FanDuel - WFBC

February 03, 2011

Poll: Most Oppose 18-Game NFL Season: Only 27 percent of the public and 45 percent of NFL fans are in favor of an 18-game NFL season, according to a new AP-Knowledge Networks poll. "There's plenty enough football as it is," said Steven Keller, an NFL fan among the 9 percent strongly opposed to the change. "Eighteen games is too many for the players. ... Those guys get beat up."

posted by rcade to football at 02:41 PM - 27 comments

Like public opinion and the opinion of NFL fans is going to make a difference. If it means enough extra dollars, they will do it.

posted by graymatters at 02:37 PM on February 03

I would like to see 18 games but I think a lot could be done to mitigate the strain on players. For example, how about going to 18 games but make it mandatory for every player to have 2 bye weeks and expand the roster by a few players, in other words, regardless of how important the player is, he must sit out two games per season. That way the players do not play more games, and the role of your back up players becomes even more important. There would be a lot of strategy associated as to when to sit a player out, depending on your opponent, injuries, and game strategies. Also players who are injured would be able to use time on the IR list to count against bye weeks. This system would also give back up players like a second string QB a lot of importance to the team and a definite chance to prove themselves in a couple of high stakes games as your starter has to take 2 games off. This also allows players who do suffer injuries and play at less than 100% to use their bye weeks to recover rather than play injured, also maximizing the opportunity to play more games when they are at their best. I think this would be a win win for both the league and the players and the fans. More games, more revenue, more roster spots for players all while ensuring that no players will play more than they do now. This system will also mean that successful teams will not just be successful due to the top players, but the depth of the roster will be even more important than it is now.

I also think a lot of uninteresting games like those where top teams play against terrible teams will be more competitive as those are the games that top teams will likely use to rest a star or two while a lesser team may try to steal a win with their best players on the field.

posted by Atheist at 02:52 PM on February 03

While I like your idea, I think I'd like it a lot less if I just shelled out big bucks to see Brian Hoyer instead of Tom Brady. Of course, you could always insert a QB exception.

posted by kokaku at 02:55 PM on February 03

When ever you go to a football game there is a chance anyway that the stater will be knocked out early in the game or be injured in practice, and you wind up seeing a back up player instead of a star. That said my idea is bigger than any player and is more about the game and strategy. I suppose now you can pay to see Tom Brady and they can take him out because they have a lead or whatever. Since so much of the tickets are sold to season ticket holders, my plan still means that Pat fans wind up the 16 games of Tom Brady, plus two with his back up instead of two more preseason games that are meaning less to the season and full of nothing but back up players.

Actually I believe the players are complaining about the extra games just as a bargaining chip. In truth if the season were 18 games most players would want to play in all if they can. I never heard a player complain about playing extra games if his team makes it to the playoffs or Superbowl. I also never heard a guy say I don't want to play another game when he is selected to the pro bowl. My suggestion is mearly a way to give the league and fans the extra meaningful game, increase revenues and player jobs, while making sure the players do not play more games, if that is indeed their objection.

posted by Atheist at 03:37 PM on February 03

Actually I believe the players are complaining about the extra games just as a bargaining chip.

Yeah, buncha big babies.

I never heard a player complain about playing extra games if his team makes it to the playoffs or Superbowl.

Do you not see any difference between a playoff game and another regular season game?

I also never heard a guy say I don't want to play another game when he is selected to the pro bowl.

Whether they say it or not, there's a fair number who don't go. I'd say actions speak louder than words.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 03:55 PM on February 03

Yeah, buncha big babies.

I never said that I only said I believe they are using the issue as a bargaining chip. If they were so concerned with their own safety why are they complaining about the league fining players for helmet to helmet hitting?

Do you not see any difference between a playoff game and another regular season game?

Absolutely there is a difference. The playoff games are even more intense and harder on the body. But of course there is more exposure and money and a chance at a championship, which of course must trump physical wear and tear.

