I hear certain NFL players complain and balk any time the proposed 18 game NFL season is discussed in the media. Regardless of the argument, I will be the first to say that in today’s NFL, the players are bigger, stronger and faster players as ever before.
However, let’s take an alternative view of this discussion. In 2012, from my calculation, the majority of NFL games contain about 60-65 plays for each team – 15% fewer plays than 30 years ago. Therefore, if you’re playing in 8 or 9 fewer plays each game, today’s NFL players are engaged in between 128 and 144 fewer plays per season and this works out to the equivalent of 2 NFL games.
So what does that mean? In my mind, if the NFL went to an 18 game season in 2013, would it not be the equivalent of a 16 game season in 1982? You can’t ever discount the wear and tear on one’s body but let’s factor in this critical piece of data. Most NFL players are against such an idea, except of course, if it may mean a 10% increase in player salary.
Before NFL players balk or players organize against such an idea, shouldn’t this fact be part of the discussion? Shouldn’t fans participate in such a discussion? On the other hand, is this taboo for the NFL and its promoters to mention that even though the NFL is as popular as ever, it’s actually more watered down with fewer plays than years ago?
LET’S TICK AWAY AS MUCH TIME AS POSSIBLE
Several years ago, Brett Favre of the Packers used to let the game clock run down to zero if it (at the time) was less than the play clock at the end of quarters 1 and 3. In other words, if the play clock said 34 seconds and there was 30 seconds left in the quarter, Favre would often let all the time expire in the quarter. It would annoy me to know end. It’s one thing to not run a play when there’s 10 or 15 seconds left on the clock and your offense is not ready and it’s another to just miss the opportunity to run another play or two.
A few years later, more quarterbacks are doing the same thing. I know there are certain times in an NFL game where it’s a competitive advantage to “milk the clock,” especially at the end of the half or game but the scenario I’m describing is not necessarily competitive based – rather, the thought might be: there’s more time on my 40 second clock than game clock so I don’t need to do anything.
I don’t know if fans care, but if I paid $75 or $100 for a ticket, I’d want to see as many plays as possible. Don’t cheat the fans! Remember prima donnas, it’s a show! In addition, do what you can to give us as much action as possible. When Favre began to pull this ploy, I thought to myself, there’s at least one less play I’ll see. With the ticket prices and the amount of commercialization surrounding the game, don’t we need more action, not less?