18-Game NFL Season Is Dangerous To the Players? Give Me a Break

Ron FurlongAnalyst IISeptember 28, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO - SEPTEMBER 20:  Reggie Bush #25 of the New Orleans Saints is consoled by Jeremy Shockey #88 before Bush leaves the field due to an injury during their game against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on September 20, 2010 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

If you happened to catch Fox Television's NFL Pregame show on Sunday, you heard Howie Long's rant on the "All Fired Up" segment about the effects an 18 game NFL season will have on the players.

Now, let me clarify right off the bat that I like Howie Long. He is intelligent, opinionated, and very good at what he does. But this rant he gave on the owners proposal to lengthen the current NFL regular season from 16 to 18 games is way off the target and makes no sense. There are currently 20 games played, 16 regular season and four preseason games. With the new proposal there would be the same exact number of games, 20; 18 regular season and two preseason games.

During his speech Long said, "Over the last three seasons, 915  players have ended up on the injured reserve. I repeat, 915 players."

Why, exactly, would this number change? I don't get it. If you add two regular season games and take away two preseason games do you know how many injuries you'd get over the same three year period? Probably about 915. Same number.

Does he think none of these 915 injuries came in preseason?

And why is 915 acceptable. If it went up to 1100 would that then be unacceptable? Who says 915 is okay? Maybe we should drop ten games off the schedule so there are only 400 players on injured reserve over a three year period? Maybe we shouldn't play any games at all. Then no one would go on injured reserve. We could pay $70 a game to go and watch the players stretch, do yoga, sit in the hot tub and get massages.

Long went on to say, "To hear some of the owners talk, the 18 game season is a win-win situation. For the doctors, maybe."

Again, the doctors will be as busy as they were before, no more or no less.

This argument makes no sense to me. First of all, who is say 16 is the magic number? Maybe the magic number is 10 games. Maybe it is eight. Maybe it is 24. Maybe football teams could play two times a week and have a 36 game scheduled similar to European soccer teams?

Just because the season has been 16 games, does that make it set in stone?

And of course, the whole idea of adding two games to the regular season and taking two games away from the preseason isn't changing the number of games at all. It is still 20 games. Preseason games are games. There are guys laying it all on the line to make the squad in those last two preseason games. Do those players not count as far as injuries?

Let's say a player is on the bubble for making a team in the preseason. The coach plays him all four games of the preseason to get a good look at him. He impresses and makes the team. Then injuries force him into the starting lineup in week one. He plays well and remains a starter all 16 games of the season. This fellow has just played a hard fought 20 game schedule.

How would making the season 18 games and the preseason two games change anything for this guy? He is playing 20 games either way. Does he not matter? Because his name isn't Peyton Manning or Drew Brees this guy playing 20 games already doesn't matter?

The argument that NFL players can't play a 18 game schedule just makes no sense to me. These guys are well paid and have it pretty good. Don't bother telling me they work any harder than the coal miner in West Virgina or the steel worker in Pittsburgh or the farmer in Iowa.

Howie listed a few things players would have to get from the owners in return for the extra two games (which aren't really extra games, but we've covered that), He said game day rosters would have to be expanded from 45 to 55; no club activities before May 1st (it is currently mid March), and two bye weeks instead of one.

Sorry, but what? Come on! All the owners want to do is make two of the pointless preseason games mean something. Quit over-thinking this.

The players can handle the games. They could probably handle another ten games. We're not even changing their work load. We're just making the silly four game preseason matter a little more. More injuries? I don't see it myself?

Anyway, this isn't curling or table tennis. It is football.

Everyone needs to quit crying and play the games, all of them, no matter how many there are. If they have a problem with it, they can join the unemployed work force looking for a job. And good luck to them.