Jerry Jones just weighed in again with the old NFL greed initiative to cut preseason games down to 2 games and increase the regular season to 18 games. We have a better idea that (1) gets more revenue (2) protects from dilution (3) increases competitiveness and (4) increases player safety. It’s called 11-10.
11-10 refers to an additional bye week where all of the teams that play Thursday Night Football (TNF) get 11 days off prior and 10 days off after their game. Playing Thursday night on 3 days rest? Gone. Healing and recovery would be back, morale from players would return, Thursday night games would be energized, and road teams wouldn’t be disadvantaged.
11-10 takes one game away from preseason and adds a week to the regular season via an additional bye week. The 16 game schedule is not diluted with additional unnecessary contests that lengthen the regular season and put additional injuries/risk on the players. Because players are allowed to recover 10 days instead of 3 days before playing on Thursday night, they’ll all be “ready for some football.” The animosity of players who hated playing on such little rest would be gone.
Poopfest. That is the watered-down word for the way one All-Pro NFL player refers to TNF. Read that link to understand the depths of disgust that players have for the current contests. If owners and fans think that current TNF quality of play is up to the standards that vaulted the NFL to the top of professional sports, well, I have a Bridge to sell you. The current TNF is Dilution 101.
“But your body just won’t have as much to give as it would have had on a full week’s rest… That’s why the quality of play has been so poor on Thursday nights this season. We’ve seen blowouts, sloppy play and games that have been almost unwatchable — and it’s not the players’ faults. Their bodies just aren’t ready to play.”
We have blogged on this topic more than a few times over the past ~12 years. TNF is dilution. An 18 game season is more dilution. Here is one post from UltimateNYG a while back which quotes (now formerly active) players on why they will NEVER agree to an 18 game season.
“What’s in it for us? If we’re going to give you two more games, two more games of wear and tear on our bodies, two more games of potential career-ending injuries, two more games of concussions, blown-out knees, elbows, whatever you want to call it, then what’s the price you’re willing to pay for us to give that to you?”
It is pretty clear that NFL owners are living in Fantasy Land if they think they are getting growth via more regular season games. But they can get growth via another week, while simultaneously lifting TNF quality and ratings. That is a 2 for 1 deal.
With 11-10, competitiveness of Thursday night games would return. Noted lopsided affairs would be reduced, as both teams would be ready instead of just one. Overworked coaching staffs would have normal turnarounds to install a new weekly gameplan, instead of incomplete adjustments given only 2 days of prep time. Road teams have a distinct disadvantage under the current system because one crucial day on such a short week is lost to travel. According to the data cited in the link, through 2014 the Home team had a 5% better chance of winning on Thursday night than would otherwise be the case. Logistically, from coaches to players to equipment managers and Strength & Conditioning, it turns a bad idea (TNF) into something that will work.
Roger Goodell and NFL owners are all about the money. The 11-10 plan generates another week of NFL games and revenue.
The NFL Players Union has always been against more regular season games. The 11-10 plan heads that off and increases healing between games, allowing the Union to accept the enhanced schedule.
The Fans get better Thursday night football games. If it was up to me they’d get rid of TNF altogether. It is dilutive. Giving teams adequate preparation time will make both teams ready and raise the quality of the contest up to the same standards we watch on Sundays.