Blog Entry

Goodell on 18 games: 'People want more football'

Posted on: February 17, 2012 8:39 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 9:42 pm
Whether fans want it or not (they don't appear to), what about the safety concerns of an 18-game schedule? (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's salary will reportedly double to $20 million as part of a new five-year contract extension from the NFL. That's a lot of coin but if the league wasn't awash in money the owners wouldn't reward Goodell with that kind of payday.

Not surprisingly, some players were less than effusive when they heard the news, probably because depending on your perspective, Goodell's tenure as commissioner falls somewhere between awesome (the owners) and awful (the players). Falcons wide receiver Roddy White tweeted apoplectically Tuesday:

"How in the hell can u pay a man this much money that can't run tackle or catch?"

And before you roll your eyes, this isn't a "he's never played the game!" argument. When someone suggested that Goodell's oversight as commissioner has allowed White to make a lot of money, White got testy.

"Thats the stupidest thing i have ever heard the players make this league dont ever forget that," White tweeted in response. "My god given talents feed me not him."

This is true. No fan in the history of tackle football has ever bought a ticket to a game to see Goodell. We talked about this on a recent Pick-6 Podcast and our opinion is basically this: Goodell is a savvy politician who worked his way up from the bottom and is now presiding over the nation's most popular sport. He is responsible for it's growth, yes, but without players the NFL wouldn't exist in it's current form. We're pretty sure Goodell would agree with this.

We mention this because Goodell spoke recently about the state of the league, specifically addressing expansion ("We are not considering expansion. I’ve tried to make that clear when I was asked by Bob Costas recently.") and the never-gonna-die 18-game schedule discussions.

“Well, I appreciate the enthusiasm for it and I hear it from the fans consistently," Goodell told ESPN 1050, dusting off his not-entirely-accurate talking points from this summer's lockout. "People want more football. I think they want less preseason and more regular season and that’s the concept we are talking about here."

Again, this is stretching the truth. Everybody -- fans, players, media -- thinks the preseason is too long. But that doesn't mean they want, say, two fewer preseason games if it means two more regular-season games. Last May,'s Josh Katzowitz did an informal Twitter poll and found that 83.9 percent of respondents were fine with the 16-game schedule.

In February 2011, Sports Illustrated's Peter King did his own Twitter poll and concluded that "18 percent of 1,200 football fans, less than one out of every five, want what Goodell says they want. And 82 percent want to keep it at 16 regular-season games."

But even if you call B.S. on the self-selection bias in such polls, what about this? Goodell has championed safety above all else but isn't he talking out of both sides of his mouth when he says "safety is No. 1" and then clamoring for two additional regular-season games because the fans want it?

In November 2010, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said "The additional games, the studies show, will not really increase injuries."

Technically, Ross was right. Esquire wrote about this issue back in January 2011:
Dated September 6, 2010, the 26-page version (of a study conducted by an independent research firm for an NFLPA injury report) relies on data from the NFL Injury Surveillance System in following 16,552 injuries from 2004 to 2009 — position-by-position, game-by-game, and location-by-location.

Over the course of a season, the analysis found that 16.1 percent of injuries occurred in training camp, another 24.7 percent in preseason, and 57.9 percent during the regular season. In total, 21.2 percent classified as "major" injuries, with severity increasing dramatically from the regular season to the postseason. And while game-related injuries actually trended down from week to week, the report's introduction of head-injury data provides an alarming juxtaposition…
The juxtaposition? Total team injuries decrease over the course of a 16-game season and into the postseason but the percentage of brain-related injuries increases over that same time. (You can see the charts here.)

Perhaps that's a function of better awareness about the long-term dangers of concussions, as well as improved testings procedures. "Still," the Esquire piece concludes, "the early version of the report states that each player now has a 10 percent chance of suffering from a concussion in a given season."

However you spin it, that's not good.

Back to Goodell's recent radio appearance:

"We wouldn’t add an extra two games without reducing the preseason and we are not going to do it without the players support, so we did that in the collective bargaining agreement instead of having the unilateral right, which we had," he said. "We determined that we were going to do this together. We are going to make changes in the offseason and during the preseason and during the regular season to make the game safer. If we can accomplish that we’ll look at the idea of restructuring the season and taking two preseason games away and the potential of adding regular season games, but I don’t think that will happen until at least 2013 or 14.”

Conspiracy theorists might say that while Goodell's crackdown on helmet-to-helmet hits and unprotected pass-catchers does make the game safer, it's also something he and the owners can point to in a few years and say, "See, we take this very seriously, illegal hits are down, the NFL is less violent, the next logical step: 18-game seasons."

Because other than money, there's no urgency here. If Goodell truly is listening to the fans (or the players), this wouldn't ever come up again. We're guessing that ain't happening.

