An 18-Game Season Would Be Terrible For Football

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The NFL's collective bargaining agreement is up after the 2020 season, and negotiations have already began in earnest. Most of the discussions, as is the case across all sports when it comes to CBA negotiations, will revolve around players being paid appropriately as the sports industry grows more and more lucrative each year.

The biggest talking point in the public eye, as far as it pertains to the NFL, will always be the number of games. As more and more information about how the violence of the game impacts its players, it's become a pivotal topic among both fans and the league. Most recently, the owners have reportedly floated the idea of an 18-game season to the NFL Player's Association, with the caveat being players are limited to 16 games.

The concept is obvious: the more games there are, the more money owners will make, and the more football fans will see. A 16-game limit for players would do away with concerns about the physical impact of making the season longer. But there are numerous problems with this proposal. Simply put, it's a terrible idea, and the NFLPA shouldn't even consider adopting a longer season, especially under these parameters.

While the idea of a 16-game limit for the players seems to be a reasonable solution to the biggest opposition to a longer season, no one wins in that scenario. The on-field product would become saturated as coaches attempt to prioritize when the starters should play and when the backups should enter. There just aren't enough good football players to ensure the quality of play wouldn't drop when the most important guys on a given team are forbidden from playing two games out of the season.

There's a lot of butterfly effects that would come from having to give backups meaningful playing time, too. Just imagine if Tom Brady went down from a torn ACL after the backup running back missed a blindside blitz, or if Aaron Rodgers breaks his leg again because the reserve left tackle lets Khalil Mack walk into the backfield. Starters already go down all the time before the season starts, and fans are all too aware of how the quality of play will drop and the impact it will have. Now think about how bad the backup for the backup would be. They would have to play at least two games, no matter what.

This isn't even to mention the impact on the average fan who enjoys attending football games. Ticket prices are already extremely expensive, and I can't imagine the owners would be willing to work on dropping the face value just because there's two more games. Most fans have to buy their tickets in advance to afford attending. If you thought NBA fans were getting upset because their favorite player sits for “load management” on the night they have tickets, just wait until the Chiefs announce Patrick Mahomes will sit out the next game days beforehand.

The only clear winners are the owners, an exclusive group of multi-millionaires and billionaires who would earn more revenue from the two extra games. For the rest of us, the overall quality of play drops, you can't count on your favorite players being active for any given game, and any injuries suffered over the season will have a dramatically increased impact. Yes, we all love football dearly, and a longer season seems like it would be more fun. But if you look closely, it's bad for the game and bad for the players.

There might be a solution out there for a longer season that would benefit everyone. But this isn't it.

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