The NFL is in the process of hammering out the first addition of games to its schedule since the league expanded to 16 games in 1978. The NFL season will still start in early September, and Week 18 (17 games plus a bye week) will be tacked on to the end of the regular season. Each playoff round and Super Bowl will all be pushed back a week, meaning that the 2021-22 Super Bowl will now be played on February 13, 2022.
There has already been some pushback from players. Most notably, New Orleans Saints star running back Alvin Kamara called the addition of a 17th game “dumb” and some other choice words. Initial reaction aside, this 17th game is a great thing for fans and players alike. Here’s why.
It’s not actually more games for the players
The 17th game will take the place of the fourth preseason game, meaning that an NFL season will still consist of 20 total games plus playoffs. While some stars may argue that they don’t play anyways in that last preseason game, that only affects a small number of players at the top, and now, they won’t play much in the third preseason game.
Also, to help with player safety, according to the NFL Players Association, a 17-game schedule will mean “there will be automatic changes to the off-season and in-season workout schedules as a result.” Players hate the preseason anyway, so a 17th game means they’ll play one more meaningful game and one less meaningless one where they have the same injury risk.
It means more money
The players will also make more money because of this deal. One more week will mean one more game check, more stadium revenue, and a big part of the NFL’s massive new TV deals. These deals don’t go into effect until 2023 but, when they do, they are expected to raise the salary cap substantially.
The 2020 collective bargaining agreement that allowed the owners to add a 17th game also provided financial incentives for players. The agreement raised the player’s share of the revenue from 47% to 48%, and a 17th game will raise that number to 48.5%. It also raised NFL minimum and postseason salaries.
It means better matchups for fans
The new 17th game will be an interdivisional matchup based on records that will rotate annually. This means that first-place teams from the previous year will play more first-place teams from other divisions. This will produce some great matchups.
According to the Sporting News, this new formula could result in matchups for the coming season that we wouldn’t have otherwise had, such as Packers vs. Chiefs, Seahawks vs. Steelers, Saints vs. Titans, and Buccaneers vs. Colts. Fans get more football and better football which is what we all want.
The NFL as an entity often gets criticized for only looking out for its own self-interest and not taking care of its players and fans. While the new 17-game schedule is certainly good for the owners and the league, it is a good thing for players and fans. It is a real win-win situation where everyone benefits, and we all get more NFL football.