The NFL already makes a boatload of money, but in the eyes of NFL owners, there could always be one or two more boats. Football has the shortest regular season of any professional sport, and the league has consistently looked to make the regular season longer. Hockey, baseball and basketball have seasons that last well over half a year, while football is a mere four months long.
To that end, the NFL owners seem to have proposed something to the NFL Player’s Union that would lengthen the season without giving them any more actual games to play.
The idea has been percolating for years; finally, the NFL has proposed to the NFLPA the idea of an 18-game season with a 16-games-per-player limit https://t.co/uuACShJr47— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) July 12, 2019
Perhaps you’ve watched in dismay as a basketball game is played in your area only to find one of the team’s stars is sitting with a DNP- Load Management. The NBA season is long and grueling, and the Spurs became known for sitting their star players in irrelevant games to keep them fresh for the playoffs. That practice has since spread to other teams, and in baseball it has always been the policy to give players a day off here and there since they play almost every day.
Football, however, is an entirely different animal. Imagine a quarterback playing without his star left tackle or best interior lineman. With a move like this, star players are even more at risk. Or imagine paying good money to see a football game only to find out you’ll be watching the backup quarterback today. The quality of the product as a whole would be seriously underwhelming, akin to a preseason game.
The owners usually get what they want, but the league already has problems stemming from having too many players hurt all the time. If the owners wanted this, they’d have to expand the rosters considerably and add a few dozen roster spots. Cutdown day after training camp would be way less painful than it used to be, but that also means more fringe players making a pro roster.
Imagine being a TV network like Fox and you have a Seahawks vs. Rams game on the schedule. That should bring in a ton of viewers! Whoops, no, it’s Geno Smith vs. Blake Bortles today. Everyone turns the channel to CBS to watch Tom Brady vs. Sam Darnold. Fox cries into their Cheerios.
The teams already play 20 games in a regular season. Four of them are preseason exhibitions which cost the same for fans as regular season games. If owners are hell bent on playing 18 regular season games, why not add a second bye week? Or, cut out two preseason games and expand the roster to 75 players. How much film do you need? Maybe guys like Keon Hatcher, who earned a roster spot based on the fourth preseason game, would object, but with an expanded roster it probably wouldn’t matter in the end.
If there’s one thing the NFL does well, it’s sacrificing the well-being of its players on the altar of cash-grabbing, and frankly that’s the sort of thing a strong union exists to prevent. More football is always a good thing, but this is a monumentally stupid idea as it is.