NFL: The Easy and Needed Solution to the 18-Game Schedule

Uden FranklinContributor INovember 9, 2010

NEW YORK - APRIL 22:  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announces that the St. Louis Rams selected quarterback Sam Bradford from the Oklahoma Sooners first overall during the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 22, 2010 in New York City.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Most of us who are reading this article grew up playing street or sandlot football and dreamed about becoming an NFL football player. 

Many of us would play 50 games a year making the NFL minimum salary just to have the privilege of pounding it out on the field. 

Yet, NFL players are making millions of dollars a year to work at a job they love while most of us can’t even find a good city league to play flag football during the weekends (or for that matter, a job we love), and NFL players are only required to perform half the year.

True, one game can take toll on the body for the remainder of a football player’s life.  But in honor of our soldiers and veterans, combat missions can be far more strenuous physically, emotionally and mentally during a full year of mobilization. 

No football player can identify with the tremendous amount of stress that war takes on the body for the remainder of a soldier’s life. Most soldiers are lucky to get paid $50,000 a year.

Yes, I have a hard time sympathizing with NFL players when it comes to their complaints about adding a few games on to their dream jobs. 

The NFL isn’t proposing to extend their season, they are planning to take away two preseason games and add them to the schedule. Sure, starters will have to clock a few more minutes on the playing field, but even in the preseason players should be fully focused on the game. 

It’s not only their job, but playing 100 percent could prevent serious injuries that often occur in preseason because players are in “practice” mode.

But, we live in a free-market society and the players skills are in high demand giving them negotiating powers. The NFL must offer them something. To pay for quality, the NFL feels that adding more games will increase their television revenue. 

This issue is not about the game, it is about supply and demand economics and the fans are the ones demanding. 

The solution to the player’s complaints may be easy: Add another bye week during the Thanksgiving weekend. 

Not only will this give players quality time to spend with their families, but it would allow every NFL team time to “catch up” logistically. Patch up the field, scout some college games and clean “the stadium” a little. It would also allow the NFL to begin preparations for the playoffs.

More importantly, players would have two weeks to recover from injuries instead of one.  Once again, it is still a 20-game season, but now players and teams will have two bye weeks which would be significant. As a result, the fans win because more good players will recover from injuries and play to their full capabilities. 

A bye week during Thanksgiving is a “win-win” for players, the NFL and fans.

Players could do endorsements, talk shows and autograph signings to make a couple extra dollars, or they could spend quality time catching up with their families. 

The NFL could literally add an extra weeks of revenue during the regular season (making it three weeks for network negotiations) by offering specials during normal playing time.  For example, special episodes on the toughest players this season, best catches, best games, etc.  

The NFL could even use archival materials to offer “best games” in a respective season regionally to meet the fan base of each team.

Besides, Thanksgiving Sunday is one of the most highly traveled days in America. Not only do fans need a break from Sunday football, it may actually be healthy by allowing fans to focus on relationships or their “to do” list. Dads could finally have a Sunday during the best time of the year, fall, to play with their kids or teach them work ethic by raking the lawn. 

Yes, even the fans need a break from NFL football: Dad wouldn’t drive 90 mph from the in-laws to get home for the game, husbands could make up for lost time with their wives and errands could be done around the house.

I wouldn’t dare suggest eliminating the games on Thanksgiving. The four teams playing during that week would get a bye during the previous week allowing them to properly prepare for the game, and then spend time with the family during the weekend.

Remember, professional football players are required to give 100 percent for 16 season games and four preseason games equaling 20 overall. An NFL player should be ready and focused to play 20 games a year regardless of significance to the standings.

With the economy the way it is today, the only people complaining about the 18 game schedules are players and former players turned announcers. The great citizens of the nation demanded oversight of CEO salaries and bonuses. 

Why can’t the public demand more performance out of men working at their dream jobs and making far more than 99 percent of the CEOs in this country, not to mention the fans who pay to watch them?