Former NFL offensive lineman Ross Tucker discusses the prospects of an enhanced season today in an ESPN.com column under the header, “With concessions, 18 games could work.”
Tucker, who played seven NFL seasons (2001-07), writes that compensation, increased roster size and offseason training are the key factors from a player’s perspective in creating a workable 18-game solution.
“If the total compensation is equal to or greater than what a player would have earned playing an additional year or two or three, then I think this proposal has a real chance,” Tucker writes. “A player could maximize his physical abilities and then tackle the next phase of his life earlier. Nothing wrong with that.”
In terms of offseason training, Tucker adds, “The league would also probably have to dial back the amount of ‘voluntarily mandatory’ offseason work. There are so many minicamps and organized team activities these days that a lot of players don’t feel as if they are given enough time to recuperate and heal from the previous season, let alone train properly and prepare their bodies for the rigors of the enhanced season.”
Tucker also noted that the last time the schedule was transitioned – from 14 regular-season and six preseason games to 16 regular-season and four preseason games in 1978 – things worked out for the better.
“The NFL once expanded from 14 games to 16 in 1978, and you may have noticed that the product survived that increase pretty well and is in fact flourishing,” he wrote. “And if you think about it, the wild-card teams in the playoffs play an additional game, and that one extra game did not appear to dilute the Green Bay Packers or the New York Jets all that much.”
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