Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The NFL's Proposed 2012 Schedule a Game of Give and Take

Watch and tremble as I tackle the NFL's looming eighteen-game season, AND COME TO NO CONCLUSION.

via Bleacher Report

A meeting of NFL owners brought forth the possibility of adding two extra games to the regular season. It looks to be one of the defining issues in the NFL moving forward.

The problem with changing the current NFL schedule is with give and take. Give something to one area, and you take from another.

More games means more money for owners. And, assuming that the players negotiate favorable terms in the next round of CBA talks, their payscale will rise with that of the NFL's revenues. Everybody likes money.

But more games also means that the longevity of players will be reduced. Those who are on teams in the playoff hunt will play much more in the two extra regular season games than they would have in preseason ones. That's already with having played an entire regular NFL season, which provokes its fair share of injuries.

This could increase injuries for older players and wear down younger ones, shortening careers at both ends of the spectrum. Unless they're compensated accordingly (with the general sentiment among the owners that they're losing money already) it's poison for the players.

If the players manage to secure those favorable terms it also takes away from the quality of player and salary cap flexibility of teams. And to accept an eighteen-game season, the players need to be taken care of with better contracts.

Then the teams are saddled with contracts that handcuff them to players who could be injured or slacking. Part of the NFL's high quality play comes from its cutthroat style of management. Either you're performing and producing or you're handed your walking papers. If teams signed Player X to a big deal as part of CBA compromises, they'll have to eat the dollars and subsequent loss of salary cap mobility that comes with long-term contracts. The revenue from the extra regular season games then just go to paying off bad roster moves.

And if the players are forced to accept smaller salaries and a longer season, look out. Then you have embittered employees who are making less for a game that is earning more. It opens up a world of underhanded possibilities for anyone disgruntled enough. There's also the question of worker's rights, as in how many hoops can NFL ownership make their players jump through before it becomes demeaning.

The quality of the games in an extended season would also increase and decrease. On one hand, two extra regular season games would keep teams vying for Wild Card spots in prolonged dogfights. A little more drama would ensue.

Then again, there are teams who sit starters at the end of the season when they've clinched their division. The games they'd play against teams out of the playoff race would have no meaning and generate less interest (like a preseason game). The games they would play against fringe contenders would bolster that team's playoff hopes while sabotaging those of another team forced to play someone still in contention (and playing their starters).

Fans don't like preseason games, but that's just because they want the season to come faster. Around this time of year the faithful grow stircrazy knowing another season is almost among us. The desperate would be willing to sacrifice preseason games for a taste of the genuine article.

Players on the bubble enjoy preseason games, because it's just one more opportunity to prove themselves. The NFL is an intimidating place, sometimes it takes a few swings by the players before they connect with their squad. By cutting someone too soon a team weakens itself without knowing.

But contrary to that, the extended season would allow for teams to play little used reserves in more regular season games in order to see their worth. They may even take snaps against stronger competition than they would see in preseason games, making their value more evident. The circular logic continues.

So if you're giving and taking from various aspects of the game, why not just keep things the same?

The owners are pressing, trying to squeeze more games from players while enjoying a larger slice of the money the games bring in. That won't stand with players, especially the ones left out in the cold of 2010's Uncapped Gold Rush.

So the players will strike, and the owners will stand pat. Players will see their savings dwindle and owners will be forced to keep paying the bills on mammoth stadiums. No one is making money until the other blinks. And whoever is left to pick up the tab will have a tremendous amount of contempt for the other side.

The real question, I guess, is are both sides willing to destroy the best game in town?

Until they actually turn thought into action, it's just a dangerous game of speculation, and chicken.

More football talk @ Scrawn Football.

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