I am a big NFL fan, and can’t understand how millionaires and billionaires can not split 9 billion dollars a year. One sticking point in the negotiations is whether to change the season from 16 to 18 games. There are many pros and cons on both sides of this argument. As a problem solver, this one doesn’t seem that difficult at all.
My take is below, which I sent to the NFL a few weeks ago. Several people in the media have suggested similar ideas for a 17-game compromise, but I have added a few wrinkles in my proposal. Hey, if you know Roger Goodell or any franchise owner, send this on. Maybe I can get tickets to a free game. I would prefer Cowboys tickets if you don’t mind.
I talked to a friend of mine about this last night (hey ArtDave), and he thought it was GENIUS. However, we decided that this makes too much sense. Two enemies of logic are blind stupidity and greed, and they are both in play with the NFL. Let me know if you agree with my rationale below.
I propose 17 regular season games and 3 preseason games.
Preseason: One home game, one away game, and one neutral site game. Many people do not like the preseason, but there obviously is a reason for it. The players need to get prepared, new schemes practiced, and young players need the reps in game situations. However, season ticket holders hate to pay full price for two games where they do not see “real” football. I propose that you make the preseason 3 games (putting one at a neutral site) and that you also cut the price of the game at home by 25%. This way, the season ticket holder gets a break on paying the full price for the ticket, and he only has to pay for one game instead of two. A neutral site can host a third game – for example, have Dallas and Houston play at San Antonio, or have St. Louis and Kansas City play at Columbia, MO at the university. Fans from those areas can pay the regular price to see the games, and get to see games they normally do not get to see with a “real” chance to get a lower level ticket that they would normally never get a chance to get in the current format. The revenue from the neutral site can be split evenly between the two teams.
Everyone is a winner in this scenario. One less preseason game helps the season ticket holder, outlying fans, and lessens players’ risk of getting hurt during the preseason. Other cities get to see NFL football and collect some revenue in the process. It also moves one game into the regular season, which means more revenue from TV, and more revenue for the league and owners. This extra revenue would surely make up for the revenue from the lost preseason home game. Three preseason games instead of two would also help the younger NFL players by getting the valuable time they need on the field.
Regular season: A 19 week season, comprised of 8 home games, 8 away games, one neutral game, and two bye weeks (and less offseason practices). A 19 week season in this manner could mean many things for the league, number one being more revenue from TV. Two extra weeks of NFL football on TV equals how much extra revenue for the league? This scenario still ensures that the owners will all have 8 home games, unlike the current environment where they may lose a game to play in London. Fantasy Football websites will see increased traffic (including NFL.com) and the NFL Network will have more real content and less of an offseason. The expanded season means more football for everyone!
For the players, they would benefit from the extra bye week, and with less activity in the offseason. Two bye weeks will help the players recover during the extra injuries in the longer season, and will help them recover from longer trips oversees. Make stricter punishments for teams that do not follow offseason rules.
The neutral game can be used for the international game agenda of the NFL. More than one game could be held in London, but other games could be hosted in cities where NFL Europe used to be played, as well as Mexico, Canada, and other countries. I could see a Seattle game being played in Vancouver or a Dallas/Houston game in Mexico City. The NFL could return to play games where NFL Europe once hosted games. Could San Francisco go to Japan, or maybe Oakland go to Australia for a game? The possibilities are endless, and the 17th game could ensure more and more of these games in the future.
Here is one bonus idea that would be a public relations bonanza – how about a game played strictly for our troops oversees? Could you imagine the stands filled with only members of the armed forces? It would look almost like an Army-Navy game, but the impact would be awesome. Further, the service men and women would get into the game for free. Surely corporate sponsors would come on board and pay for the costs. Hell, if you can get sponsors to pay 3 million dollars for a 30 second commercial at the Super Bowl, it shouldn’t be that hard to get sponsors for this type of event.
The 17th game could also be hosted at neutral sites in US locations, like I proposed above for the preseason, and could be based on geographic AFC/NFC teams that we only see every four years. Jacksonville vs. Tampa, San Francisco vs. Oakland, and the NY Giants vs. the NY Jets come to mind. Some of these games could still be played in current NFL stadiums with the owners splitting the revenue evenly. Could Pittsburgh and Green Bay play a game in Indianapolis? Imagine San Diego vs. San Francisco in Hawaii, Seattle vs. Oakland meeting in Alaska, or the Denver Broncos playing on the blue field of the Boise State Broncos! In these neutral site games, tickets would be available to the general public instead of to current season ticket holders. I can see fans in New York lining up now for a chance at a lower level ticket that they normally would not get a chance at in the new stadium to see Jets vs. Giants. In the past, we have seen games moved because of weather or fires (San Diego), yet fans still line up for a chance to see the game. Again, the possibilities are endless in where and how these games are played.
Give us fans a real chance to see a game up close! The only way we get that now is to pay triple the price on eBay, StubHub.com. or to a scalper. I am not a season ticket holder, but I do go to one or two games a year. The only way to get tickets is to know someone that is willing to part with a ticket, or to pay 2-3 times the face value. This does not help the league, only hurts it. I like to travel to other cities to see games, but the cost of tickets makes it prohibitive. I find it hard to take my sons to a game when I know I will have to spend $1,000 to do it. Neutral site games would make this very possible!
Playoffs and Super Bowl: The games move two weeks later. A 19 week season could also push the Super Bowl out two week further into February. This would mean that chances are less for ice storms in Dallas or Atlanta, and even warmer weather in Miami and Los Angeles. I would propose having the Super Bowl on the Sunday of President’s Day weekend. Many fans have that Monday off for the holiday, and we would really appreciate that. Many corporations would surely love this, seeing as how many work hours are lost the day after the big game. The NFL Draft can still happen at the end of April, with the Combine the first week of March and free agency beginning on March 15th. Offseason practices can happen at the end of May or early June. NFL Football from Labor Day to President’s Day – what could be better!
Anyway, these are my thoughts. Feel free to add on, or to dismiss entirely. I’d love to hear what you think, but most importantly, for the owners and players, please just work out a compromise so I can fill my Sundays with football in the fall.