Feb. 25-- NFL owners cannot control themselves in their ultimate quest for every one of their consumers' dollars.
But they're business people, capitalists. Their most recent behavior to force a 17th regular-season game down each team's throat while expanding the playoffs and flexing games from Sundays to Mondays and vice versa can, in some perverse way, almost be understood.
What can't be swallowed are the explanations coming from their human puppet, Roger Goodell, that what the NFL does is "all about the fans" and "all about player safety."
But Goodell is merely a paid spokesman. He's not the one who comes up with these plans. He just backs them because his bosses tell him to-and because they could spike his yearly salary if all financial incentives are met (he makes around $40 million a year, according to a 2017 CBS Sports report).
In negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement that could take effect as early as this year-the current CBA expires in 2021-the owners are pushing for an unbalanced schedule that will be a means to eventually get them to 18 games.
Per the Sports Business Journal, they're also pushing for expanded flex scheduling, which could change dates of games long after tickets are sold and travel arrangements are made by those who don't make $40 million a year.
All this is in the best interest of the fans, the puppet says, his lips moving the whole time.
Part of it is true, of course. Lies work best when mixed with certain truths, such as the one in which fans don't want four preseason games anymore.
But fans don't want four preseason games mostly because they're forced to pay for them as part of their season ticket packages. Otherwise, they generally couldn't care less.
In the meantime, players and coaches need preseason games now more than ever because of stricter practice rules and the elimination nine years ago of the old two-a-days in camp. Rookies cannot be properly evaluated without seeing them hit. Now, with the likelihood of one more preseason game taken off the board and hardly any full contact in camps, the process of picking the right players is becoming more art than science, a guessing game.
Also, the best and more-established players basically get the preseason games off. Now they'll have to work an extra week, with the only incentive being more money.
But when and where does it end?
Seems the players might be the only ones who have any sensibility. Most are thought to be against the added regular-season game, according to Yahoo Finance, even though the owners have offered to increase the players' revenue share from 47% to 48.5% if the players accept the plan.
Another truth added to the mix: The NFL has worked diligently to lower injury rates, particularly concussions, over the last decade, with decent success. According to the league's injury data, concussions and major knee injuries, for example, are down significantly from the early days of the current CBA, which went into effect in 2011.
But it should not be justification for adding more games to the schedule.
The owners' new playoff formula will have 14 of 32 teams making the playoffs (up from 12), with only the top team in each conference getting a first-round bye. This is acceptable, considering there is no added layer of games, just an extra wild-card round game in each conference.
But again, is this just a means to an end that does eventually include an extra layer with as many as 18 teams qualifying for the postseason? Keep in mind that more than half the teams in the NBA make it, so there's your justification already.
Flexing out of and into Monday night games would be a boon to whatever network(s) sign on after the current agreement with ESPN expires following the 2022 season.
For fans who travel, like those who follow the Eagles all over the country and the globe, it will be a financial drain to have to change plans long after they have been made.
But remember, folks, the NFL with its exorbitant parking, concession and personal-seat-license fees, is all about the fans. Heck, you might even luck out and get to see a game on the originally scheduled date.
How can one pass on all this good stuff?
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