Owners could be planning to squeeze players into wanting 18 games

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The recent comments from Packers president Mark Murphy regarding his inability to support an 18-game regular season was met by many with approval.  And that was my initial reaction, too.

But then I saw the fine print.

I would be in support of a move to two and 16,” Murphy said. “Reduce the number of preseason games. The challenge there obviously is you’re losing revenue.”

Ding ding ding ding ding!  (And then Gus Fring blows up.)

As we’ve mentioned a time or two in the past year, the NFL surrendered in the new CBA the ability to unilaterally expand the regular season.  But the league now has the ability to unilaterally shrink the preseason from, coincidentally, four games to two.

So the league can cut the preseason in half, if the league wants.  And then, when the players crunch the numbers and realize the impact of the lost 47-cents-on-the-dollar revenue share on the salary cap, all of a sudden that 18-game regular season may look pretty good.

Especially when the players crunch the numbers regarding the positive impact of two more regular-season games on the bottom line.

As explained during Wednesday’s PFT Live, that’s the only way the NFL can sell an 18-game season, given the current sensitivity to injuries and concussions.  The players have to want it, and the players have to initiate the effort to get it.

To make that happen, the NFL must risk losing its share of the preseason revenue.  And if you think the preseason revenue isn’t a big deal, remember that it was the potential loss of revenue from preseason games that served as the moment at which the league and the NFLPA realized that the lockout needed to end, one year ago Wednesday.

So the ultimate reality show is now in the early stages of a new game of chicken.  Will the owners risk preseason revenue to cajole the players into wanting to expand the regular season?  Will the players shrug at the reduced salary cap resulting from a reduced preseason?

It’s unclear how it will work out, but it’s becoming more clear that those issues will soon be front and center, for both the league and the union.

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33 responses to “Owners could be planning to squeeze players into wanting 18 games

  1. Players:

    This is what happens when you put your faith in the hands of someone like Dee Clown, surprise!

  2. Well then,

    As a fan I would love to see more regular season football of course, but what about the whole argument for player safety and all the records set over the years with a 16 game season?

  3. How about 18 regular season games, zero preseason games and a meaningful “offseason” where the players learn the playbook, stay in condition and stay orut of trouble?

  4. Why don’t they add 1 real game and 1 additional bye week? The NFL adds 2 weeks to the real $eason, players get an additional week off during the season, and the wear and tare on their bodies shouldn’t be drastic.

  5. You’ve got to hand it to the owners they plan this schtuff out very well. We all have to respect their abiity to potentially get what they want despite being opposite a players association that most of the time fights back just for the sake of fighting back.

    This group of business men are running a great gameplan for 32 entities supposedly competing against eachother.

  6. Well lets see how the fans feel about 18 games.
    Thumbs up for yes to 18 games, thumb down for no.

  7. The NFL just can take their cut of the 9 billion and be happy. As a season ticket holder I could care less for two more games to sacrifice the integrity of the game and player health. The product on the field may not be what it once was with and 18 game schedule.

  8. I don’t care if they play 16 regular season games or 18……Just stop making me pay $350 per seat for two laughable pre-season games!!!!! I can’t even give these tickets away!!!!

  9. I’ve said this at least 1,000,000,000 times, but I’ll say it again. They should go to 2 preseason games and 18 regular season games.

    Schedule – a team would still play home-and-home with division foes and all teams from one division in the opposite conference (10 games). But with 18 games, a team would play every team in 2 of the other 3 divisions within the conference, rotating (i.e. NFC South teams play all NFC East and North teams one year, all NFC North and West teams the next year, all NFC East and West teams, the next year, etc.). It makes so much sense – which is probably why it hasn’t happened yet.

    Addressing health issues:

    3 levels of injured reserve – 21 days, 42 days, and season-ending. Like today, players on IR don’t count against roster limit.
    60-man rosters – and no one must be deactivated on game day.
    8-12-man practice squad – You can sign 8 guys like today, and leave 4 slots for players on IR. Or, you can sign 12 practice squad players if you want, you would just have to cut one when you put a player on IR. Eliminate the ability of teams to sign players from other team’s practice squads.

