cone, the ice cream begins dripping down all over your hands. Your stomach begins to feel full and you realize you should have ordered the medium size. Not wanting to waste your money, you finish the extra large cone anyway.
Back in the car, you are weighed down with that familiar bloated feeling. You've had that feeling before. Thanksgiving day when you ate one too many helpings of stuffing. The morning after that party in college when you had just one too many cold ones.
The pink bottle of Pepto Bismol is waiting for you at home. Bathroom cabinet. Bottom shelf.
If the NFL owners proceed with the plan to expand the regular season to 18 games, which appears inevitable, you may experience that same bloated feeling all over again. Not only for one day, but year after year. Unlike the ice cream cone, you won't have a choice in the matter.
Sure, we all know the NFL preseason is boring for the average fan. NFL ownership hates the sight of half-empty stadiums on national television. In our starstruck culture, the preseason offers mostly rookies and unknowns battling for roster spots.
Die-hard football junkies appreciate the summer preparation process, but the NFL isn't worried about them. Joe the Football Guy is hooked no matter what. Instead, the league is increasingly desperate to lure the fringe fan to the talking picture box more often.
The plan is to reduce the preseason to two games while adding two to the regular season schedule. More gate receipts? Yes, of course. Better quality of product on the field? Absolutely not.
Two preseason games means less time for working out the kinks that result from revolving-door roster and coaching changes. Spring OTAs and training camp scrimmages don't duplicate real game experience. Veterans will be more likely to want to sit out the preseason in order to save themselves for the additional regular season workload.
More games means more injuries. More injuries means more stars going down. More stars going down means more stars being rested toward the end of the season. More stars being rested toward the end of the season means more meaningless games late in the year. More meaningless games late in the year means more fans saying "Let's start the playoffs already!"
Constant player movement due to free agency, combined with an increased amount of injuries, has already diluted the overall quality of play on the field. There is no disputing the fact that today's players are bigger, faster, and more explosive than ever before in the NFL's history. There are plenty of fancy paint and pretty lights to go around, but not enough steel and concrete anymore.
Television ratings and merchandise sales prove the NFL has steadily increased in popularity. Professional football currently towers over all other competing leagues in the American sports landscape.
The inception of unrestricted free agency in 1993 has made the NFL a year-round discussion on sports talk radio. The current system, although needing a few adjustments, has produced tremendous results. Apparently, that isn't good enough for the NFL hierarchy.
Somehow, in all the media hype and consumer gluttony, the NFL has managed to lose some of what it should cherish the most...the glory of the game.
There are individual players whose names will echo throughout the generations. Great players such as Brett Favre, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Troy Polamalu, and Brain Urlacher will be remain legendary many years after their playing days are over.
However, it is likely we will never again witness the likes of the 1950s Cleveland Browns, 1960s Green Bay Packers, 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers, 1980s San Fransisco 49ers, or 1990s Dallas Cowboys. These dynasties are the foundation of the league's growth. Without them the NFL would not be the empire it has become today.
NFL Films once produced a soundtrack entitled "The Power and The Glory." What could be better than hearing the infamous voice of the late Jon Facenda, accompanied by majestic orchestra music, romanticizing the glory of the NFL? It is enough to send chills down the spine.
The Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field. The Steel Curtain Defense. Monsters of the Midway. The Purple People Eaters. If you're a young football fan who doesn't recognize those nicknames, log on to Youtube and search NFL Films. Learn the true meaning of NFL greatness.
The old cliche of "quality over quantity" should be the deciding force to keep the current NFL schedule intact. Preseason is boring for the average fan. Jogging for three hours a day is also boring, but the runner must do it to compete in the marathon.
Every year the NFL still produces very good teams, but rarely any great teams. How will the current teams compare with the legends of yesteryear? Greatness must be measured against greatness. Because of the era in which they play, the New England Patriots of the last decade will never be mentioned in the same breath as the dynasties of previous eras.
Nevertheless, the potential financial gain of an 18-game season is probably too much temptation for the NFL to flee, despite the opinions and concerns of the majority of players. Money is the motive. The power is in the profits. Glory will be sacrificed on the altar of greed.
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