And why you probably should to.
Rumors of the National Football League expanding to a 17-game season have run wild over the past few years now, and after a tweet from ESPN’s NFL reporter Adam Schefter basically confirmed these rumors in a tweet Sunday afternoon. With Schefter’s word usually meaning gospel in NFL circles, we’re likely going to see a 17-game slate for each NFL team in 2021 and for the foreseeable future. Let’s see what New Orleans Saints’ running back Alvin Kamara has to say about this!
Thank you, Alvin!
While Kamara wasn’t the only Saints player who had less than glowing things to say about this decision, he’s been the most vocal, and for good reason. By the nature of the position that Kamara plays, he’s probably the Saints player that will feel this one the most. The shelf life of running backs is inherently short thanks to a combination of the physical toll being a running back takes on a player along with an abudance of talent at the position even at the college level, so adding a 17th game onto a regular season that didn’t particularly need lengthening just means Kamara gets to add another 15-20 touches onto his ledger for the season. That’s another 15-20 chances to get hit, another 15-20 chances to get hurt all for little to no extra gain for himself.
So, you may ask yourself, why is the NFL doing this? Why are people against it? Isn’t more football for everyone a good thing! While you’re right, having another Sunday to mindlessly sit on the couch and watch football on isn’t the worst thing in the world, let’s not act like the NFL is acting in good faith here and doing this because of the fans and because of the love of the game. Let’s get right to the point and talk about the real reason this extra game is being added to the schedule.
The NFL is doing this because of money. The NFL is using a player-base that’s already beaten up and injured at an alarming rate and making them play a meaningless 17th regular season game so the owners can put more money in their pockets. This 17th game isn’t going to magically turn a fringe-team into a Super Bowl contender, it’s not going to create any extra drama that wasn’t already there with the former Week 17 match-ups. It’s just there so the NFL can pump out another game and continue to milk the United States’s love of football for as long as it can for as much as it can.
While a lot of this behind-the-scenes type stuff won’t be visible to the fans watching the games (it’s not like FOX displays each players salary cap hit after a big play), what will be obvious to the fans is the drop in quality we see for the 17th game in one of a few ways. First, while yes we’ll be getting exciting matchups like the Patrick Mahomes’s Kansas City Chiefs vs Aaron Rodgers’s Green Bay Packers (who also is against the 17-game season, mind you) or the mightly Los Angeles Rams defense taking on 2019 NFL MVP Lamar Jackson, those will be offset by games like the Detriot Lions vs the Denver Broncos and the team from Atlanta taking on the 1-15 Jacksonville Jaguars.
every team’s 17th game this year:
SEA at PIT
LAR at BAL
ARI at CLE
SF at CIN
GB at KC
CHI at LV
MIN at LAC
DET at DEN
WFT at BUF
NYG at MIA
DAL at NE
PHI at NYJ
NO at TEN
TB at IND
CAR at HOU
ATL at JAX
home team conference rotates
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) March 28, 2021
Here’s Warren Sharp breaking down just what matchups would take place with the new 17-game season and ask yourself “do I really need to see any of these”?
That pales in comparison to the biggest reason the 17th game isn’t worth the hassle, and the main reason why players are against it, which has been mentioned in this piece before. the 17th game is just an extra chance for players to get hurt to little-to-no added benefit of their own. Another week we could see a running back tear his ACL, an offensive lineman get rolled up on or a defenseless receiver take a cheap, unnecessary head shot which leads to a concussion. Us as fans see these injuries as “he can’t play football for x number of weeks/months”, however these players have to live every day with these injuries for those months and in some cases the rest of their lives.
It’s important to note that players also aren’t going to get an extra bye week in the season to rest and recover. They’ll be playing 17 games in 18 weekends, which leads to more players playing on nagging injuries which won’t be given the full chance to recover on until later. More possibilities for those injuries to worsen and turn serious. That just becomes another excuse for the teams to avoid paying these players, because they tried to play on a torn muscle that never fully healed and didn’t play as well as a result. While the 17th game may result in a short-term salary boost, players could be missing out on millions of future earnings because of being forced to play a 17th game on an already injured body.
Let’s be clear. Most if not all of us will still watch this 17th game. As someone with multiple jobs involving football, I’ll definitely be one of them. That doesn’t mean that we can’t criticize the NFL for making a short-sighted, obvious money grab of a decision that flies in the face of the player safety mantra that they’ve preached ever since the concussion lawsuit surfaced in 2012 and people started learning the long-term effects of the game. The players know it, the media knows it, the fans know it, and the NFL definitely knows it too. They just don’t care, because it will grow their bottom line.
Lastly, no matter what your stance on the 17th game is, just under literally zero circumstances should you ever, EVER, be this guy.
17 games still dumb. Why he so mad pic.twitter.com/qUog1swyoL
— Alvin Kamara (@A_kamara6) March 28, 2021
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