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In Shark Contrast – Week 4


James Elvins thinks…

You know what? This could be the best thing that might be happening for the long-term security of the game.

I say ‘might be happening,’ but let’s be real – it’s almost certainly been rubber stamped in private by franchise owners. Robert Kraft, Arthur Blank, Bill Polian – they’ve all come out with ringing endorsements. Polian even going so far as to suggest it’s a done deal in a recent “faux pas.”

Before anyone starts bemoaning the obvious decline to the game that this change would herald I’d ask you to think about a few things …

Firstly – under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement – the league can extend the season to 22 games should it ever feel the need to. Moving it to 18 is hardly as big a change as it could’ve been. Evolution beats revolution hands down every time.

Secondly, it’s not two extra games at all. It’s just replacing two of the meaningless preseason games for two competitive games. The season length from a calendar perspective stays the same. The wear and tear that some people are opining could become a factor is only a little over a game as it’s usually game three in preseason that serves as the final dress rehearsal and week four serves as the team’s first bye week in effect.

Finally, it’s important to understand the economics of the game with regards to it’s long-term future. Sure a couple of regular season games will help boost revenues for owners, but if you truly want to sell the game to the globe, the football season has got to be longer.

The brief exposure it gets just isn’t enough to convert into and then sustain global appetite. Rugby Union runs from September to May in the United Kingdom. That’s almost eight months. The soccer season over there runs even longer (August to May) and is the world’s most popular league, a league from one of the smallest countries in the world.

Pop Quiz 1: How many franchises/clubs/teams in the Top 10 richest in the world are from the NFL?

Answer: 1

Pop Quiz 2: How many of the Top 5 richest clubs play soccer?

Answer: 3, including the richest club in the world (which isn’t even a United States team)




Manchester United
38 $342.1
New York Yankees
162 $331.8
38 $297.1
AC Milan
38 $272.4
Washington Redskins
16 $269.0
Real Madrid
38 $262.0
Boston Red Sox
162 $251.2
Seattle Mariners
162 $246.5
Dallas Cowboys
16 $234.6
San Francisco Giants
162 $228.8
Houston Texans
16 $228.8
New England Patriots
16 $224.0
Bayern Munich
34 $221.4
Inter Milan
38 $221.0
Cleveland Browns
16 $206.2
New York Mets
162 $205.0
38 $203.6
38 $203.3
Newcastle United
38 $189.0
38 $182.1

In a money-driven league, the franchise owners covet the same success. They can see that the more successful the league is abroad and the more revenue will come into the coffers. In a recession that vision is even more enviable.

Quite simply put, the NFL owners have seen other, smaller clubs become more valuable, more successful financially and more quickly all for the sake of – amongst other things – having a greater quantity of product to take to market.

Does it mean that we won’t see so many unknown and undrafted players come to the fore as Peyton Manning has suggested (in reference to Blair White he cited the ability to play with him in camp and preseason as vital to his success in hooking up with him last weekend). I think that’s a facile answer from another person with another agenda.

Coaches adapt. Franchises adapt. They did when the AFC and NFC merged. They have with other rule changes. The season is no longer than it is now. Those people that say it’ll increase injuries can’t also argue that we won’t see more unproven players. It’s a non sequitur.

Only last year we were hearing fans saying how much they hate “losing” a game abroad. Now they get two freebies at what cost? They lose two meaningless games that prove nothing. If you think preseason games are useful, go and check how well the Detroit Lions did in their preseason in 2008 and then how well they actually finished …

An 18-game season … where do I sign up?

Jim Bukowski thinks…

Yes, it’s possible to get too much of a good thing, and an 18-game NFL regular season schedule is too much of a good thing.

I’m going to attack this issue from the viewpoint of a fantasy football owner, because that’s really all that matters to me. 

Firstly, have you ever played in a league that didn’t have a deadbeat owner? If you said yes, then consider yourself lucky or a liar. When it comes to watching football on TV, I would definitely agree the more the merrier. But, when it comes to fantasy football, more games are just going to make the things that we hate about fantasy football even worse.

One of the biggest complaints in fantasy football is of owners who abandon their teams. We’ve all been in leagues where a team has been abandoned and it really puts a damper on the rest of the season. That’s if only one team gets abandoned; if more than one owner decides to pull the plug on the season then the league becomes a farce. 

If you’re playing in a larger league, one that consists of 12 teams or more, you can probably bet that there will only be as many active owners as there are playoff spots, if you’re lucky to get that many. Do we really need two more weeks of dead teams?

Secondly, how does the possibility of Peyton Manning sitting out Weeks 16, 17, 18 and 19 affect your draft strategy? Last year, New Orleans won the NFC South by four games, Indianapolis won the AFC South by five games and San Diego won the AFC West by five games. How many of those teams would have been playing their studs a full game in the weeks after they clinched a playoff berth? Oh yeah, you can count on all of those players being active in Week 19 as they get themselves back in sync for a playoff run. Too bad most leagues would have had their championship game in Week 18. An 18-game schedule is going to suck the skill right out of fantasy football as league champions will be decided not by who has the best team, but by who has the most active players. I understand that this problem already exists, but it will be amplified should the NFL move to an 18-game schedule.

Thirdly, how do I explain this to my wife? In 1978, when the NFL expanded from 14 to 16 games, I was a freshman in high school. Life was very simple, more games meant more of the thing that you loved the most, football. Back then I saw every minute of every game and what a treat it was to be able to stay up late and watch Monday Night Football. We couldn’t wait to see if the Chicago Bears made the half-time highlights.

But, fast-forward to 2010 and there is now a wife and four kids to consider. I can’t open the front door to get the mail without being asked, “Where are you going and when will you be back?” I can’t just commandeer two more Sundays; it doesn’t work like that anymore. Fantasy football and the 16-game NFL season were grandfathered into our relationship. No questions asked. Anyone in a relationship knows that there is give and take, and if the NFL expands to 18 games it’s going to require a lot of give on my part in order to get those two more days of football.

And if they ever expand to 20 games … forgetaboutit.

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