The fans seem to want to stick with 16 games

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With the sudden proliferation of stories about the NFL’s desire to expand the season to 18 games, we decided on Friday to get scientific. Or as close to scientific as social media allows.

A Twitter poll asked you, the reader, to vote on four options for the length of a season: 16 games, 17 games, 18 games, or 18 games with maximum player participation of 16.

More than 44,000 responded, and the initial returns nearly matched the final numbers. A whopping 62 percent of those who responded want to stick with 16 games.

Of the remaining 36 percent, most (24 percent) wanted 18 games. And nine percent opted for 18 games with the 16 per-player limit. Only five percent cast a vote for a 17-game season (which is my own personal preference).

The idea of playing 18 games with a limit of 16 per player has lingered for several years. The NFL reportedly has proposed the concept during labor negotiations with the NFL Players Association.

Many have criticized the concept, loudly. Fans don’t like it, the media doesn’t like it, players don’t like it. Packers CEO Mark Murphy spoke out against it.

The idea of making star players healthy scratches simply doesn’t resonate. And even if quarterbacks, who enjoy extra protection beyond those afforded to non-quarterbacks, were exempt from the 16-game limit, would teams be comfortable exposing a franchise quarterback to something less than the best blockers, if those blockers are healthy and able to play?

It’s one thing if the left tackle has a bad knee. It’s another if the quarterback is running for his life because the backup left tackle is playing the entire game due to an arbitrary rule that requires the man who protects his blind side to sit two games per year.

Impractical as the concept is, the fact that the league proposed it shows how intent the league is on expanding the season. The union is intent on opposing it, or at least intent on creating the impression that the union is intent on opposing it.

Ultimately, the NFL will have to make the union an offer it can’t refuse. For the union, the challenge will be knowing precisely when to not refuse it.

77 responses to “The fans seem to want to stick with 16 games

  1. If the league went 18, I’ll bet those 44,000 would still watch and the players would accept the game checks. Once the fun and cash kicks in, it will be a great idea suddenly.

  2. I feel like this 2 game healthy scratch idea is being pitched as a bargaining tool. On the surface it’s seems like a compromise, but the NFL would really be messing with the product they put on the field if they did this, and fans will guaranteed hate this if it were implemented. It’s a feel bad for everyone, the idea is so unpalatable that over time, 17 or 18 games just sounds better, an in the end will be the compromise to the original compromise.

  3. Thanks for writing this Florio!!

    I’ve been waiting for someone in the mainstream media to say,

    “But are ANY fans asking for this????”

    The answer is NO!

    All we want is the pre-season solved so these guys come in ready to play and don’t take the first 4 weeks playing glorified practice games.

  4. The NFL doesn’t really want an 18-game schedule but they need to pretend they do so the NFLPA will have to give something back for the NFL to “stick” with the current 16-game schedule. It’s all part of the Collective Bargaining game. Both sides keep adding “bargaining chips” to their pot, then during the negotiations they “give up” some of their “chips”. Half the chips are fake, stuff they don’t really care about giving up to actually keep or “get” the stuff they really want. All the talk about 18-game schedules is just noise nobody should even pay attention to.

  5. If there’s going to be a change, I’d like to see 17 games. Add an additional buy week and the NFL would get two extra weekends of regular season games to sell. Have each team play one game at a neutral site to grow the game and ditch two preseason games to give some value back to the season ticket holders and reduced injury risk for the players.

  6. The most absurd answer for extending the season was the packers GM, saying, he did not like 8-8 seasons.

    I love football, but 16 games is enough.

    The playoff schedule is perfect

    If you want to make the game better, expand the roster. But that would mean spending money.

    This league needs QBs. If teams could carry four QBs maybe they can learn and be great.

  7. Until they come up with a new four-team division in Europe (and there’s no other way to have a European-based team) 16 games is perfect. If it ain’t broke…

  8. Tom Brady plays 18 game nearly every season. He seems healthy. Much ado about nothing.

  9. Since when has the NFL EVER done what the fans actually wanted? The league will do what the owners want–and what the owners want is more revenue. Wait and see.

  10. I’m not on Twitter. Count me as someone who wants to stay with a 16 game season.
    Quit deluting your product.

  11. Easy solution.
    16 games with an additional bye.
    That adds an extra week of TV revenue with no extra games being played.

