Tony Dungy: 18-game season would be a mistake

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Count Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy as one who does not want to see the NFL expand its regular season to 18 games.

Dungy appeared this morning on PFT Live and said the idea of an 18-game schedule, which is being bandied about as the NFL and the players’ union discuss a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, is a bad one.

“I think it would be a mistake,” Dungy said. “I think one of the things that’s great about the NFL now is every game matters. You’ve got these tight races, 16 games is a lot. You want to get into the playoffs, you want people to be ready to play meaningful games in January. I’m watching the NBA playoffs now and you see the effects of this long season. Kawhi Leonard limping up and down the floor, Kevin Durant out, Klay Thompson may be out, that’s not what people want to see in the playoffs. We’d get some of the same thing if you add more games. I don’t think it’d be good for the players. I don’t think it’d be good for the product.”

Dungy said that if the owners and the players ever do agree to expand the regular season, it will be “the greed factor” overruling what’s best for the quality of play.

91 responses to “Tony Dungy: 18-game season would be a mistake

  1. Why dont they just add a bye week to extend the season to 18 weeks. That will add more TV revenue by allowing more games to be shown on TV.

  2. I also think players need to think about the length of their career. Sure you can make more money per year but if those extra games take a year or two off your career (most of which don’t last very long at all) are you really making more money? The schedule works out perfectly with 32 teams and 16 games. I can tell you who everyone is going play outside of 3 games for the next 20 years. Inside of divisions the common opponents are the same outside of 3 opponents which is good for standings to be meaningful.

  3. Yeah, 16 games is a lot. Tell that to NHL players, who hit ice when they get knocked on their asses and play 82 plus play offs.
    If anyone wants to tell me that 16 exacts more of a toll on the body, go to you tube and search “NHL hits.”
    I’m not saying it’s more physical but over an 82 game season, it may well be.
    I love the NFL but 16 games is the smallest schedule of any sport in the world.
    Dungy’s ligic makes no sense. Teams would still be pushing for play off spots in an 18 week schedule, all the games would still matter.
    If he’d said the opportunities to evaluate players on the bubble would be lost, I could respect that opinion.

  4. Here’s how it should be done. 1) only two preseason games. 2) 18 regular season games. 3) Expand the rosters by 4 players. 4) No player on any team can participate in more than 16 games in the regular season.

    The last point takes away the complaint that it would be added wear and tear on the players. It also opens up a a lot of strategic moves by teams in choosing which two games to rest a starter. The QB decisions would be interesting. Backups would get two starts and a chance to show what they can do each season.

  5. Agree 100% this is not the nba and as mark cuban said greedy pigs get slaughtered…takes away the importance of weekly games interest will decrease

  6. I rarely if ever agree with this self righteous non-qualified HOF member, but he’s right here again. The Hail Mary idea was ridiculous as is this.

    Goodell is going to leverage the weed discussion and some ther things to try to push this for thenext CBA.

    As I’ve stated since 2011, the only way for the union to get some leverage is to live off of a 200-250K budgeted lifestyle (or less) and bank everything else.

    The way to hit the owners is to literally feel good about sitting out a half season as a starter.

    If it would take an entire season, then do that.

    They need to get the leverage back.

  7. Personally I would love 2 more game of regular season football. A study was done and the players only play 13 minutes of actual live action during a game. Split this in 2 for O vs D and you are talking under 10 minutes. They can easily handle another half hour.

  8. Since it’s a dumb idea, that makes it pretty much a foregone conclusion that they’ll add 2 more games at some point. I just really hope they give them another bye week during the season, or it’ll be all backups by playoff time.

  9. It was a mistake to go to a 16 game season in the first place. Quality of play declines, injury to players increase. 16 games plus playoffs = football overdose.

  10. Greed for sure. Don’t see any similarities between the NBA and NFL at all. Totally different sport, amount of games played, amount of players on a given roster, etc.

  11. Too much greed in ALL major sports.
    The seasons run too long as it is.
    Less is more.

  12. I don’t even know the purpose of an 18 game schedule, other than trying to create more revenue. I already think they should eliminate Thursday night games because players are playing at 50%-70%. The amount of greed coming from the front office is absolutely insane…

    The only way I can see all of this happening is implementing two or three bye weeks and extending game day rosters.

