Who Gets Hurt By An 18-Game NFL Schedule?

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell

There has been much speculation that the NFL would move to an 18-game regular season schedule. Colts President Bill Polian confirmed that the lengthened season is on its way

“I think that the owners, and principally the commissioner, have decided that it’s the way to go, and so the debate, such as it was, is over,” Polian said. “I’ve heard recently, and I’m sorry that this didn’t get more coverage earlier, some really, really interesting commentary on it. … I wish some of that dialogue had taken place earlier.”

Polian went on to call the 18-game schedule a “fait accompli.” But cutting two preseason games and increasing the regular season by two games will require the approval of the NFL Players Association. And to get the players’ approval will require some concessions by the NFL. Why? Two more games means more injuries in a sport where a player’s shelf-life is already nearly non-existent.

I asked Will Carrol of SI.com about what an 18-game schedule would mean for the players…

“…more games, more plays – equals more injuries. While injuries are random in the case of any one player, they occur at a pretty predictable overall rate, much like auto accidents. The thinning of the talent pool will decrease the quality of football.”

Carroll added that the positions that would most affected include quarterbacks and linemen.

Clearly, the players are going to need a significant level of compensation before they sign-off on a longer season. But as Carroll said, the teams could also do the players a favour by “increasing the size and budgets of the medical staffs and massively increase research into injury prevention and equipment.”

Of course, that, and maybe higher player salaries would do the trick.

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