Friday, January 7, 2011

What's the Point?

Along with countless other fans and players, I just want to scream this into the faces of all the owners. From the absurdity that is the impending NFL lockout, one of demands of the owners is an 18 game season, with a shortened two game preseason. This is an awful idea, for a number of reasons.

Have you ever grimaced in pain as you watched your favorite team play out the string of a lost 5-11 season? Or, even worse, have you ever watched in agony as your team, who has a playoff bye locked up by the end of the season, loses one of its' vital players in a meaningless game? (Patriots, Wes Welker). These situations will only increase if the 18 game format is adopted. Whether by winning teams or losing teams, there will be more meaningless games being played near the end of the season, which is bad for the business of the NFL. It would increase the agony of the fans of losing teams, while making it harder for teams to make it to the playoffs with their best players intact, thereby cheapening the product of the playoffs.

People forget, but the 4 game preseason is there for a reason. In the NFL, rosters are comprised of 53 players, with numerous coaches and moving parts. Teams need a chance to simulate a real game situation, so everything goes smooth once the regular season arrives. Also, teams need a chance to judge their talent. Football rosters are constantly in flux from year to year, as rookies, castoffs, and veterans try to make the team. Clubs need a chance to see how these players, especially ones vying for reserve roles, respond to a game situation. There are so many stories of players who were discovered during the preseason, and went on to have illustrious careers. If teams were to really play an 18 game season, they would need good depth at every position, as the likelihood of injury increases. But with the two game preseason, teams are robbed of the vital simulations necessary to cement the depth of their roster!

Finally and most importantly, going to the 18-2 format would jeopardize player safety overall. Football is a violent sport, and quite simply, more real games means more of a chance of getting hurt. Coming from a league that makes a show of fining players inconsequential amounts for big hits but makes money off of big-hit highlight tapes, the disregard for player safety when money is involved does not surprise me.

The 18 game season is just a terrible idea. The idea would not only cheapen the playoffs, drag out losing seasons for lost teams, and destroy the chance for talent evaluation in the preseason, it would further jeopardize player safety. I go back to what I said at the beginning of the article: Roger Goodell, if it ain't broke....

What's the point is a weekly column written by David Straple. Feel free to comment.


Anonymous said...

I actually agree with your assessment, but you have to do look at the economic factors (though inherently selfish) driving the change to 18 games. 2 extra games means millions in increased revenue (although it's not like the NFL really needs it) and that also increases the parity of the game because lower-market teams like the Jags and the Browns can have the revenue to go after big free agents that they normally would lose out to a New York or Al Davis's capricious desires. I think the bigger worry is that the NFL does not institute a salary cap - if player's salaries keep on going up, the owners are going to point to that as a reason for raising tix prices, merchandise etc. and that creates this perpetual cycle of making the game less accessible than it already is (just look at the average ticket price and season ticket waiting list for some teams). But good analysis overall.

Sagar Parikh said...

if the NFL is really all about the money then this makes perfect sense, because nobody watches the preseason. but during a year where they have talked so much about player safety and have started fining for unecessary hits, its hard to believe that they'd be okay with possibly more danger.

AMC said...

A good company, although profit driven, must always consider employee well being and safety paramount to their operations. The NFL needs to keep its priorities in mind; if the the number one priority of the NFL is not player safety, moral etc., the players have every right to strike.

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