    The fans wouldn’t have to pay any more, since they already have to buy all 10 games in a season-ticket package. The NFL would get more money from TV for 2 more regular season games, thereby increasing the salary cap to pay for the 7 extra players on the active roster.

    As the late George Carlin once said, “You see, I have all the answers. The problem is, NO ONE EVER CALLS ME!”

  10. I am dead set against 18 game seasons….

    If they are actually going to go 2 and 18, that makes alot more sense than 4 and 18.

    The NFL has to realize, which they are currently failing to do, one of the reasons the sport is #1 in america is 16 games, some of which are in crappy weather parts of the year. Fringe fans dont mind giving up a cold blustry november sunday to watch a football game. When it’s 80 and sunny out in August (assuming that’s when the season would start), you are going to lose some fans in the long term; maybe not the first year it happens, but over a period of time.

    The only thing the NFL is doing to prepare for this is increasing the night games, SNF, MNF and now TNF every week…..i wouldn’t be surprised to see 2 MNF games every week like week 1 be brought to the table in the next few years. I would like that idea as MNF goes way too late on the east coast with games not getting done until midnight. Two MNF games would allow 4 show case games a week, and the nfl will drive ratings for those 4, plus the 4:15 game.

    All in all, stick to 16….if it aint broke……dont fix it.

  11. Gotta love an early morning conspiracy theory. Well played Mr Florio! 🙂

    My initial take was that the owners never really wanted an 18 game regular season. They just said they did so they could give it up at the bargaining table and the players would count it as a victory.

  12. Murphy specifically named safety/injury concerns as the reason for dropping off two preseason games and didn’t waffle on the 18 game issue. Attendance revenue isn’t the only factor on the bottom line. Owners invest a lot in players now and some turn into dead losses when they get hurt.

    The NFL needs a D league/mini-farm system.

  13. As a season ticketholder, I would endorse a move in this direction.

    They sure don’t need 4 preseason games to get ready for the regular season anymore.

    Paying full price for 2 preseason games (to support the players salaries) is highway robbery.

    These guys get full time paychecks – no need for another job like in the old days.

    They should come in to camp in shape, so that they only need to get their timing down with their teammates. Two weeks of practice, 2 preseason games and they should be good to go.

  14. Call their bluff. Come out TODAY and say that the NFLPA is all in favor of keeping the regular season at 16 games and eliminating two preseason games.

    I realize it’s not a small amount of money, but the revenue lost from the two exhibition games, when spread out over every player in the league is not that significant.

    Murphy has given the players an opportunity to back the owners into a corner. They should take it.

  15. No, that can’t be right. The owners would never do something that would benefit season ticket holders.

  16. Did the player reps even read the CBA or were they so desperate for money that they just signed whatever was put in front of them? They did have lawyers, right?

  17. In substitution for the lame 2 preseason games , the NFL should televise 2 live scrimmages of each team. I’ll guarantee every single real football fan would watch his team for each one.

    It would be like watching a mini hardnocks for every team

  18. They need to leave the season length alone. Four preseason games are important for conditioning and evaluation. I don’t care if season ticket holders have to pay full price. They are lucky season ticket holders. Everything has it’s pros and cons.

  19. Yeah, and Brees can throw for 7,000 yards. Yipee!


    And for those who think an expanded roster will help….do you really think the Giants are going to play Eli two less games because they have “more players” on their roster?

    8 year careers will become six,and record books are destroyed yet again.

    And then we get to look forward to NFL teams located in Europe and Japan.

  20. Just keep squeezing every since penney out of the game, owners, until it becomes a shadow of it’s fomer self. A little greed is a good motivator. A lot of greed is toxic. Haven’t you learned anything in the last four years?

  21. The NFL is determined to kill the goose that laid the golden egg. Let me count the ways:

    – Insisting on an 18 game schedule when 16 games allows the prefect scheduling formula AND has generated gobs of revenue over the last 35 seasons.

