(This is a solo column by Joe, the senior citizen writer for the Gab Four. Visit their official Web site and read more about Joe and the other members of the Gab Four at www.MyBriefs.com.)
What’s all the brouhaha over the length of the NFL season? After all, the owners only want to bring a better product to their fans, provide more excitement and expand the regular season to 18 games. The players, almost to a man, say “no 18 game seasons.”
Currently, there are four preseason games (in a rare instance five) and 16 regular season games, which then escalate the division winners and wild cards into the playoffs. In an 18 game season, the projection was for two preseason games and then 18 regular season games, with the playoffs remaining the same.
So where’s the rub? This time the players are in alignment with common sense. Preseason is for veterans to get in shape and for rookies to see who are contenders and who are pretenders. The rookies were all great in college when playing against the other players that did not get drafted. But the NFL preseason is the time for the rookies to play against only the other great rookie players and the veterans.
The veterans know the routine and see very limited game minutes in the preseason. The risk of injury is thereby reduced, and the emphasis is really on timing and conditioning. The rookies are trying out for a job; they see the most minutes and must avoid injury, as well as show they can play to the level of an NFL veteran. It’s their chance to make the team.
If there were only two preseason games, everything would go into fast-forward, from conditioning, timing and tryout time, to risk of injury in an expanded regular season. Professional football wears on every athlete’s body; the players know the aches and pains, the owner’s don’t want to hear about them.
Ticket prices for preseason and regular season games are the same. The players would play the same number of games in either system, so their salaries shouldn’t be impacted. Why then, this owners’ desire to change a 32-year scheduling plan (1978 — NFL went from 14 games to 16)?
Most preseason games are aired on TV only for local audiences. Not much extra money from TV contracts is available there. But, add two more nationally televised games to the regular schedule by deleting two preseason games and voila! Hey Owners, don’t try to fool us with the hype and spin of better product and more excitement. It’s all about the money!