Schedule Conflict

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Should the NFL expand to an 18-game regular season?

Should the NFL expand to an 18-game regular season?

Should the NFL expand to an 18-game regular season?

YES

I’ll start my answer with a question of my own: Is there anything more boring and worthless than preseason NFL football? Fans are charged regular prices to watch a couple series with the starters as they play a dull, close-to-the-vest brand of football before turning things over to an assortment of no-names, hangers-on, career backups and wannabes. I’m all for anything that would cut this four-game charade in half — and that’s the primary beauty of the proposed 18-game regular season, which would simply replace two worthless preseason games with two meaningful regular-season contests.

Bottom line: This proposal is good for everybody. It expands the league’s economic opportunities in a difficult business climate, which is good for players and owners alike. It gives fans a better bang for their hard-earned buck, and it ends the ridiculous rip-off that is the four-game preseason.

As for the injury argument, well, I have an answer for that, too: Increase the size of the active roster and practice squads to give coaches more flexibility and depth.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell offered this succinct explanation when the proposal first started gaining momentum: “What it represents to us is a way to grow the game and grow the opportunities, not only for our fans and our business partners, but for the players as our partners,” he said. “We have to continually look at ways to improve what we’re doing. It’s been very clear to us from not only our fans but also from our players that the quality of the preseason and the desire to participate in the preseason is not at the level it should be.”

Let’s put it this way: Can any proposal that gives us more of what we want — NFL games that count — be wrong? I don’t think so.

– Rob Doster

NO

If Commissioner Roger Goodell was truly concerned with player safety, he would be the most outspoken opponent of an 18-game schedule. But the reality is that the shoot-first, ask-questions-later leader isn’t concerned with protecting the integrity of the game or the men who built the billion-dollar mint we call the NFL.

As always, the bottom line is the bottom line. Or, as it is said in election years, “It’s the economy, stupid.” So, Goodell leads the NFL blindly into dangerous territory — willing to sacrifice not only the long-term physical and mental health of “his” players but also the sport itself — all while preaching safety and honoring history in interviews.

The move from 16 to 18 games is not a wise investment in the quality of the product the NFL sells. It is the exact opposite; it is an uninformed money grab by Goodell and the league’s 32 owners. Yet, due to the additional television revenue, ticket sales and concession inflation, the move is a “fait accompli” — an irreversible accomplishment — according to Colts president Bill Polian.

“I think that the owners, and principally the commissioner, have decided that it’s the way to go,” said Polian, on his radio show. “The debate, such as it was, is over.”

It’s unrealistic to expect players to stay healthy for 18 games plus the playoffs. Or worse, it’s an unconscionable concession to consider the inevitable, watered-down, replacement-player on-field exhibition just part of the cost of doing business.

“Sixteen games are enough,” explained Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, a 35-year-old, 15th-year veteran, two-time Defensive Player of the Year and Super Bowl XXXV MVP. “We’re not automobiles. We’re not machines. We’re humans. … How many people would be truly healthy after 18 games? Are you going to get real football?”

Who cares? Right, Roger? Just put NFL helmets on UFL players and play preseason lineups in regular season games. What’s the difference?

– Nathan Rush

Taxonomy upgrade extras: 
With the NFL cracking down on "violent hits," talk of expanding the regular season from 16 to 18 games has become even more debatable than it already was.