Saturday, November 21, 2009

12 comments A 16 Game NFL Season Is Enough Games Already

Ross Tucker has written an article favoring an 18 game schedule for the NFL. I personally had not thought too much about it before this article was written, but logically from every perspective other than financially it doesn’t seem to make much sense to make the NFL season two games longer. I would have to say I am against it. I have respect for those who have good reasons to be “for” an 18 game schedule, except when those people use horrible reasoning to support their opinion. Ross Tucker uses horrible reasoning.

Thanks to Shah8 for pointing out the article to me, I probably would not have found it if it hadn’t been pointed out to me.

Before I get to Ross Tucker’s latest “column,” I wanted to focus briefly on something Peter King friend Donnie “Brasco” Banks wrote 5 years ago. As I was surfing, I saw that Don Banks wrote a redo of the April 2004 NFL Draft on November 2004…just 7 months after the draft. I thought it would be great to read and it did not let me down. Here’s a little hint to those sportswriters who love to write “do-over” drafts, and that hint is that it really, really helps if you wait 2-3 years before doing the redo draft because you are running the risk that your new draft will look as bad, if not worse, than the original. That’s the case for Don Banks “do-over” draft. I will be only covering the first 6 picks of the 2004 draft, but it’s great, I promise.

1. New York Giants- Eli Manning

Banks’ pick- Ben Roethlisberger

My pick- Ben Roethlisberger. I can’t argue too much with this redo pick because in my mind there is a case that could be made for Rivers, Manning, and Roethlisberger. It depends on what you like in a quarterback. If you like assholes at the quarterback position you take Rivers, if you like a guy who has a quarterback pedigree you take Manning and if you want a guy who seems to run around in the backfield trying to find a receiver you take Roethlisberger.

2. Oakland- Robert Gallery

Banks’ pick- Roy Williams (Texas)

Tackle Robert Gallery is fine, but the Raiders love speed guys, and Williams has been the draft's most impressive receiver.

Sadly this is a completely inaccurate comment, I am pretty sure that Larry Fitzgerald is the most impressive receiver in this draft. The Raiders should have taken Steven Jackson and been set at the running back position for the next decade. The biggest thing to remember is that Robert Gallery is NOT fine in this spot. This #2 pick redo is the best reason to wait 2-3 years before evaluating a team’s draft. It makes no sense to wait only 7 months and then try to redo a draft based on less than a full season of football.

With him, Oakland would be loaded at a position that would allow the vertical passing game Al Davis loves.

No they wouldn’t. They would have more draft picks right now from the Cowboys after the Raiders traded Williams to them in 2008.

My pick- Steven Jackson

3. Arizona- Larry Fitzgerald

Banks’ pick: Eli Manning

Dennis Green didn't want to take a franchise quarterback at No. 3 the first time around. But considering how much he had to pay receiver Larry Fitzgerald, he should have.

Yes, the best reasoning for not choosing a franchise changing wide receiver is because he is expensive. Go cheap! That’s the best way to go. Again, this choice is another reason to wait more than 7 months to redo an NFL draft. I like how the only reasoning Don Banks uses here is how much money Larry Fitzgerald wanted as the #3 pick. Can we really trust the opinion of someone who ranked Roy Williams above Larry Fitzgerald after seeing them both play for less than a full season of football?

My pick- Larry Fitzgerald

4. Chargers- Philip Rivers

Banks’ pick- Robert Gallery

With Brees holding the fort, the Chargers can afford to address their sorry state of affairs at offensive tackle. Gallery hasn't wowed people in Oakland yet, but he's going to be a 10-year starter for somebody.

You definitely don’t want the #4 pick in the draft to not “wow” anyone and just be a 10-year starter. Even acknowledging that Brees may still be in San Diego at this time in a "do-over" world, Robert Gallery wasn’t the best choice at offensive tackle. Shawn Andrews or Jason Peters may be that guy.

How about a big guy in the middle to help stop the run? Maybe Vince Wilfork or Tommie Harris? If that’s not good enough maybe the Chargers should have just taken Chris Snee or Jared Allen.

