The Great Debate: Is Expanding the Regular Season to 18 Games a Good Idea?

Smitty passively puts down the challenge flag at the idea of an 18 game season. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

In this series of posts, I seek to find the answer to questions that are brought up around here or around the various sports conversation sites. I use a realistic, low-stat opinion to generate discussion about these topics, but I also encourage the use of stats in an argument.

This is something that affects not just the Falcons, but the entire league as well. Bill Polian states here that an 18 game season is a "done deal", and ESPN says here that the NFL and NFLPA have been debating about it for some time.

The issue, as silly as it seemed at one point, is now looming large with the Collective Bargaining Agreement expiring at the end of this season.

Follow me after the jump and let’s discuss the potential expansion of the NFL regular season from 16 to 18 games.

Lest we forget, the NFL once had a 14 game regular season. That was a bit before my time, but one could call upon history and suggest that the NFL will be fine. After all, a 14 game season expanding to a 16 game season would be just like asking every team to come 1 (or 2) games short of the Super Bowl instead of not reaching the playoffs at all.

I love watching the FOX pre-game show. I may not always agree with their picks (Dear Jimmy Johnson, your "It’s upset week" logic of picking not only worked, but made the other guys look silly.) but my favorite thing that they do is the section called "Fired Up!"

For those of you who don’t know, they run the Fired Up section towards the end of the broadcast. The Fired Up section is an opportunity for one of the guys in the booth to have a couple minutes of monologue on an issue they have in the NFL. It’s great because they always do such a good job of pointing out things a regular fan may not understand.

Case in point: Howie Long’s issue with going from 16 games to 18 games in the regular season, as shown in this video. (If the video doesn’t cooperate at first, give it time, it’ll work.)

Their credibility precedes them. Howie Long, Terry Bradshaw, Jimmy Johnson, and even Michael Strahan have all been standout individuals in the sport of football, so when they take an issue to something, it’s best to listen.

The opinions of going from 16 games to 18 games vary widely depending on who you ask. The owners insist that they aren’t making any money because they’ve been put in such massive debt by building new stadiums, among other things, so they want to expand the regular season to 18 games so that they can get more money from the networks.

That sounds fine, in theory, but the owners need to understand something. New stadiums are nice, and state of the art technology always brings in more fans, but at what cost? Are the owners really losing that much money? Or are they complaining that their billion dollar stadiums aren’t generating enough revenue after just a few seasons of being open?

Perhaps they should put a higher quality product on the field to draw more fans in before building a new house.

Howie said it best.  Over the past 3 seasons, there were 915 players put on IR. NINE-HUNDRED AND FIFTEEN. That’s absurd!

Now, you have cause for a rift between the players and the owners. I might be 21 years old, but you and I both know that this world runs off of money, and the owners believe they’re not getting enough money.

Here’s where the debate kicks in. I’m on the players’ side on this one. They may be overpaid, but many of the players don’t work once football is over, and even if they do work, a (stupid decision) lack of a college degree puts them in a miserable position.

Some former players have spent all their money, gone hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, and have ultimately ruined their lives after football. It’s sad, but the stories are out there, folks.

I fully believe that the players deserve to get paid. Putting their bodies through horrendous collisions year after year catches up to all of them eventually. Multiple surgeries, tests, and pain management can all end up costing more money than many of the lower paid players have to give.

Asking the players to play two more games may seem like it might be an easy task if you take it at face value. True, it would put everyone through what is currently a good playoff run, but what of the perennial playoff teams? Our Falcons could certainly become a yearly playoff contender.

How would aging veterans like John Abraham and Mike Peterson handle an extra 4 games? Just to win the Super Bowl, they would have to play 18 games and then potentially 4 more games. That’s 6 extra games from last year!

What about the potential injuries that could come of the extra games? More injured players means more surgeries, which could potentially cause the NFL to spiral into something that is no longer fun to watch due to the injury-prone nature of pushing everyone’s bodies beyond exhaustion.

I think expanding the season from 16 to 18 games is a bad idea largely because I think the players’ bodies are already pushed to the limit year in and year out. Also, any rookies that would have an opportunity to shine now only get half the chances to prove themselves. The rookies are essentially getting choked out of their chance in the NFL.

What do you all think? Do you think expanding the regular season to 18 games is a good idea? I believe that there's someone out there who could make a good case in its favor.

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