With the NFL owners opting out of the CBA and a lockout looming in 2011, a solution needs to be found in order to save the NFL. The labor dispute is stemming from rising costs, partly from the stadium boom lately, to about $4.5 billion. One solution being looked at is adding another game to the current 16 game, 17 week season, which includes one bye week per team. The problem is the layout of the season; it is already a great fit, beginning after Labor Day and ending at the start of the new year, perfect for the networks that broadcast it.
So where would this extra game fit in? The regular season is such a perfect number, 16 games for 32 teams in 8 divisions. Increasing it to an odd number, 17, just doesn’t sit right with most people. So, the only place it can is the preseason. There are currently four preseason games, each with starters sitting for different amounts of time leading up to the fourth game where starters are sitting pretty much the entire game. To fans paying full price this is a letdown, but if that was replaced with that extra regular season game, it would solve some issues. Besides saving us from that last preseason game, the extra game would generate more money and could help solve some issues with the CBA.
Teams have enough time to get ready for the new season with 14 organized training camps and voluntary workouts that go 16 weeks. Veteran players can wait until 15 days prior to the start of preseason to show up. Camps can be started earlier to compensate, but preseason is the only place that extra game could work best.
As of now in the league, a player makes only around $1,000 in the last preseason game. In the regular season a rookie makes roughly $18,437.50 per game and a veteran of 10 years making about $51,875. So obviously an extra regular season game instead of that low paying, disappointing preseason game makes sense. If this can help spare a lockout in the near future, they need to act on this. Atlanta Falcons president, Rich McKay, said this:
“We’ve had situations in the league where we’ve had odd numbers of games. We had it when we expanded to 31. There is no question there would be some differences. You have a different number of regular-season home games and you have to find ways to normalize divisions. There would be some things to work out.”
This could really work, and I hope they take advantage.