  12. It was a twitter poll, I’m not sure if anyone has noticed
    Twitter really doesn’t represent how most people think
    or act in normal society.
    I and every football fan I know would like to get rid
    two preseason games and have two more regular season games.

  13. Just add a bye to every team so they have two byes, but otherwise keep them at 16 games. Also with the extra byes schedule things so that teams playing on Thursday are always coming off a a bye. So now the NFL is getting 18 weeks of viewership revenue while the player safety picture gets a little better because guys aren’t playing on four days rest any more. Thats a win/win.

  14. well if the fans want it, you can be sure the nfl wont go with it. they dont care what we want anymore. between the insane salary demands for marginal players to the endless frame by frame breakdowns of innocuous plays and the cover ups and apologies for blatant fouls they refuse to correct, the games losing its luster.

  15. I would like to see 17 games, drop two pre-season games and add an extra Bye week.

  16. The NFL has already diminished my enjoyment of the games, due to games on so many days. Why would I want them to diminish my enjoyment even more with diluting the quality more than the last CBA, and PI rules already have?

  17. It seems like many teams have trouble fielding a competent OL and DL as it is. Now, if you have to have healthy scratches for an 18 game (play only 16) season, it would not be good football. Stick with 16 games. If anything, include another bye week, so you could give every team a bye before their Thursday night games (since those won’t go away).

  18. 60 man rosters, all active on game days, 2 bye weeks, start on Labor Day weekend, 16 regular season games.


  19. My favorite thing about the NFL is that every game matters because there are only 16. All the other leagues expanded to so many games, that nearly every game by itself is meaningless. Managers will sit players for rest because there are too many games. Nobody cares if you lose a game or 2 in a row in baseball, while in football every game is super important. The fact that it has so few games is what makes it more special. I continue to favor keeping it at 16 games. I could care less how many pre-season games they play, just quit charging ticket holders full price for them.

  20. The NFL has already diminished my enjoyment of the games, due to games on so many days. Why would I want them to diminish my enjoyment even more with diluting the quality more than the last CBA, and PI rules already have?
    I see this posted often and always wonder why the commenters just don’t watch? I love having football three days a week, but if you don’t, turn off the TV.

  21. The Super Bowl was pushed into February strictly for cynical reasons: to have the NFL included in an additional ratings ‘book.’

    It should start Labor Day weekend – more games on the first Monday would be possible and draw more ratings.

    Sep 1-Dec 22 = 17 weeks, allows bye
    WC Dec 28/29
    Div Jan 4/5
    Conf Champ Jan 11/12
    Super Bowl Jan 19 to utilize Presidents Day holiday
    push SB to Jan 26 if absolutely necessary (it isn’t)

    New Years period might be tricky with CFB playoff but they’ve done it before

  22. mrbigass says:
    July 15, 2019 at 12:29 am
    Just have fewer preseason games and I’m good….


  23. 16 is perfect. You can keep the preseason, too….just don’t put $75 face value on the tickets. Leave well enough alone.

  24. The preseason is a necessary evil. The only way to get good at playing football is by playing football. 4/16 is the tested and proven winning format.

  25. How would the 2 games a player has to sit change consecutive start streaks? Not that they are that common, but it is still cool to see guys like Joe Thomas going out every day, every season and not missing a start.

  26. 18 game season is the first step towards adding another “prime time” game. You can bet they’ll find a timeslot outside of MNF, TNF, SNF to throw in another “highlight matchup” each week.

  27. I like how everyone says the owners are greedy. Probably so but what the players are not… really? When was the last time an owner signed a contract with a player and didn’t show up.

  28. The season is long enough. It’s like adding an extra 5 miles to a marathon. As it is, is Patriots fans have to keep watching games with our team until early February.

  29. I liked the 17 game (one neutral site) that PFT was encouraging a few years back. But not as a means for purely international exposure.

    The reduction of preseason games is a non issue. It’s not like any player already ‘on the roster’ plays all 4. Reducing them won’t change how many games Cam Newton plays in preseason, but it might change how many undrafted James Doe plays.

  30. I’m in the minority here… I do not the 18/16 idea. We make a big deal about the two ‘healthy scratches’ but the reality is that players are always so banged up during the year… I would imagine that 60% of the time, the decision of starting someone vs sitting him would be based on injury anyway. The injury that a player would normally be forced to play through, he could be scratched instead.

