For the NFL, the notion of an 18-game schedule is past the “what if” stage and on to “we will make this happen.”
Speaking last month to reporters at NFL headquarters, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell addressed the lack of fan interest in preseason games by saying, “That’s what I think we’re trying to address here by restructuring the season and giving [the fans] more of what we think they want…. It’s clear to us that the quality of the preseason isn’t satisfactory and that we need to do better. … the reality is one of the best ways of doing that is take half the product away and make it real product and we believe that will make the two remaining preseason games more attractive.”
With that as a backdrop, Judy Battista of the New York Times explored what the physical impact will be if the league adds two more games. A variety of sources broach ideas ranging from extended rosters to managing how much older players compete to abolishing two-a-days in training camp.
One of the key points made in the piece was delivered by Mackie Shilstone, the well-respected trainer of many NFL players who said that, in the event of an 18-game season, “You’ll probably see the career life span go down, and you’re going to need a lot of bodies. Also, players will need a great disability insurance agent.”
An interesting point of contention will come when the league’s players realize they won’t be getting paid more for those games. Sixty percent of gross revenues going to the players is 60 percent of gross revenues, regardless of how many games are played.
So while owners have the current economy as their trump card in dealing with players in ongoing CBA talks; players should make the notion of an 18-game season their rationale for not changing a thing about the current deal which is paying them more handsomely than they’ve ever been.