Smart men making dumb points on 18-game season

191543.jpg

Smart men making dumb points on 18-game season

By TomE. Curran
CSNNE.com
DALLAS - To describe NFL commissioner Roger Goodell as an intelligent man wouldbe a vast understatement. Yet this intelligent man, who's been solid and logical in so many difficult decisions since taking over, is losing credibility in trying to sell players and fans on an 18-game season. Mike Florio at ProFootballTalk.comhad a post on this earlier on Sunday.In it, Florio detailed how fans responding toPFT posts on the 18-game season continually take exception to Goodell's assertion that thisis what they want done to address the shoddy level of play in two of the four preseason games."Please do not speak for me," wrote one commenter. "I dont need an 18-game season. I just dont WANT to pay regular-game prices for preseason." That comment got 1,050 nods of assent from readers and just 50 disagrees. A reduced preseason will strip down-the-roster players of valuable game reps to make an impression on coaches and improve. An expanded regular season will batter top-of-the-roster players' bodies for two more weeks of high-intensity play, taking out the twopreseason weeks (1 and 4) inwhich they can throttle it back. The aim is not to satiate fans desire for more football. It's to be able to sell two more games of import to the networks and pump up TV and game-day revenue accordingly. Yet Goodell- doing the owners' bidding - insists otherwise. To his own detriment."Fans have clearly stated that they dont like the quality of our preseason," said Goodell. "Our structure is a 20-game format. We have four preseason games and 16 regular-season games. Repeatedly, the fans have said the quality of the preseason doesnt meet NFL standards. That is one of the basis on which we started to look at the 18-and-two concept, by taking two of those low quality, non-competitive games and turn those into quality, competitive games that the fans want to see; they want to support. I talk to fans all the time. I get that feedback from them, including season-ticket holders who are the ones who are going to those preseason games and paying for those preseason games. I feel an obligation to make sure we are doing the best we can to present the best football, and that includes asking how do we make the preseason as effective as possible and the regular season as effective as possible, and I believe we are on the right track to get that done."But how can an NFL that's taking an interest in player health and safety possibly pretend that two more high-intensity games will not result in more injuries? Patriots' owner Robert Kraft was asked exactly that on Friday by the Boston Globe's Shalise Manza-Young"It makes sense if you think about it quickly, but if we were to have this longer season, it probably means we're going to . . . Ithink we're going to have to expand our rosters. you're going to have to have depth, have players who can play," Kraft sputtered."Half of the plays our team played last year were by first- and second-year players," said Kraft. "I like that. To be good in this league year-in and year-out, you have to grow some players. I think Coach Bill Belichick and the staff and the personnel people have developed a system where we do that. And I think what will happen is we'll expand the roster and more players will play for us."Sweet lord, what?!Here's Goodell taking a crack at the same question. "You always have to keep safety as a priority, under any format," he said. "Injuries occur in preseason games, including the four preseason games (aside: or walking on the icy sidewalks of Dallas for that matter), so you have to try to look to see what you can do in the offseason."Weve talked very extensively about - do you alter the OTA structure and what happens within the OTA structure?" Goodell asked."Do you alter the training camp period? Do we need extensive training camp periods, and how much contact should occur? What happens in the regular season? Do we really need to have players practicing in pads at some points during the season? I think all of those things have been addressed by the ownership for the last couple of years. Our committees have been focused on this. John Madden and Ronnie Lott and the safety committee are looking at these issues. All of this is going to help us make better decisions and the right decision to make the game as safe as possible.If you want the game as safe as possible - and as high quality as it is - you leave it alone and do your money-grab somewhere else. Tom E. Curran canbe reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran