Jed York Says 18-Game Season Would Curb Fan Violence, Asks for No More Raiders-Niners Preseason Games

Violence among fans at a football a football game is an unfortunate but common practice.  It is unlikely that you could attend an NFL game without witnessing at least a verbal altercation — especially if the game is between rival teams.  On Monday we showed you a pretty intense fight video that came from the Raiders-Niners preseason game over the weekend.  That game was loaded with fan violence, arrests, and ejections, and people are still talking about it well into the week.

San Francisco owner Jed York has an interesting theory about why there were so many violent incidents at Candlestick Park on Saturday.  Simply put, York says to blame it on the preseason.

“I think when you have a preseason game, when you don’t have your regular-season ticket holders coming to a game, I think that plays a big factor into it,” York said on KNBR via Pro Football Talk. “I think that’s another reason why the NFL is looking at, you know, trying to revamp the preseason schedule.”

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Was NFL Owners’ Idea for 18-Game Schedule Just a Negotiation Tool?

As the NFL players and owners continue to meet to try and agree on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, they have several items to negotiate. One of those points was the owners’ supposed desire to implement an 18-game regular season. Most players opposed it, fans weren’t elated for it, but the owners wanted it and spoke like it was an inevitability.

Regardless of their desires, NFLPA exec De Smith says the union will not discuss an 18-game season. The rigidity of Smith’s stance on the issue makes me wonder if the owners can use that for leverage in negotiations with another topic. It also makes me wonder if they ever wanted 18 games in the first place, or if they were pushing the idea solely for the purpose of leverage in negotiations.

The fans never pushed for the idea of 18 games. As LBS contributor Gene pointed out, and Jimmy Traina wrote on twitter, contrary to what Roger Goodell has said, the fans’ objection never was four preseason games, it was just having to pay for four preseason games in order to purchase season tickets. The two are not the same issue.

It’s quite possible Goodell and the owners knew the players would object to it, and by pushing for the longer season, they’d guarantee themselves leverage for another topic. Hey, they already had guaranteed themselves payments from TV networks in the case of a lockout, who’s to say they didn’t have this planned too?

Agent Don Yee Suggests Players Play 16 Games of an 18-Game Schedule

As the NFL and the NFL Players Union work toward avoiding a lockout in 2011, it seems like the list of issues is endless. One of the most highly debated topics has been whether or not to add two games to the regular season schedule. The league is obviously in favor of the move because it would result in more revenue, but the players are concerned for their health and therefore strongly opposed to the idea.

Don Yee, the agent for Tom Brady and Saints coach Sean Payton, has proposed a compromise.  According to the USA Today, Yee has suggested the league move to an 18-game schedule but allow every player to participate in a maximum of 16 games.  Coaches would decide which players to sit as the season progresses.  Here is an e-mail Yee sent to the Associated Press discussing his idea:

This compromise will create even more interest from fans. What two games will the head coach sit the starting QB? That’s a discussion that will set sports talk radio airwaves afire.

“This compromise will also be popular with coaches and general managers who want a greater opportunity to develop younger players. The NFL doesn’t have a minor league, and this compromise will force meaningful participation by younger players on the roster.

“Players also would endorse this because each would effectively get two bye weeks during the year. Bye weeks afford important healing time and personal time away from the game.”

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How Do You Feel About 18 NFL Games?

Not too good, according to Ray Lewis and Tom Brady.

The possibility of expanding the NFL season to 18 games, and the various possible methods of achieving that aim, has been on the NFL radar for quite some time now. Today, the NFL took the issue one step further, bringing it to the table at a meeting between the NFL and the players association negotiating teams. While, according to Green Bay Packers president Mark Murphy, the issue itself was not formally discussed, upcoming negotiations should address the details. Possible reconfigurations including shortening the pre-season by a game, expanding rosters, and changing injured reserved regulations are being listed as possible ways to accommodate teams facing two additional games. Although the NFL clearly favors the additional gridiron action, some players have spoken out against the change. Here’s what Baltimore Raven Ray Lewis had to say in a statement released by the players union:

“I’ve been blessed to play this game for so long, but it’s time to start thinking about what legacy and impact changes like this will leave for the players of tomorrow and us after we retire. I know our fans may not like preseason games and I don’t like all of them, but swapping two preseason games for two end-of-season games—when players already play hurt—comes at a huge cost for the player and the team.”

I would like to be convinced that the NFL is not just looking at this with dollar signs in their eyes, but I can’t really get past the idea that more games means more tickets, commercials, and revenue. While I probably just watch preseason games to satisfy my off-season withdrawal from the NFL, replacing those games with regular season contests will only compromise the quality of play late into the playoffs. It hurts me to shun the possibility of more football, but I have to argue against the extra games. Nevertheless, it should be interesting to see what additional propositions the NFL brings forward regarding the matter and leading into the 2012 season, when this schedule could potentially come into effect.

NFL Brings Expanded Season Proposal to Union [NYT]