Is the NFL’s enhanced schedule good for the game

Falcons safety Erik Coleman getting an interception against New Orleans' Drew Brees during the 2008 season. He is the Falcons NFLPA representative. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC)

Falcons safety Erik Coleman getting an interception against New Orleans' Drew Brees during the 2008 season. He is the Falcons NFLPA representative. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC)

Former New York Giants owner Wellington Mara, who passed away in 2005, was one of the pillars of the NFL.

He had a simple guiding principle when the league faced a major decision. All he wanted to know was if the change was “good for the game.” He wasn’t worried about partners, sponsors, shareholders or TV executives.

Most current owners agreed that adding two games to the league’s schedule is a good business move. The league could charge more for TV rights and create more incremental revenue.

Indianapolis owner Jim Irsay invoked Mara’s principle at the owner’s meeting held Wednesday at the Ritz-Carlton.

“I go back to what one of our wisest founders thought about, ‘Is it good for the game,’” Irsay said. “To me you always get back to that. … You have to focus on that and make sure that it is.”

Falcons safety Erik Coleman, the team’s union representative, also wants to know what kind of product will be on the field for those two extra games.

“We want to play a quality game,” Coleman said. “We don’t want guys to get out there trying to survive. We want to give our fans some great football every weekend.”

Irsay and several other owners want to know about any potential unintended consequences. He called it the “ripple effect.” They’ll figure out how to split up the money. Most are billionaires, and that’s their specialty.

Some of the issues include offseason programs, training camps, injured-reserve lists and expanded rosters. Commissioner Roger Goodell said they even want to consider the weather. They want to know about hot games in the South in September and about cold January games in Cleveland.

They also want to know more about the toll the extra games will take on the players’ bodies.

“I think it’s good for the game,” New York Jets owner Woody Johnson said. “I don’t think two games make a huge difference one way or the other. It does present more problems at the beginning because you have to analyze those young players and see who you keep and who you don’t keep. But I think the coaches are resourceful and can figure that out.”

The league will put its comprehensive plan on the fast track. Some consider it a silver bullet that could possibly help push along the labor negotiations. The league’s collective bargaining agreement with the players is set to expire in March.

Falcons president Rich McKay, co-chair of the competition committee, will be heavily involved in gathering the data and presenting additional recommendations. He clearly sees some adjustments coming to the offseason, to training camp and to the roster configuration.

There are three key objectives of the preseason. Teams are trying to get ready for their season opener, they are evaluating young talent and are trying to develop young talent.

“Two of those three are going to be challenges,” McKay said.

The owners believe they will come up with a plausible plan that they can eventually present to the union.

“Our fans have said pretty loud and clear that they’d like fewer preseason games,” New England owner Bob Kraft said. “It’s a win-win all around.

45 comments Add your comment


August 29th, 2010
10:23 am

I sure the fans will like it more that the players will.


August 29th, 2010
10:32 am

Keep up the good work in keeping us Falcons fans informed.
18 might be spreading the product a little thin, I have no interest in seeing what amounts to preseason games being billed as regular games, myself.

Ree Roe

August 29th, 2010
10:33 am

No it’s not good for the game. Here are my reasons why:

1. Hallowed records will fall by the wayside. Feats like 2,000 yds in a season & 5,000 yd passing seasons will occur much more frequently.

2. It still won’t solve the fact that there will be meaningless football being played at the end of the season. Extending the season adds less meaningful games.

3. Players will break down and struggle to stay healthy.

I am firmly against 18 games and think that 2 preseason games & 2 intrasquad scrimmages should be the new norm. I don’t see how 18 games improves the on the field product.

-REEclining to Roe!!!

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August 29th, 2010
10:57 am

This is a really bad idea. There is already a shortage of quality players in the NFL and 2 more regular season games will diminish the quality of play. Think about how many team are 1 or 2 injuries away from fighting to stay above .500.
As Ree Rose said “I am firmly against 18 games and think that 2 preseason games & 2 intrasquad scrimmages should be the new norm. I don’t see how 18 games improves the on the field product.” This is the way to go.

This Gets Old

August 29th, 2010
11:32 am

The owners won’t be happy until there’s an actual on-field death. Over the course of an eight year career a player would have played an additional sixteen games, i.e. an additional season at the current levels. Which means fewer good and established eight year vets which will damage the product.

By the mid-point of the current schedule at least 75percent of the players have sustained an injury. In the NFL injured means you can’t play. Everything else is “playing with pain” which is why we have Vicodin scandals. Think about it..a pharmacy right on your job site.

