Don Yee’s 18-game idea sounds good, but won’t work


On this slow first-weekend-without-football-until-who-in-the-hell-knows-when, several of you have pointed out an idea floated by the man who represents Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for dealing with the league’s desire to “enhance” the season from 16 to 18 games.

Agent Don Yee believes that, among other changes, each player should be permitted to play in only 16 of the 18 games.

“This compromise will create even more interest from fans,” Yee told the Associated Press. “What two games will the head coach sit the starting [quarterback]?  That’s a discussion that will set sports talk radio airwaves afire.”

He’s right, but the airwaves will be set “afire” for all the wrong reasons.  If fans are paying full freight for nine home games, they don’t want one of the home games to be treated like a preseason game, as to the quarterback position or any other spot in the starting lineup.  And that’s exactly what would happen.

With Commissioner Roger Goodell strongly opposed to teams that have clinched playoff berths sending in the scrubs in the later weeks of the season, Goodell won’t want to see teams periodically shuffling in second-teamers throughout the course of the season, via a cockeyed suicide pool for coaches.

It also would create a major problem on special teams, where key members of the punt and kickoff units would have to be arbitrarily benched and players not necessarily accustomed to those duties pressed into service.  That’s a recipe for injuries, possibly serious ones, during punt and kickoff returns.

The better approach?  Work out a fair system for compensating and protecting players for 18 regular-season games.   If the extra two games of full-speed contact are offset by the elimination of two preseason games and a reduction in contact throughout the offseason and training camp and during other practices, at some point it becomes a fair trade.  Especially if the pie grows via the addition of two more weekends of regular-season games that can be televised at a high price on FOX, CBS, NBC, ESPN, and DirecTV.

All that said, we continue to believe that the best outcome would entail a reduction of the preseason to three games, an increase in the regular season to 17 games, and an overhaul of the practice system to limit opportunities for injury.  The one extra game per team would be played on neutral sites both outside and inside the United States, with every team playing eight home games, eight road games, and one neutral-site game.

If the goal is to grow the pie, 16 neutral-site games in places like Ann Arbor and South Bend and the Alamodome and other NFL-ready stadiums that don’t host NFL teams would generate a ton of local interest.

Alternatively, if the real goal is to address fan concerns regarding the quality of the preseason games, all the league needs to do is cut the price of preseason tickets in half and adjust the cost of regular-season seats to offset the difference.  The fact that the league instead wants to bootstrap fan concerns about the preseason into a fan desire for a bigger regular season tells us that the braoder goal here is to reduce the players’ per-dollar cut while at the same time increasing the overall revenue so that the total dollars paid to the players will grow, while the total dollars kept by the owners really grows.

30 responses to “Don Yee’s 18-game idea sounds good, but won’t work

  1. Truth is, Yee’s idea is indeed ‘reality’, due to injuries.

    That said, I wouldn’t pay full-boat price to be guaranteed NOT to have a shot at watching each teams best on the field.

  2. Here’s a better idea: FORGET the 18 game schedule. Just eliminate the 2 preseason games and leave the season ticket prices the same. I know that the season ticket holders may not like it but they probably don’t realize that they’re NOT going to see their ticket prices stay the same if the NFL does give them a 9th regular season home game.

  3. Why not play 16 games and keep the 4 preseason games and everybody suck it up and realize that all sports have preseason games?

    Sure, it sucks paying full price for preseason tickets… so wait until the end of preseason to buy your season tickets (if you can)… and if you can’t wait then look at it as all part of the deal.

    If you by season tickets for $1000 which includes 8 regular season and 2 preseason games… don’t look at it as paying $100 for each game, preseason included. Look at it as paying $125 with the preseason games being thrown in as a bonus.

    Or, teams can give greatly reduced prices for preseason games for season ticket holders (half price or something) as an act of gratitude towards the fan base that makes all of it possible. Afterall, it’s the TV revenue that drives the NFL to begin with, sold out stadiums are just a bonus.

  4. I do not like this idea, but am sure there is a formula that can get to 18 games without watering down the product much.

    It went from 12-14-16 in the past and the game got better. The number of teams has grow as well. The college game has more programs producing NFL players now than when they played 14 games.

    Also as it is now some teams go to the playoffs and play about 2 extra games every year, Indy, NE, the Steelers and Ravens seem to be in the hunt almost every year and that extra playoff game or two does not seem to affect them the next year.

  5. So all the players play the 9 home games and take the two toughest road games off…. wonder if I can get a line on Detroit sitting all the starters at GB with all their starters. Opening at -40 any takers?

  6. The arguement for and against an 18 game schedule has gone beyound ridiculous. Even though the NFL likes to claim the fans want 18 games, the truth is that no one is giving a damn what the fans want. What the fans want is a truely simply solution. Either keep it at 16 games and reduce the price of pre-season games OR reduce the preseason to 2 games (with reduced prices) and have an 18 game schedule…’s not that difficult Mrs. Goodell !!

  7. This idea is pure stupidity. But they never said you had to have commonsense to obtain a law degree.

    How someone can say this idea sounds good is beyond reason.

