With commissioner Roger Goodell and franchise owners recently gathering to discuss the realistic possibility of an 18-game regular season, it seemed appropriate to finally do as so many others already have, evaluate and debate the idea.
There’s really not a whole lot to grasp with the proposed concept, one that has been floating around the sports world for some time now but is beginning to pick up serious steam, but there are a number of complex points associated with the seemingly simple possibility. On the outside, to typical football fans, the thought of having two more regular season games is quite intriguing; after all, what passionate follower wouldn’t enjoy seeing their favorite team in action for a pair of extra weeks, especially if it means paying ticket prices that are similar to "meaningless" preseason matchups? As Bob Kraft, the owner of the Patriots recently remarked, "it’s a win-win all around."
And even though Goodell, Kraft, and many other owners and fans would like to see more games that would count towards a team’s actual record and would undoubtedly also boost the NFL’s economic status, there are a number of factors to consider along with the potential switch, which could be put into place as soon as the 2012 season and would also result in the elimination of two exhibitions from the league-wide schedule. "We want to do it the right way for everyone, including the players, the fans and the game in general," Goodell (pictured) said. "There’s a tremendous amount of momentum for it. We think it’s the right step." It may very well be the right step for fans and the game, but for the players? Not too many stars around the league seem to be supportive of the possible game expansion.
Dominating Cowboys pass rusher DeMarcus Ware, one of the best defenders in the NFL, is among those that are against a potential change, citing the wear and tear players have to deal with in the current 16-game season. Ware predicts that, if an expansion is indeed made, players built to thrive for 12 or 13 years would have their careers shortened to about eight or nine seasons, and that the amount of injuries would surely increase. As the Eagles’ own Leonard Weaver points out, the league’s offseason is already stocked with requirements, and an 18-game regular season would likely shorten the players’ time off. "With more games, everything will be squished together. It’s like they’re asking us to go 24/7, taking away from our families and kids for a business that sometimes is not quite rewarding for that kind of thing." This is coming from a Pro-Bowler who is known for his hard work ethic and determination, so it’s very clear that even the best of players are opposed to the idea of an 18-game schedule.
As if the risk of injuries and lack of true time off for the players is not enough, there are also serious points to consider with the aspect of competing players and teams having less opportunities to prepare for the regular season. While the elimination of two preseason games would rid of some bores fans experience prior to actual games, it would unquestionably limit the chances for long shots to crack a team’s final roster and the starting units to fine-tine their skills for the games that matter. Former Indianapolis head coach Tony Dungy insists that if there were only two exhibition games in 2008, Pierre Garcon, one of the key receiving weapons in the Colts’ passing attack and run to the Super Bowl last year, would not have made the team. In addition, a lot of first-string players might not have a sufficient amount of chances to get a solid feel for their job and/or succeed within his team’s system. For instance, it’s not likely that the majority of Eagles fans would feel completely confident heading into this year’s regular season if it were set to begin this weekend, after only two preseason matchups, including the fact that the team has yet to look in sync during red-zone opportunities.
There are countless other reasons as to why the expansion of the current regular season schedule could result in some trouble, from the remaining issue of player contracts and the Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations. Nonetheless, there are indeed benefits that could come from a switch, primarily the simple addition of more hard-nosed, full-contact football that people around the world have loved for decades. As the league continues to ponder the possibility and a decision is made on the idea in the future, updates to the story will be released accordingly.