It’s all about the money. Plain and simple. Well, at first glance, anyways.
The current season stands at four preseason games and 16 regular season games, keeping the season at 20 weeks, excluding playoffs.
The current ideas swirling around the owners of NFL teams include two preseason and 18 regular season games, to keep the total at 20. It’s obvious that two more games will generate revenue that’s highly coveted, and it’s even more obvious that the players will expect to be paid more to play more.
However, the general consensus is that owners are actually expecting players to take a smaller cut when the next labor agreement is settled on- the current one expires at the end of this season.
As a sidenote, if the preseason is shortened to two games, what happens to the third and fourth stringers? The starters get all the playing time to warm up for the games that truly matter, and the backups get almost no chance to prove themselves.
It’s possible that as a result the non-starters could be reduced to being perpetual rookies, getting no experience, something that could understandably affect the quality of the game during the regular season once the injuries start rolling in.
Speaking of injuries, this debate is also about the players and their health. Many have said that a 16 game season is already a test of endurance as it is, and adding to that season would only harm the well-being of the players.
Training camp, a total of 20 games and playoffs (if the team is good enough) is a long season for the players on an NFL roster.
In an interview with ESPN New York, former NFL quarterback Doug Flutie stated that “This is going to shorten careers. From a player’s perspective, it’s going to beat you up.”
But what is the underlying battle here? The labor agreement between the owners and players expires this year, and a new one must be negotiated before the 2011-2012 season starts next fall.
If you’ve caught the point I’m trying to make, it’s that the NFL essentially wants players to play more, give more and perform more with less pay. Currently, the players earn the majority of the multi-billion dollar revenue that the NFL generates, which doesn’t sit well with the administrative side of running a team.
The players, obviously, are also none too pleased with being stuck in such a situation. The proposal of an extended season figures to be the make-or-break topic of the future labor agreement talks.
If talks go sour and the owners and players association cannot come to a labor agreement, with both sides making demands that the other sees as unreasonable, we as fans can fully expect the possibility of having no football after this year’s Super Bowl Champions are crowned.
A full season of empty stadiums, dormant fields and the darkness of lights that won’t get turned on is something that is very realistic if the contract doesn’t get worked out.
As fans, where do we stand? We, of course, will clamor for more football and more chances to paint ourselves up and scream at our TVs, but at what cost?
And the absolute truth is that in all of this debate, the fans really have no say whatsoever.
We are forced to sit and wait until the NFL reaches one or two outcomes, as I see it: (1) A longer regular season with annoyed players, more injuries and lower quality football, or (2) no change at all, because why attempt to fix something that really isn’t broken?