The NFL preseason is a long, four-week process that often struggles to keep fans entertained.
Starters rarely play — and if they do it’s only for a handful of drives at most. Games can be long and boring. And there are always a handful of major injuries that sideline major players — like Jaguars receiver Marqise Lee — for an entire season over a game that didn’t matter.
Teams struggle to get fans to watch these games on TV, let alone show up for the games in person, too.
So how does the league fix the preseason? Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, naturally, has the solution.
He wants an 18-game regular season and a two-game preseason.
Now, the shortened preseason part of Jones’ wish would likely go over extremely well across the board. And, Jones said, a shorter preseason would cut down on injuries — specifically concussions.
“I can make the case that we have an uptick in concussions in the preseason,’’ Jones said, via Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News. “If you look at it, I would contend there would be less exposure.’’
The best part about an 18-game regular season, though, is simple: more money.
“It would provide more than $1 billion to the players,’’ Jones said. “It’s certainly worth considering. It would direct more value for what the players expend to the players.’’
Yes, adding two more games to the schedule would bring in more money. It would provide two more weeks for fans to attend a game, and teams would earn more money from TV networks who broadcast the extra games. It would be extremely lucrative for teams, and very entertaining for fans.
While adding two games to the season may be appealing to fans, it could be a tough sell to the players. Physically having to play an extra two games each season is a lot to ask for.
An 18-game regular season isn’t a new idea, either. Owners pushed for that during negotiations for the current collective bargaining agreement in 2011, but to no avail. One of the biggest hangups for players then, as it likely would be now, was an increased exposure to injuries.
It’s not out of reach, however. The Canadian Football League currently plays an 18-game schedule over 20 weeks, so it can be done.
The current NFL CBA, though, doesn’t expire until 2020, so Jones would have to wait until then to make his case to the rest of the league.
While an 18-game regular season is, at this point, probably a long shot, successfully shortening the preseason is a very real possibility — one that almost needs to be done.
And if Jones can pull it off, he’d likely have the support of fans all across the country.
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