Whether they say it or not, there's a fair number who don't go. I'd say actions speak louder than words.

Just what is a fair number? What percentage of players selected choose not to play. (Don't count those who are injured or playing in the Superbowl)

LBB - I am just expressing my opinion as does everybody. Feel free to disagree. Condescending commentary just leads me to believe you have a personal issue with what I post.

Both sides in this labor issue are negotiating in their own self interests which is expected and proper. Personally I am all for player safety. If they want to limit playing time for players, or number of games played etc I have no problem with it which is why I expressed a solution that could suit both parties. More games with no more playing time for players.

Just because I feel that the players exposure to injury for two extra games is easily mitigated with some playing time restriction does not mean I am not sympathetic to their safety issues. I sincerely feel most players would object to be forced to limit their game time. Not only because it goes against the competitive nature of an athlete but frankly injury is largely a function of their own conditioning and luck rather than that of playing time. Many players play for a long career as a starter while other seem injury prone and have short careers. I would be interested in statistics as to just how much the two are related. I am sure it has a lot to do with position. Also the fact is it probably has less to do with number of games played as it does time on the field during games. A team with a lousy offense probably has defensive players on the field for the equivalent of a twenty game season in sixteen games. Minutes of playing time is probably a more accurate of assessment of wear and tear.

Maybe the league should limit playing time similar to how airline pilots are limited to flying time not number of flights. Also I think, time in general is a bigger enemy to a players career than number of games. Brett Favres streak for example may have been longer if he played more games in a shorter number of years. If players are compensated by the game they would probably be able to play more games if the number of games occurred during a shorter time period. Playing in say 200 NFL games in a career may be better if you can do it younger in a ten year career then trying to keep going and spreading it over a 15 or 20 year career. At least you are playing teh games at a younger age then trying to get another season when your are 38. If some players have 15 year careers while other only have three year careers, how does replacing two preseason games with meaningful games really make that much difference. Especially when you consider that those pre season game are more intense in some way with a higher risk of injury, as some players are playing as if their careers depend on every play (which they do) while other are just trying to survive the pre season without injury?

posted by Atheist at 05:40 PM on February 03

I hate, hate, hate the idea of lengthening the NFL season. It may be the final straw for me.

posted by rcade at 06:30 PM on February 03

Not really for more games either, but I'd be up for two less pre-season games and thus making the season shorter...ending up in February is nonsense. Of course, I'd also like to see the MLB, NHL and NBA shorten their seasons, but it ain't going to happen as all of them have added to their seasons in order to milk more money out of the fans.

While I see a zero probability of Atheist's plan being considered, I kind of like the idea of a team having to use strategy on when to use players. High School Baseball teams have to do this with pitchers, so the concept isn't too far fetched.

posted by dviking at 06:45 PM on February 03

I can understand someone not wanting to see more football. That is a personal choice but if the last two pre season games were replaced with meaningful regular season games. The season ends same as it does now. If a fan doesn't want to see 18 regular season game, he doesn't have to watch. Why would it be an issue since you only have to watch what you want to watch.

posted by Atheist at 06:54 PM on February 03

It's like you never read one of these discussions before, Atheist.

It's an issue because playing in the NFL is exacting an enormous physical toll on players. Two more regular season games is an 11% increase in the season. That will make injuries worse and the consequences of the game more severe.

posted by rcade at 07:30 PM on February 03

Rcade - it's like you never read my post. I said there is a way to add two regular season games without increasing the time any player is on the field. I suggested a mandated two games off for every player. How does that increase any players risk of injury?

I only pointed out there are a lot of ways to expand on the prevent any added risk to players. If you don't want to see two more meaningful games don't watch them. If you are concerned about the dangers of football in general then boycott all football and if a lot of people feel the same pro football can die.

posted by Atheist at 10:35 AM on February 04

I suggested a mandated two games off for every player. How does that increase any players risk of injury?

