The inevitable has arrived. The Commissioner of the NFL announced an 18 game schedule beginning in 2011 or 2012. This is about money pure and simple. It is going to make a farce out of the game even more than the insane salaries the teams are paying now. The bill will come due at the expense of the fans and the game.
Andy artfully and truthfully spoke about the monolith which is now home to the Giants and the Jets. The PSLs have all but closed the door on most fans from ever seeing a game. I think about how much going to see a live game meant to me and how much fun it was. I remember when going to see your home team, your heroes, was affordable and fun. Now it is as expensive as a one week vacation to see one game and more than the entire amount a person on Social Security receives in a YEAR for your own seat. There is an invisible line drawn somewhere out there where the true fans, the average guy and his family, the starry eyed kid will NEVER see a game live. That line has been crossed and TV has become a fan’s only option.
Of course with the blackouts and the costs involved in cable or satellite subscriptions even television is pricing out many fans. There is something wrong, very wrong with a marginal player getting $30 million guaranteed at the top and millions at the bottom. Nick Mangold is a very good center but he is getting $23 million guaranteed on a 5 year $58 million dollar contract. Mangold is a center. The top 15 draftees get many millions and the guys in the middle get more millions. The fans get NOTHING as exemplified by Andy’s piece on the “new” stadium.
Now for a look at what it means to the game itself.
Those of you who come here know we are just over it about injuries. We are two weeks into pre-season and most every team is reeling from injuries. The Giants have more than their fair share of trouble again. I was done writing this post and then we find out O'Hara is gone for another two weeks with Achilles' tendinitis. The Jets seem to be in better shape (lol!) but the game has come down as much or more to injury than the players, the coaches, the game.
Glenn wrote a terrific piece on injury stats which prove that injuries have become the biggest factor in a team's success. Of course it depends on WHO gets hurt. The Giants, the recent trouble in Minnesota, the injury (hamstring?) to DeSean Jackson in Philly, Denver’s injury-depleted roster and the fallen from many other teams are now the determining factor in who wins and who loses.
The loss of Hixon, our return game, most of our offensive line, DB’s Ross and Johnson, JPP, Boss, Barden, Jacobs, Manning and those to come have already made this season a challenge before it has even started. The fans can’t afford to go to a game and now the quality of the game itself is compromised again... An eighteen game schedule will probably be the death knell for the brand of football that those of us young and old have enjoyed. Whether or not they end up cutting back pre-season games, the games that count require your best players for 60 minutes. The pre-season is infinitely less demanding.
It is conceivable that there will be a 22 game schedule without including the playoffs. There is NO way that these men, their bodies and their minds can tolerate the abuse. For the sake of money, the NFL will put out third stringers masquerading as professional football players because the league will run out of healthy men who can last 18 games. "Managing" player time will mean more substitution of weaker players. This is going to be the National Attrition League. Whoever is left standing wins the title.
I am deeply troubled that NOTHING is pure anymore, that owners and players can ruin one of the few pleasures we have. Fans owe it to themselves to examine their unquestioned support of the NFL. PSLs, the 18 game season and a possible strike are symptoms. The loyalty of the fan is being put to a test. Each one of us, collectively through our actions, will determine the future path of this sport.