SNIDER: 18-game NFL season is a no-brainer

Rick Snider
July 16, 2019 - 5:46 pm
18-game NFL season is a no-brainer

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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There's a simple solution to the NFL's proposed 18-game regular season: Reduce the preseason to one game.

Players will earn a lot more money annually. Fans won't waste money on bogus preseason games. Owners still make a ton of money, and even more so than the current contract.

It's raining money all around – forget the umbrellas and just get soaked.

The current four-game preseason must end. Teams barely play starters. If Broadway theaters offered four shows with no stars, the lights would go out, so why does the NFL get to charge outrageous money?

Coaches claim they need the preseason to develop and analyze reserves. Please, that's largely done in the offseason already. We're talking maybe one or two players annually per team making the roster based on the preseason. It's too many games for so little return.

Teams should return to intra-squad scrimmages and rookie games on the first Saturday of training camp. The Redskins used those scrimmages for many years against the Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers with good results. Amend the NFL bargaining agreement to allow for hitting earlier in camp and let rookies show their abilities there. The Redskins drew more than 5,000 fans to rookie scrimmages in Frostburg.

Play one preseason game as a dress rehearsal. Then, expand the roster to 60 active players and get on with an 18-game schedule. And, no nonsense like 'players can only be in 16 games.' Things will sort themselves out given injuries anyway.

The preseason has always been profitable for owners because players earn little comparatively. But, two extra regular-season games will bring hundreds of millions of dollars.

Rather than a ninth home game, make the extra a neutral U.S. site or an overseas game that will increase national and global followings. Make west coast teams play in Asia and have east coast teams head to Europe.

Will expanded seasons shorten players' careers? Yes and no. The average player only lasts four seasons, so it's not like two extra games annually will shorten careers. Admittedly, it's two more chances to get hurt, but players don't worry about such things. Has any player ever said they'd skip the playoffs because it was another chance to get hurt?

The NFL and NFL Players Association are dancing over the 18-game schedule. Ultimately, there's too much money for both sides to ignore. It will happen. But, the best path is addition by subtraction via the preseason.

Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @Snide_Remarks

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