Sometimes more is too much; other times more is still not enough.
Sometimes more is … just more.
More NFL is inevitable because the NFL, for now, is king and royalty does not retain the throne by magnanimously decreasing all that’s stashed in the overflowing till. More real games (and, as a huge bonus, fewer fake games) and more playoff action are all coming, some of it for the 2020 season, and if you want to get all purist on us and resist, go right ahead. But more is upon us — and it is not a bad thing.
There may come a time when the market is saturated and the NFL cash cow is bloated, fat and complacent. That time is not here, not by a long shot. Ratings continue to spike — even as attendance in stadiums wanes (you can’t beat the price and view of the 65-inch HD screen from your comfy couch). Fantasy Football participation is up, up, up and the burgeoning revenue streams flowing from growing legal-gambling platforms figure to be tsunami-like, leveling any and all competition for the entertainment dollar.
What was speculated and predicted for a while now is on the brink of reality. For the new collective bargaining agreement, NFL owners are proposing to add one playoff team from each conference and increasing the regular season to 17 games and shortening the despised preseason to three games, according to ESPN. The enhanced playoff format would go into effect for this season; the 17-game regular season not until 2021 at the earliest.
For the players to agree to this, the league is going to have to ante up and pay for the extra game — one less preseason game is not close to a trade-off here. The ESPN report states the players’ share, currently at 47 percent of revenue, would increase to 48 percent in a 16-game schedule and to 48.5 percent in a 17-game schedule, adding $5 billion to players’ salaries. Translation: The players will balk at first but eventually take the money and run.
Hopefully, the 17-game schedule proposal includes an extra bye week, as the owners have to acknowledge the extra wear and tear on players’ bodies. Also: either expand the rosters or get rid of the game-day inactives. While change is in the air, what about pushing the Super Bowl back to Presidents Day weekend, making the day after the big game the holiday so many want it to be?
The playoff format the NFL is using — 12 teams, byes for the top two seeds in each conference, two wild-card teams per conference — is tremendous and does not need alterations. But more can work as well. Adding a third wild-card team in each conference means only the No. 1 seed gets the coveted first-round bye and that will make the top seed even more precious and important. Having six playoff games the first post-season weekend — three on Saturday, three more on Sunday — will be a bonanza.
Going from 38 percent of teams making the playoffs to 44 percent waters down the regular season some, but just watch what happens during negotiations for the next television contract. There will be nothing watered-down about the money the broadcast rights command.
Jamal Adams, the Jets’ star safety is already on board, taking to Twitter to do the math: “More Regular Season Games + More Playoff Games = More money for the league & players, everyone wins.’’ He signed off, fittingly, with a money-bag emoji.
The Jets have not been to the playoffs in nine years. It is a three-year drought for the Giants, who have not advanced to the postseason seven times in the last eight years. They need all the help they can get. More teams getting in means more drama down the stretch of the season. More, more, more. But not too much. Not yet, anyway.