  13. Finally! A voice of sanity. You have to consider player safety. Football is a dangerous game. You want players who can last more than 3-4 seasons. 18 games just increases the odds of either nagging injuries — diluting the quality of games during the season — or long-term injuries — making the game less entertaining over the long-term. That doesn’t even cover what happens to players over time after they retire. 16 games is enough. Make every game count!

  14. mojoman46 says:
    June 5, 2019 at 8:48 am
    Yeah, 16 games is a lot. Tell that to NHL players, who hit ice when they get knocked on their asses and play 82 plus play offs.
    ******************

    That’s kind of the point. Look at the Sharks in the Western finals. Was anyone on that roster healthy? The playoffs should be about the best teams playing at their best, not who can limp across the finish line first.

  15. I can see a season of 17 Games 16 games in the United States and 1 game internationally but each team has 2 bye weeks and only 2 preseason Games but players will want something in exchange maybe more guarentee and no more franchise tag.

  16. If it’s going to be 18 games, the players are going to have to ask for more salary. We could see incredible contracts with guaranteed money and the minimum salary should rise to 1-2 million.

  17. I’m just glad we haven’t heard much chatter lately of the proposal to extend the playoffs by letting more teams into the playoffs, thus making the regular season almost meaningless. Hopefully this isn’t still being considered behind closed doors.

  18. Completely agree with him. A 16 game season is hard enough on the bodies of the players. Guys are in pain literally the entire season, and it takes weeks after the season ends for that pain to subside (and those are the ones who aren’t injured). Just say “No” to an 18 game season.

    But I know what’s going to happen. The league will stop testing for marijuana in exchange for 18 games. So much for exalted principles.

  19. Current season is long enough. Not interested in more bi weeks or fewer preseason games just so we can have the season drag out for money in owners’ pockets. Bad for players, bad for viewers, bad for the game. Do not try fixing what isn’t broke.

  20. Definitely greed, look at the starters in week 1 now and then the starters by week 16. Now add 2 more games and you will lose 1-2 more starting players before the playoffs. That has a direct effect on the quality of play. TV and Owners are ruining sports.

  21. Rosters need to be expanded already, any more games and the roster should add like 10 more players.

  22. Tony is a nice guy but logic isn’t his strong suit. His argument here is mostly hot air.

    But he may be right about one thing, the importance of each game being diminished.
    I’ve noticed many teams begin the season with what seems to be an attitude of not needing to be serious until game 5 or 6. Of course, it depends a little on their schedule, when they play division foes, etc. But the quality and seriousness applied to the game is lacking the first month or so. Add 2 more games and it could extend that some.

  23. He’s right. As much as I would love the Super Bowl to be played on the Sunday before President’s Day (So as to sleep in the next morning), the NFL is too much a war of attrition. An 18 game schedule would mean some playoff teams would play 20 or more games.

  24. I’m against it. Not everything needs to change. Record books would be re-written. More players hurt. More meaningless games in January. And just a little specialness gone from the game we love. The NFL is making enough money. Enough with constantly changing everything to make just a little more.

  25. I agree with billzbubb – I said the same thing a few years ago. I think it would be great strategy. The more I thought about it, the 16 game player limit won’t happen though. As a fan, if I pay the money to buy a ticket to watch a star QB play and it ends up being the game that the star QB sits out – I will be more than disappointed – I will likely not buy another ticket to another game, ever. The only way it would work would be to flex the ticket price after the game to compensate fans who didn’t get to see the star player. But then how to do you get the refund to the fan who purchased the ticket on the secondary market? Oh, and as for the greed factor mentioned by other commenters – that is a two way street. The players are just as greedy as the owners.

  26. Cut the preseason to 3 games, increase roster size by 3-4 players, make it an 18 WEEK season with 2 bye weeks for each team and get rid of Thursday Night Football. That will accomplish most of their goals: Increased revenue, high quality product on the field, and player safety.