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Since: Sep 30, 2008
Posted on: February 18, 2012 11:37 am

Goodell on 18 games: 'People want more football'

Goodell is only listening to the fans he wants to listen to. His desire for an 18 game season is financially motivated, I believe. There are many people who speak out against an 18 game schedule, so it's clear that Goodell isn't listening to them. As much as I love, NFL, NFL draft...I don't want to see two extra games tacked on to the regular season. It only amounts to two more weeks of meaningless games with the majority of teams already out of contention. It won't improve the quality of the game at all. The league is already lacking the quality it used to have among the top teams...this has been demonstrated by the number of low-seeded playoff teams winning the Super Bowl in recent years. Sixteen games is good enough. Every major sport has a month-long pre-season, so stop bellyaching and be content. Sometimes less is more.

Since: Feb 18, 2012
Posted on: February 18, 2012 11:36 am

Goodell on 18 games: 'People want more football'

It's not that people want an 18 game regular season, it's that season ticket holders are tired of paying full price for preseason games.

Since: Oct 16, 2007
Posted on: February 18, 2012 11:28 am

Goodell on 18 games: 'People want more football'

Goodell doesn't know what he's talking about.  I love football.  It's my favorite sport, but the season is long enough.

What would be more accurate is that Goodell wants an 18 game season so he can increase revenues. 

Since: Nov 4, 2007
Posted on: February 18, 2012 11:21 am

Goodell on 18 games: 'People want more football'

Goodell is aweful.. The only person I have ever heard say they want an 18 game season is Goodell. He reminds so much of a rat bastage politician. He is ruining the game in so many ways. Is it a coincidence that "TWO" players beat a 27 year old record for passing yards in a season and a THIRD player was only 30 yards behind. Records mean nothing anymore and to be honest the game itself means nothing anymore. Thanks Roger

Since: Sep 11, 2006
Posted on: February 18, 2012 11:18 am

Goodell on 18 games: 'People want more football'

If Goodell wants to put this on the fans, then why doesn't he put up a poll on NFL's site? I don't want 18 games, nobody I know wants 18 games, but until they actually poll the fans, none of us will know who many fans want 18 games.

Since: Feb 24, 2007
Posted on: February 18, 2012 11:08 am

Goodell on 18 games: 'People want more football'

Ok so how about this. Right now we have a 17 week regular season. Keep the 16 game season, reduce the preseason by one game, start the season a week earlier, and add an extra by week to everyones schedule. The tv station gt an extra week of regular season to broadcast. Players get to rest an extra week during the year, everyone is happy with less preseason and the coaches get to kppe one of the seeks they were using for player evaluation that would be eliminated with an 18 game season. Everybody wins! Hey maybe i should be commissioner!

Since: May 22, 2007
Posted on: February 18, 2012 11:08 am

Goodell on 18 games: 'People want more football'

First of all , let's tell it like it is...Roger Goodell makes 20 million a year, and he doesn't have to strap on a helmet, shoulder pads, etc., to face the likes of the Ravens, Steelers defenses, etc. If you think the end of the season is crazy now, just wait until you add two more games, just wait until there are 18 games. Superstars will be sitting, when the teams like the Patriots Tom Brady and Packers Aaron Rodgers could get hurt before the playoffs.

It's laughable to think Goodell has his ear to the fans...they don't pay him 20 million to be the players advocate...he's the owner's boy and he'll do what they tell him. He didn't get his raise because he loves NFL fans...he loves money just like the greedy owners. More records will be broken, more injuries, more concussions. Bigger contracts? You bet...and for what, so the owners can rake it in. WHo do you think benefits the most from an 18 game season? Not the players...not for one minute...not the fans either.

Since: Feb 18, 2012
Posted on: February 18, 2012 10:55 am

Goodell on 18 games: 'People want more football'

MichaelD, I think the problem lies in that we have been using the term "fans." I think the reality is that Goodell found one person on the street that was in favor of going to 18 games and he accidentally added the "s" to the word "fan." I would have to agree, most people I talk to are not in favor of it for many of the reasons already posted.

Since: Jan 7, 2007
Posted on: February 18, 2012 10:38 am

Goodell on 18 games: 'People want more football'

I would like to know who these "fans" are that want an 18 game schedule?  I have never heard anyone say that they want more games.  I have only heard people say that they will not pay full price for a preseason game where the starters don't play much.  Lower preseason tickets to $10 and you will get full stadiums.  They will make up for it in concessions and parking.

Since: Dec 14, 2007
Posted on: February 18, 2012 10:12 am

Goodell on 18 games: 'People want more football'

No more games please. Injuries will decide the championships, it will be worse that it already is a real war of attrition.

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