stealing borrowing my title from the fantastic Animaniacs, the 18 game season has recently been brought to the Players' Union by the NFL, and sooner or later decisions will have to be made. Many agree that the four preseason games are too much, but players are hesitant to sign on to an extended season, citing wear/tear concerns.
But what are some of the motivating factors behind it, and what do they ultimately lead to? Let's take a look, and then have a frank discussion, below the fold.
The main reason behind the owners' desire to increase, of course, is $$$. Specifically, the revenue from having two more regular season games, with the national television deals, the packed stadiums of premium ticket prices, and the concession and merch and all that ensues, is a lot for them to ignore.
The players, of course, are worried about getting paid themselves, as their deals are based off of 16 game seasons. Additionally, two more games means greater risk of injury. As it is now, most starters, the people who'd be affected by these changes, don't play much in those pre-season games.
Just think, in a new season, if you were a wildcard team, you'd have to play 22 games to win a Super Bowl.
Obviously, with an increase in the number of games, there'd have to be some changes to the game. With a longer season, we'd likely see any number of changes, including these that come from a longer list by the wonderful USA Today:
-Increasing Roster Size
-Revising Injured Reserve Rules
-Adding a Bye Week
These are the ones that would most affect the in-season logistics for the league. Let's examine a few of these points really quickly.
Increasing Roster Size
Generally speaking, owners have been hesitant to increase rosters, because it means they would have to pay more. With the additional revenue, though, they realize they would be very much in the black to allow an increase in roster size. The Player's Union, obviously, sees it as the creation of jobs, which is good.
But what, exactly, does increasing the roster size do? Well, while providing additional players to take some of the load, it waters down the talent pool. Think of it not unlike the degradation of overall quality that occurs when expansion teams are brought into the mix. While many would argue that it brings parity to the league, it can also be argued that it takes away some of the "best of the best" aspect of the game.
Additionally, the roster sparts aren't usually going to be the "marquee" positions. I don't think anyone can convince me that Peyton Manning would let the backup come in here and there so he can take a break.
Revising Injured Reserve Rules
Some of you may recall, it used to be the injured reserve allowed a player to come back after a minimum period, not unlike the MLB Disabled List.
This would allow players who went down in Week 1, and were able to play in the mid-to-late season, the opportunity to come back and contribute, helping to alleviate the need for expanded rosters.
The problem here, however, is that much like in baseball, you'd have superstars often rushing themselves back before they're ready, and thus doing more damage.
Adding a Bye Week
This is the most sensible reaction to the extended length of a season. Having a week off in each half of the 18 game season (which Lovie Smith won't be able to break into quarters anymore...the horror!) will give players a little bit of time to rest, relax, and reload for the rest of the season.
It means, however, that the season will be 20 weeks long. Add the postseason onto that, and you're looking at nearly 6 months, start to finish, for a season. Is that too much? The guy who loves football in me says no, but the guy who's compassionate for players, coaches, and their families affected by it, says yes.
What say you? Let me know below!