Saturday, June 19, 2010

It's about time

News: National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell says his league no longer needs four exhibition games.

Views: What in the world took him so long to come to the realization that the fans and players have been against all those exhibitions for years?

"We really don't need (four practice games) to make it a better game," Goodell said recently. "So we have to evolve just as we did two decades ago when we went from six pre-season (NFL speak for exhibition) games to four."

Check up on your history, Mr. Commish. The NFL went from six exhibitions to four in 1978. That would make it more than three decades ago. That's 32 years of bilking the paying public, which has to take exhibition games as part of the season ticket package. They have no other choice.

Fans don't like paying full price for tickets to a game in which starters play maybe half the game, if that. And players don't like playing meaningless games for $1,100 a game.

Peeling back on the exhibitions and adding to the regular season present problems, however. Like the increasing likelihood of mounting injuries, necessitating the possibility of adding another bye week. Injuries most likely also would have an impact on the size of the roster.

Even worse, existing contracts would have to be torn up and redone to factor in the larger number of regular-season games. That could prove a logistical nightmare if and when the change is made.

From coaching standpoint, playing only two exhibitions makes it that much more difficult to make roster decisions and would severely alter the method by which they get their starters ready to roll in the regulars season.

Goodell is a commissioner who usually gets what he wants. He understands the complexities involved in such a move and is willing to take on the NFL Players Union in hopes of correcting a wrong. And the union does not seem averse to at least discussing it. A good sign in stressful times as the possibility of a lockout next season looms.

In the end, the fans and players will be the big winners. But one has to wonder why it took so long.

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