I should be happy right? My favorite sport is only a handshake away from expanding its regular season, so why am I donning the sad face? Sorry, it’s just hard for me to sign off on bad ideas.

After NFL owners huddled at an Atlanta hotel last week around the proposal of an 18-game schedule, the question was officially posed: Should the NFL really expand from its already gruesome 16-game schedule? My answer in two words: Uh, no! Out of all the professional sports in America, the NFL should be the last to even be considering an expanded schedule; it shouldn’t even be worthy of discussion.

I love football just as much (maybe more) than the next fan, but do we really need two-plus games? You’re talking more concussions, more knee shreds and more contract disputes. If owners think that guys are going to put their lives on the line for an extra two games a season without added incentive, they’re kidding themselves. With labor talks in the works and players petitioning for more coin, the last way to soften up your workers is with a work increase proposal. But that’s the route the league is going.

When asked about the expansion in Atlanta last week, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters, “We want to do it the right way for everyone, including the players, the fans and the game in general. There’s a tremendous amount of momentum for it. We think it’s the right step.”

Translation: “We want to make more money and we’ll jeopardize our players’ health and our fans’ tolerance at any expense.”

Goodell’s plan is to drop two pre-season games and replace them with two regular season games to enhance revenue and create more “meaningful” games. The problem with that is NFL players already work year round as it is and shortening the pre-season would actually lay more labor down. Off-season and voluntary workouts would legitimately become mandatory and veterans and undrafted rookies trying to make a roster would be operating with a smaller window. Additionally, the NFL would have to do something about player contracts and potentially shift to guaranteed deals.

Yes, NFL fans would get more football, but at what price? Players already enter the post-season with their body parts hanging by a thread; two more games and owners will have to wheel players onto the field in a stretcher. Super Bowl teams could be looking at a possible 21- to 22-game season, making the tasks of getting there and repeating tall orders. And just because the league shifts to 18 games does that automatically mean that fans are going to be doling out the dollars just because?

It’s a down time financially for everyone, apparently, from the milkman to the millionaires. But Goodell, please, the NFL is not broke, figuratively or literally. So, what exactly are you trying to do here?
 

 

Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO