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You Can't Have Your Cake And Eat It Too

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You Can't Have Your Cake And Eat It Too

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.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (28) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Erik's picture

I'd rather have the scrubs decide meaningless games than meaningful ones.

One of the problem with the expanded season is that while games will mean more, they will be decided by more scrubs. The expanded roster proposal is no doubt a reaction to even more sitting of superstars and starters on the bench than we have now so that the best of the best are primed for the playoff run.

Two of the biggest complaints I’ve heard about the NFL is the sitting of starters before the playoffs and how boring it is to watch scrubs play in preseason games. If you expand the schedule, those are the two things you will see more of, not more quality football.

Brian Carriveau's picture

If you expand the schedule you'll be seeing less scrubs play in preseason games, two games less.

Erik's picture

Yes, but then you'll see scrubs playing in more regular season games. Stars will sit to keep them fresh and reduce injury risk. That's my point. You'll see the scrubs regardless, but now they'll be playing more regular season games.

And those regular season games will not only mean less per game, but will be composed of less quality football as lesser players will see more playing time.

Erik's picture

Something else I thought of reading one of Nagler's recent tweets, the general consensus seems to be that more games = more injuries. Meaning, again, more scrubs coming up the depth charts and deciding more games and playing not as well, leading to poor quality games.

Would you rather see Packers games decided by a nickle package with the corners as Woodson, Harris and Williams? or Woodson, Williams and Bush? And what if the Packers want to rest Woodson a bit to have him ready for the playoffs. Now you've got a Nickle page of Williams, Bush and Lee.

It makes the game less entertaining and not only means you watch scrubs like Lee play more often, but seeding or even making the playoffs in general decided by them.

Another related complaint, that again just struck my brain, is that a lot of late season games are meaningless, it's one of the reasons the NFL made all closing regular season games divisional. And now we want to add more games? Going back to your idea of diminishing returns, maybe we're already past negative growth as 16 games, this bit of evidence seems to point to that. And now people want to go further?

The more I think about it, the more I'm completely not sold. Four preseason games suck, but the alternative seems to suck a lot more.

packeraaron's picture

I would have been ecstatic if I had to got watch Pat Lee last year. ;)

Erik's picture

ha! Maybe not a perfect example, but you get the idea ;)

AC's picture

This. Very well said.

aussiepacker's picture

Maybe if the scrubs get more playing time they become better players and less scrubs which would be a better thing for the whole team all season?

Erik's picture

You really think the difference between Matt Flynn and Aaron Rodgers is gametime? The difference between Woodson and Bush is that Woodson gets more reps come Sunday?

There's some minimal ground that could be made by scrubs with additional play time, but there's a lot more to being a starter than just getting the chance the time on field.

A LOT more.

packeraaron's picture

Well, those are extreme examples, and generally I agree, but not too long ago the same could have been said about Favre and Rodgers that you are saying here about Rodgers and Flynn. Sometimes all guys need is some playing time. People have tried to make that case for Desmond Bishop for example.

alfredomartinez's picture

hummmm, 17 regular season games and only 3 preseason isnt such a bad idea...

AC's picture

NFL games are an event. Each one means something. The more games you add, the more each game's importance is diminished. Keep it at 16 games. Overexposure is never good.

Brian Carriveau's picture

That's assuming the law of diminishing returns begins after 16 games. I'm not sure it does.

Erik's picture

That's a slight misuse of the theory of diminishing returns. It's always "begun", it's a constant falling curve, not a parabola. Adding more will always diminish under the theory.

PackerBacker's picture

That's not correct Erik. It is parabolic. Think of it this way. If they played zero games, they would make no money. If they played 100 games, people would lose interest, wouldn't come to games, and the teams would spend far more money on opening the facility and running it than they would make from fans (thus no profits or a loss) Somewhere in between is your happy medium where the fans stay interested and come to games, but you aren't losing your 10 best players by the end of the season and make it meaningless. That number could be 16, or 20, or more for all we know.

Erik's picture

Ah, you are correct. I was thinking of diminishing marginal returns, not diminishing returns to use the words properly. Diminishing returns, in my opinion, really doesn't work too well in this situation, diminishing marginal returns is a much better model and what I thought we were talking about.

PackerBacker's picture

Ahh, that makes more sense.

Tarynfor12's picture

Adding and Subtracting is basic math but the answer may always be different.
This math problem came about(more prolificly)by the debate of sitting players when a team has clinched a P/O spot and a once rare but lately a more frequent quest for "PERFECTION" and the satifaction of the fan(at home or in the stands).
Player safety vs Perfection vs fan satifaction,an odd number(3) seeking and even answer.Improbable but nothing is impossible.
1)Player safety-A very important aspect and justified.Since most teams know which players are being kept(aside from a unexpected injury)at the 3rd week,let the teams practice only who is left to vie for the practice squad.Hence your starters are out of danger in an un-nessessary arena and have two weeks to more deeply assess your leftovers per se.
The starters can now play an 18 game schedule,but with some added options.The bye weeks need to be equal with AFC going week 8 and NFC going week 9 and vice -versa each year.During these weeks all games are divisional which means every 3rd is a division game.If team clinches before week 16,those teams may sit players of choice so as not to risk injury by playing division foe due to enhanced "RIVALRY Vendetta"in the final game.Of coarse coaches will have as always have the option if and when they during the season sit a player for extra rest.
2)Perfection-The fans want it and teams not as much.Leaving this decision to a vote by fans would be perilous at least as it would be as pathetic as All-Star voting in MLB.This quest if it became a reachable reality, should be the sole decision of the players,coaches and owners of said team,as they are the ones who are put out there for all the Chest Pounders who will do everything and possibly anything to stop them(dangerous).
3)Fan Satisfaction-this will never happen,but attempting to placate them every so often will not hurt.We have eliminated 2 useless pre-season games and extended the season to 18 games of more desirable football and perhaps put more avenues teams may approach the last 3-4 weeks of the season.

