Players Discuss 18-Game Schedule

September 16th, 2018

No fan of 18-game schedule.

Recently, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, a man who never met a microphone he didn’t like, was pushing the notion of the NFL going to an 18-game schedule while cutting the worthless preseason schedule in half to two.

Joe’s all in on this. There is no such thing as too much football. That doesn’t mean it is popular in NFL locker rooms.

Joe spoke with four Bucs starters about an 18-game schedule and the reactions was split. Two were totally against it while two admitted they haven’t given the subject enough thought to offer an informed answer.

One guy who couldn’t hide his disdain for the concept was offensive lineman Evan Smith.

“No way,” Smith said forcefully. “Because you’d have to expand the rosters and pay the players more money. That’s the only way to do it. As soon as you [expand the regular season] with the same amount of players, you are going to find out you are going to have way more injuries. You already run into enough injuries with 90 guys [on the preseason rosters] much less playing any more regular season games.

“Unless you are going to give us more players and pay us more money, no way.”

Right tackle Demar Dotson wasn’t keen to the idea, either.

“I think that would be a bad idea,” right tackle Demar Dotson said. “It is 18 games and the pay doesn’t change. No veteran will want to play 18 games and be paid the same.”

Another reason Dotson didn’t like Jones’ suggestion is he believes cutting the preseason in half would hurt many young players trying to make a team.

Dotson was an undrafted free agent and climbed the ladder from humble football beginnings. With the NFL potentially only having two preseason games, Dotson is sure fewer bubble guys will make the squads.

“Four preseason games gave guys like me opportunities to make football teams so you can be showcased,” Dotson said. “With only two preseason games, you are going to play your veterans more to get them ready for the season. That cuts down on the reps for the young guys that they need to showcase to 31 other teams [if they are cut].”

Dotson is convinced he showed the Bucs his worth in the fourth preseason game of his rookie year when he got to play a lot of snaps. That would not be available for bubble guys if the preseason was just two games.

Linebacker Lavonte David and tight end Cam Brate told Joe they hadn’t thought much about an 18-game schedule, though David is sure Jones’ proposal would have to be worked out with the players’ association (NFLPA).

One element to a potential 18-game schedule (Pat Kirwan of SiriusXM NFL Radio has said he’s heard this chatted about in the NFL offices in New York) would be that players would be capped at playing 16 games in a regular season meaning players would get an additional two weeks off while a backup played in their spot.

Smith thought this was horse manure for the fans.

“Trash!” Smith barked of forcing teams to start reserves twice a season at minimum. “Terrible idea. That’s no different than you are going right back into [forcing fans to pay regular season prices to watch scrubs in the preseason]. The fans are not paying for backup products.

“I get it when guys have to go out and play on the field [due to an injury]. That’s one thing. You are not going to sit there and say, ‘Hey, we came out to see Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers but he’s not playing in this game’ because he was given the week off.

“It’s different in the NBA and MLB because they are playing in so many games. The market is so oversaturated. You basically have [NBA] games going on almost every other night. Baseball you have hundreds of games. In the NFL, you only have Sundays. That’s it.

“Even college football, it is not every week [teams have weekday games] and you have to play to win. Even [in college football] the best teams play the worst team and take guys out and feel good about themselves. In the NFL you play the best of the best. So to say, ‘Hey, we just pulled some guys out’ — huh-ah.”

Smith said he’s sure most players would be dead-set against an 18-game schedule unless NFL owners decided to unlock their vaults.

17 Responses to “Players Discuss 18-Game Schedule”

  1. BoJim Says:

    Doesn’t sound like Evan is too keen on the idea. 😉 Agree with both of them though. Might want to slap Jerry Jones.

  2. Pickgrin Says:

    The only real problem fans have with pre-season games is paying full price.

    Forcing season ticket holders to pay full price for “exhibition” games as a condition of buying those season tickets – is and always has been dead wrong. Whether its 2, 3 or 4 pre-season games, THIS aspect is the only part of pre-season football that MUST be changed.

  3. stpetebucsfan Says:

    The one possible solution I’ve ever read is way out of the box but could actually add some more drama to the regular season.