  8. I think the only change everyone will like additional games is into the post season. Get rid of the first round bye and get two more teams to post season. We have seen time and again the top seeded teams go 1 and out after bye. We all know that post season is a like new season and your record on regular season doesn’t count.

    Let every team in the post season play the normal knockout games. This will add more interest. Of course the top seeded teams will have the home field advantage.

  9. Just add “in season” Injured Reserve instead for an 18 game season. If a player gets hurt then they can go on the 2 game DL, 4 game DL or 8 game DL. This way you can get players back “in season” and some players will be less likely to try and play through an injury (which could cause a greater injury). This is very successful in other sports.
    Expand practice rosters from 8 to 12 players where the team can “lock in” the top 6 so they can’t get raided completely by other teams. You would also put limits as to how many players can be on any particular IR.

  10. I have never understood why folks find it hard to understand that they are buying a season ticket for a fixed price – say $20000 a season. That price is based primarily on what it take to balance supply and demand – get if folks $2000 for a SEASON….

    The fact that this equates to $200 a game for 10 games is only a convenience…

    If it makes you feel better think of it as $250 a game for 8 regular season games with two free preseason games tossed in think of it that way..

    And if you think for a minute that teams with sold out season ticket plans will be keeping that $2000 price for a season ticket at $2000 when you will now get to see 9 “real” home games you are missing the whole “bigger pie” idea GODell has been talking about be prepared to see the price for your season tickets go up to $2250 or more…

    This crap about preseason ticket prices misses the whole point – in most markets you are paying a price for the seat for the SEASON – includes good games – bad games – games against the Steelers and games against the Bungles – divide up the price per game any way that makes you feel better – $500 for a Steelers game – and negative $500 for a Bungles game – but the price that teams charge is based on the supply of season tickets and the demand for them…

  11. I would think with only 2 preseason games, you’re going to need more contact in the offseason (especially training camp) to get everyone game ready for week one game speed, not less…

  12. 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!! 18 games!!!

    It’s coming. You rabid fans and pundits can’t stop it.

    Thank god!

    (and thumbs downing this won’t get you anywhere either!)

  13. 17 games with 8 home 8 away and 1 neutral is a horrible idea. What would constitute a neutral site?

    When the Gators and Bulldogs play in Jacksonville, despite the similar distances from the universities, the Gators have an overwhelmingly amount of fans in the stands.

    This idea, to a certain extent, will be giving the more popular teams throughout the country (Cowboys, Steelers, Pats, Packers) an additional home game whereas the less popular and more geographically condensed fanbase (Arizona, Carolina, Seattle) will get shafted year in and year out….

  14. I would add a dozen players to each roster to offset the injuries that are sure to happen and the possibility of players being gassed in an 18 game season. I would institute a second-bye week so that guys have two opportunites to rest and recover. I would have every man on the roster eligible for every game rather than limit the number on game day. Coaches should consider sending in their second squads earlier to finish games that are all but won. The teams themselves will solve the logistical aspects of a longer season. One benefit to players is that more college players will make NFL rosters. But given the greed of money-hungry owners looking for more revenue, they would likely fight dramatically scaled-up rosters that will increase payroll, since their objective is more money, less cost. If I were the union, I would agree contingent only on the owners establishing heathcare benefits system for retired players, and guaranteed pensions built into players’ contracts. In other words, players would not even see a portion of their paycheck each week, like a 401(k). Then, when they are eligible, they could start to collect that money in weekly or monthly installments. That would be the only condition under which I would accept a longer season.

  15. Why not the following?:

    Eliminate the wildcard format and the wildcard round from the NFL playoffs. Instead replace it with 8(!) college-style Divisional Championship games to be played the first week after the season concludes.

    Now this would be a radical shift in thinking to be sure and a major change to a very successful model, but I think it would work well.

    Proposed Format
    The top two teams in each division according the standings as they are currently calculated by the NFL would play each other in a Divisional Championship Game, with the division leader getting the home game.

    These Divisional Championship games would be played the first week after the season concludes, with the winner advancing to the NFL Playoffs as the champion and representative of its respective division.

    In order to facilitate the national television broadcasts of all 8 games, one game would have to be played on a Friday (8:30P), three on Saturday (1:00P, 4:30P, 8:30P), three on Sunday (1:00P, 4:30P, 8:30P), and one on Monday (8:30P).

    I would seed these games based on geography and combined records in order to maximize TV revenue.

    The combined regular season records of the teams in each Divisional Championship game would be determined, with the best combined record getting the premiere game (#1) and the worst combined record getting the least desirable game (#8). The only exception to this would be that no “West” Divisional Championship game could be played at 1:00P (only 4:30P or 8:30P games in order to maximize TV viewership)

    1. Saturday, 8:30P
    2. Sunday, 8:30P
    3. Friday, 8:30P
    4. Monday, 8:30P
    5. Sunday, 4:30P
    6. Saturday, 4:30P
    7. Sunday, 1:00P
    8. Saturday, 1:00P

    After the Divisional Championship round concludes and the winners advance, the league would seed and schedule the playoffs in the same fashion that it currently does.


