With 17-Game Season, NFL Should Add a Second Bye Week for Each Team

In the name of player safety.

The 17-game season is officially official, as is no surprise to anyone who has even remotely been paying attention over the last year or so since the new collective bargaining agreement went into place.

The elimination of a preseason game and addition of a regular season game is good for the viewer in the extent that it means more football that matters, though it's not a particularly popular idea with players or a vocal subset of fans. 

Fans appreciate the cyclical, reliable nature of the 32-team, 16-game, previously 6-team playoff setup and schedule. Obviously the 17th game (and last year's addition of a seventh playoff seed) throws a wrench in that, and will also result in the record books being re-written.

But perhaps more important is what the addition of an extra regular season game does for player safety.

NFL players are already stretched thin by the end of the season. Even if guys aren't on the injury list, you can bet they're feeling the toll of the NFL's brutal marathon schedule. 

I'm not going to argue for or against the 17-game schedule, because it'd be a waste of words at this point. But moving forward, the NFL should at the very least consider adding a week 18 and giving every team an extra bye week.

Players could use the extra rest throughout the season, especially those who get shafted with a bye week in the first five weeks of the season. The additional bye week is used in college football and causes no problems at all for scheduling or revenue. 

It's a win for the players in that it gives them some much-needed rest in a season thta just got even longer. It's a win for the league in that it adds an extra week for TV ad purchases and social engagement. It just makes too much sense not to do it.

I'm not entirely sure what the logistics for doing this would be under the collective bargaining agreement, but my guess is if the league wanted to go this route, the players would quicky agree to it. 

We all know the NFL's "player safety" concerns are little more than a charade, but at least they can add some substance to the charade by giving players more recovery time in a season the owners insist on extending anyway.

__________________________

Tim Backes is a lifelong Packer fan and a contributor to CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter @timbackes for his Packer takes, random musings and Untappd beer check-ins.

2 points

Comments (40)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Johnblood27's picture

April 01, 2021 at 07:11 am

Why not just go to a year-round schedule and playoff for half year championships?

Expand rosters, limit the number of games a player can suit up for his team and let the good times roll!

+ REPLY
-3 points
1
4
Leatherhead's picture

April 01, 2021 at 07:15 am

I like the idea of half-seasons. Win your division in either half and you’re in the playoffs.

+ REPLY
-5 points
0
5
Coldworld's picture

April 01, 2021 at 12:00 pm

I don’t like that idea because it removes the need to be hot going into the post season in favor of a team that might be a shadow of what it was in the first half of the season. Instead, truly competitive teams will be at home. Worse football post season and in season too as teams are already qualified, so little to play for or holding back if they think they’ve blown the first half. Averaging just makes a mess.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Leatherhead's picture

April 01, 2021 at 01:26 pm

Yes, but if Aaron Rodgers breaks his leg in the opener and is out for 4-6 weeks, you’d like the idea better because we could win the second half of the season and still make the playoffs.

And if you won the division in the first half, and again in the second, you could earn a bye.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
stockholder's picture

April 01, 2021 at 07:27 am

In the name of safety? No- they shouldn't even go to a 17 game schedule. Players are playing hurt now. But since the money has currently replaced common sense. Shorten the pre season. To Zero. Expand the rosters.

+ REPLY
1 points
4
3
Guam's picture

April 01, 2021 at 08:04 am

I don't often agree with you Stockholder, but am completely on board with your suggestions here. NFL football is a tough sport and 17 games is too many. As much as I love Packer football, about 14 games a season should be enough.

The author's suggestion is helpful for the season, but doesn't alleviate the lifelong damage done to the body by the excessive wear and tear of a tough sport. I would rather see fewer games played and some of that long term wear reduced.

+ REPLY
0 points
1
1
Coldworld's picture

April 01, 2021 at 08:28 am

Need a pre-season of some sort in every team sport. What the NFL needs us a developmental league as well, then the preseason could be one or two games.

I don’t know about an extra bye week if they keep the PS numbers and rules from last year ( which I saw as a move to a more squad system approach), but the 17th game is ridiculous in that it gives some teams a should win and others a tough battle irrespective of merit. Moreover, it’s an extra home game for some, not a neutral location. Will that be balanced such that a home team is always away next year?

Non division games are at least scheduled based on prior season record. The 17th is a wild card that can alter playoff qualification and seeding and thus further undermines the competitive integrity of the league. Sport that loses its realization that integrity of competition is its life blood as much as money is on a dangerous path. But then the officiating standards in the playoffs last year and for a while have posed questions as to Goodall’s understanding of such things.

