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An 18 Game Season: To Be Or Not To Be?

As the regular season inches near more and more, fans wonder to themselves; "Wouldn't it be nice if as a fan, I got more bang for my buck?" Well, once again the proposal of an 18 game NFL season has emerged. The NFL made this presentation to the NFLPA Wednesday, and it is currently under consideration. Which begs the question; is it worth it?

An 18 game regular season would greatly benefit NFL franchises with extra ticket revenue. And teams like the Jacksonville Jaguars would certainly benefit from this boost, considering they are on the verge of bankruptcy and relocation. The only problem is NFL player labor issues. Looking as if a lock-out is on the horizon, why would the NFL do more to upset the players with extra work?

(More after the "Jump")


Mike Murphy, President of the Green Bay Packers had the solution to this problem; cut two games from the Pre-season and add them to the regular season, so in retrospect players are playing the same amount of games. Bam, more games same amount of labor. This would be a great sight for fans, because the Pre-season is a dry and boring month of pointless games for everyone but players fighting for a job. He also proposed the idea of adding a bye week at the start of the regular season as part of the initiative, to give NFL teams two Bye-weeks in the regular season which could reduce player fatigue and injuries.


"I think this is an idea that is really gaining momentum particularly within the owners," Murphy said of the enhanced season. "It's something we've talked a lot about over the last year."

NFL owners have yet to vote on moving to an 18-game regular season, but Commissioner Roger Goodell has spoken out strongly in favor of it on many occasions. Murphy said the league would not act unilaterally to impose this plan on players, with it being in his mind part of the solution to the gulf that currently exists between the sides as they try to hash out a new labor agreement before the current one expires in the spring.


"This is all subject to our bargaining process with the players," said Murphy, a former NFL player and former vice president of the NFLPA, after the first negotiation between the NFL and NFLPA since February.

George Atallah, assistant executive director of external affairs for the NFLPA, said the union would not have a formal response to the proposal other than to point out three primary concerns with it. He said the NFLPA had "concerns" about the reliability of the data the league provided regarding the impact of an 18-game regular season and injury risks, and how the league would provide "post-career health care." And, as well, how players would be paid, with Atallah suggesting there would have to be "enhanced compensation," to the players since the number of meaningful games is expanding.

"Those are the three real key things for us," Atallah said

NFL Players Tom Brady and Ray Lewis have spoken out about the possibility of an 18 game season.

Brady: "I’ve taken part in several postseason runs where we have played 20 games, The long-term impact this game has on our bodies is well documented. Look no further than the players that came before we did. Each player today has to play three years in order to earn five years of post-career health care. Our Union has done a great job of raising the awareness on these issues and will make the right decision for us players, the game and the fans."

Lewis: "I’ve been blessed to play this game for so long, but it’s time to start thinking about what legacy and impact changes like this will leave for the players of tomorrow and us after we retire. I know our fans may not like preseason games and I don’t like all of them, but swapping two preseason games for two end-of-season games -- when players already play hurt -- comes at a huge cost for the player and the team."


An 18-game season also would likely come with a one-week break for all teams after the second and final preseason game, larger practice squads and overall roster size, and possibly a return to the old system of injured reserve. Now if a player is put on IR to clear a roster spot, he is out for the season, but in the past he would have to miss at least six weeks.

In general, the league believes that players and teams do not require four weeks of preseason to be prepared, and the declining interest in exhibition football does not sit well with league officials. Adding games to the regular season also increases the ability to play more abroad as well, as the NFL continues its efforts to capture more of the global market.

I for one think Murphy's proposal is a great one for Fans, Players, and Teams. It increases Revenues for Franchises, 60% of the NFL's revenue goes to the players, so with more money, Salary Caps will probably increase allowing teams to make a bigger impact in free-agency whilst staying under their cap. And Fans, will just be pacified by the fact that they only have to wait two games for the regular season to kick of instead of the current 4 weeks. I think this is a brilliant idea by the NFL and Mark Murphy, and I hope it gets passed.

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