COMMENTARY | The NFL may be pushing for an 18-game regular-season schedule with a new twist.
The idea of expanding the NFL's 16-game regular-season schedule is not a new idea. The NFL is said to have pushed strongly for an 18-game schedule during the latest round of collective bargaining negotiations.
Although NFL players would benefit financially from an 18-game season, the NFLPA successfully rebuffed Roger Goodell's proposal in the name of player safety. However, the NFL's latest proposal attempts to allay this fear.
The NFL's alleged new 18-game season proposal would limit each player to 16 games. In other words, each NFL team would play 18 regular-season games, but each player could only participate in 16 games. While this would seemingly solve the player safety issue, it would open a Pandora's Box of countless other problems for NFL teams.
I believe this would ignite a chain reaction of calamities for the New Orleans Saints.
It's hard to imagine any NFL player who is more valuable to his team than Drew Brees. Unlike most NFL players, Brees has managed to stay relatively healthy over the last seven seasons. If Brees is healthy, how can the Saints possibly not play him in every game?
If you think Saints fans would have a hard time accepting no Drew Brees for two games, imagine the dilemma facing head coach Sean Payton. How in the world is Payton supposed to decide which two games Brees would not play in? The NFL is built on the "any given Sunday" concept that any team is capable of beating any other team on any given day. The two teams gifted with no Drew Brees would be motivated to crush New Orleans because his benching would be like saying the Saints feel they can win those games without their all-world QB.
Admittedly, the NFL is considering not applying this rule to quarterbacks and kickers. However, I believe the NFLPA would never allow an exception like this for some position players and not others in an 18-game season. Defensive players would rightfully argue that the NFL is already showing incredible favoritism to quarterbacks and signal callers like Drew Brees should be subject to the same rules as other NFL players.
Home vs. Away
Another factor to consider is whether the Saints' best players should sit for two games at home or on the road in an 18-game NFL season. Saints fans would be incensed if they paid for season tickets and were forced to watch backups periodically have to start in New Orleans. I'm sure the Saints' front office would want the team's best players on the field in New Orleans, but that would have to be a football decision made solely by Sean Payton.
There is an equally disastrous scenario in reverse. Imagine New Orleans Saints fans living in other NFL cities who buy tickets to see the Saints play against the local team. This could be their only chance to see Drew Brees play in person. Then after paying exorbitant prices for tickets, they find out a few days prior to kickoff that a healthy Drew Brees won't play. Goodell should ask NBA commissioner David Stern how he feels about star players not suiting up on the road.
Jimmy Graham, Marques Colston, etc.
In addition to Drew Brees, the Saints have other stars at the skill positions. New Orleans fans would be just as angry with healthy players such as Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston having to miss two games in an 18-game NFL season. Healthy players constantly having to sit out would destroy cohesion, as NFL teams such as the Saints would struggle to establish a rhythm throughout an 18-game season.
The NFL would argue that injuries would solve this problem, as many Saints players would have to miss at least two games in an 18-game regular season anyway. But in the event of a player staying healthy all year, what is Sean Payton supposed to do? If he waits until the end of the season to bench his starters waiting for injuries to naturally occur, he'd be in serious trouble if the last two games were meaningful for New Orleans.
Despite their best efforts, the New Orleans Saints were unable to defeat Roger Goodell in the alleged bounty scandal. If the latest NFL proposed 18-game schedule were to pass, it would be another defeat for the Saints at the hands of Goodell. But an 18-game regular season would be just as damaging for every other NFL team as well.
Patrick Michael lives in New Orleans and has always been a big follower of the New Orleans Saints. Patrick's favorite Saints season was 2009 when New Orleans won Super Bowl 44. Follow Patrick Michael on Twitter at patmichael84.
More from this contributor:
- Sports & Recreation
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- Drew Brees
- Roger Goodell