When I first began to follow pro football in 1971, I remember fourteen regular season games, six pre-season games, and eight teams in the playoffs. The Super Bowl was in mid-January, either in Miami, New Orleans, or Los Angeles. After a long winter and spring, I didn’t mind six “pretend” games to whet my appetite for the ones that really counted.
Now up, is the consideration to add two to the games that count, and subtract two from the ones that don’t. It’s s surprise that they are considering dropping two exhibition games from the summer and just adding two playoff games.
I don’t follow football as avidly as I once did. But for competitive reasons, I don’t think more than sixteen is an improvement at all. Actually I think the NFL would do fine with just fourteen regular season games. Twelve teams in the playoffs out of thirty-two is about right. 16 or 14 competing in the Super Bowl tournament doesn’t make sense to me.
I remember one or two seasons in the early 90’s in which the NFL played an eighteen-week schedule. Every team had two Sunday byes. I never read or heard why that didn’t work. It would seem to make sense to give players more of a break from the grind of high-momentum collisions.
For the players and for the sake of competition, I think playing a fourteen-game season over sixteen weeks makes the most sense. I hope the players don’t get hoodwinked into eighteen games. Four months of football is a terrific grind–much worse than three months in the 50’s and 60’s.
We have to realize that the commissioner and owner care about two things: making money now by maximizing the product, and making money in the future by preserving the image of the league. They care about the players as commodities, but individually, almost all football players are meaningless to them.
Failing a return to fourteen games that count, I hope that sixteen games can be played in eighteen weeks. And start ’em the last week of August. For those mid-week games, make sure the teams paired have no weekend games on either end of a weeknight match-up. Spread out the weeknight games to Tuesday and Wednesday, too. Stay off Fridays and Saturdays so the schools can play without pro competition on the tube.