    Two more teams per conference would get into the postseason (8 instead of 6), which is a way of expanding the postseason (and the associated revenues) without the perception of “diluting” the playoffs with unworthy teams.
    It would create a huge amount of interest for fans as many more teams would be in the postseason hunt with the new format.
    It would eliminate the concept of “6 seeds” and eliminate wildcard teams from winning the super Bowl. With this format, to advance in the playoffs, each team is necessarily a divisional champion.
    It would create huge fan interest with the yearly winner take all divisional championship games between bitter division rivals (think Steelers-Ravens III every single year)
    It would be a TV Ratings and revenue bonanza for the league.


    Major change to an existing format that is very successful.
    Eliminates the first round byes for the top seeded teams. However, this is where the idea of a second bye week in the season comes into play. All teams would benefit from this during the season and its implementation would help offset the loss of first round byes to player health.
    Teams playing on Friday will have a short week to prepare, but it will be the 3rd meeting between the participating teams and minimum preparation should be necessary. The positive for the team that plays Friday and wins is that it will get additional days of rest and preparation for the next week.
    The winner of the Monday game will have a short week to prepare for the following week.

  16. Why not just 18 games with 3 buys. The league still gets 18 weeks of ratings, the players get more rest. Win win (except the fans)

  17. Go to an 18 game schedule. Cut the pre-season down to two games. Make the final cut down after the first two regular season games and increase the roster, tweak the injured reserve rules to allow teams to bring players back and increase the practice squad.

    New Schedule would be the old schedule plus:

    Each team plays the same team every year on opening day.

    The opening day game would be a “regional rivalry” that otherwise does not exist, meaning that it would be between two teams that normally do not play each other twice a year.

    Examples of opening day games every year would include:


    The rivalry game would be a home/home schedule.

    The second added game would be against one of the conference opponents that you don’t play now each year and would be by formula. This could be playing the next lowest team in the division you faced last year in addition to the one with the same record and would flip for each team with one year being your chance to go against the lower ranked team and the next you would face the higher ranked team from the year before. It would be very simple to set up. You would have a home game for this game in the year you played your rival away. This “added” game would also be the only game that could be taken from your schedule and played in a neutral site or out of the country.

  18. I know this is a radical idea, but here goes:

    Keep everything the same. 16 games, 4 preseason. Yes, paying full price for preseason sucks, but how many season ticket holders see it as a dealbreaker? The NFL has a great product. Work things out with the players and get on the field.

  19. Decisions that affect the entire NFL should ALWAYS be made using the same two criteria:

    #1- what’s best for the SPORT…LONG TERM that includes BOTH the financial health of the sport (not just owners or just players…the SPORT) and the quality of the product

    #2- what’s best for the players, owners, fans, and coaches to the end of #1

    If something is great for the owners but sucks for the rest of that list vis a vis #1, they shouldn’t do it, and if something is great for the rest of the list but will kill the sport by crippling the owners ability to generate revenue (which goes back to hurting #1), they probably shouldn’t do that either.

    There aren’t enough big picture thinkers on either side…that’s the single biggest problem here.

  20. Why don’t they also get rid of the playoffs and vote on a winner as they do in college. Everyone seems happy with that format. All teams with a winning record can ho to a “bowl” game after the season and then sportswriters can vote on the champion.

  21. Neutral site games would take a lot of planning with the Universities. It would also require NCAA involvement to prevent college athletes from talking to agents and so forth while they are all over the campus.

    It’s not a bad idea, per say. But it’s not as easy as just saying they are gonna do it.

    Until LA gets a team they could host one every week of the season though. Then again, in the LA NFL market, that would attract next to nobody.

  22. lbijake says:
    Feb 13, 2011 4:36 PM
    “Why don’t they also get rid of the playoffs and vote on a winner as they do in college. Everyone seems happy with that format. All teams with a winning record can ho to a “bowl” game after the season and then sportswriters can vote on the champion.”

    ^ so you mean like the AP Coach of the Year/GM of the Year/MVP/DefensivePlayer/every other one and done squad?

  23. lbijake says: Feb 13, 2011 4:36 PM

    “Why don’t they also get rid of the playoffs and vote on a winner as they do in college…?”

    No thanks.
    That’s how Green Bay acquired many of their so-called “championships” that their fans still try to equate with modern day Super Bowls.

  24. I would myself go with a 21-week, 18-game schedule with three bye weeks, in part since that would allow teams to more easily play one mid-week (non-Sunday or Monday game) per season, and occasionally two depending on how the schedule breaks (as I could see CBS and FOX each getting one early-season Thursday night game and alternating a game on Thanksgiving Eve, while NBC gets an additional game on the Tuesday or Wednesday after Thanksgiving at The Meadowlands tied to the tree lighting ceremony at Rockerfeller Plaza that can be billed as “The NFL Holiday Kickoff Special”). The one thing to me that blocks an 18-game season, however, is the fact every four years (2013 and 2017 being the next two), the season would have to start in August to make sure the Super Bowl is played BEFORE the Winter Olympics.

    Otherwise, this idea is not exactly the best one even if it is well-intended.

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