  27. Right now there is a perfect symmetry between the number of teams, games, divisions, playoff spots and calculations to earn those spots.

    18 games means players far more beat up for the playoffs. 18 games means an even worse quality of football the first 4-6 games of the year then we’re already seeing. 18 games means any new coaching staff with limited OTAs and only 2 preseason games does not even begin to have enough time to install his systems and any team with a new head coach is almost guaranteed to fail. 18 games means younger players and rookies have very little time to develop and make a team.

    18 games is a simply awful idea and will worsen the season dramatically.

  28. Agreed. They should expand the roster size now, if they go to 18 it’s a must.

  29. I said this before. When they begin CBA negotiations, every thing that the players want, the NFL will respond with “but we want 18 games” and the players will fold. The players will probably fight for Czar Goodell not to have the power to be judge/jury/executioner and the owners will reply “Ok… we’ll do that if you agree to 18 games.”

    The players say “the franchise tag is not fair to us” the owners respond “we will agree… we’ll get rid of the franchise tag but you have to give us 18 games.”

  30. I’m hoping all this 18-game season talk is just a bargaining chip the NFL is using to get the things they really want. It’s the dumbest idea I ever heard, with the second-dumbest idea being to allow each player to play in only 16 of the 18 games.

  31. They said the same thing when it became 16 games & the NFL is way better now. Just make it 18 already. In 25 years they’ll be talking about 20 games a year.

  32. I have to admit that I’am confused. This makes the second time in a few weeks that I have agreed with Coach Dungy. First time was aout the the NFL’s approach to the Hail Mary pass and now this. I understand that Goodell makes a ton of money for the owners but the NFL’s ruling on the Hail Mary issue invites possible fixing of the games outcome. The longer season will just chew up players damaging the quality of the personnel. Maybe the NFL owners are trying to kill the golden goose. They may be Billionaires but still money doesn’t mean common sense. Dunderheads.

  33. uncommon1 says:

    Cut the preseason to 3 games, increase roster size by 3-4 players, make it an 18 WEEK season with 2 bye weeks for each team and get rid of Thursday Night Football.
    ————————–
    Thursday Night Football is great. I look forward to it each week. These guys literally see 13 minutes of total action during the course of a full a game. Dont tell me they cant get ready for 13 minutes of action in 4 days. And in that 13 minutes only a handful of players are actually getting hit.

  34. i hope they muck around and make it more complicated, like the play 18 but only use each player in maximum 16 games. dumb ideas are golden opportunities for belichick to find an advantage and continue the decades of dominance.

  35. I think 18 games is a joke.
    The super bowl winning team would’ve played 21 games. That’s crazy. And us fans say less is more. Less Pre season games and less rule changes. It’s simple.

  36. brazy44 says:

    Would players do an 18 game season in exchange for guaranteed contracts?
    ——————————
    Players can get a gaurnateed contract now if they are worth it. Kirk Cousins did. If a player wants it they can seek it out. If they are not worth the gauranteed contract then they have to settle for the best offer.

  37. I see where this is all going the owners took the violence out of football ,the hitting out of practice , so now they figure the bodies are fresher ,hence we can make more money off of fresher bodies,,, brilliant !

  38. I believe Dungy and many of you just don’t get it. The options are simple, reduce the NFL preseason and add regular season games. The NFL is not going to lose revenue and reduce the preseason and not add games to the regular season. It doesn’t make business sense even to a third grader. So if I’m a fan I rather pay my money or watch on tv an additional regular game or two that matters and not meaningless preseason games with back-up players. It’s going to happen no matter what Dungy and others say or believe.

  39. “Thursday Night Football is great.”

    I think just the opposite, TNF blows and is usually an awful level of play because the coaches don’t have enough time to prepare the teams properly.

    I don’t watch those teams with the sole exception of the once a year the Pats are on. They are terrible.

  40. “How about 6 preseason games, a 9 game regular season, and every team makes the playoffs.”

    And make sure teams get the ball the exact same amount of times to be fair. And every team starts on the same yard line. And no coin flips because that would be unfair!

