For instance, the current NFL schedule. 4 preseason games, 16 regular season games.
So why the huge push for a 2 game preseason and an 18 game regular season? Greed. Old men in polyester suits with elbow patches who would suffer six consecutive heart attacks at the thought of stepping into live NFL action want more money. Shocking. This is the story of every great business fail there has ever been. There’s a fine line between maximizing the profitability of your product and ruining it.
Most owners in the NFL are all too willing to dilute their final product for financial gluttony.
The brutality of an NFL season is like no other sport on this planet. It takes a tremendous toll on your body to play at this level year in and year out. Forcing these players to play an 18 game schedule is like telling a heavyweight fighter you signed him up for 6 more rounds just before the 10th. You’d be lucky if he didn’t use what energy he had left to make sure you couldn’t chew for the next 2 weeks. I can only hope the NFLPA fights this move with a similar amount of vigor.
It’s believed that the quick fix to this problem is an increased roster. To which point I ask, with half the time to develop these additional players what will your end product look like? Simple answer: poor. Suddenly guys that weren’t good enough to dress in full pads every Sunday are thrust into starting roles. How does that benefit the quality of the game? “Ladies and gentlemen welcome aboard flight 118, our 13 year tenured pilot has the flu so we’ve decided to replace him with this guy in his last semester of aviation school. Have a nice flight.” Are you staying on that plane? I’m not. Are you watching Stephen McGee battle Dominic Randolph in an NFC Wild Card game? I’m not.
Not only will the lack of development create sloppy NFL games but it’ll also leave us without guys like Tony Romo, Miles Austin, Kurt Warner, James Harrison, Wes Welker, and Terrell Davis……to name a few. Teams won’t be able to keep a guy in their system and groom them to reach their potential. If Tony Romo had to start from his 1st or 2nd year in the league he’d no longer be in the league, he was that bad. Same goes for every guy I mentioned. These players worked hard, practiced hard, battled in training camp, grew in preseason, and, when their time came, shocked the world. These are the stories that make the NFL so unique. Nobody comes from a fenced in outdoor court into the NBA and leads the league in scoring. Football is a complex game, some guys just aren’t ready for it when they’re 22 or 23 years old. They’re talented, so you help them grow. That’s what the preseason is for.
The gap between the have’s and have not’s will increase with a longer regular season schedule. The Colts, Saints, and Chargers all had their divisions wrapped up with 2 games to play. Their combined record in those 6 games last year was 2-4, which actually looks better than it is only because Billy Volek threw a last second TD versus the Redskins. *ahem* Billy. Volek. How many more of these games do we want to see? I vote none. Without teams being able to evaluate and study talent (especially the bottom placed teams) they’ll continue to flounder until they stumble upon gold or break the bank and overpay for other teams veteran scraps…..or both.
The NFL is always seeking for ways to increase parity. It’s an elusive goal since every team wants to win as much as possible, but, it’s a good balance to have. Expanding to 18 games upsets that balance. Parity is created when teams have the time and resources to develop a young nucleus. Less than 15 rookies in the NFL draft are good enough to contribute to their teams in their initial seasons. Two preseason games would not give you the time required to evaluate 85 players, 15-20 of which are new to your team. If rosters are constantly changing due to the need for players to play now rather than later then the overall quality of each NFL team diminishes. This subsequently dilutes the game and plateaus the growth of the one business that’s trended upward since its inception 50 years ago.
I believe in tweaking to improve the end product, but when you tweak just to squeeze extra pennies out of your customers at the expense of your employees you’re on a dangerous path. The current system benefits the greatest number of people and has lead to the immense popularity of the league. Some things are better off left alone because some things are just right.