I was talking to a head coach Monday when he mentioned something that made sense to me and is worth watching. We were talking about the NFL lockout, and like me, he doesn’t expect a resolution soon. So he wondered what happens if there’s no settlement before, say, sometime mid-to-late summer.
Well, then, we both agreed, that training camps and preseason games would be compromised -- with camps reduced to as few as two weeks and preseason games potentially cut from four to two. OK, so that’s been mentioned before. Ah, but here’s what hasn't been: Having two preseason games might be desirable to some NFL execs because it could serve as a dress rehearsal for future seasons.
Meaning? Yep, meaning that 18-game schedule we haven’t heard so much about lately.
I know, I know, the league said in its March 11 offer to players that it would not push for an 18-game regular season unless players approved it. Then, a week later, at their annual meeting, players said they would never, ever, ever agree to an 18-game schedule and that the issue was no longer negotiable. But guess what? Neither is that March 11 offer.
Players walked away from it, remember? Plus, they decertified shortly afterward. NFL lead counsel Jeff Pash wouldn’t say if the deal was still on the table, but I can’t imagine it is -- not after nearly three months of litigation, accusations and court actions. So maybe, just maybe, the NFL uses this summer as a warmup for what’s next.
"I could see it," said the coach.
So could I. Again, let me reiterate that in its last public pronouncement on the subject, the NFL swore it wouldn’t revisit the idea of an 18-game schedule without the players’ approval. But it might convince them … as well as fans … that two fewer preseason games is not only feasible but desirable by simply playing two fewer games. That doesn’t mean we go to 18 games this season. Hardly. What it does mean is that if you pare preseason games now maybe you convince skeptics that there’s a better way of scheduling 20 games out there.
Me? I don’t buy it and never will. A league that is talking about safety issues should never talk about expanding the season which, of course, would increase the number of injuries. But not much of what is going on now makes sense, so I wouldn't dismiss the idea as foolhardy. As I said, it's worth watching -- especially if the lockout continues into late July and early August and preseason games are threatened.