In his annual "State of the League" address today, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell continued to push for what appears to be the owners' no. 1 desire in the current CBA negotiations - an 18-game regular season with only two preseason games. Goodell also pointed out that, per the current CBA agreement, the league does not need the approval of the players and the NFLPA to implement this.
Goodell said today that this change of schedule is for the fans and it's the fans who most want this:
"We started this with the fans," Goodell said. "The fans have clearly stated that they don’t like the preseason. We have a 20-game format, 16 regular season games and four preseason games, and the fans have repeatedly said the preseason games don’t meet NFL standards. And that is the basis on which we started this 18-game concept, taking two low-quality preseason games and turning them into two high-quality regular season games."
Is anyone else buying this? Maybe it's just my overwhelming cynicism for authority speaking, but I'm calling BS.
According to this recent Associated Press poll, fan desire for an 18-game schedule is lukewarm at best. Perhaps many of those polled see how difficult the sport is on player's bodies and their long-term health. This is the main argument against it coming from the NFLPA:
DeMaurice Smith, though, took the opposite approach. "Any change in a season that increases the risk of injury, increases the risk of concussion, increases the risk of a long-term consequence from playing football, has the potential to shorten careers and jeopardize the 3.4-[year] average players have right now without a guaranteed contract. Anything that does that is something that's not in the best interest of the players of the National Football League."
With the large number of player injuries affecting all teams this past season, I'm inclined to agree with the players' position. It's easy to see the real reason Goodell is pushing for an 18-game season - it'll put more money into the pockets of the owners. Must he insult our intelligence with this insistence that he and the owners are doing it for the fans? Please.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems most fans who don't like preseason games are mostly upset about having to pay full price for tickets to these ultimately meaningless contests.
What's your take on an 18-game season?