The NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) comes around every few years where the NFL owners cook up ideas to change things; like the structure of the league (usually to make more money) and then the players themselves, along with their union; the NFLPA, battle things out and with the owners to find a solution. The first talking point is the possibility of the league moving to a 17 game regular season.
17 Game regular season: Good or bad?
Initially I’m all for more football games, of course I am. Fans and probably players want that too. Certainly the more games the players play the more money they will make? The players’ revenue will increase to 48% and then later to 48.5% , but to what cost?
The squad sizes will increase from a 53 man roster to a 55 man one to allow for the possibility of extra injuries from this extra game. It is undecided whether there will be an extra bye week or not. So that is 64 more professional football players in the league-again not a bad thing.
There is also talk that this 17th game would be played on a neutral space, like London, or other cities. While that is great for the fans in areas without an NFL team, the extra travel for the players is not that great.
If a neutral site is not figured out for these 16 extra games then it would be very unfair as some teams would have 9 away games while others would have just 8 and that just isn’t very sporting, especially as the NFL’s CBA prides itself on parity. Plus every other professional sports (on the whole) play an even amount of games, mainly for this very reason. The Premier League discussed a neutral 39th game and that got tossed out pretty quickly.
One up side is that with the 17 game regular season, we would see only three pre-season games. The fans tend to not enjoy the pre-season, but that might just be a gripe because the tickets for such games are the same price as regular season games! The NFL sells a 10 game ticket package to fans (two pre-season and eight regular season), so by default the home fans are always going to be undersold by the pre-season games.
In other sports pre-season games are vital for new players to gel, and because of that the ticket prices are much lower. It would be impossible for NFL teams to not play pre-season games and then expect their level of play to be amazing on week one. Unless NFL teams play scrimmages behind closed doors in the future, which would be a real shame. The answer is not necessarily play more regular season games, but to lower the cost of pre-season game- just like other sports do.
The other downside to the 17 game structure, is the stats. Since 1978 teams have played 16 regular season games (prior to that it was 14) , and many players have recorded amazing stats in those 16 games. Now a lesser player could smash those seasonal records by having that extra 17th game.
It is also presumed that if the CBA agree to 17 games, then in the future we will see the introduction of 18 games. This will solve the home and away lopsided affair. Though the NFLPA would, I’m sure, really demand for a second bye week. Only time will tell, and we may ironically have to put up with a few strange 17 game seasons before things level out for an 18 one.
Written by Adam Goldstein @TailgateKnight