+ REPLY
3 points
3
0
stockholder's picture

April 01, 2021 at 10:50 am

Really think camp covers it now. The coaches are ok with working with other teams, prior to the season.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
Coldworld's picture

April 01, 2021 at 12:10 pm

I don’t think camp (unless you mean an unofficial game as an ultra squad scrimmage played in game format) is enough. For one thing, there is no tackling, for another you are playing against your own team and that alters attitude and also allows predictability. Team sport requires coordination, to see how players react when opponents do something unexpected or differently and so on. It also is good, in my experience, to get some hits under one’s belt in a game environment.

I’d agree that 4 games aren’t necessary. I also think true vets don’t need that long in camp (if not new to the team or scheme). I’d be in favor of two early games among first contract players, perhaps with an initial cut down after, maybe to 75, then vets joining for two weeks and then a single final whole roster game before final cuts.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
murf7777's picture

April 01, 2021 at 11:49 am

Stockholder, I believe during the next negotiations you will see expanded rosters and/or loosening up the practice squad rules similar to what they did this past season. The players will get their say.

Regarding safety, it's a tough career, the players make their choice whether to play in the NFL or find another career. Just like you or me, not that I had the benefit of that choice, but whether I'd be a business owner or a Firefighter or work for Apple, etc...

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
RCPackerFan's picture

April 01, 2021 at 08:10 am

I'm not a fan of the 17th game. It just doesn't make sense when you have 32 team and 8 - 4 man divisions. 16 games made perfect sense.

Now that we are at 17 games, I wish what they would do is make that 17th game a neutral site game. Whether it was international or in different markets that don't currently have a team. That way every team has 8 home games, 8 away games and 1 neutral site game somewhere.

Just thinking of some options, with international games already in London and Mexico, they could potentially add Canada, and some other countries. For domestic, what about adding a game somewhere in Alaska? What about Hawaii. What about states/cities that don't have NFL team? St Louis being an example.

I think there are a lot of options. That would be my wish.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
Coldworld's picture

April 01, 2021 at 08:29 am

I wonder if it is a stalking horse for a long term plan to add extra franchises.

+ REPLY
-1 points
1
2
Since'61's picture

April 01, 2021 at 08:37 am

Bingo! And then go to an 18 game schedule which is what the league really wants. Thanks, Since '61

+ REPLY
0 points
2
2
Leatherhead's picture

April 01, 2021 at 08:53 am

It makes sense if you’ve lost a lot of money. Tickets,parking, concessions,etc.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Coldworld's picture

April 01, 2021 at 09:05 am

If I thought that the NFL was really struggling I’d agree, but while the owners might not have made as much but I do t see any franchises struggling, reducing staffing or salaries to administrators: the only hit really seems to be to the player pool through the reduced cap.

The owners are under no existential threat and haven’t lost the true cash cow of TV revenue. They didn’t need to go there.

+ REPLY
-1 points
1
2
dobber's picture

April 01, 2021 at 10:15 am

I hear they've instructed the competition committee to look into installing ropes around the field and adding lots of folding chairs for 2022.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
mnbadger's picture

April 01, 2021 at 12:09 pm

NO way am I a fan of the 17th game, but totally agree that the 17th game should be a neutral site game. Stadiums would have to be up to NFL standards, not like the debacle pre-season game where I believe ESB hurt his knee because the carpet seams came apart and the field needed to be shortened to avoid "the really bad areas" This isn't stand up comedy where all you need is a mic and crowd. 17th game is an absolute money grab, I may boycott the Pack vs KC game this year. Just greedy. GPG

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
Since'61's picture

April 01, 2021 at 08:45 am

The league should add a bye-week, expand the rosters, and go down to 2 preseason games with more practice time.

The greed of this league just continues to water down the product and risk player safety. They are pushing the limits on player safety and audience saturation. Soon the regular season will become meaningless. When is enough, enough? This is Corporate greed and arrogance on public display. Thanks, Since '61

+ REPLY
2 points
4
2
Coldworld's picture

April 01, 2021 at 09:14 am

This league with its lax attitude to inexplicable officiating as well as it’s seeming disregard for competitive integrity when it can grab more money, is making the kind of decisions that eventually enable Titans to fall.

+ REPLY
0 points
2
2
Since'61's picture

April 01, 2021 at 11:00 am

Totally agree Coldworld. Thanks, Since ‘61

+ REPLY
1 points
2
1
murf7777's picture

April 01, 2021 at 11:33 am

CW, ask yourself this question. If you're a business owner and have a chance to increase your market share wouldn't you do it?