  41. Whatever they do, just stop charging me full price on my season ticket, to watch 2 glorified practice sessions in August.

  42. It is workable, especially in the era of no real hits/defense we are in now.

    Increase roster size by 4-6.
    Reduce preseason from 4 to 2.
    No testing in CBA for marijuana and players can use that for pain management instead of any opiods.
    2 bye weeks.
    Increase salary cap for the extra roster slots.

    Players union could probably work in the CBA for a percentage of the salary cap to be guaranteed to make sure they get paid even if injured.

    Seems simple enough, but as we all know the union and owners will make it overly complicated. See the “is it a catch” rule over the years for exhibit A.

  43. Occam’s Whiskey Bottle says: “NFL needs to make up their minds! Either they believe in player safety or they don’t. They can’t have it both ways!”
    ——————–

    Football Outsiders looks at injury stats over a 10 year period. The probability of an injury during each week was FLAT – ie risk of getting hurt in Week 16 was the same as Week 2. There is no additional safety issue increasing to a 18-week schedule.

  44. Mike Florio posited on the show today that owners should present a film showing the violent hits, terrible astroturf, etc of the past which have been eliminated thus showing how player safety has improved to the point that players should not have a problem with an 18 game season. If I were a player, I’d counter with well, if there is so little chance of my being injured now, how about giving us guaranteed contracts?

  45. So here is the deal. On one hand this is a horrible idea. Player safety and product quality would be heavily impacted. Injuries will go up, career durations will go down.

    On the other hand….money.

  46. maxamili says: “I think 18 games is a joke. The super bowl winning team would’ve played 21 games. That’s crazy.”
    ————————

    The CFL plays a 18-game schedule plus playoffs. I don’t see ANY players or fans complaining about the number of games.

    So are you saying Canadians are tougher than Americans? Really?

  47. Pretty much all pro sports have major flaws now due to greed. World Series is in November with mostly outdoor stadiums. Stanley cup is in June. NBA has 4 good teams. TNF is the biggest joke ever. Why can’t these guys just be happy with the money they already make? This whole idea of perpetual growth is unsustainable. You people do realize this, right?

  48. billzbubb says:
    June 5, 2019 at 8:53 am
    Here’s how it should be done. 1) only two preseason games. 2) 18 regular season games. 3) Expand the rosters by 4 players. 4) No player on any team can participate in more than 16 games in the regular season.

    The last point takes away the complaint that it would be added wear and tear on the players. It also opens up a a lot of strategic moves by teams in choosing which two games to rest a starter. The QB decisions would be interesting. Backups would get two starts and a chance to show what they can do each season.

    ___________________________________________________

    Those two games that you are referring to (when the starters don’t play) is called the preseason

  49. heyguru1969 says:
    June 5, 2019 at 8:38 am
    Sadly, the greed factor is the ONLY factor that matters to Goodell the ultra-rich-already owner

    Can you imagine how it would be if the players were greedy also?

  50. akira1971 says:
    The CFL plays a 18-game schedule plus playoffs. I don’t see ANY players or fans complaining about the number of games.

    So are you saying Canadians are tougher than Americans? Really?
    ——-
    The problem is the NFL is Tougher. The players are bigger stronger and faster, which means the hits are harder, esp on linemen who have contact on every down.

  51. Thursday Night Football is great. I look forward to it each week. These guys literally see 13 minutes of total action during the course of a full a game. Dont tell me they cant get ready for 13 minutes of action in 4 days. And in that 13 minutes only a handful of players are actually getting hit.
    ******************************************************************************************
    I think the beating up part is more for linemen. Running backs and probably linebackers and slot receivers may get hit, but not as often and not as consistently. The linemen are getting the snot kicked out them every play. You go ahead and let some 285 lb. d-lineman whack the hell out of you for 13 minutes, rest for 4 days, or even a week and do it again. And again. THEN tell me how it’s not really that bad after few months.

