Football

2021 will be the start of 17 games in an 18 week schedule. Bit much?

Owners have pushed for an extra week for quite some time. Finally the NFLPA and the owners have finally agreed on the terms for 17 games this year. Barely.

The push for the 17 games comes at no surprise from the NFL owners. Like the then Puff Daddy’s song, “It’s All about the Benjamins,” the extra game would add millions to revenue. This does triculate down to players too. In fact, Players would go from 47 percent revenue share to at least 48 percent. Is it worth it? Less than half the players have voice their concerns against the 18 week schedule. In fact, 959 players voted against the new CBA however 1,019 voted for it.

Their main concern was the added potential risk of injury. The majority who voted for the new CBA are players in the league who make near the minimum. They would likely benefit from the pay increase the most. Unfortunately, those players in favor of the extra game are players who typically last about two to three years in the league to begin with. One can understand why these players are trying to maximize their earning potential in such a little window they have.

NFL careers are a bit different from careers from the NBA or MLB. NFL players’ careers are often cut short due to injuries. Other leagues are due to a player lacking talent or too much talent available. NBA and MLB contracts are also mainly guaranteed. Only a few elite NFL players have portions of their contract guaranteed. Most NFL players contracts are not guaranteed. 

Adding another week to an already brutal schedule, injuries begin before training camp. In fact, the Broncos have lost OT Ja’wuan James to a non-contact injury and was later released by the Broncos. This was before any contact was implemented and only gets worse once contact is allowed in training camp. 

The NFL did max out preseason games to be played for each team to 3. This would mean that players to likely make the roster would play 2 games while the 3rd game would be players going out for practice squads or making the final roster spots. This year, the CBA agreement does include two players to be added to the final roster. The new CBA agreement does not include an additional bye week for a team and will remain to one bye week per team. 

Although players do get paid while an injury occurs on the teams’ watch, how much does a team actually lose due to a player not playing. This isn’t just referring to the actual dollar amount, but a team’s chances of succeeding during the season and the postseason as well. Going back to the monetary cost of an injury, let’s not forget the additional cost from free agency that teams do to replace their injured players. A team is essentially paying two salaries to fulfill one position while losing their investment on a player who isn’t providing a return.

Often in the NFL, the best team can turn mediocre in an instant due to injuries. It isn’t about the best talent that makes a team elite, but the depth of the roster and attrition that makes a Super Bowl team. By the time the playoffs start, teams are limping into the postseason as it is.

This shouldn’t be the case to determine who succeeds in the playoffs but sometimes is. The fans deserve to see the top talent to be competing, especially the fans that pay a significant price for their tickets to attend these games in regular season or playoffs. 

In most seasons there are clear one and two seeds in each conference. These are the teams that have the luxury to rest or limit their starters in the final week of the season. This year, teams may have even two weeks to rest or limit their starters. What usually occurs though is a few teams who are on the brink of elimination and need to win to get in. The mediocre teams have much to lose if a key starter goes down. When a key starter goes down, so does the chances that team had to make the playoffs and even win an upset with a higher seed team.

Since 1978, the NFL had 16 games played for each team. Before the change, teams were playing 14. At that time, there was 30 teams already in the NFL. Several season and career records have been broken due to the added games. A lot does have to do with rules being modified for safety and to promote offensive production. Season records would be effected immediately. In the long term, career records will soon follow. Adding another week would further diminish the accomplishments of former players in a form of quantity and not quality.

At this point in time, there isn’t a way going back to a 17 week schedule. This was part of the recent CBA agreement and will stay implemented till 2030. It is possible that both the team owners and NFLPA can update the CBA but rarely happens. This is likely to be a permanent change as it will  add revenue to the league and also more international games which Commissioner Roger Goddell and owners are hoping for. 

The NFL gets decimated by injuries. Just ask a 49er fan after week one last year. The 49ers never recovered after week one and didn’t have a chance to make the playoffs. We know injuries occur randomly and at any time of the preseason, season, and playoffs. Injuries are part of the game and always have been. What is the fan’s perspective on this? Should there be an extra week in the regular season? Also, should the NFL  start implementing fan voting to at least hear or consider what their consumers want? Will the extra week have an impact on fans or any at all? This seems to be a move that will likely stay regardless what any of us thinks.

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