Also, why are you and/or others worried about player safety? Every person decides whether the risk of injury is worth making millions or 100's of thousands with the prospect of making millions. Nobody, is holding a gun to these players head and saying your must play. Most have college educations that our tax dollars paid for and can seek other careers. This is a free will society and their choices are made for their own betterment.

An example is Borland who decided to not risk more concussions and left the NFL early. That's a personal choice. I can remember people saying this is the beginning to the end of the NFL's popularity. Well, I haven't seen any diminishing popularity and/or even some players exiting the NFL due to the potential for injuries after Borland left.

How is a football player any different from a person who becomes a Firefighter or Police Officer. They risk their life's daily, but choose to continue in said occupation.

+ REPLY
-1 points
0
1
Coldworld's picture

April 01, 2021 at 12:18 pm

Most certainly, if I thought it was sustainable in terms of the credibility of my product. I would, however, be aware that brand reputation is something that needs to be carefully protected. I’m looking at maximizing sustainable revenue over a period.

My concern over player health ties into quality of product. That’s also why I want a developmental league and better officiating. Better football means more viewers which means more money.

The pool of talent is small. The pool of ready talent is smaller. Maximize it and maximize the likelihood that it is available rather than play with the rules in ways that question the reason people love pro football.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
murf7777's picture

April 01, 2021 at 12:41 pm

CW..some interesting take on my positions. Here's my thoughts. Maybe I'm off my rocker, but the NFL has continued to grow substantially year in and year out, sans covid year and I don't see adding one or two games, especially if they become more international games (market share), decreasing their brand. I see it as adding more revenue for both the owners and players. I find it hard to believe that highly intelligent people running Billion dollar corporations would all make such a mistake.

Now thinking about quality of product is a valid concern and one I didn't take into consideration. My thought is the demand for the NFL is so strong that the decrease in quality won't change many people tuning in. Certainly, not anywhere near the increased revenue stream and market share going to 18 games and more international.

I would argue that the talent pool is limited only in the area of the top 20-30 players per team. The remaining players are the ones who received an opportunity vs others who didn't get the opportunity to showcase their talent. I think their are 100's of players with very similar abilities that just never received the chance or some coach misjudged their abilities to preform if given the chance. As example is Kurt Warner, who was bagging groceries after Packers let him go and went on to become a star. That's a bit of an anomaly. A better example is how many UDFA's and 5 - 7th round draftee's many teams have on their roster. I believe there are many more not playing in the NFL just as talented without the opportunity that could keep the lower third of any roster similar.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
murf7777's picture

April 01, 2021 at 11:06 am

"The league should add a bye-week, expand the rosters, and go down to 2 preseason games with more practice time."

I agree as practice time is very important and 2 pre-season games is enough. I don't think you're pushing the limits of audience saturation thou. If you want audience saturation look at baseball and NBA, the beginning weeks and months seem meaningless.

There's very little to stop the NFL machine and us fans eat it up.

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
Since'61's picture

April 01, 2021 at 04:04 pm

All a 17th game does is put more money into the owners pockets. It doesn’t do anything that either improves the game itself, or increases player safety or create a better experience for the fans.

However, the 17th game could water down the playoffs if a playoff contending team loses a player or 2 or more during that game. Which not only hurts that team’s chance for advancing in the playoff but diminishes the fans experience of watching the game.

On the other hand for teams that have clinched a spot by that point they are going to sit their best players so now we have a diminished 17th game which means nothing.

I also don’t like the idea of one team having one more road game while others have an extra home game. That just doesn’t seem fair to the road team.

It’s pretty telling to me that the league set the cap first, then they decided to have a 17th game rather than the other way around. Just a way to grab more money at the expense of players and the quality of their product. Basically, screw the players and the fans. We can grab more money so let’s do it.

It’s unnecessary and it’s wrong but that’s where we are.
Thanks, Since ‘61

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
canadapacker's picture

April 01, 2021 at 12:03 pm

I think that they gave up too much to get the rookie pay schedule in a few years ago as well some of the money grabbing negotiations over the past contracts that have cut back on practice times and attendence as well as padded practices during the season. Then on the other had they expand the Thursday night schedules. Now would good be the time to add the extra bye night and try and ensure that teams playing on a Thursday are coming off of a bye. Might be hard but that is what computer geeks are good at. I agree the product is watered down. The lack of good practice time in the offseason and the start of getting ready to play has led to poor tackling and a lot less skills on kick return coverage etc. The only reason that it does not show up as much is because they have made it almost impossible to run down or run back kicks. The limits on padded practice during the season is also kind of dumb. Now they are going to allow more joint practices and want to cut back pre-season games ( aka joint practices for some teams). Expand the rosters to 60 players and allow larger practice squads. Stop pinching pennies - but these money grubbing owners.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Oppy's picture

April 01, 2021 at 09:55 am

The only good thing about a 17 game schedule is it means the great majority of teams will have definitive winning or losing records, the only fence riders would be if a team went 8-8-1.

Outside of that.. this doesn't add anything for anybody except for owners' pocketbooks via expanded TV contracts and a little extra on top when a team gets that 17th game at home. Curious, did they increase existing player and coaching staff pay by 1/16 of their existing salary? Has the league talked about expanding the salary cap going forward to accommodate player salary increases for a longer season?

If they're going to do it, add a second bye week. It's the least they can do for the players.

+ REPLY
2 points
3
1
fastmoving's picture

April 01, 2021 at 10:02 am

That would be a good thing, not just for the players for the fans as well.
The game is much faster and way more athletic than in the past, the player bigger and better. So they have to take more and harder hits even if you consider the huge medical progress.

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
13TimeChamps's picture

April 01, 2021 at 10:43 am

While it makes me sad to say this, I'm really starting to lose interest in the NFL. Having been born an hour south of Lambeau Field (City Stadium), I'll continue to follow my beloved Packers, but I rarely watch other games anymore. I haven't watched a Super Bowl in over 5 years.

Greed and hypocrisy rule the NFL today. Accidently graze a QB's helmet with a pinkie while trying to bat down a ball gets a player a 15 yard penalty, because the league is concerned about player safety. But then, purely out of greed, add a 17th game, totally disregarding all the potential injuries that could result. Claim there is a need to "respect the Shield"....then let a star player like Antonio Brown move from team to team while facing multiple lawsuits/criminal charges of assaulting women. I think we all know that type of leniency would not be afforded to a backup lineman or 3rd string running back.

A 16 game season with 32 teams had a great symmetry to it. Adding a 17th game does nothing to enhance the game, just brings in more money for the league and owners. We already have football on Sundays, Sunday night, Monday night, and Thursday night. Now a 17th game?

I think there will be more and more fans like myself finding other things to do with our leisure time, like going outside and tossing the ball around with our kids and grandkids. Maybe we should thank the NFL for that.

+ REPLY
3 points
3
0
Since'61's picture

April 01, 2021 at 11:07 am

I’m with you 13Times. This is just another decision by the league pushing me a little further from the NFL. Like you I’m down to just watching Packers games as well. And it is becoming a matter of what is a better use of my time. I can record the game and watch it at any time or not.

I have never suffered fools well and I don’t do stupid. Regretably the league is being run by fools and they becoming increasingly stupid by the day.

Like you say the time can be better spent with the grand kids.
Thanks, Since ‘61

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
Coldworld's picture

April 01, 2021 at 12:28 pm

I find myself pretty close to the sentiments and reactions that you both describe. I love football. I loved it more as a game 15 years ago, but I still love it. I don’t love the attitude of the Goodall NFL. I think it is shortsighted and, implausible as it may seem, will eventually come back to bite them. I’m sick, for example, of just plain bad, inconsistent officiating being tolerated and easy solutions to avoid investing in product quality and that means players to some extent.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
murf7777's picture

April 01, 2021 at 11:19 am

Every fan has a right to not watch, but the reality is the NFL is ever growing and will continue to with or without some fans who have your point of view.

Why do you say the owners are greedy? What is wrong with any entrepreneur wanting to maximize their investment. It is the American way of life. I don't want to get political, but "free enterprise" is one of the reasons that makes our country great. Also, every move an entrepreneur or business owner makes can back fire on them, so, if this is the wrong decision then they will make less money in the end. Supply and demand will always rule.

Regarding players, don't worry they will get their day in court and will reap the benefits of higher salaries.

Adding a 17th game and maybe 18 in the near future does enhance the game, it provides fans like me who really enjoy watching the NFL. Certainly, I can also find other time to toss the ball to my kids or grandkids.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
13TimeChamps's picture

April 01, 2021 at 11:30 am

I respect your point of view, but I have one question:

Does adding a 17th, and soon to be an 18th game, enhance the game? Or needlessly water down the product?

I also have no problem an entrepreneur maximizing their investment, but not when they're risking the health of their employees.

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
murf7777's picture

April 01, 2021 at 11:39 am

Thank you and I understand your concern for player safety. But, we must remember, these players are making a choice to play. They can take their college education and do something else for a career.

