December Rollerball is the New Regular Season

The new 2020 CBA for the NFL was approved by the Players Union. The players get more money. The owners get more money. The fans get to pay more money.

I can’t be any more blunt about this CBA. It is the dilution we have warned about numerous times in the past. NFL ownership, in their never-ending quest to “grow” the game, had their stump man Roger Goodell argue fruitlessly in campaign after campaign for an 18 game season. But that strategy paid dividends, as the persistent anchoring of requests for 18 games made a 17 game CBA begrudgingly tolerable. Owners wore down the players (here is an old post from 2009) and got the extra game.

That is not all that the owners got. They also got a 14 team playoff structure. Adding an extra 2 teams to the playoffs may not seem like a big deal, but it is. Starkly, the best way to see this with the ratio of the playoff qualifiers to those knocked out of the postseason. This ratio changes from 12:20 to 14:18. That is an old ratio of 60% to the new ratio of 78%.

“When everyone’s super… no one will be.”

Dilution. Death by a thousand cuts. Longer season. More playoff qualifiers. Memo to NY Giants blog readers and all NFL fans- THE REGULAR SEASON WAS JUST WATERED DOWN.

You don’t need to have taken calculus to know that as a limit, more regular season games and more teams in the playoffs cheapens every single regular season game. The greatness of the NFL is the regular season. It matters. These gladiators bust their butts, play hurt, wage war, all on our behalf to win every precious regular season game. Each win is precious. Each loss is potentially crippling. Well, you add an extra game and 2 extra playoff qualifiers and the result… of that valuable game… is just not as valuable. More supers.

If you want more proof of the dilution, the NFL owners made concessions to the players to get this deal through. Not only is there more money for them, but they also drop the number of padded practices in training camp from 28 to 16. Bwaaahhaaahaa. Why don’t we just set up mani pedis next to the blocking sleds?!

The dilution continues with 3 more players dressed for games, 2 more players on the active roster, and 2-4 more practice squad players.  The last I checked, the NFL still only has 22 players for each snap, so that means you’ll be seeing more journeymen and more turnstile players than ever before. Yet instead of being cut before the season, they’ll be playing football, because the season will wear on longer and they’ll go through more bodies. Player safety? You’re joking, right?

You can bet your bottom dollar (which the NFL is reaching for right now) that the TV networks will weave their public relations masterpieces on that “new” fringe player who “got his chance” and made it to stardom. What would we ever do without the new CBA?!! Do not believe it. That fringe player already has his shot numerous times in training camps, practice squads and other teams’ roster cuts.

The rank & file players who got this agreement passed will get a 20% raise for playing one extra game. I have nothing against more fringe players making a (fabulous) salary by getting a professional contract. But make no mistake, that is how the owners got the votes. The Richard Shermans and JJ Watts were against this deal because they did not want to play extra games and extra playoff games in order to win a title. They have the money. They want the money and their bodies. Rank & file members who are getting that 20% bump are out of football in 1-2-3 years. The owners got their vote and a new CBA. Fans will get less stars and more rank & file.

Steve Young was the first to coin the phrase: “September is the new preseason.” It was a dig at the 2011 CBA agreement, which watered down practices and put out a garbage product to start the regular season. The new 2020 CBA means that with weaker training camp, weaker play, weaker players, longer seasons, and more playoff teams, that December rollerball is the new regular season.


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