NFL: 6 Reasons an 18-Game Schedule Is a Bad Idea
The NFL owners met yesterday and approved the sale of the St. Louis Rams to Stan Kroenke, but the hottest topic of the meetings is the advancement towards an "enhanced" schedule.
This schedule, which the owners are shooting to have in place as early as 2012, would eliminate two preseason games in favor of two more regular season games.
The owners obviously would like to see this change to increase revenues, as fans are more likely to pay to see their team's meaningful games.
However, this is a very big change to enact and must be thought through completely by the owners and the players' union.
Here are five reasons that this schedule change is a bad idea. There are reasons for the change of schedule, so feel free to leave comments about that, as well as additional reasons against the change.
The Record Books
The format of the NFL schedule has not been changed for 32 years. Statistical records are a staple of the NFL. Individual and team records have been set, broken and broken again.
The process of a professional athlete breaking a record is one of the most captivating events for the American public. Think back to Mark McGwire's chase for the home run crown. Or the Patriots hunt for a perfect 19-0 season. It was as if everyone who had ever heard of athletics was paying attention!
Now consider adding two games for players to accumulate stats. A running back would have to average only 55.6 yards per game to break 1,000 yards. This milestone is essentially rendered meaningless.
In 2009, we saw Chris Johnson of the Titans set a record for yards from scrimmage in a season while becoming the sixth player in NFL history to reach 2,000 yards. During the 2005 and 2006 seasons, if players were to continue their yards per game average there would have been four players reach the legendary 2,000 yard plateau.
The NFL owners claim that they are doing this for the fans. They want the fans to be happy, and two more meaningful games will fuel their competitive spirit and keep them entertained.
What if exchanging two preseason games for regular season games didn't correspond with the addition of meaningful games?
Last season, the Colts got off to an incredible 14-0 start. Then they threw in the towel. Peyton Manning played one half in the last two games, the Colts lost to the Bills and the Jets, and the AFC playoff picture changed, as the Jets snuck in.
Now let's say in 2012 the Colts get off to the same start, while the Texans are at 9-5, the Jaguars are 8-6, and Chris Johnson gets injured and the Titans are looking at a 6-8 start. What is the incentive for the Colts to play their starters? They could lose the last four games by 100 points each and still win the division.
Sure, they would likely play for home field advantage, but imagine if the rest of the league was very balanced that year with no other dominant teams in the AFC (every other team has five or more losses at that point). This is a very possible scenario, and Colts fans would certainly not be thrilled watching Curtis Painter lead the troops for a month.
NFL General Managers and player personnel departments already have a difficult job in finding the best players for their team. Now the owners want to only give young players two preseason games to showcase their talents?
Before every training camp begins there are players who know that they are on the roster bubble. The general managers and coaches know who these players are as well. Now imagine one of these players is buried on the depth chart, and for whatever reason does not get many snaps in the two preseason games.
What if this player were to make a huge impact in the fourth preseason game and go on to be a special teams captain? Or fill in for an injured player and have a great season?
The reality is, the personnel departments' jobs will be much more difficult, and there will be many more mistakes made. Teams will be far less likely to put together their best roster, and the quality of play in the NFL could take a hit.
NFL players are currently earning 60% of the revenue that NFL organizations earn. This is one of the divisive points of the ongoing CBA talks. The players are very happy with this number, while the owners would like to see it decrease.
That's not too much to ask, is it? I'm sure the players union and the owners could work something out.
Wait a minute, now the owners are asking the players to take a smaller cut AND play more games? This is getting a bit unreasonable.
Sure, the owners could pay them higher salaries, but it just seems that they are getting greedy. They are trying to point the league in an owner-friendly direction rather than a player-friendly one.
It makes much more sense to me to stick with a 16 game season for the time being, at least until they can extend the CBA.
In the last decade we have seen a number of rules to keep the players safe. Such rules include numerous additions to the "roughing the passer" penalty, and the inability to attack a "defenseless" receiver.
Have the owners thought about safety concerns when instituting an 18-game schedule? If players are required to play more games there is obviously a greater chance of a player getting injured.
More important than the chances of a twisted ankle or even a torn ACL is the constant bashing of heads that goes on in the NFL. With the advances of technology we are becoming more aware and more cautious in regards to concussions, which is a good first step. Helmets are become more concussion-proof, but concussions still happen.
Most recently, a Boston University study found a connection between head trauma and the onset of Lou Gherig's Disease.
Former NFL players are experiencing all sorts of mental issues in their later years (and some times even in their forties and fifties). Simply put, increasing the schedule to 18 important games does absolutely nothing to improve players' safety, it only exacerbates the issues.
And finally, the most obvious reason.
Forbes.com published a slide show with the most valuable sports franchises in the world. Of the top 30, 23 are NFL teams. Twenty three!
Why in the world do the owners need to expand the schedule for more revenue?
Last year's Super Bowl was the most watched television program EVER! It was estimated that around 106.5 million people tuned in.
The NFL is full of history and continues to grow. Why change the most popular sport in the United States?
There is just so little to gain and too much to lose.
Let it be known, I am a diehard football fan at any level. I played for ten years and love to be involved in football.
I would love to have more football to watch, but I just don't see this change making sense. I could hardly stay healthy through ten games in college and cannot imagine how that's expected of teams going to the Super Bowl, playing 22 meaningful games.
I have started a website recently, we are finishing up our unique team previews and will be doing extensive scouting on NCAA players for the upcoming draft.