NyPacker's picture

Well let's face facts, no matter what game you're talking about there's always going to be a risk for injuries. It's football after all isn't it? I'm actually in favor of extending the schedule but we need to keep the players happy at the same time. And if they're so scared of injuries or resting up after a game then how about this, let's make it 17 or 18 games but add in an extra bye week. Sure it cuts off another week for us to watch our teams play but it gives the players time to heal while still giving us an extra game to watch at the end of the year. The only problem with my proposal is if some players see this as making the season longer and thus cutting into more time in the offseason, thus less vacation time for them.

eX Oh's picture

Sorry the preseason bores some people, but that is really irrelevant.

I enjoy watching the new blood coming in and like the chance of seeing draft picks and new acquisitions on the field. The fact that someone ignorant thinks its boring means nothing. It is the future of the team on display.

Being an agent of change myself (technology consultant) I have a feel for these things. Messing with the NFL schedule is SURELY not motivated by making anything better, but a chance to make even more money perhaps, or to appeal to the more ignorant among the fan base. This is an age of dumbing things down to exploit the larger majority of people that aren't too smart. I think its sad.

Its hornets nest they are poking with a stick. It will work out badly if they try to mess with it. I hope they wise up in time. Too many key aspects of the game will be affected and if they do this it will never be the same, and it WON'T be better.

Tarynfor12's picture

Your comparing the ignorant of the technology world,the dipstick who waits in a line on the street for an semi-annual updated version of some I-phone (that they most likely can't understand all the uses of)to a fan who waits for the opportunity for season let alone a single game ticket for their team.
Technology for the everyday people is nothing more than a brainwashing to own something you have really no true need for,whereas being part of something that can ONLY happen ONCE in a LIVE setting is un-parralled.
NFL fans are not ignorant and the NFL ORG is not ignorant of their wants and needs concerning such.
Oh,I wish to also thank you for waking us from our stupor as we never new it would be or ever was about MONEY.
Change is ineviteable and this will come to be and the pangs some feel about it will subside and they more than likely will become a bigger fan yet,and happier than the loser buying the upteenth version of the I-Phone.

PackersRS's picture

How's the record book issue on this subject? Is there any? More games means more opportunities for them to be broken. What's the players' and the union's take on this? Anybody know?

I personally, by that light, don't like the change. I like the comparison between past generation players, and it gets harder to do that with a different environment. Yes, I know, it's a different environment as it is, but I believe it's one of the reasons Starr and Unitas sometimes don't have the recognition they deserve...

Tarynfor12's picture

We all understand the hazzards of the job or career field we choose freely or compelled to take due to circumstances of each.The players are unhappy with the prospect of the 18 game season based on a higher risk of injury.
Every field of work or career at some point increased the workload and overall demands of it's employees.This is no different,except the players can simply retire with the $millions they made,we (most)cannot.
Take for instance Al Harris,he suffered a major injury and I would think has enough money to live the rest of his life and kids.He can retire,but wants to play by his choice.Players make alot of money in a short time,asking them to play 2 more games a year is nothing compared to what the average person suffers and for $millions less.Is the majority of players against the 18 game season in their 30's who made $millions and want $millions more for doing less? Perhaps then,they should retire and let the new era move on without them.If they don't,they shouldn't cry about doing more,something they have and most of us don't-A CHOICE.

Chris's picture

More games probably lead to a bigger margin between the good and the bad teams. For example: Teams like the Colts last year, who could have sat their starters after 13 games (they shut it down in the last game against the Jets), would sit them earlier on an expanded schedule.

I am all for more meaningful football games, but expanding the season does not help. Something that might help is a longer fight for homefield advantage. For example division leader not automatically clinching home field for the first game if team 5 and 6 has a better record. That would make them play until the end of the season and not rest players early.

Brian Carriveau's picture

I like that idea.

Tarynfor12's picture

Brian,you should know that idea was mentioned at the owners meeting before the start of last season.A division winner with a 9-7 or 10-6 playing a wild card of 11-5,the wild card team should have the H/F advantage.I'm sure with a more brisk discussion of extending the season,that very point will arise again as I said earlier,affords more avenues for the coaching and decisions a team makes.

Doug In Sandpoint's picture

Let's add two games but play them in the June-July timeframe so we really have something to talk about. Enough World Cup, enough golf, enough baseball...can the season start already?

Erik's picture

There's never enough World Cup.

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