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Keidel: NFL Fans Would Love Two Games Added To Schedule

Jason Keidel
July 16, 2019 - 2:48 pm

There's a certain irony to the fact that the NFL, which lords over America, wrecks TV ratings, and rakes in billions every year, is also the league with the most frigid feelings between employer and employee. 

A recent report from The Wall Street Journal, which details the league's desire to expand the regular season from 16 to 18 games, should be a harmless balloon floating over the sport, the first furlong of a long road to a new CBA. Instead, the claws are out, trenches are dug, and the NFL and NFLPA have resumed their silly roles as our sports version of the Hatfields and McCoys. 

Just the idea of adding two games to a game we love has union boss DeMaurice Smith throwing a flag, barking that there is no way 18 games, under any circumstance, is palatable for the players he represents. Smith and league commissioner Roger Goodell seem to be at biblical odds over everything, which is their problem, not ours. The WSJ, citing an NLPA study, asserts that stacking just two more games onto the NFL slate would widen the league's wallet by about $2.5 billion annually. Right now, just under half the NFL's revenue goes to the players. Ostensibly, so would the new revenue from the new games. 

Indeed, there are two issues here - money and safety. The players are worried that they won't get their fair share of the haul. And team owners have to keep the veneer of concern over player safety, which would be slightly imperiled by two extra games (if they were allowed to play them). 

The problem is we, the media and masses, are getting stuck in the web of minutiae. 

All of these things are abstract. And all we know is that if we can get more of a good thing we will take it. The NFL is like a pint of your favorite ice cream. After that last spoonful, you still have the fine cool taste on your tongue, digging into the cup for the last melted drops. So If you can a few extra scoops without paying more, you take it. It won't cost you more to click-on your television, to pop open your betting app, or to draft your favorite fantasy players. 

It's also likely that you can enjoy two more games that count in the standings, while being subjected to fewer of those sleepy preseason games, which are a pure money grab and double as a creaky platform for marginal players about to be cut. An 18-game season would surely remove some of those games played in summer heat, before a freckling a fans, with the stars wearing baseball caps, hamming it up with coaches from the bench, with monstrous metal fans blowing hot air onto their sweaty necks. 

Let the league and the union joust over dollars and cents and make sense out of the new schedule. If you're tethered to the 16-game schedule, remember that this would be the third time the league has added two games to the season. The Packers went 8-4 in 1960, during Vince Lombardi's first trip to an NFL title game; Don Shula's Dolphins went 14-0 in 1972; and Bill Walsh's 49ers went 15-1 in 1984.

Pro football isn't married to numbers in the same vein as baseball. There are no watermarks for the Hall of Fame. Joe Namath tossed 173 touchdowns, while Brett Favre threw 508. Gale Sayers rushed for fewer than 5,000 yards. His contemporary, Jim Brown, bulled his way to 12,312 yards. The only untouchable stats are those of Jerry Rice, the only clear GOAT at any position in pro football. 

The NFL doesn't have to worry about 300 wins or 3,000 hits or clashing impulses of old and new-world doctrines. If you're worried about safety, don't be. Most NFL players lament the interminable, muggy offseason, and often gripe about injuries sustained between games, not during them. The Saints' Pro-Bowl DE Cameron Jordan was on FS1 yesterday, echoing the sentiment of the host and former defensive lineman Marcellus Wiley. Both welcome the action and spikes of adrenaline on Sundays, and would happily play 18 games as long as the money matches the minutes played. 

We have an implicit agreement with the NFL. They give us a scintillating Sunday of entertainment and in return we don't moan about the money they make, or interfere with a distant feud between billionaires and millionaires. The NFL is so enormous that their games often comprise nine of the top-ten rated TV shows of the entire year. (There was an ephemeral race with the Walking Dead, but zombies can only hold our attention for so long.)

Fans care about player safety to the extent their favorite teams are impacted. Franchise owners care about safety to the extent the fans require it. And we who love the NFL, in all its drama and athletic splendor, would love two more scoops of our favorite sport. 

Twitter: @JasonKeidel