Proposed 17-Game Regular Season Doesn't Resonate With NFL Analysts
Several former NFL players turned TV analysts do not support the potential of the NFL adding a 17th regular season game in exchange for losing some, or all, preseason games. ESPN's Jonathan Vilma said he would give a "hard no" to the proposal. He said, "The NFL is supposed to put out the best product. This is why people pay top dollar for the games, to watch NFL RedZone, etc. If you cannot evaluate these players to develop them and say who are the best players to put out the best product in that four preseason game stretch, then you’re giving us trash, you’re giving us a diluted product. People aren’t paying for that.” ESPN’s Mark Sanchez said, “If you’re going 17 games, they better give the players a way bigger piece of the pie. That’s the only way they’d agree to it” ("Get Up," ESPN, 9/27). ESPN's Mike Golic asked, "If you’re a starting player in the NFL, do you care? You’re not playing in the preseason games barely anyway." He said, "I’m not even considering it" ("Golic & Wingo," ESPN Radio, 9/27).
MORE REACTION: ESPN’s Clinton Yates said adding another regular-season game is "not exactly something the NFLPA is going to go for." Yates: "One regular-season games hurts more than four preseason games.” ESPN’s Jorge Sedano said what the NFL “cares about is trying to make the most money possible.” He suggested an expanded playoffs is "where they can make the most money,” as the networks will “back up the Brinks truck to get another playoff game” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 9/26). ESPN’s Michael Wilbon called a 17-game schedule is “offensive,” as team owners and league officials speak about how “we care about the health and safety of the players." Wilbon: "When you propose an additional game, it makes it a lie. ... It undermines everything you’ve said” (“PTI,” ESPN, 9/26).
WHEN 17 IS GREATER THAN 18: In DC, Mark Maske reported NFL owners have "set aside their pursuit of an 18-game regular season" in CBA negotiations with the NFLPA, "shifting their bargaining focus to a 17-game season that could be implemented in conjunction with an expanded set of playoffs and a reduced preseason." Some owners are "leaving open the possibility of a 17-game season in which each team probably would play one game per season at a neutral site." That could be "accompanied by an expansion of the NFL playoff field from 12 to 14 teams, which would result in two additional postseason games per year." The extra games would be "used to boost revenue and offset the loss of revenue from a reduction of the preseason from four to three games per team" (WASHINGTON POST, 9/27). ESPN.com's Adam Schefter cited sources as saying that a potential 17-game season "could eliminate preseason games in their entirety" (ESPN.com, 9/26).