Monday, March 7, 2011

How to have an 18-game regular season

This blog is in the players' corner on almost every issue at stake in the collective bargaining process.

We watch the NFL for the players. Not for the coaches, not for the cheerleaders, and certainly not for the fatcat owners in their luxury boxes. We watch to see great athletes compete in a brutal and beautiful sport.

Pro football players really are like gladiators. They absorb and dish out a great deal of punishment for our entertainment. Playing pro football shortens their lives and reduces the quality of their lives in many ways. They deserve to be well-compensated for their sacrifices.

Owners make no comparable contribution to or sacrifice for the game. They can cope with a reduced slice of the pie.

The NFL proposes to "make the pie higher" (to invoke a Bushism) by increasing the regular season from 16 to 18 games. This would generate more revenue. Understandably, players object, citing the increased toll on their bodies, and wondering how the league squares an extended season with its professed desire to enhance player safety.

However, there is a way to go to an 18-game season without endangering players: increase the regular season to 18 games, but make each player eligible to play in only 16 of those games.

Each week, the coaches would have to decide who plays and who sits.

Under my plan, the NFL could even ditch the bye week, because each player would enjoy the equivalent of two bye weeks sometime during the regular season.