Should the Regular Season Be Longer?

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*NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recently said he hopes for the regular season to be extended by up to two games. The issue was a hot topic at this week's Owners Meeting and Goodell hopes to have a proposal ready for league owners by May. Should the regular season be longer? BR.com writers debate.
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There's Nothing Wrong with More Football

By Geoff Peckham, Contributing Writer

The NFL season gives sports fans a special and unique couple of months, where every Sunday is a holiday and every game tells a story. Why wouldn't we want an 18-game season?

For the die-hard fans among us, an extra two weeks of pigskin means an extra two weeks of Heaven. That alone will sway many fans to support the motion to extend the NFL regular season, effectively cutting two preseason games out of the schedule. By making those preseason games part of the regular season, ticket holders will get more value for their tickets when they attend those games. Fans can't lose here, and isn't it in the best interest of the NFL to serve the fans that have made it the highly successful sports league it is today?

But a longer season will not just help the fans. The increased revenue from two more games will help with the impending renegotiation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NFLPA and the NFL, not to mention gives boosts to the teams and cities hosting those games. In an economy that is projected to get worse before it gets better, every bit of revenue helps.

With the NFL hoping to expand outside the United States, more games would allow more opportunities. More chances to play in places like England, Mexico and China. Increased exposure means more fans throughout the world. That is good for the NFL no matter how you spin it.

But perhaps the biggest reason to extend the regular season is to truly ensure the top teams make the playoffs and have the opportunity to play for the championship. It means two more games for a team to secure those crucial wins to clinch a wild card. Two more games to catch up to that division-leader. Yes, the risk of injuries will increase, but the players know that risk when they join the league, and there's just as much of a chance of getting hurt Week 1 as there is Week 19. Just ask Tom Brady.

Every NFL season is a story; 32 stories specifically. An extended season will mean better stories, more memorable moments, more jaw-dropping plays and more legacies cemented in the NFL. Put quite simply, it will give the fans more of what they love about the game to begin with. And that is good for everyone, the fans, the Baltimore Ravens and the NFL itself.

Who's Going to Play in Week 20?

By Mike Duffy, Content Writer

OK, OK. I understand how the average NFL fan would want to extend the season to 17, or possibly 18 games. I hear you, Commissioner Goodell.

But here's my biggest question - who is going to play in that 17th or 18th contest?

Think about the incredible physical toll each and every football game takes on these players. Seeing guys in the locker room each Sunday night after a hard-fought battle can make you cringe. Tape is gingerly unwrapped from every joint, thin pads cover deep bruises and ice is applied to nearly every surface. It would never surprise me to see blood on at least three jerseys, as well.

This is every week, people. For at least 20 consecutive weeks! The Ravens barely made it through the regular season last year. Nineteen players ended up on Injured Reserve, which was second-most in the league and most in franchise history. A total of 64 games were missed by starters. Among those Ravens were three defensive starters (Chris McAlister, Kelly Gregg and Dawan Landry), quarterback Kyle Boller and starting right guard Marshal Yanda.

Of course, the Ravens were resilient enough to make it to the AFC Championship, but at what toll? The team was so different from the start of the year to the end. It is always much more competitive down the stretch - and more entertaining - when teams can compete. Well, you almost can't when your roster is ravaged by injury.

Injuries aside, the 16-game season makes each weekend an event without watering it down. You've got football from August to January, which takes up half the year. The saying, 'Too much of a good thing,' applies here.

In addition, getting rid of one or two preseason games handcuffs coaches. They need those dates to evaluate players, especially quarterbacks. The preseason is the only time when those at the bottom of the roster can get regular minutes in live action.

Proponents of Goodell's push for a longer season cite the monetary benefits of dumping a few preseason contests and adding regular-season games in light of a sour economy. Owners would be able to fill stadiums, and the league could garner much more TV revenue from national networks by lengthening the season by one or two weeks.

Sometimes, though, sports aren't simply about money. I'm talking about the health of the players and the integrity of the game.

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Should the NFL regular season be longer? Let us know what you think! **

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