    I don’t hate the idea; I find it to be intriguing.

  31. I like the 17 game schedule and a 19 week regular season, with each team getting two BYE weeks. The new 17th game would be set in advance, you would play the same place finisher from the other Conference Division that you played the previous season. The new 17th game would therefore all be Non-Conference and Non-Divison games. ALL of these games would be either Neutral Site Games or International Games. Eight of these games each per season, and teams would alternate each year between International and Domestic Neutral Site games. No team could play a neutral site game within 500 miles of their home stadium unless both teams playin were within this arc. Every International and Neutral Site Game would be played after a team had a BYE week. International Games and Neutral Site Games would be played on Wednesday Night, again only AFTER a BYE week.

  32. The NFL’s proposal to play 18 games but limit guys to appearing in 16 is absolutely the worst idea ever. Even people who’d like to see 18 games hate that idea.

  33. Just an idea…

    16 game reg season with the final 2 games of the preseason counting as the first tiebreaker for playoff games.

  34. Another idea unrelated…

    Overtime: First team to score wins. The team with the most total yardage in regulation gets the ball first.

  35. Is the twitter-verse actual sane people?

    The normal attention span populace would probably show up at 90% for 16 games 🙂

  36. If the league wants 18 games I think the NFLPA should consider it but come with some pretty high demands to get it.

    1. The commission know longer decides on suspensions it becomes a panel of arbitrators.

    2. Legalize recreational Marijuana use.

    3. Raise the minimum spending requirement

    4. Players get at least another 5% in the shared revenue pool

    5. Setup long term, life after football, healthcare paid for by the league/teams.

    Obviously you aren’t going to get all of this, but if you come with options they can at least come back with counters.

  37. You know you are greedy when you’re so desperate for 2 extra games of revenue that you’re willing to dole out this ‘everyone has to sit out 2 games’ nonsense.

    For the love of all that is sacred…just leave well enough alone already NFL.

  38. Aside from ticket revenue, wouldn’t adding two additional bye weeks give you an extra two weeks of football on television, creating two more weeks of television ad revenue? I feel like that would benefit the players as well.

  39. “I and every football fan I know would like to get rid
    two preseason games and have two more regular season games.”

    Just the opposite for everyone I know. You do realize that if you take away those 2 preseason games it dilutes the product even more don’t you? That any team with a new head coach and staff installing new systems will not have enough time to do so and are guaranteed to fail the first year? And that young players and rookies won’t have enough time on field in the preseason to absorb what is needed for them to make a roster?

  40. mrbigass says:
    July 15, 2019 at 12:29 am
    Just have fewer preseason games and I’m good….

    55 15 Rate This


    I am SHOCKED 15 voted they ‘enjoy’ 4 preseason games. These aren’t football fans but old people that have their arms crossed saying, “HRUMPH! I don’t like change.”

  41. Greed pure and simple… more games equals billions for the owners and the commish.

  42. The 18 game stretch I feel would be used poorly in my opinion. Say you have the Patriots you are taking on or another team that is doing very very well. Let’s send in the backups because a team has a lesser chance to win compared to other games down the road.

  43. One benefit of 18 games with a 16 game limit for players is that it allows existing individual player records from the 16-game era to still be meaningful, except for consecutive games played records. To me that’s one of the main problems with an 18-game season is that it creates a whole new era of individual player records.

  44. The 18 game w/ players only playing 16 games idea is stupid. It’s just another way for the owners to charge regular season prices for what essentially becomes 2 preseason games. Imagine you pay big money to take your family to a game and the star QB/RB/WR sits. That would piss me off to no end.

    The NBA does this kind of crap. You could buy tickets and plan all season to see LeBron, Kawhi, Steph, or KD and that game they decided to take a “maintenance day”, so you end up watching their less talented backup. Forget that noise.

