By Dave Wischnowsky–
The NFL owners want an 18-game regular season. The NFL Players Association does not.
And, as it turns out, most NFL fans apparently don’t really want one, either.
Now, if my math is correct – and the fan poll released by the Associated Press is, too – I believe that would be add up to one vote “yay” versus two votes “nay” among the three parties relevant to the National Football League. But since the owners control all the cash, let’s just call it a wash.
And, in that case, I’d like to offer my services and step in to provide a solution to this stalemate that could make everyone happy – or, at the very least, not make everyone mad.
And, what is my advice to the NFL? Well, I say, by all means, expand the season – but do it to the postseason. Leave the regular season alone (it’s long enough).
On Thursday, an Associated Press-Knowledge Networks poll was released showing that a mere 27 percent of those surveyed strongly favor or somewhat favor adding two regular-season games to the NFL slate and dropping two preseason games from it. When the group of those surveyed was narrowed to those identifying themselves as NFL fans, support for the change rose to a still unimpressive total of 45 percent – including just 18 percent who strongly favor it.
In other words, there is no mandate from the fans for a longer regular season. Rather, the sole motivation for adding games is greed among the NFL owners, and while Gordon Gecko might believe greed is good, a drastically increased number of injuries to your employees most certainly is not. That fact is the reason why the NFLPA is against swelling the regular season schedule.
However, I’m guessing that the NFL’s players would be in favor of adding games if the postseason was the season to get them.
And, no doubt, the vast majority of NFL fans would hop on board with that notion, as well.
Currently, the NFL playoff system has 12 teams – eight division champions and four Wild Cards – competing in a total of 11 postseason games, including the Super Bowl. And here’s what I’m proposing: add two more Wild Card slots to each conference, increasing the number of playoff qualifiers to 16 teams that would then play a total of 15 games.
My main reason for this idea is because, while I think it should be easier for a conference’s No. 1 or 2 seed to reach the Super Bowl, it just seems like right now the current set-up is too easy (even if the Falcons, Patriots and Bears all fell short this season). You should have to win more than two games to make your sport’s championship game – at least in my book, you should.
In most other major sporting tournaments – the MLB playoffs, NBA playoffs and NCAA Basketball Tournament, for example – highly seeded teams don’t get to just skip the first round of the playoffs like they do in the NFL. Instead, they start off by play the lowest-seeded teams in the tourney. And I think the NFL should operate the same way.
And by adding two more Wild Card teams to the postseason mix you don’t just get more football, you also ensure that no 10-6 or better teams are left out – something that has happened three times in the past five years with the 2005-06 Kansas City Chiefs (10-6), the 2007-08 Cleveland Browns (10-6) and the 2008-09 New England Patriots (11-5) all experiencing snubs.
Now, the addition of four more playoff games clearly is a far cry from the total of 32 new regular season games that the NFL owners want to be able to wring dollars from, but there’s simply no true demand for that supply.
But supplying fans with more exciting playoff games?
Well, I think that would be in demand.
Do you agree with Dave? Post your comments below.
If nothing else, Dave Wischnowsky is an Illinois boy. Raised in Bourbonnais, educated at the University of Illinois and bred on sports in the Land of Lincoln, he now resides on Chicago’s North Side, just blocks from Wrigley Field. Formerly a reporter and blogger for the Chicago Tribune, Dave currently writes a syndicated column, The Wisch List, which you can check out via his blog at http://www.wischlist.com.