    Bump the schedule for the teams to 18 but the players are still only permitted to play 16. This of course would place a great deal of pressure on the coaches to decide which two games to rest which players. Lots of different ways to play that strategically in terms of against which opponents and which combination of players you rest.

  4. Joe Says:

    Bump the schedule for the teams to 18 but the players are still only permitted to play 16.

    Joe asked Smith about this. It’s all in the story.

  5. Bob in Valrico Says:

    We only played one game and we are down to our 3rd,4th, and fifth string corner.
    Several D lineman are hurt and or not playing at full speed,preventing the rotation necessary to give player a the blow now and then. Tough enough to put a good team out there every week for 16 weeks. Agree with Pickgren that paying full price for preseason games should be criminal. There ought to be a deep dicount option. Or open them to everyone for 10 or 15 bucks..

  6. orlbucfan Says:

    Agree with Demar D. How do you give new guys trying to make the team like him, Brate, Humphries, etc. a fair shot? Jerry Jones can go suck eggs. I do see the argument about ticket prices being lowered in the preseason. If a smart owner did that, more seats would be filled.

  7. Bob in Valrico Says:

    The players only playing 16 games out of 18 is also silly IMO. People pay good money to see our best players play not substitutes. Seems like another way to squeeze in an exhibition game except the game with the replacement players will count.

  8. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Easy Solutions:

    Keep 4 Preseason games but make them free as a promotional event.

    Starters only play in 2 Preseason games.

    Add three weeks to the season, making one a second bye week.

    Make sure first bye in in the first half of the season. Second in the second half.

    Increase rosters to 60 players, actives to 52.

    Give all players a 6.25% pay increase on their existing contracts.

    In return, more padded, full contact practices are added to training camp.

    Training camps are increased in length by 6.25%.

  9. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    And reduce the time players are permitted to return from IR.

  10. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    The free preseason games could only apply to season ticket holders. That would cause more season tickets to sell.

  11. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Could change from 11 to 12 players on the field as well, making slot cb and fullback starting roles.

  12. Bob in Valrico Says:

    Not sure who the Bucs player rep is,, but it appears Evan Smith would do well ,
    Owners would never accept no pay games, but they could make it attractive for families that can’t afford regular season games to attend these games. Its all about the kids and nurturing younger fans. Something I give you props for
    that you have mentioned doing in the past.

  13. bucymcbucersen Says:

    I’m not saying 18 games is a goid idea. The only way I could see it working is expanding tthe roster, but limiting each player to how many games they play. Say fourteen, sixteen? This creates different strategies, allows younger players real game experience, keeps veterans safe. But I don’t think MMr. Jones and his ilk woul agree.

  14. ColonelAngus Says:

    Go to an 18 game season. While we are at it, get rid of the divisions and keep 2 conferences. 16 teams each conference means 15 conference games per team. Then play 3 non-conference games. The top 6 advance to playoffs based on record. Since every team plays each other in the conference, tie breakers would be simplified. Should eliminate 7-9, 8-8 teams hosting playoff games, while 10-6 teams miss out. Also would eliminate the advantage teams get from playing in consistently weak divisions (Pats are guaranteed 5-1 in their division every year, not their fault of course). And the rivalries would still exist. Expand the rosters and pay the players more. The Canadians play 18 game season, all with bellies full of moose jerky!

  15. Rayjay1122 Says:

    Everyone hates paying for preseason games and they open Rayjay for free admission for watch parties and stuff like that. So, why not have like a $10.00 general admission for preseason. Having tickets is a good idea for maintaining order in seating but they should be deeply discounted.

    Also, season ticket holders should have an option to include preseason or not.

  16. WillieG Says:

    I think 18 games would work. If I was in charge, there would be 18 games, spread out over 9 months. Each team would play 3 games per month. Every team would get one weekend off each month. 1/4 of the league would be off each Sunday. All teams within a division would have the same days off.

    Something like this:
    Week 1 NFC North, AFC North off
    Week 2 NFC South, AFC South, off
    Week 3 NFC East, AFC South, off
    Week 4 NFC West, AFC West, off

    The next year, the NFC and AFC South divisions would have the first week off, and the order would stay the same. The first game back after the off weekend would only be against a team that was also off, so there’d be no competitive advantage.

  17. WillieG Says:

    I meant 18 games spread out over 6 months, not 9.