What could be better than NFL football? Well, more NFL football of course. That’s what you can bet NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was counting on last week when he once again stoked the fires of the18-game schedule debate, and it should be an easy sell. But before we get too excited about the possibility of expanding our football experience by 12.5%; let’s wait and see just how sincere the Comissioner’s wishes are.
There’s no secret that there’s a war going on behind the scenes of the NFL on the labor front. With 2010 already operating as an uncapped season, and no promise of NFL football as we know it beyond that, there’s a significant chance that this is simply a bargaining chip created by the league only for the purpose of conceding it back in collective bargaining.
There’s no question that the fans would be behind expanding the schedule, especially the ticket buying fans who have long lamented over having to pay for two full priced tickets for pre-season games. Since Goodell’s proposal simply turns one of the tickets that they’re already buying into one for an actual game, who’d raise an objection to that?
The Player’s Union would, that’s who. Certainly more play should equal more pay, and without concessions to the union, expanding the schedule would be a no-go. Which again, begs the mention that as everything is on the table for negotiation going forward, both sides already have a long list of concessions, some real others contrived, that they’ll be seeking in order to come to an agreement with things as they are. Negotiating to increase the schedule, along with the necessary pay and roster changes seems like an awfully sticky issue to bring into the mix with so much else already undecided.
If the NFL goes without a cap, it will go without as floor too. That will be the biggest issue seemingly decided in this round of collective bargaining. It’s pretty easy to imagine that there will be a faction of large market owners looking to go with the uncapped model, what remains to be seen however is how many of the small market franchises might be content to take their share of the TV revenue, and pocket money under a model with no floor. If there are enough of those owners, banded together, the competitively balanced NFL we have come to know will be a thing of the past, and the NFL might head down the same path we’ve watched baseball traverse for the last few decades.
If there is a cap however, then how do you appease the players for agreeing to two more games? More games would mean more TV revenue, which would increase the cap by some, but percentages are what’s being negotiated here. It would seem that the extra revenue generated by two additional games would be offset in percentages by the increase in player’s current salaries for playing those two extra games. Factor in the propensity for injury, and the Player’s Union will certainly argue that two games piled on to sixteen existing ones have an exponential impact on players’ bodies beyond the simple 12.5% that would be added to the season.
More roster spots you say? Adding roster spots, without increasing the percentage of revenue devoted to the salary pool, simply means more players to pay with the same amount of money to spend. Do you believe that the owners would give away a greater percentage of their total haul, just to add two games to the schedule? Let’s not forget that they’re already making some money on the extra games we’re talking about, as they’re selling them now as pre-season.
Think Roger Goodell is sincere in his desire to give fans more of what they want? We’ll see if the “players don’t need four pre-season games” argument still stands if and when the 18-game schedule is defeated. I’m betting not.
How about if the Comissioner’s office works on making the 16-game schedule that they currently play relevant? If they figure out a way to prevent the annual parade of playoff bound teams from mailing in the last two weeks of the season, then for my money at least, that’d be much better than creating two more chances to add to the pool of playoff teams going through the motions in the season’s final weeks or two more games for them to do it in. And it would certainly sit better with most than two more Lions games, two more Browns games and two more Raiders games every season.
And if the NFL wants to add another week of TV revenue to their coffers, let them go back to the two bye week schedule. Anyone else remember 1993?
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