My pick- Vince Wilfork/Tommie Harris (I can’t choose, but since it is a 3-4 in San Diego maybe Wilfork is the guy)

5. Washington- Sean Taylor

Banks’ pick- Philip Rivers

My pick- Philip Rivers

I can’t argue too much with this pick. Rivers would have solved a major problem in Washington over the past 5 years. Taylor was actually a really good pick, but even forgetting his tragic death, a quarterback was the better choice here.

6. Cleveland- Kellen Winslow

Banks’ pick- Jonathan Vilma

We'll let the Browns trade places with the Lions again. Given Cleveland's situation at linebacker, Vilma, who has been a man in the middle for the Jets, is too good to pass up.

Linebacker has not been a problem for the Browns since then and it wasn’t a huge problem at this point either. What would have turned this Browns team around and possibly made them respectable? Think they could go for a quarterback right now?

My pick: Eli Manning

As you can see, it doesn’t make sense to redo a draft less than a couple years after the draft actually occurred because then the redo is still as inaccurate as the original draft. Don Banks has Robert Gallery, Roy Williams, and Jonathan Vilma as being in his top 6 picks of the 2004 NFL Draft. He’s way off. I would take a number of players who came out of this draft before Gallery and Williams. Guys like Jared Allen, Michael Turner, Wes Welker, Winslow, Will Smith, Chris Snee, Bob Sanders, and Nick Hardwick just to name a few. This is why we should wait a couple years before doing a “do-over” draft, so it doesn’t look like a mess like this one did.

Now onto Ross Tucker’s latest contribution/detriment to sportswriting and journalism. If you remember, he thinks the 18 game NFL season is a good idea. I don’t know if a mean, ol’ editor made him write this column, but I pretty much disagree with every point he makes.

Week 10 in the NFL was brutal. Stellar offensive tackles Jordan Gross of Carolina and Marc Colombo of Dallas were lost for the season with broken legs. Quarterback Kyle Orton went down with an ankle injury, which ultimately doomed Denver in its loss to Washington.

The week before that Thomas Davis went down and now Ronnie Brown is out for the season. Two weeks ago Owen Daniels was lost for the season, Bob Sanders was also lost recently for the season, and it seems like every single year the Pro Bowl has only half of the elected participants take place in the game for various reasons…injuries included. Injuries are part of the game, but they also take a lot away from the game because teams and fans are not able to see their favorite players get injured.

I am the one last year who had little sympathy for the Patriots last year when Tom Brady got injured because that is why you have backups, in case of injury, but to ignore the league wide effect of injuries on players would just be ignorant for me to do. There is a difference between freak injuries occurring that knocks players out of the game for extended periods of time and intentionally extending the season and increasing the chance a player will get hurt in those last two games or the playoffs. I love football, but I am also not a moron. I know the more games that are played in a season, the better chance my favorite team will be depleted by injuries. Call me crazy but I don’t like that.

Running backs Cedric Benson, Michael Turner, Brian Westbrook and Ronnie Brown left their games with injuries and didn't return. Even the Monday nighter wasn't spared as Ravens safety Haruki Nakamura and Browns wideout Josh Cribbs were taken off the field on carts.

And against that backdrop, the NFL is seriously considering adding two more regular season games?

I could not agree more. I love football, but it is a violent sport and the toll the game takes on the human body is incredible. It’s bad enough that ex-NFL players are having physical problems, but think of it this way, if a player plays in the league for 8 years under an 18 game schedule he is essentially playing an extra full season under the "old" 16 game schedule we currently have. It sounds like simple statement, and I admit it is, but my point is that this is going to conceivably shorten careers and seasons.

Really? Well, I'm all for it.

I have previously called Ross Tucker an idiot here and here. I apologize to him for this. What he wrote there was not truly idiotic. I was overreacting. What he is writing in this column is actually idiotic. I say this because I am “for” a lot of things in this world, but I know logically they don’t make sense so I don’t write columns supporting them.

I want 32 games of the NFL and NCAA college football per year, I want to watch Tommy Hanson pitch every night, I want to write a really long column on this blog 2-3 times a day, and I want to redo the 1996 World Series. I am “for” all of these things but logic and knowing the limits of man’s physical ability prevents me from advocating these things publicly. They can’t happen. I wish the same reasoning applied for Ross Tucker.

By now you've heard the arguments that a longer season would decimate rosters so completely that playoff games would feature teams that were a shell of themselves. That it could conceivably shorten the careers of some marquee players.

