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FOX Sports' Howie Long Sacks The Owners' 18-Game Season Proposal

I don't normally care what most blowhard NFL TV personalities say anymore. At one time, I used to. I used to get really upset and red-in-the-face when Terry Bradshaw would take unnecessary shots at Peyton Manning (even though Terry couldn't carry Peyton or even Archie's jock strap as a player) or when Tom Jackson at ESPN would make his pathetically biased Broncos pick over the Colts only to see egg on his face after the game.

It used to make me mad. Now, I just don't care what these overpaid morons think or say.

However, every once in a great while, one of these TV types will mouth something that almost sounds intelligent. One of these rare moments happened last week, and because I don't often watch FOX (they carry NFC games, mostly) I missed it when referencing information sources in some of my earlier articles discussing the 18-game season. Last Sunday, FOX's Howie Long used a special portion of Sunday's programming to utterly demolish the NFL owners' 'proposal' for an 18-game season.

For us Colts fans, this was timely.

Less than 24-hours later, our team president, Bill Polian, went on his radio show and clearly stated that an 18-game season was a 'done deal.' In fact, he stated it twice. While I would never confuse FOX Sports columnist Jason Whitlock with someone who knows anything about professional football, I'm inclined to agree with him that Polian's little 'mistake' Monday night could indeed have been sparked by Long's comments on FOX.

What Polian's motivations were for saying what he said remain uncertain. Whitlock seems to think Polian was carrying water for the owners. Personally, I think Polian's 'fait accompli' was calculated, and it was a nod to the players. Polian isn't dumb. He knew that if he said the 18-game season was a 'done deal' that it would get attention, and with that attention there would be renewed debate. Big Bill took major heat

I think Polian agrees with us: An 18-game season is a terrible idea. Also, despite what people may or may not be saying, it certainly is not a 'done deal.' Not even close.

In Long's takedown of the owner's proposal for an 18-game season, perhaps the most damning information against adding two games is the wear-and-tear on the players. Long reminded all of us 915 players were placed on injured reserve the last three years.


That's during a 16-game season. Add two more games, and the count on IR rises bigtime. Long's best quote in the video was this:

To hear owners talk, the 18-game season is a win-win. For the doctors, maybe.

From a health standpoint, and from the standpoint of the many fans who pay lots of money because we want to watch our favorite players play (and play healthy) for an entire season, an 18-game format is not acceptable.

However, Long doesn't just attack the 18-game format and dismiss it outright. He provides strong provisions that absolutely must take effect is the NFL goes to 18 games. Those provisions are:

  • Active rosters expanded to 55 players, with four of those players designated solely for special teams.
  • OTAs do not start in March. Instead, May 1st is the start time for OTAs. No football activities from the end of the Super Bowl until May.
  • The league incorporates two bye weeks, dividing the season into thirds.

A provision that Long does not mention, but its pretty strongly hinted at, is the players will ask for more money should the owners push harder for an 18-game season in 2011. Expanding the rosters means more players collecting more checks. Also, if you are a player on the Week One roster, your salary is guaranteed for the season. Under Long's suggestions (which are all excellent, in my opinion), 55 players (not 48) get paid.

However, Long's suggestions fly right in the face of what the owners are threatening to lock the players out for: They say they are losing money, and that the players need to take a pay cut. Of course, when you take one look at Jerry World, the owners' claims about money become ridiculous rather quickly.

So, if owners want an 18-game season, they are going to have to pay more money for players and make several major changes to the the format of the NFL itself; expanded rosters, additional bye weeks, and giving more money to the players. Since it seems the owners don't want to do that (especially the money part), the players simply are not going to agree to any kind of 18-game season.

Thus, the deal is certainly not 'fait accompli.'

For those of you out there who might be rolling your eyes at more article discussing this labor debate, the reason we are covering this stuff is because it is just about impossible to separate the play on the field with what is going on in these labor disputes. Everyone is affected: Fans, players, coaches, scouts, media, NFL corporate, businesses that rely on NFL games to stay afloat, cities that publicly subsidize stadiums... everyone.

The more information we know, the more we fans can have a say. Personally, if owners want more games and players want more money, why can't we fans get a nice little ticket discount? Maybe make those two 'worthless' per-season games FREE!

Long shot, I know. But, as long as everyone else is getting what they want, why can't we?