Before the first 17-game season even begins there is already talk about the future and the possibility of upping that number another notch to 18 games, but with health risks like CTE rising is it really the best decision moving forward?
The 2021 NFL season is finally taking a step that fans and owners have been asking them to take for the past decade: they’re moving the regular-season game count up from 16 games to 17 games, marking the first time that a game was added since the league expanded from 14 to 16 in 1978.
Yet, there are already talks brewing about extending the regular season by yet another game in the near future even though we are three months away from this grand experiment actually even beginning.
According to a report from Peter King of NBC Sports covering Roger Goodell and the future of the NFL, there are “many observers [which] think 18 games is on the way”, which he clarifies could come as early as the 2025 or 2026 season.
This is great news for fans of the NFL, media sponsors, television networks, owners of NFL franchises, food vendors at stadiums, and everyone else in the world but it seemingly looks past the actual athletes that put their bodies (and their brains) on the line week after week.
King does not go into any detail regarding how the 18-game season would look but if the same approach is taken for 18-games that was taken coming into the 17-game 2021 season then there will simply be a preseason game flexed into a regular-season game.
While that idea makes sense after contemplating how little the preseason games typically matter anymore, and what little money the preseason matches typically make compared to regular-season games, starters would once again be forced to play another extra game and become even more bruised and battered before the opening round of the playoffs even begin (if they are even lucky enough to reach the playoffs).
The issue of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) and brain damage, along with the many other health risks that come from playing such a fast-paced and vicious contact sport, have been major factors for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell which makes the assumption that another regular-season game is inevitably on its way even more bothersome.
The addition of another game to the regular season would likely have to come after studies are concluded on the effects of the 17-game seasons as well, mainly due to the very poor choices that Goodell has made in the past concerning the health of NFL players after they are done playing.
Goodell has squandered opportunities in the past that would help his appearance on CTE studies and prevention, like the NFL’s $30 million donation to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for brain research that ended with $16 million unspent due to a bitter dispute over an award-winning researcher back in 2015.
Or the time Goodell and the NFL had to take control over independent studies after donating $100 million to concussion research that partially ended up not even going to research over football-related injuries, but rather a London facility used their share to study concussions in horse jockeys.
Goodell’s main “achievement” in the fight against CTE, as well as the argument that contact sports like football are one of the main causes of the fatal brain disease, is the addition of newer, safer helmets, and…that’s about it.
If Goodell wants the players, as well as the coaches who care deeply for their star athletes, to go along with another regular-season game, then he is going to have to do something drastic to repair his relationship with them. Most likely, that will be through the use of extra incentives and shares of profit–something that helped them approve the 17-game season they’re about to embark into.
The pros and cons are heavy on both sides…what do you think the NFL should do?
Agree? Disagree? Want to continue this conversation? Do so through the comment section below or through tweeting me at @SportsGuyShawnO and be sure to check out more free articles every day on Border Fuel Sports!