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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Eighteen Weeks of Football Still Aren't Enough

With the NFL Commissioner and team owners going through the state of the league, making rule changes, and whatever else they do, the concept of an 18 week season came up. Intriguing as it may be, cutting off two preseason games at the beginning and pasting them on the back end and calling it the regular season, still needs to be approved and sanctioned by the players association. I think it’s a good idea for several reasons, and state them as I see them.

First, it provides the country with what it really needs, more football. With perhaps the 2008 season being an exception due to the Phillies’ championship, the Eagles run the show in Philadelphia from September through January. Sports talk radio is engrossed with Eagles talk, blogs run amuck, and people drown in water cooler conversations. It helps treat the football jonesing that goes on consistently year round but cutting two more weeks of non-football out. Now, instead of talking about the 76er’s Samuel Dalembert mailing in another game, Philly fans can discuss why Andy Reid threw the ball 87% of the time in a blowout against the last place Cowboys (prediction? I think so).
Second, will be the advantages to teams fighting for the playoffs. It will give those teams on the bubble two more weeks of getting in and it won’t take away from the funky scenarios that got the Eagles in this year. The excuses of teams running out of time will go by the wayside as good teams should start to separate from the mucker and grinders of the league. Sure, some mediocre team will make it in, but with two extra weeks added to last season I’d bet that the New England Patriots would have been in over the Miami Dolphins.
Third and this may not necessarily be a good thing, will be the setting of new plateaus for single season and career records. Football records do not hold the same weight as baseball as players are considered great more by their impact on the field, so seeing more 2,000 yard rushers; maybe a 2,000 yard receiver would be more fascinating. Maybe we’ll even get a few 1,000-1,000 guys. Fact of the matter, we’ll start seeing new records set, like when the league went from fourteen to sixteen games and impact players will still be impact players. Would Jim Brown be less great if he played more games? I don’t think so.
The potential for burnout might increase as the season moves on but who cares? It eliminates part of the boredom-filled gap between the Super Bowl and March Madness and MLB Spring Training, and anything that can do that is alright in my book.
There are some negatives if this initiative goes through. Risk of injury is probably the biggest one since adding two more regular season games puts a player out there all the more, considering they probably wouldn’t have played in the last two preseason games. This might open up the possibility of an expanded rosters, it may also lead to better contracts for the players, that’s all up to the league and the new NFLPA boss, DeMaurice Smith.

Regardless of which side of the fence you might be on regarding this issue, I am hopeful that my opportunity to watch more football becomes realized. Sixteen weeks aren’t enough and in the spirit of keeping it real, eighteen weeks aren’t enough either. The NFL keeps itself in the news all year round already, but the actual action of the game is relegated to a mere six months. Why not keep it going through March? Then the Super can be played in places like New York and Philly. The fans would enjoy it, and then teams can take a couple of weeks off until the NFL Draft in April.

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