The NFL is considering playing an eight-game season if a new collective bargaining agreement isn't reached until mid-to-late October.
This would be an unmitigated disaster despite the precedent of a nine-game, strike-shortened season in 1982 and a 15-game schedule in 1987 that included three games that featured replacement players.
Here are eight reasons why the credibility of the NFL and the game we love would be seriously undermined by an eight-game season.
1. Fans and players are already lining up with their asterisks
Perhaps former offensive lineman Roman Oben put it best in a SportsBusiness Journal article for The Sporting News: "A Super Bowl in an eight-game season is a consolation prize," he offered.
There are still people out there who doubt the validity of the Washington Redskins Super Bowl XVII victory followed the 1982 season.
For example, critics openly wonder how a workhorse running back like John Riggins would have held up in a full slate of games.
Consider that in 1982, Riggins had 177 carries in just eight regular season games after 195 carries in 15 games the year before. Would Riggins still have been able to tote the pigskin 38 times for 166 yards in that final 27-17 win against the Miami Dolphins?
Just yesterday, a Philadelphia Eagles fan declared on ESPN Radio 97.5 that he'd rather lose than win a Super Bowl in a shortened year. While that might be taking things a bit far, keep in mind that fans get very defensive at the mention of an asterisk or taint on their team's accomplishments.
2. Elite teams will have proven little
Of the 17 teams from 1966 to 2000 that started the season 7-0 or better, only seven won the Super Bowl.
Some people might look at that as a good success rate, but the reality is that if you went undefeated in basically the first half of the season, you were less likely to win the Super Bowl than not.
This means that an elite team in an eight-game season would not necessarily be elite at the end of a regular 16-game slate.
Consider the New England Patriots of 2007 won 18 games in a row before dropping in the Super Bowl. Heck, the Pats could have run back-to-back, eight-game regular seasons before their weaknesses were exposed.
3. You want parity? I'll give you parity.
How many teams do you think wind up with a 4-4 record? Or 5-3? 3-5? Point being, there is absolutely nothing to separate one team from another.
Is the 5-3 team that much better than 3-5? No, definitely not, especially considering that in a 16-game season an 8-8 team often goes 5-3 in one half of the season and 3-5 in the other half.
In the strike year of 1982, all but two NFL teams finished between 6-3 and 3-6. In the AFC, eight teams finished between 6-3 and 3-6.
In addition, the Miami Dolphins had the exact same 7-2 record as the Cincinnati Bengals but finished second during the regular season due to a better conference record. The difference in playoff seeding gave Miami an arguably much easier road to the title game.
4. Teams will tank for the right to draft Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck
Tanking a 16-game season is one thing, but tanking just eight games is another entirely. For a player like Luck that many scouts are saying is the best prospect they have ever season, do you really think two months of losses is really hard for some organizations to swallow? Please.
Buffalo didn't win until Week 11 in 2010.
Even worse, Imagine this public relations disaster. Let's say two or more teams go 0-8 and because of some third tie-breaker one doesn't get to draft Luck. Try selling that to your fans.
This scenario almost happened in 1982 when the Baltimore Colts finished 0-8-1 and the Houston Oilers finished 1-8. The second pick in the 1983 draft wound up being Eric Dickerson which seems real good until you realize that the first pick was John Elway.
Ironically, neither Baltimore or Houston would end up with either player through the draft after trades.
5. Tie-breakers, tie-breakers, tie-breakers
In 1982, during a nine-game season when a team didn't finish at .500, there were three teams in EACH conference with 4-5 records in a battle for the final playoff spot.
Conference records were apparently enough to separate those teams, but that was in a 28-team league, not 32.
With an eight-game season, how many teams are going to be 4-4? Just one? Five? Eight? How is the league going to separate those teams?
Conference records aren't likely going to get it done if you are separating multiple teams, so I suggest gross (not net) punting yards as the new fourth tie-breaker, because this situation is, well, just plain gross.
6. A losing team could easily make the Super Bowl
Fans concerned with the integrity of the game were furious last season when the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks not only made the playoffs but knocked off the defending Super Bowl Champions New Orleans Saints in the first round .
It's not hard to imagine a team going 3-5, especially in the NFC West and just catching fire in the playoffs on the way to the Super Bowl. I'm sure that will sit real well with a fan of an 8-0 or 7-1 team.
7. How is the schedule going to be altered?
You can't—and the league won't—take the first eight games of the season off the schedule. You have to reschedule home and away games so that teams have four of each for a fair eight-game schedule.
Good luck with that considering that fans have already made travel plans for specific games and certain venues could be booked for other events.
What does the league do with its six divisional games per team? Think about the Dallas Cowboys having to play the Philadelphia Eagles and Redskins twice, but missing their season series with the Giants.
8. It takes the league off the hook
Much as we hate to admit it, most of us will tune back in when the NFL and the players resolve their collective bargaining issues.
What message does it send if we the fan say that we'll take a "ripoff," "quasi" season because we are just so desperate for football?
Clearly, most of us flocked back in 1982 and 1987, because the game hasn't even flinched in its meteoric rise in popularity during the last 30 or 40 years.
Wouldn't a missed season, as painful as it would be, send a message that this is just not acceptable in the future? Just asking.
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