The NFL Is Looking To Expand To A 17 Or 18 Game Regular Season. Here's How They Should Do It.
Goodell's comments discussed lengthening the NFL season by one or two games, but you know it may or may not stop there. Let's talk about the logistics of a longer season.
First, we've heard much talk of shortening the pre-season. I'm sure most of us really wouldn't have a problem with that on the surface, two less exhibitions. That would be great. Let's be honest, most starters play less than guys in the first week of spring training in baseball, so we're seeing the scrubs and guys fighting for spots on the team. That may make us a fan of a guy who busts his butt, but talent evaluation can be done by the coaches more in training camp.
Let's talk about training camp. Right now, camp starts in late July. We could move camp back a couple weeks too. We really don't want to start camp until after the fourth of July weekend though. One, because it will be infringing upon baseball just a touch much. Having football players report before the MLB All Star Game just doesn't seem right. The one big negative of starting camp early and having less preseason games is the chance for fans to meet and greet with the players. I've suggested for a long time that all sports should have more fan friendly atmospheres before a game. All teams need to practice, but have an hour before the game up until about 30 minutes to gametime that players go to designated areas and meet fans, sign autos, take pics and all that fun stuff that fans really want at a game before the game.
So we have now stretched the season backwards the two games that Mr. Goodell would like, but we could always get in a few more. How far logistically could we go the other way without becoming too much?
The big event that seems to roll around in spring is...MardiGras (bet you thought I'd be saying Easter, HA!). Let's remember, many football fans make their way to New Orleans to be a part of the best festival of the year and really, we need to be nice to New Orleans with all the damage from Katrina.
For the sake of New Orleans and for fun of the NFL, let's change something. Let's make the AFC and NFC Championship Games the Sunday before the parade in New Orleans. That's right fans, let's play two in the Big Easy so everyone can enjoy the festivities. This helps the economy of New Orleans and the surrounding area still recovering from Hurricane Katrina and gives a nice party to set up the Super Bowl Week. We do the Super Bowl the old way by pushing the game back another week to give people plenty of time to recover from MardiGras before heading out to wherever the NFL places the game. The only negative here is that the Super Bowl might likely be Selection Sunday for the NCAA Tournament. How exciting though would it be to watch the Super Bowl then find out if your basketball team is heading to "the Big Dance"?
By doing that, we get regular season games in the last two weeks of August, the normal 17 Sundays of September through December and four more Sundays of regular season play in January. With two bye weeks (which I'll explain the reason for the need when I discuss expansion), that will give us 20 regular season games. Then with the last week in January and/or the first three weeks of February, we get a field of 16, eight from each conference. We just killed two birds with one stone with expanding the season from August to the first week in March.
That brings us to expansion. The NFL keeps promising Los Angeles a team for losing the Raiders and the biggest reason for expansion and more games is simple, MO MONEY, MO MONEY MO MONEY. So since I have now made a 20-week season, why not 40 teams? Where do the other seven come from? First, I thought about Canada, but they have the CFL, so no teams into Canada. How about Mexico City? Sure, they make a nice place for us to come every preseason. They get a team. How about Honolulu? If we can get rid of the Pro Bowl, why not? We all know that the Pro Bowl is the biggest joke of an All Star Game that exists because it is after the season. All the players love Honolulu, so let's put a team there and each team can go there at least every four years.
That leaves us five teams to give out. I thought about another team in Los Angeles and Chicago since they are big enough. Only one problem. Chicagoans and their football won't be able to take another split down the middle. They already disown the White Sox if you ask their manager. LA could take two, so that leaves four. So how about Vegas? Everybody wants to put a team in Vegas, so the first will be the NFL. Three to go.
The last three have to be fun places to play football because population may not support them alone. The first I thought of was Boise. Who wouldn't want to play on a blue field? Boise is in. Next is Memphis. Imagine it, the rock n' roll of Elvis versus the country of Nashville, a natural rivalry for music supremacy. Put Detroit in their division so that Motown can get in too. The last could be a lot of places. I'll leave that vote to you the readers. Don't be funny and say Detroit, Kansas City, St. Louis, Cincinnati or any other town with a crappy team this year.
The last thing I want to take care of is a potential cool idea I had for globalization. Let's take one week of the season and go global. Not just one team, but all of them. This is the reason for the other bye week. Mr. Goodell and company want to globalize the coolest franchise in the world. Let's take two games each to ten different world sites and play the games. You could play them back to back or day-night or night to next night. In any of those forms, it would be cool. The tops on the ten city list would be London (who doesn't want Big Ben to play in the city of Big Ben?), Paris (we could take 100,000 of our NFL fans and trash the place, those wimps), Berlin, Tokyo, Beijing, Toronto, Montreal and three other cities of your choosing. It would be a fun weekend followed by a week for the players and fans to relax in the respective cities before coming back and dealing with the second half of the season.
So Mr. Goodell, I think we could use a longer NFL season, just as long as you bring back the fun for the fans!