The NFL Needs to Make the Change!
Each year, at around the end of the summer, football fans are far more than ready to begin watching their favorite teams and favorite players take the field. Fantasy drafts begin, team projections for the season start to get released, and players/coaches are finally ready to move on from all the offseason training camps and workouts. It is football season. One thing, however, that also takes place during the end of the summer for the NFL is the preseason. Many fans seem to not care about the preseason because these games are meaningless. Fans would rather buy tickets and go to the games that actually have an effect on their teams post season dreams, they do not want to tune into the games where the starters do not make an appearance. Instead of playing all four of the current NFL’s preseason schedule games, it should be reduced to just two. The regular season should start in late August when the third and fourth preseason games take place. This would allow the regular season to be expanded to 18 games instead of the current 16. The season would also end at around the first week of February, which is currently where it ends now. This is a much better schedule for everyone involved. The NFL has already announced that starting in the 2021 season, there will be 17 regular season games and three preseason games. This is the right step in perfecting the schedule, but not quite perfect just yet.
The current regular season schedule is laid out so that each team plays every team in their division twice, every team in a specific division in their own conference, every team in a specific division in the opposite conference, and then two teams in the same conference that finished in the same spot in their specific division. That is how a 16 game conference is made for each new NFL regular season. For my proposal of an 18 game schedule, the schedules current format remains the same except the 2 extra games that are played will be a random team in your conference and a random team outside of your conference.
People may think that playing 18 games for certain players may cause more injuries and no one wants to see a players career be ended early due to injuries. Jerry Jones, who is the owner, president and general manager of the wealthiest sports team in the entire world, The Dallas Cowboys, has said he believes an 18 game schedule would actually reduce the amount of injuries. Jones, when talking about the possibility of an 18 game schedule, has stated, “I think, candidly, it’s probably physically better for players than it is to have the longer preseason, the longer practicing. Our studies show that we actually have a ramped-up injury situation with players during preseason as opposed to the injury factor in the regular season.” Jones also believes that reducing the preseason games to just two games is also a much better idea than to have four. Jones has stated, “My solution is real simple, cut back on preseason games. Have one at each team’s home, play a couple of them and then add two games to the regular season. That’s a better equity or a better way of players using what they bring to the table, their talents, their skills, their professional time in pro sports. That’ll give them a bigger pay day that is fair. The other thing it does is it certainly gives our fans what we all think they deserve and that is a competitive game.” It seems Jerry Jones thinks a lot like myself. All of the points he makes are very similar to the ones I have in mind such as making the season longer, shortening the preseason, focusing on players health, players receiving more pay for the extra games, and giving the loyal NFL fans what they want, which is more football.
Another proposal that the league has offered is that if the season expands to 18 games, then players can only play in 16 of them at most. This then eliminates any higher chance of players getting more injured in an 18 game season because they can only play up to 16 of them. This creates a more strategical approach for coaches. Would coaches want to bench their best players against weaker opposition? Would coaches want to play all their star players in the first 16 games so that they can potentially clinch a play off spot and not have to worry about the tough and cold December games? This is a longer NFL season with a huge twist that is creative and fun. This proposal also benefits players more than hurts them. Jenna West of Sports illustrated writes, “Owners are enticed by the idea of a longer season considering the more revenue it would create. An analysis done by the NFL Players Association found that up to $2.5 Billion in additional annual revenue could be generated with two more games. That would add $15 million to each team’s salary cap and give players more money.” Players will be getting paid more money to play in the same amount of games. More games causes a longer regular season and shortened preseason which gives fans more games to look forward to considering the regular season games actually mean something. The idea of players only being able to play in 16 of the 18 games also causes coaches to focus on another aspect of strategically setting up their team for success. If a team that plays with less starters were to beat a team that had a lot more of their starters in causes excitement and an underdog vibe that fans love to see in sports, especially in football.
Jerry Jones Says Players Would Benefit Physically From 18-Game Schedule (2018, August 28). Retrieved from: https://www.si.com/nfl/2018/08/28/jerry-jones-18-game-schedule-safer-players
How NFL is Set, if Needed, to Shake Up its Schedule (2020, April 27). Retrieved from: https://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/Journal/Issues/2020/04/27/Leagues-and-Governing-Bodies/NFL-schedule.aspx