Tuesday, May 27, 2008

17th Game

Part of the noise swirling around the opening up of the NFL labor agreement is what looks suspiciously like a trial balloon about adding a 17th game to the NFL season.

It is, I think, a bad idea. Too many teams already limp into the playoffs utterly brutalized by injuries. Too many teams clinch early, sit their stars and cheat the fans of the top-dollar tickets they've paid for. Too many late season games are already played in awful conditions, and sooner or later someone's going to freeze to death in the cheap seats in Buffalo. You get the idea.

And yet, it will likely happen, without a parallel reduction in pointless exhibition games (because the owners get to charge full price for those), because there's money to be made. I don't think we'll just see 17, though. We'll see 18, the better to "balance" the schedule. This will of course drive the Super Bowl and playoffs even later into winter, but fewer players have gotten frostbite than have collapsed from heatstroke, so there you go.

There are lots of things to get hammered out before this becomes an actuality. Do player salaries negotiated for a 16 game season go up proportionally? (Not if the owners have anything to say about it.) Will this get done in conjunction with a salary slotting system for rookies? (Not if the agents have anything to say about it, though why the NFLPA doesn't act against something that takes money away from its active members is beyond me.) There are more where that came from. But in the end, there's too much money for them to walk away from it.

At least, until the family of that fansicle in Orchard Park decides to sue.
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