  45. Keep it at 16 games, but at the end of the regular season, seed every team 1-16 in the AFC and NFC, and let every team make the playoffs. There’s your 17th game. Re-bracket after round one, and have the lowest seed play the highest seed for week two, and now we are down to four in each conference. Week three, re-bracket and you’ll have your conference champions in week four and your Super Bowl in week five. Two teams will play 21 regular season games and 4 pre-season games (maybe 5 if they are in the HOF game) but what the heck, I can propose crazy stuff too! Or, hear me out… keep it the way it is…

  46. More games, really? Baseball now 162 games. Other than a handful of pitchers who throw strikes and thus dont throw a lot, the majority of the rest arms are already shot from just half a season. Now everyone gets a hit, lots of runs and that is watered down baseball, just what the owners think we want. I love that Nov baseball in the snow.
    Hockey? Oct to June. Just cant have enough games. Unfortunately the game is all defense now and the game is boring for 9 months of the 9 month season. Those 1 zip games just grab you.
    Football. Other then the coaches no one else can make it through 16 let alone 18. First they dont want to practice or hit. They dont want to play three down ball or it wears them down. Real defense left the building when the owners decided they needed more scoring so more penalties on defense was created.

  47. NFL players want to be paid like NBA & MLB players, who play 82 and 162 games per season, respectively. The NFL has just 16 games, and I’d pay good money to bet that the average NFL player misses multiple games per season on average.

    The way I see it, is the pot will not get materially larger unless there are more games. If the NFL drops 2 pre-season games for 2 regular season games, and perhaps even adds an extra wild-card game per conference, then we’re talking perhaps tens of billions of new dollars injected into the sport via TV contracts, marketing, and added sales.

    Otherwise, nothing will change from the current structure where 80% of the salary cap goes to 20% of the players (or worse, 90/10?). Add games, consider dropping the salary cap, making it less of a socialist structure, and there should be more money to go around.

  48. Until 1978 it was 14 game seasons. It’s been 16 since 78, used to be 14 & before that 12, 1 yr it was 11. Change it to 18 games and a decade from now people will no longer remember 16 games seasons.

  49. I believe that the NFL proposes 18 games specifically to make the NFLPA have to fight against it in negotiations, knowing full well they don’t need 18 games.

    If the fans were asking for it I would maybe think differently, but it seems like just a negotiation tactic to me.

    The end result will be the players will have to give in on something else to get the 18 games off the table.

  50. Im good with either. I follow the CFL as well and they have 18 games.

    Just dont dilute the product by having players sit out games. That IMO would be awfull.

    Instead expand rosters and game day rosters. Also adjust the players contracts to give them the fair share of the expended revenue.

  51. I believe MANY are missing the point here. The owners ARE either going to keep the 4 preseason and 16 regular season game schedule or go to 2 preseason and 18 regular season games schedule. They are NOT going to give up revenue from preseason games and not add to the regular season. So it’s really a no brainer, the season will expand to 18 games in 2020. You can take it to the bank. Personally I have no problem with it moving to 18 games as I am sick and tired of watching 4 meaningless preseason games every season.

  52. As Dolphin I am against it. An extra two games just prolongs the misery. Two weeks into the playoffs I am starting to get my sense of humour back and start thinking about the next season.

  53. Why are people trying to constantly change the rules and the game in general? Just leave things alone and focus on finding better coaches so that the quality of play can increase

  54. Why not compromise: 3 Preseason, 18 Regular Season, 2 byes. That only adds 1 total game to the players and gives an extra bye to allow teams to get healthier.

  55. There’s something to be said about leaving the fans wanting more. The league is near the saturation point. Sure, short term they’d make more money. Long term, larger scale issue like apathy.

  56. More regular season games means more chances for serious injuries. It is not what fans want to see. Most starters, including quarterbacks, play little during the preseason because of fear of injuries.

  57. Why are fans opting for fewer preseason games? Preseason gives you a chance to see young players or backups that may be another year away from starting or to get excited about guys just drafted. How’s that bad?

    Also, the first few regular season games are sloppy enough due to rust even with 4 regular season games. Unless you like watching sloppy football, not sure making preseason even shorter will help that.

  58. Said it before and I’ll say it again, the 16 game schedule is perfect. The format of playing the teams in your division twice, alternating an AFC and NFC division to play, and then playing the 2 teams from the other divisions in the conference is perfect.

  59. It is not the 18 the fans want.

    The ticket buying fans don’t want to pay full price for pre season.

    If I gotta pay for that give me another game.

    The real thing is expanded rosters are needed.

    I am fine with the way it is now. If starters are gonna play a series then my tickets should reflect that.

  60. Fewer preseason and 16 game schedule that is what fans want. Teams have a hard time fielding a team in January as it is.

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