You mean other than it never happening? No team is going to sit a Pro Bowler for 2 games a year and fans won't want to risk buying a ticket for one of his off games. And one made-up, never-happen solution isn't "a lot of ways to expand on the prevent any added risk to players", whatever that means.

If you are concerned about the dangers of football in general then boycott all football and if a lot of people feel the same pro football can die.

Right, because only people who want to push their foot further down on the accelerator are allowed to decide what happens.

posted by yerfatma at 11:06 AM on February 04

If you don't want to see two more meaningful games don't watch them.

Do you think that players won't get injured in games I don't watch?

I only pointed out there are a lot of ways to expand on the prevent any added risk to players.

You only named one of the ways. Fans aren't going to want to see games decided by the absence of a star player who isn't injured. They also aren't going to want to pay a full-price ticket to watch any marquee players riding the pine.

I'm interested in the here and now, not pretending that your idea has a snowball's chance in hell of being implemented. Expanding to 18 games when the catastrophic brain injuries of your players are becoming a major issue would be a terrible decision by the league.

posted by rcade at 12:41 PM on February 04

I'm firmly in the "no" camp. The last thing the NFL needs to do now is take actions that will further endanger the players. I already have misgivings about loving a sport that takes a terrible toll on its players; they don't need to make it worse.

Atheist, the problem with your solution is that positions where there are not enough depth on the team will be even more squeezed. An offensive lineman on an already depleted line has to take two games off, which means the other players don't get spelled at all. Even increasing the roster size isn't going to solve this problem because coaches want the best players on the field, and you can't ensure that the roster spots are distributed in a way that is best for the well-being of the players.

posted by bperk at 01:35 PM on February 04

I don't know if anyone has noticed, but the NFL already has a 20-game season. It's just that 4 of those games don't count in the standings, although the season ticket holders are forced into paying full price for them. Here's what I think might happen if the schedule is expanded to 18 regular season games and 2 exhibition games:

**Rosters and taxi squads will be expanded, and the salary cap increased accordingly. Player salaries will also be adjusted upward.

**The early season games, after the 2 exhibitions, will feature a lot of players who are not being looked at as starters, but will be those who can provide the needed injury and fatigue depth.

**If an early season game is with a team outside one's conference, look for a lot of subs to be in there to give the regulars some rest and to reduce the injury possibility.

**Division games become "must win" propositions, since you will likely have lost a couple outside the division because you weren't trying all that hard.

What I'm trying to say is that much of the union complaining is posturing, since the schedule is already 20 games. True, your regulars probably play about 10 of the 16 quarters in the exhibition schedule as it is now, but with an expanded regular season and rosters, their workload will not be too much greater. If I were the union, I would welcome the possibility of expanded rosters and higher salaries, since that would mean more union dues being paid. This does not mean that the owners are all sweetness either. An extra regular season home game substituted for an exhibition game would be like an extra 7-figure pay day. The price for the TV contracts would go up as well. The owners are much better positioned to withstand a work stoppage, but I don't believe either they or the players are dumb enough to start dissecting one golden egg laying goose.

posted by Howard_T at 02:12 PM on February 04

Very good points Howard_T.

Also I would like to point out a counter to the argument about fans will not want to pay for a game where a starter or a few starters are not playing. I believe Ben Rothlisberger was suspended for the first 6 games of the season which then got reduced to 4. I don't believe the attendance suffered nor did Pittsburgh suffer in the standings without him. Actually if a team like Pittsburgh were playing a team like Carolina, the fans might indeed benefit if the Steelers decided to sit a couple of top players for that game as the result might be a much more competitive game as, the Steelers would use the opportunity to get the mandatory bye out of the way and still might feel they can win, while I imagine the Panthers might try to play their best to steel a win. In any case instead of an anticipated Steeler rout you could have a better and closer game with better TV viewership.


