The sentiment on Baltimore Sports Report and among most other NFL fans is that Roger Goddell’s proposal to expand the NFL schedule to 18 games is a bad idea. The commissioner has been campaigning for the idea on the basis of the fans and players not wanting so many pre-season games. Goddell’s 18-game schedule would provide more of what the fans love and allow more money making opportunities for NFL owners, some of which would trickle-down to soon to be cash strapped players.
The main opposition to the adding of 2 regular season games is the increased wear and tear and added injury risk to the players. Fan and players have both voiced this concern and it should not be taken lightly as more and more evidence comes forward about the long term effects of repeated collision impact to the brain and other body parts. After all, what fan wants to see their team’s starting left tackle go down with an injury while trying to secure home field advantage in a week 17 game? The added games will mean more injuries and could therefore mean less star power come play-off time.
I like most fans have been set against an 18-game season, but I have to admit that I heard a proposal involving the 18 game schedule that has me thinking it could be more feasible. The idea came from one Steve Czaban, who is a national sports radio host for Sporting News Radio. If you are not familiar with Czaban, who also has gigs in the DC metro area, you should check him out. He is the perfect blend of intelligent (despite his being a huge Redskins fan) sports talk combined with the right amount of Simpson’s soundbites.
Most 18-game season proposals I have heard involve and additional bye week as well as expanded roster. More rest and more players can help minimize injury and allow for depth when they invariably do strike. Czaban’s idea incorporated those ideas but went a step further. He proposed that each player on an NFL roster be limited to 16 games played of the 18-game season. Regardless of health, every player on the roster would have to sit out at least 2 games a season. Czaban was willing to exempt kickers and punters from the game limit and I would even propose making long snappers exempt as well.
At first I thought…dumb idea. How lame would it be to have to sit a key player in a big late season game because of a game limit? If you think about it though we already see these type of self imposed innings or minutes limits in the other major sports. How often does a MLB team pull a young pitcher to avoid over stressing his arm, or an NBA team cut the minutes of a veteran playing two nights in a row? But the more I think about it the more intrigued I am by the idea. It would allow for more NFL football, but theoretically not expose the players to increased injury risk. Fans get more bang for their buck, owners make greater revenues and more players get the opportunity to draw an NFL pay-check. Win, win, win, right?
Plus, the game limit would open up a whole new realm of strategy for coaches and GM’s who have to figure out who to leave inactive from week to week while minimizing the roster decision’s impact on your team chances for an upcoming game. The only negatives, besides the crazy fantasy football ramifications, that I can see, are that having to sit a healthy starting QB for 2 games every season, this not only gives teams with quality back-ups an advantage, but it also lowers some of the quality of QB play in a league starved for good signal callers. Another disadvantage would be when a team has to sign some guy off the street to play in an NFL game when a starter at a position is already injured and the back-up has to sit out because of a game limit. Again that puts players on the field who have no place being there. Injuries are apart of the game, could game limits become another challenge for NFL teams to overcome?