Lengthier NFL Season Could Be Too Much Of A Good Thing

  • Wednesday, June 16, 2010 8:25 PM
  • Written By: Steve Silver

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I never agree with Ray Lewis. In fact, doing the opposite of whatever he does is probably a very safe and legal way to live life.

Yet after reading about the “gaining momentum” behind adding two more regular-season games to the NFL schedule, I have to admit ol’ Ray is right in opposing this scheme.

In case you missed it, current Green Bay Packers president and my alma mater’s former athletic director Mark Murphy gushed to every major media outlet about the proposal to eliminate two preseason games and add two regular-season games starting in 2012.

First of all, let’s just hope there is football in 2012.

A lockout seems all but certain at this point in 2011 once the current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires. Who knows how long that will last with such greedy and stubborn parties on both sides of the negotiating table.

Assuming the NFL continues without interruption, this is a horrendous plan.

The logic behind this, according to Murphy, is that preseason games are boring, meaningless and really of little value to players and coaches.

YES. We all agree on that.

But regular-season games are awesome and make a ton of money. So adding more of them is obviously beneficial to all.

WRONG.

In this case you can have too much of a good thing.

Surprisingly Lewis expressed his concerns well when he said, “I know our fans may not like preseason games and I don't like all of them, but swapping two preseason games for two end-of-season games -- when players already play hurt -- comes at a huge cost for the player and the team.”

In a perfect world we scrap all but maybe one preseason game. I do think two is a good number for now. Get one in for the practice squad players then have the next week be a true tune-up before the regular season.

Although I would love nothing more than the NFL lasting all 52 weeks of the year, I’m just not sure lengthening the regular season is the way to go.

Injuries, as Lewis pointed out, are of course always a concern.

It is certainly not the strongest opposition because football is a violent game. Nothing you can do about that no matter how long the season is. Certainly an increase in games would increase the likelihood of injury and make the playoffs a true test of iron will to get to the Super Bowl.

My main concern is devaluing what seems to be a near-perfect system now.

The NFL is the lifeblood of American sports because every week matters so much. Unfortunately we’ve already seen how the final few weeks can become just as meaningless as preseason games with starters on the bench and no real stake in the outcomes.

Don’t you think this would happen more often with 18 games?

Realistically, though, this change will probably be implemented in a few years.

The NFL is a cash cow and money rules all. This decision might be veiled in increasing competition and improving the product for fans, but it is really about the mighty dollar. By the way, when the NFL has to pay players more for a longer season, who do you really think is going to foot the bill? The owners? Ha, not a chance. Get ready for the already outrageous ticket, parking and beer prices to rise again.

To be fair, there are some positives to this plan.

Certainly more games to watch are a plus. Us fantasy geeks will have a longer season as well, which means more time for me to put off school work. And if the NFL keeps extending the season, the Super Bowl in New York might actually be above freezing.

Ideally, the NFL would shorten the preseason and leave the regular season alone. I guarantee this will not happen.

With two additional games to win, I think it is safe to say that the 1972 Dolphins can get the champagne ready for eternity.

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Jim Joyce Is All The Proof Needed For Instant Replay

  • Wednesday, June 2, 2010 9:55 PM
  • Written By: Steve Silver

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Jim Joyce – welcome to baseball infamy.

Sure, probably only a handful of diehard baseball nuts had even heard of Jim Joyce or pitcher Armando Galarraga before Wednesday night, but the two will now forever be linked in one of the worst robberies since the days of Bonnie and Clyde.

In case you have been living under a rock or in fact have a life besides incessantly checking sports websites, here is the skinny:

Random Detroit pitcher is one out from a perfect game. These are rare. So rare in fact that only 20 other people have EVER thrown one. So it’s kind of a big deal. Cleveland batter grounds between first and second, the first baseman throws to Galarraga covering the bag for a rather routine out. Only one this night, on this one career-defining play the good old man in blue decides he is going to make a safe call. (You can check out a game recap and a video of the botched call here.)

Video replay confirms what everyone except union-protected and apparently blind Jim Joyce already knew; the runner was out – by a lot.

I am the first to admit that I’m not a baseball guy. So here are the words of one of the country’s biggest baseball guys, Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. Kepner wrote that, “Joyce’s decision is easily the most egregious blown call in baseball over the last 25 years.”

After watching the replay himself, Joyce has since admitted he made the wrong call. But guess what? That’s just not good enough for America’s former favorite pastime because the sport embraces change as if it were the plague.

This is a perfect example as to why Major League Baseball needs instant replay.

The main complaint is that it would lengthen an already snooze-fest of a game. While this might be true, using instant replay a few times a game won’t do too much. I mean what's three hours and 15 minutes versus three hours?

Look at the NFL, NHL, NBA and even professional tennis. Replay slows the game a bit, but fans and players are more than willing to accept that in exchange for a correct call.

While we’re at it, what about a shot clock for pitchers and batters? Nobody needs more than 20 seconds to prepare for the next pitch.

If the MLB really wanted to make this situation right it would overturn Joyce’s boneheaded call, give Galarraga his perfect game and punish their union-protected umpire for incompetence.

Bud Selig, if you need me, I’ll be watching hockey where the referees are actually in shape, use instant replay and are held accountable for their mistakes.

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