    – Insisting on putting a team in LA when the league has reached new heights of popularity in the decades following the abandonment of LA.

    – Desiring to place a team in London. This one is so stupid it simply boggles the mind.

    The owners are a bunch of clowns who are focused on short term gains at the expense of long term success. Stay at 32 teams and 16 games. Those numbers are PERFECT!

  22. So say they add 2 more games.. I wonder how they would decide what 2 teams are added to the schedule to play?

  23. discosucs2005 says:
    Jul 26, 2012 8:27 AM
    No, that can’t be right. The owners would never do something that would benefit season ticket holders.
    Don’t worry, the increase in ticket prices will take care of that. Any excuse for more $$.

  24. if they go with 2 pre season, 18 regular season games,

    Add another off week during the season.

    how about make it a 2 week half way break for the entire league. you extend the season (great for fans) and give every team a good 2 week mid season break. you could probably stagger it some like they do now, but i would try to get rid of the bye weeks in the 5th week of the season.

  25. Would like to see an 18 game season with the condition that no player can take the field in more than 14 regular-season games. Make it a TEAM sport…if your backups suck and can’t get you in the playoffs, too bad for you.

    Of course, this will never happen b/c the TV networks and money guys are so obsessed with ratings and the “stars” of the NFL (never mind the guys in the trenches that make it happen).

    Also think it would have an interesting effect and put some mystery into trying to figure out coaching strategies, which players do you put in or sit out for which games?

  26. Why not do a 18 game (or more) season But have it in the writing that players can only play in a max of say 16 games per season. This will give players a rest and give opportunity for 2nd/3rd- arys to get Reps and the coaches attention.

  27. I understand the desire to expand and generate more revenue but the NFL schedule is as close to perfect as it can get. It should be left as is.

    The 4 preseason games are necessary for proper player evaluation. This is even more true since the players garnered reductions in contact and practices.

    Season ticket holders are simply complaining about the printed price of a ticket. That is a marketing failure. The teams could easily charge 1/2 price for preseason games and add the lost money into the reg season ticket costs. The total cost would remain the same but it would appear that season tix holders get a discount.

    The bye week system needs to be fixed. Teams that have late bye weeks can better prepare for the post-season than a team unlucky enough to have a week 5 bye. There is a simple fix. Conference bye weeks. Rather than spread the bye teams over several weeks, establish 2 bye weeks (say, weeks 9 and 10). All AFC teams would have a bye the same week and the NFC teams would have a bye the other week. There would be no more bye week scheduling advantage and the season is not changed at all.

  28. Works for me. As an ex-Season Ticket holder those 4 preseason games used to tick me off. 2 games in the late part of summer that no one wanted to go to? I’d have been fine with paying for 1 of them but 2 was too much.

  29. What team schedules 4 preseason games at home? Seems like most teams have settled down to 2 home 2 away now. Packers used to do 3 home games but not in the past couple years. So going to a 2 game preseason saves you 1 fake game as a season ticket holder.

  30. But the 18-game schedule will do so much more than merely transfer two games from the preseason to the regular season: First, it will allow the Super Bowl to be held on the (for many at least) three-day Presidents’ Day weekend; and if the two new games are made to be interconference games matching up first-place teams against other first-place teams (and last-place teams against other last-place teams) from the previous season, it will return the NFL to the truly “progressive scheduling” era of 1995-2001 that saw the greatest upward mobility of teams in NFL history (the 1999 Rams and ’01 Pats both won the Super Bowl the year after having finished last in their division).

    And not for nothing, but 18-and-2 has existed in the CFL since 1986 – and if it was producing this massive carnage of broken bodies, I’m sure the union would have mentioned it during last year’s lockout; and since the NFL is so gung-ho about “Canadianizing” the game in so many other ways with its broad array of recent rules changes to favor offenses (even the anti-bounty crusade fits here: Name me even ONE offensive player that has been disciplined, or even implicated, in any of the various bounty scandals), then why not apply the same principle to the ratio of regular-season to preseason games as well?

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