Take into account the recent evidence concerning repeated blows to the head being linked to degeneration of the brain and the answer is extra games particularly not when it’s done so that billionaires can “increase revenue” You know the TV rights cover the payroll before one ticket is sold. How much is enough?


August 29th, 2010
11:33 am



August 29th, 2010
11:47 am

I agree with Ree Roe in all respects. 18 regular season games: no fun to play; no fun to watch. This isn’t the Coliseum. We don’t need to run people down to injury and exhaustion. There’s no magic number, I know, but 16 games, especially when you think about the play-offs after that, is plenty. 18 seems to me to be a profit-driven obscenity. OTOH, business has proved that people are stupid, and will actually watch “info” commercials for hours a day even without any programming! I foresee 18 games by 2012, then 20 games by about 2020.


August 29th, 2010
11:51 am

Go to 17 games and eliminate the last worthless preseason game where starters play a series or less.

Screen Pass

August 29th, 2010
12:07 pm

I’ll play devil’s advocate for a moment…18 games could be better for the players. Pre-season games mean nothing but take a heavy toll on players injury wise as we all know. If 18 games are broken up into 6 game spurts with a bye week between each 6 game session then the players will actually get more rest and recovery time than is allocated now. Expand the rosters to 57 to allow 2 replacements on each side of the ball or go to 60 which would let some PS warriors maybe get a break and actually increase the viable players pool. Also, because there would be less down time in between the seasons the players will not have as much time to degenerate into fat slobs ala the Oakland whale J. Russell. The earlier start date for teams would include time set aside purely for conditioning to let players ease back after the absence would might improve all these pre-season injuries.


August 29th, 2010
12:30 pm

Absolutely it is and on the other hand 4 pre-season games are bad for the game and the paying public.

At this point, I cannot get enough of the NFL you look up and the season is over just like that, heck yeah it is a no brainer to drop two meaningless games for two games that count. Everyone is talking about how fair or unfair for players to play two extra games, they are playing the same amount of games (20) just that 18 will count now. It is the coaches choices that regulars only play half a game in pre-season, but we the paying public pay full price for these games; how is that fair?

So I have no sympathy for them doing what they are getting paid to do, if I am paying full price give me a full effort. Let’s get it done Goodell!!!

Ree Roe

August 29th, 2010
12:53 pm

@ Screen Pass, a few things about your “devils advocate position”

You say “18 games could be better for the players”. I don’t really see how you could say that because that completely ignores the long term health of players. Jeff Pearlman on wrote a great article detailing the physical toll playing in the NFL has had on countless veterans. The lingering effects of concussions & nagging injuries would increase and we would have more debilitated former players all for the sake of 2 meaningless games.

Also, expanding rosters dilutes the talent in the league because you’re adding players who otherwise would not have made these rosters. Explain how adding practice squad players improves the on the field product.

Another thing: An 18 game season would mean that players have less of an offseason to fully rehab their bodies. OTAs, minicamps & training camps would have to begin earlier to accommodate a longer schedule. And for playoff/Super Bowl teams, teams are looking at seasons that could begin in late June/early July and end in late February.

Finally, I love the NFL as much as anyone, but taking the view that more physical punishment would prevent 1st round busts from happening is one of the least educated views I’ve EVER read.

Hopefully the NFLPA fights this 18 game schedule tooth & nail.

-REEad it, it’s Roe!!!


August 29th, 2010
12:57 pm

Don’t like it.

As much as I hate the meaningless preseason (to a fan’s perspective…although it does let me scout my fantasy team a little bit) I don’t think it’s good for the players to play 2 extra games.

It only takes 1 snap for a player to get injured and adding 2 more games adds a lot more snaps. Not only that but rookie players often have trouble around week 12 of a 16 week schedule because of the grueling schedule. Take Matt Ryan as a perfect example. He was doing great year 1 until around week 12. He still did OK, but he did some things earlier in the season he didn’t do. He admitted that the schedule got to him because he wasn’t used to it. So, imagine 2 more games.

Nah, they can have it. NFL players will start demanding more money, etc, etc. I just don’t really see anything good for this other than giving fans 2 less meaningless game. Being a selfish fan, yeah it sounds good to me. But not when I take a step back and realize what the players have to do week in and week out for a 16 game schedule. Coaches as well.


August 29th, 2010
1:00 pm

Another thing that I just thought about is the running backs. We all know a running back’s time in the NFL is precious. Maybe you have to think 2 games over 7 years is 14 games. Will that possibly shorten a running back’s time in the NFL even more than it already is? That’s my theory and I believe it’s a fairly correct one.

That could change how much owner’s would have pay their RB’s because RB’s would surely demand it as soon as it was proven.

SWAT Native

August 29th, 2010
1:15 pm

As a long time Falcons season ticket holder, I support a change to 18 games. I would rather go to one more real home game and go to one less exhibition.

My question is that if they go to 18 games would they now have 2 bye weeks?


August 29th, 2010
3:03 pm

Not good for the game.By the 10 are 11th game 60% of the teams are already out of any playoff hopes.Adding more games wont change a thing.


August 29th, 2010
3:11 pm

It’s not like we get a discount on the preseason tickets and there will not be any more games than the current 20 games.

The teams will not generate another dime of revenue from ticket sales so it’s all intended to get more out of the TV watchers. Hence, I am leery of the outcome; TV has already watered the game down so much.


August 29th, 2010
3:23 pm


Delbert D.

August 29th, 2010
3:52 pm

No, no, no, no and no. An 18-game season would be a 50% increase of the NFL schedule that Jim Brown played, and 50% more than a college schedule. Totally absurd. Will we someday see 82-game NFL seasons?


August 29th, 2010
3:53 pm

Unfortunately you are correct BigBen.


August 29th, 2010
3:57 pm

No delbert it’s not; it’s still 20 games. There is an increase since the Jim Brown days but I believe Jim Brown had to show up for 6 preseason games (I wonder if he had to pay full price for the tix).

College teams get several bye weeks + they schedule patsys so no comparison at all there.

I usually give away more than $300 worth of tickets it would be nice to get my money’s worth.

jack e.row

August 29th, 2010
4:43 pm

Good for the game! It is not “extra games” so quit trying to make it so! A good team should be able to evaluate talent in a lesser amount of time. The good teams already know their talent and it will be a challenge to get ahead of the other teams! Give it a rest about the records. Call it the new era! Do I care that the falcons hold the record for fewest points allowed in the 14 game season! Hell no! I want more quality games that count! The league will work out the issues! I know that I speak for the MAJORITY of the fans


August 29th, 2010
6:20 pm

Yada, yada, yada….all the hullabalu about more injuries and concusions, etc….

I have no sympathy for the players or owners. These players make thousands and millions of dollars to take a risk of being injured in one of the most violent sports today. Fans of today are no worse than fans of the Gladiator era. We want to see the Hard Knocks and all else that comes with the game. So the more games the better.
I do agree with one poster mentioning that it will be a shame to see some hallowed records fall (2000 yard rushing seasons and 5000 yard passing seasons becoming more frequent) but hey, that is part of evolution. Life is all about change. Football since it’s beginning state has changed, so I can live with the records falling. Plus, it makes for better fan interest when your favorite player is pursuing a record….and breaks it!

On with the 18 games!!!

Najeh Davenpoop

August 30th, 2010
3:18 am

More meaningful games means more concussions. If the NFL is serious about dealing with head injuries, this is a bad move in the long run.

I wonder if the owners will allow annual player salaries to increase correspondingly as well, or essentially just add two free games to the schedule. My guess is the latter.


August 30th, 2010
6:54 am

Interesting how football fans seem to hate the preseason, but baseball fans love spring training.

I am sure everyone remembers how certain teams coasted through the last three games last season to try to keep key players healthy. Perhaps 14 games would be a better idea.

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August 30th, 2010
8:55 am

I’m not in favor, but the only way is to add 6 additional players to the roster and then the owners would object for having to pay the additional salaries. As for records if the player is good enough he’ll be remembered…and I it wasn’t too long ago when the season was 12 games..


August 30th, 2010
8:56 am

18 seems like a lot. Now days, guys are still recovering from injuries from the last season when camp gets started up. There really is not an off season when you look at the mini-camps, OTA and other types of conditioning programs these guys are expected to participate in. Then throw in the fact that your contract is not guaranteed.

While I would love to see more meaningful football, I don’t want to see the greats like Adrian Peterson, Champ Bailey, Larry Fitzgerald, DeMarcus Ware, etc. only have a 6 or 7 year careers b/c the game takes all the life out of the guys. I don’t want watered down football just to make the season longer.

If it aint broke, don’t fix it.


August 30th, 2010
9:03 am

I vote FOR the 18 game season.


Native Georgian

August 30th, 2010
9:31 am

I oppose.

Lots of good arguments out here on both sides but the fact remains this is a $$$ decision, not a football decsion.

I’m a long-time Falcons season ticket holder and I’d just like to not have to pay full price for the exhibition games. If forced, at least throw in free parking, free sodas, more interaction with the cheerleaders, more interaction with the players… some token to make the games more fun to COME TO!


August 30th, 2010
9:52 am

The expanded season is probably good news for fans, which from a business perspective is what you want. Happy customers, pleased with your product means more for the owners and employees. Roster expansion won’t be as bad as some are making out. I believe it can be a huge positive as it will be easier for coaches to justify drafting highly specialized players like kickoff specialists,tiny, fast return men, super tall TEs or WRs for red zone passing, etc. As it currently stands, you can only afford to do that if they can also serve in another capacity. Versatility is an absolute neccesity now but a new era of specialization could come when the rosters are allowed to keep pace with schedule expansion….

pcb mike

August 30th, 2010
11:53 am

I with Ree Roe, no way. The most important factor is the players. Football careers are too short now. This will only shorten them more. Your favorite players playing 4 years and gone, I don’t think that is what fans want from the NFL.


Sick & Tired Of Being Sick & Tired

August 30th, 2010
1:07 pm

As a season ticket holder, I am tired of paying full price for two preseason games where we don’t get what we pay for based on the amount of money we pay. I just heard one of the Falcons players say that he might be okay with an 18 game schedule if they were to receive increased compensation. The fans are continuing to get the short end of the stick!!!

My comment to the players…..Hello…’re getting paid millions already. What about the fans that have been paying for two preseason games all along without receiving the benefit of a quality football game???? Annually the ticket prices have been increasing and recently we don’t even get the benefit of a decent half-time show.

Expand the roster, in terms of the number of players on each team, and move on……


August 30th, 2010
2:59 pm

What New York Giants owner, Wellington Mara did for pro football is legendary. “He wasn’t worried about partners, sponsors, shareholders or TV executives.” He asked, “Is it good for the game?” Too bad college football has not had that kind of selfless leadership.

Arkansas Transplant

August 30th, 2010
3:49 pm

I think what’s worst for the Falcons is the fact they aren’t looking at trading for Vincent Jackson.

REEally irROEtating

August 30th, 2010
10:50 pm

Hell, why not have 31 games so each team can play each other team? Whoever has a player left alive after that wins the Super Bowl, and gets to piledrive REE ROE into a dumpster full of hammers.


August 30th, 2010
11:24 pm

The expanded season is about money…not the fans.
Preseason games are not well attended.
If they were, we wouldn’t be talking about this.
Leave the season as it is.
Give us a rookie salary scale instead.

season ticket holder

August 31st, 2010
2:27 pm

I prefer 18 games but16 games is fine; just stop charging me $1200 for two worthless pre-season games.


August 31st, 2010
2:47 pm

While I can see the merits of an 18 game schedule, I think 16 is the right amount. The toll on player’s bodies is already high, and 2 more games might push a lot more players past the breaking point.

Changes I would like to see with a new CBA:

2 Intra-squad scrimmagees replace 2 preseason games
Rookie salary cap
HGH Testing


August 31st, 2010
4:56 pm

In an 18 game season, a wild card team would have played 21 games to get to the Super Bowl with the Super Bowl being the 22nd game. Twenty four games is a season and a half now for non playoff team under the current system. Sixteen games is plenty.

Saints LSU

August 31st, 2010
5:39 pm

That’s the 2008 saints not the 2009 saints on the blog. why not the 2009 saints on the front page of the AJC blog you guys can’t stand up to the saints is that why LOL


August 31st, 2010
8:59 pm

@ saints lsu-when you’ve been swept it’s embarassing to use a recent photo plus the fact the falcons live in the past. they got their 1 out of the last 8 that year so it’s sort of a celebration thing for them

Doug Simon

September 1st, 2010
12:55 am

Something not brought up about the 18 game schedule is how it will effect the actual schedule balance. The present 16 game schedule is tilted 2 games for weaker teams and against stronger teams, meaning the Saints will play 2 first place division teams and Tampa Bay will play 2 fourth place teams. This inequity has served the NFL well. An 18 game schedule would almost have to be a balanced schedule, meaning no tilt for the “bottom feeders”. Instead the NFL should keep the 16 game schedule and institute a second bye week. This would give the networks half of what they want while maintaining the present 16 game schedule and have the players support.


September 1st, 2010
7:08 am

Wellington Mara’s selfless leadership in pro football is legendary. He knew that uneven distribution of television revenue would not be good for the game and suggested that revenue be shared. He did this even though his Giants were receiving four times more revenue than the Packers. In my book, “It’s Possible! Realignment and Playoffs – College Football’s Opportunity, I mention that college football should follow Mara’s and the NFL’s lead to create a more just competition, where the players and coaches decide the outcome of the game.

Bruce Weeks

September 2nd, 2010
3:07 pm

More of something is not necessarily better. 16 games is enough. We are seeing more evidence of long term brain injury, which may not manifest until much later in life. The human body is not designed for the force of the NFL.