Why the NFL Should Not Expand the Regular Season

C Douglas BakerSenior Analyst IMarch 26, 2009

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 31:  Workers paint the NFL logo on center field a day before Super Bowl XLIII between the Arizona Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers on January 31, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

There has been a lot of talk coming from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell about increasing the number of regular season games from 16 to 17, or even 18. Most of the scenarios I have seen are that the league would reduce the number of preseason games from four to two, and add two games to the regular season to make it an 18 game regular season.

Unfortunately, it’s not a matter of if it will happen, it’s just a matter of when.

I am STRONGLY and EMPHATICALLY opposed to increasing the number of regular season to 17 or 18 games. I think it’s fine if the league cuts the preseason to two or three games, but increasing the number of regular season games is only about one thing —MONEY.

It’s not about the fans, and it’s definitely not about the players.

I am strongly opposed to increasing the number of regular season games for two key reasons.

First, and most important, is injuries. Football is a very violent sport and injuries are common. If there were two more regular season games, we would inevitably see more star players, who we watch the game to see, hurt during the season.

In the first week of the 2008 regular season, we saw many star players get hurt, the most obvious being Tom Brady. In just Week One of 2008, we saw injuries to Brady, Brodie Croyle, Vince Young, Jeff Garcia, Nate Burleson, Marques Colston, Marion Barber, Joseph Addai, Todd Heap, Dallas Clark, Antonio Gates, and even LaDainian Tomlinson.

Now, not all these injuries were season ending, but they certainly had an effect on players’ games the rest of the year.

More games means more injuries. The season, I think, is already too long and it is more a game of attrition and who is left with more healthy bodies at the end, then it is the best team wins. More games would just exacerbate the situation.

Add to that, according to the National Football League Players Association, the average career of a football player is three and a half years.

Now, I have seen averages slightly higher than that, so let’s say it’s four and a half years.

And let’s face it, a lot of this short career span has to do with injury. If you add two games to the regular season, a player will have played an entire extra half season after four years, assuming he didn’t make the playoffs.

That doesn’t sound like a lot, but in the violent game of football, the career suddenly just got a wee bit shorter. The more games you add, the shorter the stay in the league, and the greater the chances of a career ending injury.

Secondly, anything that cheapens in the importance of individual regular season games is a mistake. Each game now is very important in making the playoffs and getting home field advantage, at least until toward the end of the season once you have it wrapped up.

If each individual game becomes less important, will the players try as hard week in and week out?

Will fans even care as much during the regular season?

Additionally, look at what happens at the end of the season. We already have at least one week, and for some teams two weeks, where teams have things all wrapped up and they play their second string guys and give the game a pass.

If there were more games, then we would likely see two ,and maybe even three or four weeks where teams have their division and seeding decided and have to figure out how to manage the rest of the season while resting their star players and avoiding injuries.

And this gets really messy when you have a bubble team playing a team of second stringers and likely to win, and another bubble team playing a losing team giving their all, and another bubble team fighting to make the playoffs.

So while one team gets a pass and a better chance of making the playoffs, the other teams still have to fight for their spot. It’s not really fair. And more games likely means more of this at the end of the season.

And then we have the problem of bad teams making the playoffs. You can already guess that if they expand the regular season I can almost assure you they will expand the number of teams in the playoffs.

We have already had 8-8 teams in the playoffs, and on rare occasions, have had the possibly of a losing team making the playoffs.

I don’t want 8-8 teams in the playoffs, even if it’s my own. But if the league expands the regular season and then adds teams to the playoffs, that is what we will get, watered down less important regular season games, and mediocre teams, or worse, making the playoffs.

Even for a fan as avid as I am, I’d be less enthusiastic about regular season games if this were to occur.

Posted in National Football League


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