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Changing The Game: The "Enhanced" Season


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A couple of weeks ago, passing a bit below the radar, the NFL formally pitched the idea of an "enhanced season" to the NFLPA. At its crux, the enhanced season proposal calls for (1) expanding the regular season schedule from 16 to 18 games; (2) reducing the preseason from four games to two; (3) adjusting roster size and injured reserve rules; and/or (4) adding a bye week at the start of the regular season. As you can imagine, the NFLPA isn't exactly jazzed about the idea of adding two more regular season games.

George Atallah, assistant executive director of external affairs for the NFLPA, said the union would not have a formal response to the proposal other than to point out three primary concerns with it. He said the NFLPA had "concerns" about the reliability of the data the league provided regarding the impact of an 18-game regular season and injury risks, and how the league would provide "post-career health care." And, as well, how players would be paid, with Atallah suggesting there would have to be "enhanced compensation," to the players since the number of meaningful games is expanding.

Coming at it from a fan's perspective, more football games that count is hardly a bad thing. Additionally, there are few things more absurd than the current NFL practice of charging fans regular-season prices for preseason games. Even though the games are treated by the organizations as little more than glorified scrimmages, we're expected to pay the same amount to witness preseason games at the stadium as we would to see a regular season game with playoff implications. That's fundamentally flawed.

On the other hand, I understand the players' position that two more games means a greater risk of injury. More importantly, players are sure to demand a salary adjustment if an 18-game season becomes a reality. The argument goes, of course, that they're paid for 16 games, and if the number of games increases, then their salaries should increase to account for the two extra games.

Your thoughts, BRB? What about a third option? Namely, reduce the preseason to two games, decrease the price of a preseason ticket to half of what a regular season ticket would cost, and keep the 16-game schedule? I know the loss of revenue wouldn't make the owners happy, but it'd go a long way toward increasing fan satisfaction while simultaneously keeping a relative status quo that'd be unlikely to garner opposition from the NFLPA, which in turn could be a sound negotiating tactic/term as the league and the NFLPA attempt to broker a new CBA.