The NFL preseason is too long. On this we can all agree. Reasonable people differ, however, on what to do next.
Commissioner Roger Goodell has championed an 18-game regular season, while players and fans are less keen on the idea; the former for self-preservation reasons, the latter because, in general, they're of the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mindset.
In an effort to improve the experience for everyone, the NFL will examine preseason games in the hopes of creating a better product, writes NFL.com's Ian Rapoport. What that means exactly remains unclear, but Rapoport notes that "The NFL still is looking at different formats for the split of regular-season and preseason games -- 18-and-2, 16-and-2 or 17-and-3."
The league will also look at how much starters play, how the lineups are set and the fan reaction, especially in the usually meaningless fourth week of preseason games. The NFL has also discussed the possibility of lowering ticket prices for all preseason games, a decision that would ultimately be made by the owners through a vote at the annual owners' meeting.
The 18-game schedule was a hot topic during the lockout two summers ago, and the topic seems to come up every fews months or so. In February 2012, Goodell said, "People want more football. I think they want less preseason and more regular season and that's the concept we are talking about here."
That's not entirely true; no one is crazy about the preseason but that doesn't automatically mean fans are on board with more football. There's also the flawed logic that the league is pushing more games while at the same time championing safety, especially when it comes to head trauma.
Either way, Goodell has said that these decisions won't be made hastily.
"We wouldn't add an extra two games without reducing the preseason and we are not going to do it without the players support, so we did that in the collective bargaining agreement instead of having the unilateral right, which we had," the commissioner said in February 2012. "We determined that we were going to do this together. We are going to make changes in the offseason and during the preseason and during the regular season to make the game safer. If we can accomplish that we'll look at the idea of restructuring the season and taking two preseason games away and the potential of adding regular season games, but I don't think that will happen until at least 2013 or 14."
The 2013 regular season is a month away. Does that mean changes are on the way next offseason?