The League

Dave Goldberg
Sports Reporter

Dave Goldberg

Covered the NFL for the AP for 25 years and now is a senior NFL writer for Fanhouse.com

Money trumps all

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When Roger Goodell proposed that the NFL expand to an 18-game schedule, an idea that the league has been floating for at least a half-decade, he gave the players union the stick to go with the carrot by suggesting that the league will expand rosters to provide more jobs for more players.

They'll sure need to. In fact, I'd raise the limit to 67, 60 active and a seven-man practice squad.

For if there are two more regular season games, the chances for injury expand exponentially -- even during the preseason, when teams hold players with minor injuries out of practices and games, guys go down. When they are playing hard at the start of the regular season, more will be hurt. And in the final two games of the season, when playoff berths and home-field advantage is on the line, the likelihood of injury is even greater because of the fatigue factor.

Here's another way to approach it.

With an 18-game schedule, last weekend would have been the first regular-season games. I watched most or part of six preseason games and in all of them, each team had a half-dozen or more starters sitting out. Sure, some could have played if the game meant something, but quite a few couldn't have, including Donovan McNabb. (No Rex Grossman joke here -- he's better than a lot of backups, like Rhett Bomar, who filled in for Eli Manning two weeks ago.)

It's not only injuries, it's probably shortened careers.

There are a finite number of games in a player's body
. Quarterbacks -- notably Brett Favre and Peyton Manning -- play more games than your average running back, whose career is usually over by 30. But all players' careers are really measured by hits taken and delivered, which means that a guy lucky enough to play nine seasons will be hit in the future as many times as he now is in ten years.

A lesser drawback? The cheapening of records. With 18 games, a 1,000-yard rushing season is 55 yards per, not exactly brilliant and 2,000 is 110 yards, very good but not necessarily Hall of Fame material. Four thousand yards passing? That's 222 yards a game.

Plus one other objection -- division races.

I'd like to see each team play its division opponents three times. I know, home-and-home. So alternate that from year to year -- I haven't researched it, but it seems to me that visitors do better in those games anyway.

But that won't catch on. What might are rivalry games: Giants-Jets; Redskins-Ravens; Eagles-Steelers; Cowboys-Texans; Raiders-49ers and the like. I don't like that -- no one outside the immediate area cares and half the league is without natural rivalries outside the division. (Packers-Bears, Packers-Vikings, but Packers .....?)

In any case, arguing against the 18-game schedule really doesn't matter because it will happen. The players don't like it but in the end, the money will talk.

Always does.

By Dave Goldberg  |  August 31, 2010; 12:17 AM ET  | Category:  Dave Goldberg , NFL , Roger Goodell Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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