FWIW I really don't care that much nor did I ever feel my idea would be implemented, I just think it's good discussion. I also believe the league will go to 18 games at some point and the players will support it as the in the end they are just like the owners when it comes to money. As long as they get more for doing it, they will be onboard. More than likely not only will they play more games but they will not want to be forced to sit out for safety sake, they will want the extra game checks.

Remember Tom Brady sat on a bench until he got a chance to prove what he could do. Just because a team has to sit each starter for a couple of games does not mean good players will not step up and prove why they are on an NFL roster.

posted by Atheist at 02:56 PM on February 04

Comparing preseason games to regular-season games is bogus. Teams aren't running full out. Schemes and plays are vanilla. Stars aren't sacrificing their bodies.

posted by rcade at 02:56 PM on February 04

Evey player on the bubble of keeping his job is running full out like its the super bowl in preseason. The only ones who are not are the guys who are totally secure in their position with the team and they don't want to be on the field with those that are fighting for not just a play or a victory or a game, but their entire lives and careers. You must not know much about pre season football if you think guys are not going full out. The score does not mean anything, but what happens on the field does.

I like preseason football for this reason I just watch it differently as do coaches and players, so for me 4 pre season games with 16 regular season games, or 2 pre season and 18 regular isn't much different on my level of enjoyment or quantity of football. I am a fan and am interested in the preseason as it has huge importance for me on what happens afterward.

posted by Atheist at 03:07 PM on February 04

Oh, come on, Atheist. If someone delivers a vicious hit in the preseason, there is generalized outrage about it. I remember what a big deal it was when Eli Manning got bloody during a preseason game.

Anyway, it doesn't matter if backups play hard against each other. They don't have to worry about playing a full season. When the starters are in, coaches are very cautious because they want to avoid injury.

posted by bperk at 03:28 PM on February 04

I wasn't referring to vicious or illegal hits. I was only stating that with the exception of the star players, most of the players in preseason games are going all out and full speed, because whether or not they have a career in football depends on their performance. Frankly if you have Peyton Manning playing in a preseason game at the same time some young defensive end is trying to get a spot on a team, there is a very heightened risk of injury to Manning as that players life depends on whether he can beat the tackle and get to the QB to obtain a job, while Manning on the other hand just want to escape the game without injury. Try telling that player trying to make the cut that preseason is meaningless.

Saying that a player doesn't have to worry about playing a full season is a little silly since every player on the field is hoping to play in every game as a starter. My experience in football and in boxing is that not playing at full speed with bad intent is the surest way to wind up hurt as typically your opponents are.

Try telling Danny Woodhead your theory about preseason or back up players.
He is a perfect example of a guy who went all out every play, and despite getting cut, wound up a star player on a top team because he had no other gear except full speed. It's pro football and attitude and desire are everything.

posted by Atheist at 03:55 PM on February 04

You must not know much about pre season football if you think guys are not going full out.

Read before replying. I said teams are not going full out.

posted by rcade at 04:42 PM on February 04

the NFL already has a 20-game season. It's just that 4 of those games don't count in the standings, although the season ticket holders are forced into paying full price for them.

One of the best reasons, particularly from a season ticket holder's point of view, for making it a 18 game regular season. We're paying for it anyway.

That being said, I'm still not buying it. Pre-season is, as rcade points out, qualitatively different than regular season games.

I'd prefer they just eliminate two of the preseason games for a total of 18 overall, including pre-season games. And I expect that to happen right after owners lower ticket prices and players ask for less money.

posted by cjets at 05:10 PM on February 04

Teams are not going full out? I say they are it is just that the objective is different. In a regular season game they go full out to win. In preseason they go full out to test their rosters, experiment with players, try new formations or plays etc.

But differentiating between teams and players in the context of our discussion which was injuries is a moot point. Regardless of the score or the standings or the significance of the game itself, injuries usually occur from player on player, or player on turf collisions, or physical stress, all of which are totally separate and immune from how important the game score, or standings or teams desire to actually win is. As long as very big, very strong, and very fast athletes are running and colliding, the game situation or importance in the standings is irrelevant. Guys get hurt in meaningless regular season games between teams long since eliminated from playoff hopes. It really does not change the health risk to players on the field.
I suppose if players, fans and the league wanted to eliminate risk of injury the league should cancel games between teams statistically eliminated form the playoffs as the risk is totally for nothing. Why even play when there is nothing to play for?

