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The Case For an 18 Game Schedule

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Let’s face it. The preseason is a rip off. You know it. I know it. The players know it. The owners know it and maybe Roger Goodell knows it too. But for fans who want season tickets the preseason is a toll that must be paid.

[Press play to listen or continue reading below]

But with attendance dwindling around the league and as the creature comforts of watching games from home outpaces those of live games, tickets are almost always available, even at face value. So, unless you really have to sit amongst a large group of familiar faces, you really don’t have to pay for season tickets. You really don’t have to give your favorite team a 5-month interest free loan.

As he regularly does, Jerry Jones appeared on my friend’s Shan Shariff’s show, Shan and RJ on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas. Recently Jones suggested that the preseason should be cut to two games and the regular season expanded to 18 games. Here’s what the Cowboys owner had to say:

“I think, candidly, [the 18-game schedule] is probably physically better for players than it is to have the longer preseason, the longer practicing. Our studies show that we actually have a ramped-up injury situation with players during preseason as opposed to the injury factor in the regular season.”

When you give the Ravens most recent few years the eyeball test, that seems to be pretty spot on. The concept might also create higher paying jobs for the players given the increased revenue from a bigger TV schedule.

But to make it work team’s will have to expand rosters to 60; allow all 60 to dress on game day; expand the practice squad to a dozen; and add a second-bye week for all teams. When you add it up the regular season would be 20 games long and the Super Bowl would be played during the last week of February.

It all boils down to the numbers. What’s in it for the league, the players and the networks. Of course, the record books will be skewed and accomplishments like those of Jerry Rice which once seemed safe for all time, may no longer represent unreachable stars.

That said, on paper the 18-game schedule sounds legit if Jones’ injury research is accurate. But this might be nothing more than a negotiating ploy for the league as it closes in on the end of the current collective bargaining agreement in 2021.

But by then, if the NFLPA and owners are as far apart as some believe, the rip off known as preseason games, may be a moot point anyway.

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