Something's awry with several NFL players' aversion to the NFL's proposed "enhanced season" that would exchange two exhibition games for two regular season games for a two-game preseason and 18-game regular season schedule.
Both Charles Woodson and Aaron Rodgers, perhaps the Packers' two most influential players, have said they're against adding any regular season games. They join the bandwagon that also included premiere NFL stars like Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis who also expressed their unwillingness to go to an 18-game schedule mere hours after Packers president Mark Murphy broached the idea on behalf of the NFL owners' negotiations committee on the NFL Network.
Over the weekend, the Madison-based Wisconsin State Journal and reporter Mike Lucas interviewed four former visible Wisconsin Badgers who currently play in the NFL about the possibility of an enhanced season. Among those sharing their viewpoint was Cleveland Browns Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas, also his team's union representative.
“You don’t need four exhibitions to get ready,” said Thomas. “Every team has scrimmages, every team has live practices. Once you shorten the preseason to two games, it’s going to be better for everyone.
“But there’s no reason to go to an 18-game season. All it means is two extra games at the end of the year that are watered down."
I understand the downside. Those players who make the 53-man roster will theoretically be playing more regular season football as opposed to preseason football, and thus, there's a greater chance for injury. There's also the possibility for meaningless games in the later stage of the season for those teams that have been mathematically elminated from the playoffs.
I still think the benefits of two meaningful games in the regular season outweigh the negatives of two exhibition games, but that's just me. As far as exposing themselves to injury, even elite NFL players still play during exhibition games (albeit not as much), so I tend not to put a ton of stock into that argument. Those players that end up on the 53-man roster would probably play the equivalent of one more full game.
Players also want to be paid more if there's two more regular season games, and understandably so. But here's where the logic of Joe Thomas doesn't jive. He doesn't want to play 18 regular season games, but he doesn't want to play four preseason games either. Maybe there were portions of his interview that were omitted, but that just doesn't make sense. And that's coming from a union rep.
Playing 16 regular season games and two preseason games just isn't a possibility. That would be a loss of two preseason games. And from a financial standpoint, that's a loss of two games worth of ticket sales, merchandise sales, parking, concessions and media advertising that come with it. That means smaller paychecks, and I'm pretty sure players will be against that as well.
So what do you want, players union? Do you want to go to 17 regular season games and three preseason games? That sounds reasonable, but I have yet to hear anyone express their support for that plan. Or do you have some sort of plan to make up for two games worth of a revenue stream?
Whatever the case, you need to get together and come to some sort of consensus, because comments such as those expressed by Thomas do very little to help your cause.