  52. Football Outsiders looks at injury stats over a 10 year period. The probability of an injury during each week was FLAT – ie risk of getting hurt in Week 16 was the same as Week 2. There is no additional safety issue increasing to a 18-week schedule.
    ———————–

    Okay. So you’re saying the added two games would have zero injuries? You don’t understand math, friend. The PROBABILITY of an injury may not change, but when you add two games the probability extends to those two extra games. If, let’s say, 20 players are injured per week, that’s an additional 40 injuries.

  53. They need a shorter season not a longer one. Get rid of preseason games all together. Give the teams 5 weeks to get ready for the season however they deem fit. Omit the media from all prep. When the teams are ready for the first game, the media gets access. Have a 14 game season then start the playoffs. The media and the gamblers are the reason the NFL is a shell of itself.

  54. For those advocating expanded rosters and 16 game player limits, you do realize, don’t you, that neither the owners nor the players will go for that? The greedy owners don’t want to increase the cap money for the players and the greedy players don’t want to give up any of their own money to expand the rosters.

  55. I have the utmost respect for hockey players as I think they are some of the most skilled athletes in the world to be able to skate well, have stickwork, and be physical. But, to compare the hits by NHL players vs NFL players is completely ridiculous. I played both sports up to college, and am an avid fan of both sports, and there’s no comparison between the type of and number of hits football players take vs hockey. In football, almost every player is getting hit EVERY play while hockey players see really violent hits a few times a game.

    Again, hockey is a very physical sport and they do take a lot of hits, but nothing compared to football. Rugby is the closest to football and the rugby union leagues and they only play once a week or so.

  56. Wait… is Tony “I need to rest my players for the playoffs so that they lose by 30 because of having a 2 week vacation and coming in cold” Dungy acting like he cares what the fans want to see?

    I respect you Tony but you got to 1 Superbowl while having an all star team for years with your trying to keep people healthy for the playoffs method. Need we point out the participation trophy banners hanging up at Lucas Oil Stadium to remind you how many times teams who didn’t rest starters stomped you.

  57. 16 games is meaningful, but 18 is not? He’s comparing an 80 plus game regular season and 20 plus game playoffs in the NBA to adding 2 measly games?

    Please. Dungy is full of it, as usual.

  58. I would like to see the 18 game season, but with the caveat that a player can ONLY play in 16 games, and rosters expanded to accommodate the longer season.

  59. If you had 18 but players could only play in 16, it would be interesting what weeks the teams with premiere QBs played their backups. Other than that, it would probably not be noticed since guys miss 2-3 weeks almost every season.

  60. Why do you have to win 5 SBs to have an opinion? I hate when former players/coaches have something to say and all posters do is put them down. Talk about the topic please.

  61. One of the earlier posters said if the season were to be expanded to 18 games,starters would be given two games off so they only really play 16 games. I say what about the fans who get to go to a game every so many years, as the cost is great, and then get fisappointed when their star player sits the game that they saved up to go to?

  62. Everyone talking about greed realizes that the NFL won’t really make any more money. The NFL already charges full price for preseason games.

    The idea was always to limit the preseason to 2 games which starters will likely be limited in. So it’s not really going to be as stratification as people think

  63. Zachariah Smith says: “Everyone talking about greed realizes that the NFL won’t really make any more money. The NFL already charges full price for preseason games.”
    ——————-

    Gate revenue is barely 10% of the NFL business. The money is coming from tv contracts currently paying $9 billion a year that want another 2 regular season games that attract 1000x more eyeballs than pre-season stuff…

  64. As much as I love football, I would rather see an extended playoff picture than more regular season games. Want more meaningful football? Add games when it means the most.

  65. Spare me this self-righteous crap!
    Players are paid tens of millions every season, 120 more MINUTES of football is not a big deal.

  66. It’s hard enough as it is to get everyone through 16 games healthy, not including playoffs.

    I would rather see 2 more teams in the playoffs, top seed getting the bye week, that might get a 7th seed super bowl winner due to some division winners being garbage.

  67. “I would rather see 2 more teams in the playoffs”

    More teams in the playoffs is a bad idea. That will water down things to the point where potentially a team with a losing record in the regular season could get hot at the right time and win the Super Bowl. Does anyone really want to see that?

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