I like to give Sports Illustrated's Peter King the business from time to time for his love love of all things Brett Favre and Tom Brady. In light of recent events, however, King may be a one-handsome-NFL-quarterback man going forward (congrats, Tom! Hurry back!).
But when Mr. PK isn't slurping his two BFFs, he occasionally has something interesting to say. Like this nugget on extending the NFL season to 18 games, buried in his Monday Morning Quarterback column:
Somewhere down on the list of the little headlines from the NFL's annual fall meetings last week was the one about an 18-game regular-season schedule roaring down the tracks and headed for the 2010 or 2011 season, presumably with a corresponding drop in preseason games from four to two. ...
Playing 18 regular-season games would not make the football product better, but it would make the owners richer.
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Exactly. Two more regular-season games means 120 additional minutes for players to get hurt as some of them prepare for the playoffs. Anecdotally, I'd think the risk of injury increases as the season progresses; partly because almost every player is already nicked and bruised and more susceptible to getting hurt, and also because the laws of probability and physics suggest that sooner or later, bad things will happen when 300-pound dudes continually run full-speed into each other.
But the fans want it, right?
According to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, yes, yes they do. Again, from King's column:
"The No. 1 driving force for this is to satisfy the fans,'' Jones said after I'd given him my spiel. "Fans are already paying for 20 games [16 regular-season plus four preseason games], and they'd be doing the same thing under an 18-game schedule. This is a way to up the quality of the games for all fans. Now [Peter], I can tell you're thinking, 'Jerry, that's a bunch of BS ...''
And then Jones quieted King with another tub of delicious popcorn.
Here's the thing: sure, more football is a swell idea, but a bunch of hand-waving doesn't magically make it a great idea. And if the owners are so interested in giving the fans what they want, why don't they invest the millions they'll earn from the two additional regular-season games in improving player safety. And as long as we're wishing for stuff, find a way to shore up the officiating (in addition to the pep talks, of course).
King provides a list of 202 players who have already gone down through the first seven weeks. To think that the season could drag on for another 11 without a substantial across-the-league drop in quality of play is, well, insane. On the upside, the owners will be that much richer!
Somebody get Arlen Specter on this, stat.