An issue that has been brewing for a while now is the "do we or don't we" tack two more games on to the current 16-game NFL schedule. This has some serious implications for a lot of people, maybe Fantasy Football being close to the top of the list. But more about the FF impact later.
Comments from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell following a five-hour owner's meeting in Atlanta according to an article by the Associated Press and posted on ESPN NFL:
Goodell pointed out that the league already has the right to impose an 18-game schedule—and keep four preseason games for each team—under the current labor agreement with the players. But that contract expires after this season, and it's clear the expanded schedule will be a central issue in talks on a new collective bargaining agreement.
The owners would like to keep the season at 20 weeks, reducing the number of preseason games from four to two.
"We want to do it the right way for everyone, including the players, the fans and the game in general," Goodell said. "There's a tremendous amount of momentum for it. We think it's the right step."
After reading this, it reminded me that this is a very intriguing change as it impacts everyone currently owning/administering, playing or following the sport of American football. And every one of those above-mentioned entities has their own perceptions/reality of what that means to them.
Let's take a look at each of those groups one at a time, shall we?
From the ESPN NFL website: "Talks on the expanded season dominated most of the meeting. Goodell pointed out that the league already has the right to impose an 18-game schedule—and keep four preseason games for each team—under the current labor agreement with the players. But that contract expires after this season, and it's clear the expanded schedule will be a central issue in talks on a new collective bargaining agreement. The owners would like to keep the season at 20 weeks, reducing the number of preseason games from four to two."
What does this mean? Technically, the owners (and Goodell) could impose an 18-game regular season AND keep the four game preseason games that are not much more than scrimmages that the owners can charge the season ticket holders full price for.
So, bottom line (ALWAYS the focus of the owners) they will not only keep the revenue they now rake in on the four preseason games, they could actually gain two more regular season games worth of revenue, both in the stands and in the TV contract payouts.
This will be a very complex and interesting issue in the upcoming Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Currently, as I understand it, the players are only paid for the 16 games actually played as part of the regular season.
Any monies owed them for preseason work (exhibition games, training camps, OTA's) are covered in signing bonuses or other compensation. This smells a bit like the players are treated like indentured servants or at least putting your body up as cannon fodder and the owners can say, if you get injured, "Sorry, dude, see ya later." Will this change under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA)? I would certainly hope so. But that is still up in the air.
Bottom line: The players deserve (in my humble opinion) some relief from playing meaningless games with little or no financial compensation and every chance to be injured, maybe to the point of career-ending situations, and have little or nothing to show for it except brain damage and/or large scars on their bodies.
The Followers, Fans
We already have a season that runs from early September to the middle of February and now that may actually extend another two-three weeks (Assuming there is a second bye week included). As much as I do love my football that is creating a season that is almost as long as Major League Baseball.
Is that a completely bad thing? No, but it does have its issues in the extended (negative) impact on home life, work, financial outlay for tickets/cable TV premiums, Fantasy Football and general ability to focus on the other mundane parts of existence.
My take on All This
With the CBA looming, if they actually do add the extra two games to the schedule, I think they will remove one or two games from the "pretend" season. I also think there will be some way that the players will receive compensation for those extended season games.
How? I am not sure, but I do hope the Players' Union will figure out a way, since the owners will receive additional revenue from the TV contracts for those two additional commercial-laden weeks of "real" games.
One other area to consider: Statistics. I know, we have seen the regular-season being extended before. But what does that do to a thousand-yard rushing season? Is that what is average now? What about a 100 catch/1,000-yard receiving season? You get my drift here?
It will impact how players are judged as to Hall of Fame inductions, how they are compensated, how they are measured against their peers, past and present and also will have HUGE impacts on Fantasy Football, as now being able to play an extended season without injury just got harder. Not to mention the extended season's ability to further alienate the FF owners from their respective wife/girlfriend/significant other.
So, is the potential extension a good thing? Considering where we are now and all the individuals/players/entities that are impacted, I say yes, assuming that there is adequate compensation for the players on the field, risking their bodies and livelihood every practice, every play of every game, whether "pretend" or counting for the marbles.
Oh, and since I am a Denver Bronco fan, anything to shorten the preseason schedule and keep our walking wounded count below double digits would be a good thing, indeed.
Just one NFL football fan(atic)'s opinion.