Yes, I have heard all of these things and as much as I like to call people out for being involved in a good old fashion panic, these are really concerns the NFL, the union, the fans and Ross Tucker should have. It would shorten the careers of marquee players and it would cause injuries to and greatly negatively affect playoff teams. The NFL playoff team that hasn’t lost at least 1-2 quality starters would be the exception in my mind. These are real concerns, not counterpoints to the 18 game schedule argument. Injury concerns are a reality, we can’t ignore this.

But I think there are a few reasons additional games might be worth it.

Because Ross Tucker would have something to write about two extra weeks of the year? Enough players might get hurt a team could get desperate enough to call Ross Tucker and want his services on the offensive line? Please tell me someone is forcing him to write this column. I need to be told this.

New stars emerge. It happens every year without fail, and it usually happens as a result of a front-line player getting injured.

This is the bad reasoning and this is Ross Tucker’s #1 point. You could use this same reasoning as to why it is good soldiers are killed in wars.

“Sure people die, but then other soldiers step up into the dead soldier’s role after a while and they could be even smarter and a better leader than the original dead soldier! It's not always bad because it helps other soldiers become leaders.”

I guarantee more frontline players are hurt forcing backups who DON’T become stars into starting roles than frontline players get hurt and then the backup comes in and becomes a star. New stars emerging is an exception to the rule.

The emergence last season of quarterback Matt Cassel after Tom Brady tore an ACL is an easy example, but there are others. For a player who wasn't a high draft choice, an injury to the player in front of him on the depth chart is often the only way he'll get an opportunity to showcase his ability in a game-on-the-line situation.

If the team is lucky this COULD happen, but more often than not the player who replaces the injured player isn’t worthy of a starting spot and that is why he is a backup. It’s not like Matt Cassel stepped into a shitty situation last year, the Patriots had just come off an 18-1 season.

This is a bad example.

Heck, who knows when Brady himself would have gotten an opportunity were it not for the hit the Jets' Mo Lewis put on Drew Bledsoe in 2001. The same holds true for James Harrison of the Steelers and Pierre Thomas of the Saints.

So there are four examples in the last 8 years of players getting injured and a second-line player coming in and outperforming the original player. This is supposed to be the irrefutable evidence we are looking for that supports an 18 game schedule? So 4 examples in the last 8 years is supposed to impress me? How about all the times an injury has ruined a team’s season? The Saints were destroyed last year by injuries, the Seahawks had the worst year they had experienced in a long time when Matt Hasselbeck got injured last year, and there are other examples of teams who were affected negatively by an injury just last year.

This is the salary cap era. I don’t know what mythological world Ross Tucker lives in where most teams have great backups who can’t get on the field and become Pro Bowl caliber players, but it certainly isn’t the NFL of 2009. Teams often have good backups because those players are young and affordable and usually they are starting for a reason. Sure there are exceptions to the rule, but the exception to the rule shouldn’t be a reason to play 2 extra games.

Even in the postseason, backups like Jeff Hostetler and Frank Reich have become quasi-stars by leading their teams to huge playoff victories.

And then they promptly went back to becoming backups or to another team because they weren’t good enough to start over Jim Kelly and Phil Simms (Ok, Ray Handley gave the job to Hostetler, but he was a dumbass and Simms was clearly the best quarterback at the time. Ask any Giants fan).

The fact remains, however, that injuries are what it takes a lot of times for some players to get their opportunity and run with it.

That fact can remain all it wants to remain…but the fact also remains that many times an important player gets injured and there is nobody good enough to replace that player and it can ruin a team’s season or at least dilute the strength of the team a lot. Trust me, I remember when Steve Smith broke his leg in 2004 and Keary Colbert started opposite Muhsin Muhammad and the Panthers went 7-9. I also remember the 2006 (2005 season) NFC Championship Game where the Panthers were down to practice squad running back Jamal Robertson because all the other running backs had gotten injured and the team lost to Seattle. I also remember 2007 when Jake Delhomme got injured and Vinny Testaverde started games for the Panthers. We all know how shitty Delhomme is, but losing that shittiness ruined the team’s season (God, I am talking about the Panthers a lot lately, I need to stop). Good teams are often an important injury or two away from being average.

