Thoughts on the “enhanced” 18-game season

First off, I want to be very clear, I love football.  I’ve devoted a lot of time to football and will continue to devote time to watching, researching and writing about football.  I record all seven rounds of the draft and re-watch them every year.  If football was a woman, football and I would have a Princess Bride-caliber romance.

That being said, I hatethe thought of an 18 game regular season.  One of my biggest gripes with the NFL is it is drifting further from being a game and closer to being a business each year.  It started with small stuff that didn’t affect the game like adding luxury boxes to stadiums to boost revenue.  It continued with things that did minorly affect the game, but in a good way like the Thursday night kickoff game.

Then it morphed into things that majorly affect the game in bad ways to appease the casual fans like the “point-of-emphasis” on downfield contact to open up the passing game.  This was done because casual fans like higher scoring.  Next, breaking up the NFL Draft like a Kit Kat and spreading over three days to draw more casual fans.  The most recent step in the wrong direction is the “enhancement” of the regular season.

Let’s just call a spade a spade here, it is a major renovation to the season.  An enhancement was adding a third Thanksgiving Day game, the equivalent of buying a new recliner for the living room.  This “enhancement” is knocking walls down to put in a luxury bathroom.

It’s unnecessary and it is bad for the game.  Football has become America’s National Pastime because of the intensity and live or die feel to the season.  A win here or loss there can change the course of the season.  All the other sports struggle to match that intensity because they have too many games.  Adding more games won’t “enhance” the season, it will enhance the almighty revenue stream and the byproduct will be watered down football.

I feel like all the publicity for this “enhancing” push should have disclaimers with the side effects like medications.

“The NFL Enhanced Season will give you two more regular season games with two extra weeks of fantasy football and millions of dollars for the billionaire owners.  Side effects may include massive amounts of injuries, shortened careers, watered down play in the postseason, and tons of long standing records falling.  Please seek immediate help if you have a team that clinches a playoff berth in Week 15 as you may experience preseason quality football for over a month.”

The league has been stepping up the focus on player safety for the last several years and now with all the information coming out about concussions and head trauma they want to add more collisions?  A defensive lineman gets hit with a 15 yard penalty if his hand grazes a quarterback’s helmet due to unnecessary roughness, but eight more regular season quarters of play won’t harm anybody?

The players will get more money if the season is “enhanced” but at what cost?  How many disabled veteran players are there from the days of 12 and 14 game seasons?  How will having more injured players “enhance” the postseason when most teams are already banged up after 16 games?

This will cause more teams to rest starters late in the year which will lead to more preseason quality regular season games.  Last year the Lions knew their season was a wash and decided to shut Stafford down for the last several games to preserve his health.  More teams will do that with their stars rather than subject them to critical injuries.

Teams that clinch early in a 16 game schedule aren’t going to stop clinching early if they add two more games.  Bad teams aren’t going to suck less because there are two more games.  So all it’s doing is adding more opportunity for injuries and resting players.

There are also other peripheral issues that spring up with two more regular season games and two fewer preseason games such as:

  • Fewer diamond in the rough players like Tony Romo.  When will young players get a chance to develop?
  • Coaches have four games to get their starters ready which entails minimal playing time over four games.  To get the equivalent work it will mean more playing time for starters in two games and two more full regular season games.
  • More cold weather games since they will still start the regular season at the same time and most likely have to add in an additional bye week.
  • Less prep time for the Draft or possibly bumping back the Draft.
  • Scheduling conflicts with the television networks.

What are the “benefits” of “enhancing” the season?  Two more regular season games that are unneeded and two fewer preseason games that are more useful than most understand.

Commissioner Goodell said he has gotten feedback from the fans saying they don’t like to watch preseason games.  A far simpler solution would be for them to not watch.

I can’t think of a single good reason for an 18 game schedule.  If I were an owner I’d have cartoon dollar signs in my eyes, and millions of good reasons to expand the season.  As a fan, I just see watering down of a game I love and two more games that will make my Sunday Ticket bill go up.

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