Exploring the physical impact of 18-game season

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.

19 responses to “Exploring the physical impact of 18-game season

  1. Anyway we can water down the game in the name of more advertising dollars is the Roger Godell mantra.
    I am so sick of Godell selling out at every given chance he gets.

  2. per charley walters of the st. paul pioneer press –
    Latest Los Angeles stadium whispering is that there could be two NFL teams relocating to share a stadium. If just one stadium is built, the San Diego Chargers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders and Vikings are considered contenders for relocation.
    that means the vikings and i would guess, the raiduhs.

  3. Im as hardcore of an NFL fan you’ll find and I think 16 is enough, I think an 18 game season would water down the league. They would have to add more safety rules to keep our loving QB’s on the field. Shorter pre-season means sloppier games at the start of the season. I think 16 is plenty.

  4. First 2 weeks of the regular season are filled with sloppy play because no one plays starters much in preseason.
    Preseason is nothing more than an extended training camp tryout for players who might be on the edge of making the team. It is a joke. Hardly ever see any starters in the 2nd half of any game. The 3rd game might be the exception, but still only for a few teams/players.
    The last preseason game is for players who will likely be unemployed the next day unless they do something extraordinary in that game.
    Not many companies get away with paying employees 60% of gross revenues. Guys should suck it up and be happy they are not working the drive thru somewhere.

  5. 16 is more than enough. 18 games would be ridiculous. As it is now, football is a marathon often determined at the end by which team is healthiest, add 2 more games at the end of the year and the playoffs will look more like the preseason of today, with mostly backups and seriously banged up and less effective starters.
    The notion of increasing the season has no credence when it ocmes to improving the quality of the game. Up until the 60’s, teams played 12 games, then they moved onto 14 game seasons, and then in 78, to 16. All the while the athletes kept getting bigger, stronger, and faster and the collisions and impacts were far greater. Asking these athletes to run, hit, and block harder than their predecessors for what would amount to another half season longer is biomechanically unreasonable for an athlete.
    Goodell should be ashamed for suggesting this. And with longer seasons, and of course more injuries, it becomes even more important to prepare the backups to play, which would mean perhaps after a little while they see the err of the long season without preparing the backups so then the increase the preseason to 4.

  6. Curran, typically you make valid points in your blogs. You blew it this time — I think you have been hanging around Lord Florio far too long!
    “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 you are saying that the owners will get to pocket the revenues from the extra two games? I seriously doubt it. The players (even though they are **ALL** severely overpaid already) will get 60% of those games as well, which means they will get more money, not the same.

  7. I’m not an accountant or anything but if the players get 60 percent no matter what and then the league brings in more revenue because of two extra games wouldn’t that mean that the players 60 percent would be more money?

  8. More is not better, just look at the other major sports. The NFL’s product has suffered, although not as noticeably as the other major sports in quality going from a 14 to 16 game schedule. This will only water down the product even more, and undoubtedly they’ll eventually add 2 more playoff teams to make the product even more mediocre.

  9. If the two preseason games were regular season then the players would get paid more. A little in the short term, a lot in the long term.
    TV contracts are based on potential advertising revenue. Since regular season advertising is more valuable than pre-season, the next round of contracts would be based on the new numbers.
    Second, there is a current problem with the tickets. For most teams, given the lack of any significant value for pre-season tickets, it’s often cheaper to buy tickets on the secondary market than to buy season tickets. Now that fans have become more cost sensitive, this is a route more and more are taking. No one goes to the pre-season games except in select cities, so all other stadium revenue goes down substantially. Moreover, if fans continue to increasingly take this route, blackout games are a constant danger. Thereby significantly decreasing TV revenue in the near and long term.
    Third, a better product, which the regular season clearly qualifies as, increases interest in the game and the league. This engenders loyalty to the sport and helps grow the fan base. I know the readers of this site would follow football in a four game season, but the NFL needs to worry about the more casual fan as well.
    People get pretty wedded to the status quo, regardless of how rational it is. I agree that the safety aspect of 18 regular season games needs to be studied and asking a trainer what the impact would be (“ughhh, more people would get injured”) doesn’t qualify as a study.

  10. Has anyone asked the players opinion on this?
    Some of the games now have a preseason feel to them because of so many injuries. 16 games is enough. While I’m at it leave the overtime rules alone too!

  11. cut the pre-season down to a game or two and then the additional regular season games are really no less wear and tear. Having four presss-season games for Professional Football players is ridiculous. They have mini-camps, training camps, practices, etc. Eliminate the pre-season or at least cut it in half. Fans don’t want to watch that crap.

  12. Two more games will be the downfall of the NFL ? The Patriots and the Colts have been doing it for years and they seem to have held up well. I guess if you’re the Lions or Browns who haven’t played anything but 16 games a year for decades it might be a shock to your system.

  13. The problem isn’t the quality of the preseason games, the problem is that charging full price for preseason games gives fans the idea they should be seeing a higher quality product. It’s like going to a restaurant with a $30-40 entrees and getting food you could have ordered at Applebee’s. The three other major sports all have some sort of preaseason and you don’t see their owners and commissioners trying to extend the regular season and shorten the preseason. You also don’t see their fans complaining about preseason, because those other sports charge less for tickets and place the emphasis on a fun family experience. This isn’t rocket science.

  14. Any opinion about players’ injury rates need to be addressed by an athletic trainer or a physician. Mr. Shilstone is a highly respected PERSONAL trainer, and has done a lot of good things with athletes. But he is not a certified athletic trainer. see http://www.nata.org for more info
    As far as the 18 game issue goes, this is a business, and it is NOT about the players health. In the owners & commissioner’s view, there will always be enough players to insert on a team. It’s about maximizing revenue.

  15. An 18-game season will be Goodell’s waterloo. Or Healthcare Reform, depending on what side of the fence you’re on.

  16. As long as they charge real money to attend games – real football is all that should be played.
    The owners pay the players real money to play, if the players don’t want to be in that many games maybe its time to dust off the accounting degree they earned in college.
    More real football cannot be a bad thing.

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