I think watching pre season football is like betting on football, you just have to watch it differently to get into it. Sort of like have an underdog with 10 points, the game may be decided but if you have ten points there is a lot to watch for and be entertained by or interested in, despite the final outcome of winner and looser. While the extra score by the loosing team may not mean anything in the standings, it certainly can hold my interest.

posted by Atheist at 05:21 PM on February 04

I think watching pre season football is like betting on football, you just have to watch it differently to get into it.

No one is arguing that preseason football has no value. During some seasons I have enjoyed watching the scrubs try to earn a roster spot also.

The subject under debate is whether a swap of two preseason games for two regular season games would increase the injuries suffered by players.

NFL starters play the equivalent of one regular game during the entire preseason. So if you take two preseason games away, starters will play 1.5 extra games a year, everything else being equal. That will mean more injuries and fewer starters around for the postseason.

posted by rcade at 11:22 PM on February 04

I think the best argument against the change is the "cumulative" one:

1.5 (rcade's #) x 10 years = 15 extra games. Most players will get a few playoff games, so let's say that approximately an NFL career will be expanded 20 games.

Now let's say you're a starting O-Lineman, who is getting into mini-car crashes every play, and we'll say you play 50 plays a game. So after all the math is done that player/human being will experience 1000 more mini car-crashes in their life-that's not incidental, that can seriously change someone's long-term health prospects.

If Goodell rams this through, he better take his player safety rhetoric somewhere else, b/c regardless of how rigorously you fine any helmet to helmet hits, the very nature of football dictates that you are asking certain players to experience hundreds of additional violent collisions over the course of their careers. Frankly, I think he's a complete joke.

posted by brainofdtrain at 12:23 AM on February 05

Atheist:

LBB - I am just expressing my opinion as does everybody. Feel free to disagree. Condescending commentary just leads me to believe you have a personal issue with what I post.

I'll be happy to address this alleged "personal issue" as soon as you can explain how what I wrote constitutes "condescending commentary". Frankly, it sounds like the shoe's on the other foot, here.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 08:04 AM on February 05

I have never argued that more games or playing time did not add to the already very dangerous risks to the players. I only stated you can still expand the regular part of the season and eliminate two worthless games as far as most fans are concerned, by instituting rules that guarantee no player can play more than they do now, or for that matter less than they do now if that is what players want. Will it change the game a little, of course. I guess having a main QB and a second that actually plays might take getting use to, but it isn't really different than baseball where you don't only see the best pitcher but also see a rotation of pitchers. The best team of QBs may be more important than having the best QB. Maybe the game can even be much safer if both sides are committed to resolving the issues, it is easily possible.

My original scenario, was nothing I expect to happen but it make the following thing possible.

Season remains same length by replacing two preseason games with meaningful regular season games.

League revenues go up which means player revenues go up,

Players do not play more and even possibly less if that is what is negotiated, by players.

Rosters are expanded and more players are part of the regular season, more players have jobs and the opportunity to play in regular season games.

Owners get what they want, fans get two more real games, all player safety issues are mitigated as far as playing time is concerned, league revenues go up of which the players get a percentage of the pie as they do now. My business experience tells me that business problems are solved by innovative approaches, reason, trying to act in the common interest, and compromise. That is why top business people are problem solvers not problem creators. Looking at an issue and saying it can't be done in a way that satisfies all parties involved is not what the players union execs and NFL execs are getting paid for. The posturing is getting old and neither side wants to kill the golden goose. I don't deny players have legitimate beefs regarding player safety issues, but I do think they are using the issue as a bargaining chip also.

posted by Atheist at 09:42 PM on February 05

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