Friday, March 4, 2011

Crazy proposal idea

I make no bones about being a Steve Czaban fanboi. I really enjoy his morning show, not only to scratch my sports itch but also for the humor. But one of the better parts of the show is that Czabe isn't scared of throwing out some pretty wild ideas, some of which I like and some I hate.

So it came to pass that last night he posted a 3-part proposal for a new NFL CBA that I thought was interesting enough to dig into deeper. I'm actually going to list these backward, because the first proposal he made is the most interesting, and most controversial.
- Basic revenue split remains the same.
- Rosters increase by 6 per team. Playoffs are 7 teams each conference, only the top seed gets a bye.
- Regular season goes to 18 games. Two bye weeks. All players - with exemptions for P/K and possibly QB - can play a maximum of 16 regular season games.

Clearly that last sentence is controversial. I'd like to dig into the pros and cons of it a bit more.

First, note that within the argument, nowhere does it say that you have to sit a healthy guy two games if he sits two earlier games because he's hurt/suspended/whatever. Yeah, Czabe worded it that way on his twitter feed. But he clarified on the radio that's not the intent. If a guy sits the first six weeks from injury, he's not going to be forced to sit.

Obviously the argument out of the gate would be, "You're watering down the product making guys sit two weeks!" Well, that's partially true. Here's the thing. If every team is forced to sit their guys, maybe the overall level of play goes down some. But it's still an even playing field for all teams.

Some season ticket holders might argue that they don't want to pay to see a watered down game. That may be a valid argument, but as such a fan, would you really be that much more pissed off than being forced to pay for one game that's completely meaningless? My season ticket prices won't really go up any (or, at least, they shouldn't). And now I get nine meaningful games instead of eight. That's a big difference in value to me...more than enough to cover the fact that the product MIGHT be watered down just a little bit.

Let's explore that "might" for a moment...

One side of the argument suggests that it's more likely players may be injured in this scenario. Stick an 18 game QB back behind a backup OL for two games, and he's more likely to get himself hurt. Meh, maybe I can see that.

But there's another argument that says the players should actually be healthier...less likely to be injured under this new scenario. Today, players play 16 games with one week of rest. In this scenario, players play 16 games with FOUR weeks of rest. That could be a pretty big difference, allowing players to nurse minor injuries, keep them more fresh down the stretch and help prevent those minor injuries from turning into major ones.

As such, there's at least an argument to be made that something like this could ENHANCE the level of play on the field. So many teams by the end of the year are walking M*A*S*H units. The Packers are a good example, with 15 players winding up on IR (though easily arguable that forced two games of rest would not have made a huge difference for them) by the end of the year. If even only 5% - 10% of the players are able to play the entire season due to the extra rest, the level of play on field down the stretch - the most exciting time of the year - is even better than it has been in the past.

I'm not saying this WOULD happen. It's simply a possibility. And teams have to deal with guys sitting anyway, for a variety of reasons. Realistically, I think it all would net out about even in the end. And if it's net even, or even if very slightly negative, the positive additional two regular season games certainly outweighs that down-side.

All in all I like the idea. It's too radical to ever actually be implemented. But I think it's a pretty good idea, even if just on paper.


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