For me personally, it doesn't water down the game because even with 18 games each individual game still will matter and has importance. If you brought that debate to me about NBA or MLB I'm with you all the way.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Coldworld's picture

April 01, 2021 at 12:37 pm

Really, my driver is as a consumer. The health of the game depends on the nature of the product ( rules, officiating) and the players on the field. Ultimately, that plays a great part in driving interest, which drives revenue and ensures kids continue to learn the game (likely an increasing challenge). Ironically, that is, in this case, very close to the best route for the owners to add maximum value in my opinion. This extra game is really not likely to help that though. It’s just a short term moneymaker that potentially weakens the product incrementally. Another small step on the wrong path. I suspect that is why the decision was not unanimous.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
murf7777's picture

April 01, 2021 at 02:36 pm

Unanimous? Reported that only Da Bears voted against 17 games and they don’t count so it was unanimous!

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Since'61's picture

April 01, 2021 at 07:45 pm

murf7777 - you're correct that an entrepreneur should try to maximize their investment. But the key question is why should they maximize their investment? If the answer is just so that they can make more money after already becoming billionaires or multi-hundred millionaires, then that is the wrong answer. That is just greed and that is not what entrepreneurism or capitalism or the US is about IMO

If they are making more money to improve value for their customers and improve their employees lives then that is the correct answer. Until I retired I was entrepreneur for most of my career. I had my own business and then I partnered up with a person who had been my mentor before I went on my own.
From the beginning we both agreed that we would take care of our employees and partners first and that we would not do business with anyone who would not respect our way of doing business.
We turned away $millions of business if the potential client was just using a merger or acquisition as a means of wiping out jobs and reducing employees. We never did business in Russia or with a Russian company even when some of our US clients wanted us to help them get started there. We never asked any of our employees, or independents to go to a country where they were not comfortable or where we wouldn’t go ourselves. Those were just some of our ground rules we established early on.
Bottom line, after 30+ years we ultimately turned the company over to our employees. We slowly transitioned out our equity and allowed the employees to build up their equity in the company. Now it’s theirs. They built it and they earned it.
That’s one way at least, how capitalism should work, especially here in the USA. Make decisions for people not just to make more money. My partner and I could have taken our equity and sold the company. And and walked away from our people. Believe me we had offers. But why hurt our people when we had enough money already? It’s unnecessary.
What is the value of money for money’s sake?

The idea of makes as much money as possible at any cost is an anathema to the original concept of capitalism and is causing an ever widening gap between the wealthy and the poor and destroying the US middle class. Again it’s unnecessary. Sorry for my rant. But I just don’t see how a 17th game helps the game, the players or the fans. It’s just money for the sake of money (greed). Thanks, Since ‘61

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
Oppy's picture

April 01, 2021 at 01:30 pm

In 2018, Fox entered into a contract for broadcasting rights to Thursday night football (15 games per season) for 5 years. That deal was worth $3.3 billion dollars.

$3,300,000,000 / 5 years = $660,000,000 per year.

$660,000,000 / 15 games = $44,000,000 per game

$44,000,000 / 32 teams that share TV revenue = AT LEAST $1,375,000 extra in revenue for each NFL owner by expanding the league season to 17 regular season games. (I say at least because I base the numbers off of a TV deal inked in 2018 and TV deals aren't gonna get any cheaper in 2021 and beyond.)

Packers local revenue last season was $210,900,000. They played 10 games at Lambeau field. With very sloppy math, it stands to reason that an NFL franshise could earn another $10-$20 million in local revenue during the years that new 17th game ends up being a home game.

That's a lot of revenue for the Private NFL franchise owners to pass up. I don't like 17 games a year, but since they're doing it.. just take care of the players.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Since'61's picture

April 01, 2021 at 04:43 pm

Oppy - if I thought that the owners were going to take care of their players I could accept it more easily. But nothing in this group of owners track record tells me that will happen. In fact when this pandemic is finally over they will return to raising their tickets prices every season because they can.
Thanks, Since ‘61

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
willie5's picture

April 14, 2021 at 01:49 am

Any recommendations on NFL shopping sites here? I just don't know any relevant forum to ask an advice for. Is the NFL Shop official supplier or I should seek other analogues? The only information I found is nfl shop reviews from real buyers https://nfl-shop.pissedconsumer.com/review.html .

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0

Log in to comment and more!

Not a member yet? Join free.

If you have already commented on Cheesehead TV in the past, we've created an account for you. Just verify your email, set a password and you're golden.