Every team has stories like this. I don’t know how Ross Tucker can’t remember any of his own examples like this. We live in the salary cap era of the NFL where it is very hard to replace marquee players and there is no way you can ever convince me players getting injured will have an overall positive effect for the NFL. It’s bullshit.

Injuries add intrigue.

This statement is why I call Ross Tucker an idiot. I don’t even have to explain why. Injuries don’t add intrigue.

Contrary to those who believe injuries to key players ruin the season, I find the opposite to be true. Injuries are the variables that make an NFL season fairly unpredictable.

No one wants to see an NFL season that is unpredictable because you never know who is going to get injured yet. We want an NFL season that is unpredictable because you never know which team will get it together and make a playoff run. That’s the kind of unpredictability that is good. Unpredictability because of injuries is not good. It never will be.

The war of attrition can be the great equalizer at times. If nobody ever got hurt, a certain amount of the drama and unknown would be removed.

A war of attrition? How in the hell is it fun to see which team has the best backups and then watch those backups play the game of football? If anyone wanted to watch inferior NFL football, the XFL would still be around. Nobody sees a whole lot of CFL games being televised nationally do they? Could the reason be because fans prefer to see football played at it’s highest level with the players who can play at the highest level? I think so.

There is zero drama removed if every team is healthy. In what screwed up world are two healthy teams playing each other boring to watch? It’s not like we can automatically predict the outcome of every game when both teams are healthy. What kind of idiotic reasoning is this?

Injuries, or at least the threat of them, are already a very big part of the NFL. They force organizations to build their teams the right way, making sure that they have depth in case a key player or players go down.


This is idiotic reasoning. It’s the NFL, not a gladiator competition.

That said, it's utterly amazing how often a team gets an injury at the exact position it can least afford.

So obviously the NFL should do more to ensure this happens more often. The NFL needs MORE injuries to key players so good teams can become crappy teams, all in the name of seeing how much damn depth a team has.

That's what is so great about the NFL. Weaknesses are almost always revealed and often exploited.

Injuries are part of the game, but simply because Randy Moss gets injured and the Patriots don’t have a deep threat doesn’t mean this was a position of weakness for the Patriots. Randy Moss has skills few other receivers can match, not having a backup who is as good as Randy Moss is not a weakness of the Patriots if Moss gets injured.

If Peyton Manning gets hurt this year and Jim Sorgi doesn’t play as well as Manning (which would happen) does this mean this was a position of weakness for the Colts? Of course not, it means the Colts lost a player they could NEVER replace.

I feel like I am in Bizarro NFL world right now.

More games likely means more jobs and opportunities.

I can certainly understand why front-line starters who have significant contracts would be against adding more games. There is really no upside for them, unless they can get greater compensation as a result. But there are a lot of players in the middle or at the bottom of the roster who would stand to benefit greatly from an expanded season, in any number of ways.

Yes, the NFL should add two extra games so they can cater to the all-important backup players on the roster of NFL teams. Who cares if Drew Brees got hurt, look at Mark Brunell get one last shot to run an NFL team! How freaking wonderful to see! I mean, I personally don’t want to see Adrian Peterson run the ball well for the Vikings, I want to see Chester Taylor get the chance he has always deserved. Who cares about any increased injury probability to players, it's so great to see less talented players get a chance!

For one, the league would have to look very hard at adding more roster spots, which is music to the ears of bottom feeders and bubble players everywhere.

I know my heart was warmed this week when the Panthers lost their left tackle Jordan Gross but it finally opened up a roster spot for Charly Martin. Who cares about Delhomme’s blindside and the offensive line blocking effectively for him, look at Martin on the sidelines proudly wearing his NFL jersey!

And for those critics who assume there will be more injuries,

No one is assuming. It is a mathematical probability that there will be more injuries if the season is extended by 12.5%. This doesn’t even include injuries caused by the extra wear and tear two extra games will cause for players. Even without the increased injury probability, I don't like the idea of a longer NFL season because I feel like 16 games are enough wear and tear on the players. Sometimes more is not necessarily better.

that would mean more players likely going on the Injured Reserve list, which would entail more players getting signed to an active roster during the season. The end result, of course, is those players will accumulate an additional credited season towards their pension and other player benefits.

