Unless you have been living in a barn or on the moon, you know the NFL has been discussing going to an 18 game season this past off season. Rampant speculation and heated arguments have ensued, turning into a rather tasty water cooler debate. One of our resident members, Slash196, wrote a list of really compelling reasons why the NFL should not go to the 18 game season. You can read that here.
So that got me to thinking, what should we do instead? My thoughts after the jump..
1.) Eliminate the 4 game pre-season
Let's just throw the pre-season out the door all together. It serves virtually no purpose, the revenues they generate are paltry, and in most cases, only showcase 3rd stringers/rookies in the games. Even the starters don't want to show up to these. The teams and owners will certainly say, "we need these to evaluate talent!" Soo...
2.) Create an NFL Developmental league
Naysayers will point to the recently defunct NFL Europe, but the problem there wasn't the teams/talent, it was support. Football isn't a sport in Europe, because it's not Futbol. However, here in the USA it's the number one sport in most areas. The biggest issue is how to create the league without impeding on the current NFL setup....
a.) Consider a partnership with the CFL
Several NFL caliber players have either gone there to play out their days or have moved up from there to the NFL. It's different enough but not so much different that a player couldn't go back and forth. It would give better experience at a higher level than college, allowing first year players to get their feet wet. You could stipulate something similar to what baseball does with its farm teams. Or..
b.) Increase the current roster to allow for a maximum of 65 players
This would essentially do away with the practice squad necessity, as it's mainly a way to keep players on the roster. This gives teams an additional 12 spots over the current format, allowing for more "growth" players.
3.) Move the bye week to the middle of the season for all teams
Personally, I hate watching other teams play and my team not being able to play due to a bye week. I also absolutely cringe every time I see the Colts having a bye week at weeks 3-4-5, as it makes zero point. Let's move the bye week to the mid point of the season, thus giving every team essentially 12 days off. This would allow all the teams a chance to enjoy a long bye week. The MLB, NBA, and NHL already do this type of format.
All of these suggestions are just that, suggestions. Some will agree and others will not. I'm merely throwing ideas out to get a discussion going. I do not want an 18 game season. It's bad enough already that an 8-8 or 9-7 team can win their division and have a home game in the playoffs.