Everyone hates the NFL preseason. Everyone. No longer do NFL players need four preseason games to prepare for the 16 behind them. No, these guys train almost year-round (sometimes to their detriment) and endure six weeks of training camp to get their minds and bodies ready for the rigors of an NFL regular season.
While the product on the field is a complete sham, it’s a lucrative sham, at least for the owners. To them, the season isn’t 16 games, but 20. Owners charge regular season prices to preseason games, forcing fans to buy 10 tickets knowing full well they only care to see eight.
NFL owners are happy to no longer require their season ticket buyers to sit through as many sham games, as long as they don’t have to give any money back. Never, never, never will NFL owners give money back.
So, how can you shorten the preseason while not losing money? You expand the regular season to 18 games, turning your formula from 16 + 4 to 18 + 2.
Any such change would have to be collectively bargained and approved by the players, and the players will never, never, never agree to play two more regular season games, even if it means extra cash in their pockets.
How do you get around this boulder that dropped in your path? You expand the regular season to 18 games while limiting players to 16 games apiece.
The idea has been around for a while but now, according to the Wall Street Journal, the owners have actually introduced the idea into the league’s collective bargaining process.
Expanding the regular season could be worth as much as $500 million in additional revenue according to most estimates, so whether it gets approved seems dependent on how much of that extra pie the owners would be willing to share.