Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Albuquerque, NM
Interesting take on decreasing the length of Preseason.
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POSTED 10:20 a.m. EDT; UPDATED 11:58 a.m. EDT, August 19, 2006
REDUCED PRESEASON EQUALS MORE INJURIES, MORE MONEY
As the annual hue and cry continues regarding the length of the NFL preseason, the players who think that the four exhibition games should be reduced need to keep one thing in mind.
There will always be 20 total games. So if the preseason is cut from four games to two, the regular season will increase from 16 to 18.
Which means that the players would lose two phony games in which they sparingly play, and they would gain two real games in which they're on the field all the time.
And that 12.5 percent increase in the total number of regular season games translates to a 12.5 percent increase in the opportunities for injury.
Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times makes this and other points in addressing the question of whether the preseason should shrink, and it's a reality we've been raising in several recent radio spots.
Here's another important to keep in mind -- it's highly unlikely that the NFL would reduce the preseason (and thus increase the regular season) in the early years of the television contracts. Instead, extension of the regular season is something to put on the table when the time comes to squeeze even more money out of the networks while negotiating broadcast rights.
In turn, this would increase Total Football Revenues, driving up the team-by-team salary cap and salary floor. And with two more regular season games, the NFLPA would have the leverage to push another 0.1 or 0.2 percent of the Total Football Revenues toward salaries, resulting in even more money for the players.
So even though the players would face a greater risk of regular season injury with a shortened preseason, there would be a lot more money available for all of them.
But while the players would realize more revenue if two glorified practices are replaced by two regular season games, the question becomes whether a 19-week season would dilute the importance of every given Sunday. We think that as long as the NFL stays on the short side of 20, the weekly contests will continue to feel as important as they do right now, but it's impossible to know what the reaction would be until the longer schedule is put in place.
For example, at a time when more teams are in the hunt for the playoffs deeper and deeper into the season, there's a chance that those two extra weeks could spark a return of the half-empty stadiums that used to show up in roughly half of the late-season games.
As to the owners, they pocket the gate from the exhibition games, giving the players piddly per diems for their preseason pay. Though we haven't crunched the numbers, the bump in television money from two more weekends of "real" football action likely would make up for the fact that each team would see the money generated from one sacrificed preseason game fall under the Total Football Revenue umbrella.
Then there are the interests of the marginal players -- the undrafted free agents and practice squad types who need the reps provided by four preseason games to prove their worth. By cutting the schedule in half, the opportunities to catch the coach's eye get cut in half as well. (Since NFLPA membership is driven by the number of guys who make the final cut, we've got a feeling that this issue won't land on the union's front burner if/when there are ever serious discussions about changing the 16/4 split to 18/2.)
Given the strong connection between decreasing the preseason and increasing the regular season and generating more television revenue, we think that it will be several years at the earliest before anyone will begin to take this matter seriously. And given that such a move would require the league to engage in simultaneous negotiations both with the networks and with the union, we doubt that it's an issue that new Commissioner Roger Goodell will attempt to tackle until more pressing issues -- such as a meaningful long-term solution as to the sharing of grossly disparate local revenues -- are resolved.