So the NFL should add two extra games so more players can accumulate season credits towards the pension and other benefits available? Am I supposed to be impressed or care about this reasoning?

So far really none of the reasons Ross Tucker has given add up to “more quality football will be played,” which is exactly what I am looking for. I don’t care about the pension plan, I don’t care if backups get to play more and I certainly don’t want more injuries.

It may not be the Armageddon that people are making it out to be.

How do we really know the injury situation would be that bad if an extra game or two were added?

Nobody really knows, but the odds are pretty good that more injuries would occur if more football was played. Not to mention nearly every single NFL football player, other than Ross Tucker who doesn't even play football anymore, seems to be against this. If they hate it, then that is sometimes good enough for me.

I don't recall players being carted off the field in droves during Weeks 18 and 19 of playoffs past.

That’s probably because Weeks 18 and 19 of the NFL season are the Wild Card and Divisional Round of the playoffs, where there is a grand total of 8 games played, which is approximately 24 games less than would be played in an 18 game season during Weeks 18 and 19. Even though Ross Tucker’s memory may be semi-accurate (and I am too lazy to look up players who got injured in recent playoff games), he is also talking about less games being played during Weeks 18 and 19 of the season, and hence there are less chances for players to be injured.

In fact, in the 31 years since the NFL went from a 14-game to a 16-game regular season schedule, things have seemed to go pretty well.

This is the part where I look for proof it has gone “pretty well” through Ross Tucker showing some statistics on injuries in the NFL. I shouldn’t look too long because I won’t find any supporting facts. He just wants us to take his word for it things went “pretty well.”

Who doesn't want more football?

As I stated in the beginning, I want more football, but that’s not a reason to ignore the obvious injury factor and the other problems an 18 game schedule could cause, like teams sitting their star players the last couple weeks of the season to the point the games could be similar to a preseason game. It is also a reasonable possibility teams may sit or reduce the work load of star players to rest them for no injury reason (for example, say the Vikings play the Browns at home one game, couldn’t the Vikings play Chester Taylor more and still win the game? So Vikings fans with $125 #28 jerseys wouldn’t see their guy play, or play very little, at a home game. How is this a good thing?)

According to the L.A. Times, through the first nine weeks of the 2009 season, ratings for NFL games are up 15% from 2008, with an average of 17.2 million viewers per game -- the most in 20 years, according to the league. The NFL has a fantastic product, made even more popular by fantasy football, and more games would allow the public to consume even more of that product.

So why get greedy and play more football? I haven’t heard a positive football-related thing that could come out of increasing the schedule to 18 games from Ross Tucker. I don’t think there is one.

I also think it is interesting that Ross Tucker said earlier the NFL is more intriguing when players get injured and he believes this will cause increased interest in the NFL, yet here he is talking about how popular the NFL has become. Why make any significant changes when the NFL is obviously increasing in popularity?

Plus, adding another game or two may be the only way the Player's Association and the league can reach an accord on a new collective bargaining agreement. The extra revenue, provided it is indeed significant, could be exactly what is needed to avoid a lockout in 2011. In other words, the choice could be more football or no football. That seems like a pretty easy one if you ask me.

Again, I need a football-related reason to convince me. Somehow I don’t think the players would buy the argument they need to play more football games so the owners can make more money and the players can get a few more bucks as well. I could be wrong, but I feel like the players are firmly against an increase in the current schedule no matter how much extra money it brings.

I still don’t think the NFL should go to an 18 game schedule. I love football, but 16 games are enough for the players to play and none of the “reasons” Ross Tucker has given here have convinced me otherwise. I think the 16 game schedule is sufficient and I have heard no football-related reason that would convince me I am wrong. This was a poorly written article.


Fred Trigger said...

Believe it or not, Peter King actually used to do an article where he would grade the drafts 5 years after the fact. It was actually pretty interesting, I kind of wish he kept doing them, but the last time I saw one was in 2005.

Bengoodfella said...

I can deal with five years after the draft, that makes more sense, but 7 months? Are you kidding? It's stupid and so is Ross Tucker for thinking injuries are good.

KentAllard said...

If injuries are so great, just limit the amount of padding players can wear, and they'll skyrocket. And let them wear spikes on their helmets, that will be cool, too.

In the end, the decision to extend the season or not will be about nothing but money (which doesn't automatically make it wrong, money isn't evil). That's been the reason for extending seasons in every sport, allowing more teams into the playoff, etc. If the NFL is going to do it, then do it, they just shouldn't pretend it is for some kind of noble reason.

Martin said...

If they do it, I think they should think about either eliminating roster size, or redoing the Ir rules so that a player can miss say 9 games, a half a season, then come back onto the active roster.

When a league has a salary cap, why not let a team sign as many players as it can as long as it stays under the cap. Allow it only a specific size for active game day, and make them decide on the active roster by noon Friday so as to limit the Belichikian shenanigans. Hockey teams run around with a couple extra guys, but only allow an active roster of 20 for the game, and it seems to work fine for them. It would reward a team for being wise with it's money, and make depth more then a "grab a guy off teh street/retirement pile" like a lot of teams have to do nowadays.

Fred Trigger said...

wow, I actually found it.

I'm not even sure I agree with Peters grades here. He gave the Chargers a "B" for picking LT and Brees, but Carolina gets an "A" for drafting Chris Weinke (there were others but the fact that he dropped Weinkes name in the same sentence as Kris Jenkins and Steve Smith is kind of dumb.)

Fred Trigger said...

It looks like the link got cutoff.

Bengoodfella said...

Kent, that's exactly what is going to make the decision for the NFL. It's not about injuries or if the sport is more exciting but how much money the league can make off it. I don't know why Ross Tucker thinks injuries are great but there is probably a reason he isn't playing anymore and he likes injuries b/c that meant he could actually play.

Martin, I don't know if I would be opposed to teams being able to have a larger roster as long as they stay under the cap. I think they would have to do something like change the IR rules if they are going to extend how many games they get to miss or how many players are on the active roster. It's not a bad idea...I am trying to think of drawbacks to it.

LT and Brees is an "A" in my mind. Chris Weinke being in the draft should lower the draft at least a letter grade. I may have to take a longer look at that later.

Martin said...

LDT and Brees, two probably HoF'rs. Yeah, I might grade that one an A.

Is it time to end the Jason Garret Experiment? Is 3 years long enough?

Fred Trigger said...

I just got back from Gillette and I can safely say that it will be the last time I go there. I mean, holy shit is it expensive as fuck. Not to mention I actually had Tawmmy from Quinzee sitting right in front of me. Direct quote: "WHAT THE FAAACKKK!!! DONT BE AFRAID TO TAKE A HIT FROM THAT FAGGOT!!! HES WHITE, SO HE CANT HIT THAT HAHHD!". I kind of miss when New England teams sucked, it was a much better experience in my opinion.

Of course my friends had the much better experience because they did the color guard before the game for the national anthem. I got this text after the game: "DUDE!! got wilforks gloves! got high fives from mcgowan, brady, moss, maroney, slater, bodden, butler, merriweather cameover and shook each one of our hands n said thanks" lucky bastards.

Bengoodfella said...

LT and Brees. That draft is an "A" no matter what happened with Brees.

Fred, it's always nice to sit beside Tommy. I think all football games are expensive, not just Gillette, but I see what you mean. Success has a price I guess. Jesus, sounds like you buddy got a lot of love from the Pats player. That's a definite argument for Color Guard.

It does feel better when your team sucks and you go to games, but then there is no one at the game and you wish there was...then when they are winning you hate everyone for only showing up when the team is winning. It's a no-win situation.

Fred Trigger said...

yeah, I guess your right. It probably didnt help that it was my first football game since I saw Flutie play in the meadowlands back in 98 (I think).

My cousin had free tickets to the Pats-Jets game at the meadowlands earlier in the year, and I was going to go until he told me "just make sure you dont let anyone know that your a Pats fan, or things could get ugly." To which I was like ..........ok, I think I'll stay home, thanks.

Yes, they did get lots of love and I'm very, very jealous of them. I would've given anything if one of them was a Giants fan and told Tom Brady he "sucked balls". That would've been awesome.

Bengoodfella said...

Wow, that was a long time between games. Just from what I have heard it is better if you didn't reveal yourself to be a Pats fan while playing the Jets. They have a lot of pent up rage.

It would have been even awesomer if Brady had snapped and gotten into a fight. That would have been great.