Saturday, August 14, 2010

Let The Games Begin: Week -4

Football is (sort of) back, and it couldn't come soon enough. The Cowboys and Bengals got things going last Sunday, with the rest of the teams playing their "Week -4" games Thursday, Friday, today, tomorrow, and Monday.

The first couple weeks of the preseason are undoubtably the most fun to watch. For the first quarter or so, all the starters take the field in an attempt to get back into the swing of things. It actually resembles a legitimate football game. Then all the guys looking to snag the last few roster spots file onto the field and things get ugly in a hurry.

It's a hotly debated topic in the sports world: should the NFL shorten the preseason in order to extend the regular season?

You're free to make your own judgments, but I'm the one with the blog. So right now, we're going to talk about what I think. And I think the NFL schedule is just fine the way it is.

From a pure business standpoint, there's a plethora of reasons why the NFL would consider extending the regular season. More games mean more tickets to sell, which translates directly into higher league-wide revenue. Additional games would also make the television deals even more lucrative than they already are. (The NFL makes close to $4 billion per season from national TV deals including CBS, NBC, ESPN, FOX, and DirecTV).

Fans might enjoy a longer season too. A few more Sundays to spend on the couch yelling at the TV sure do sound appealing. As if I need an excuse.

So why would extending the season be a mistake? Well, there are two glaring reasons.

1) More garbage games - Every year, there are a few teams that just can't hack it. In recent memory, the Raiders and Lions have been the most consistent basement sweepers. So if the NFL added more games, these fans would have to spend a few more games with paper bags over their heads. No one wants to watch Al Davis make moronic front office decisions for an extra two weeks. This works the other way too, though. We all remember last season, when the Jets laughed their way into the playoffs because the Colts and Bengals stopped caring. I don't think I could subject my self to more of those games.

2) Injuries reign supreme - The NFL is a dangerous league. Every year, teams lose a few marquis players. That's just the way it is. Maybe a franchise quarterback breaks his leg or tears his ACL. Maybe the starting running back gets one too many concussions. If the regular season went even longer, crowning a Super Bowl champion would be less about finding the best team. Instead, the franchise that got the ring would simply be the team that was lucky enough to still have a few healthy players.

So there you go: the 17-week season is long enough. Of course, this is win-win. If the NFL decides to add more games, I don't think it would be the right choice. But I sure wouldn't be mad.

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