In an effort to make more money, the NFL is contemplating extending its regular season, to which we all need to say, “Hard pass.”
The NFL has the game we crave, and the model that more sports leagues should have adopted years ago. By having fewer games, it created an appetite and a demand for the product. One of the reasons people love football is the limited quantity of games.
A 16-game schedules creates the illusion of every date carrying the weight of an entire season.
With the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement expiring after the 2020 season, football’s fearless leader, commissioner Roger Goodell, is pushing for an 18-game schedule. And, as a bone to the players, to reduce the NFL’s four-game preseason schedule.
Adding two additional games will not give us what we want, which is quality. The NFL expanding to an 18-game regular season schedule is a money grab based on increasing quantity, because it assumes we will again act like Pavlov’s dogs and just consume it.
The NFL should not make the same mistake as NASCAR and just add dates to add dates. As much as we love football, there is such a thing as too much, and 18 dilutes the brand.
I spoke to two active, and one retired Dallas Cowboys, all of whom play the game’s most demanding position: offensive line. I sought veterans who are most beat up by December.
Their opinions matter the most.
“I am in favor of it, if it promotes overall, for the lack of better words, quality of the game,” Cowboys assistant coach and former center Andre Gurode said Wednesday. “If you reduce the preseason and add regular-season games, the question should always be are you adding quality?
“Your body gets worn down in a 17-week regular season. Is that going to increase the quality, or lessen the quality?”
If you look at the injury reports of NFL teams by December, the answer to Gurode’s question is obvious: The quality drops. By December, too many NFL games are decided not by skill, execution or talent, but attrition.
There are too many inconsequential December games played between teams starting players who began the season on the practice squad, or were backups. We don’t need more of those.
The rosters would have to be expanded; think 60 or so. Not sure if the owners want that cost.
The players will agree to it, of course, if there is more money at the end.
“I’m on board with that,” guard Zack Martin said of 18 games meaning more money. “I don’t know ... it is tough; 18 games is so tough. We played 18 games last year (including the playoffs) and we had so many guys who were hurt.”
The irony is the Cowboys were one of the healthier teams in those playoffs.
“I’d say the money would be nice but 16 games is already a long season,” Martin said. “I don’t think shortening a preseason schedule does much; camp is still the same length of time.”
The preseason only benefits the players who are trying to make a team. The fans are bored by it. The established players only want to avoid injury. The NFL is tired of hearing how bad the preseason product is.
“One preseason game and 18 regular season games? That sounds like a toll,” offensive lineman La’el Collins said. “There are a lot of moving parts there. You can’t just do that. You’d have to have another bye week. It would have to be worth it for everybody.
“I think the way things are now is cool. Less preseason games and getting into real football faster, that would be nice to do.”
Opposing an 18-game schedule is not about fighting change, or fearing the unknown.
It’s about recognizing what the NFL is, and one of its biggest strengths. The strength is the 16-game season, and the allure that every game is the end of the universe.
Adding two more games only lessens that.