To Eighteen or Not?
I sat in front of a black and white Television in a soft cotton pajama set. I eagerly awaited the start of a game involving the Detroit Lions and the New York Giants. My Father had lovingly explained some of the excitement centering around a stout Lion defense that had none other than Dick Nitrane/'Night Train' Lane book ended with another very prominent secondary player as well. Dad spared no care in providing me a sincere and deep appreciation of their era's Tom Brady, Bobby Lane. At this point in my development as a NFL fan, I hardly knew that the Detroit franchise started out as the Portsmith Spartans in 1929, and later became the Detroit Lions in 1934. I didn't have a clue that the Giants and Detroit had played to a 0 - 0 tie in 1943. Which was the last time a NFL game ended as a scoreless tie. There was no knowledge by me that Detroit had played Cleveland to league Championships in 1952, 1953, and 1957. What I did know at that early age, was that Bobby Lane was some kind of 'good' and already was a great player in my mind. I certainly didn't know that the Giant franchise was started in 1925 and started the credability of the play in the NFL by defeating a collegiate team, to wit, Notre Dame -who was then coached by the legendary Knute Rockne. Rockne reassembled his former Four Horsemen to play with his Championship team of 1924. All I knew was that the game was exciting and rewarding for me as a fan. It centered upon strong physicality, daring, gamemanship, and strings of records that grew along with the sport itself. Aspects in the sport reflected injury, strung out records, and both successes and failures for all.
More often than not, one had to follow the intensity and loyalties of team trials and tribulations by reading of a very dramatized and detailed description of games. This encompassed very descriptive and sensory oriented summaries of the struggle involved in each and every game published in print. Then, the emotion was dominant in the fiber of the sport and gauntlets were thrown down and fought out on the field for real. Blood and injury were real elements that were confronted by a team and it's individual payers.
Protection of body parts and players slowly entered into the sport. Even such elements as shock absorbing pads, helmets, and faceguards took time for perfecting this need to focus and divert powerfully delivered blows by anything available and any manner that would hit it's target. Fists and fingers in an opponent's eyes, underneath the chin, in the gut, or a clothesline and helmet to helmet blindside hits...well, were human elements of the game. To describe that type of action, very sight provoking and drama filled language was used to describe what was going on the field. Not in presenting an emotional target to transfer to players and even the play to occur on field.
Drama was not fictionalized or taken advantage of. Hence, the reward for accomplisment wasn't diluted by a social tag of cynicism or insult of view. The overiding element to success was in succeeding and enduring the sacrifice needed to win. One saw the action leading to success, and not a steady diet in print of a much more cerebral and insulting stereotyping for drama. There already was intense drama going on upon the field.
That same young boy now can fast forward to today. I now have memory of an extensive and historical based set of high achievements. The Super Bowl has sustained the dynamics needed to satisfy a yearly need for fruition of a vast system now operated at top levels within the economy of our country. The NFL has overcome both the financial and sporting sophistication that evolved with an equally changing venue in world conditions, stability, and changes in methods of communication as inclusive as sporting events themselves. Mass communications through the airways, utilizing television, radio, and the internet have intensified a fan's ability to expand how he looks upon the game. This allows for a view highly specialize in directions and manners not even conceptualized in the NFL's early growth periods.
The NFL is interdependent on the whole array of elements with the American life today. It is at the very top level of sporting events in a country who loves to work and succeed at something that it cherishes. The league provides final fruition to a concept of sacrifice, discipline, and hard earned achievement that a democracy has to foster through it's own roots of support. It gives back at a level that rewards our very way of life here.
Expanded, it requires and helps to sustain a reporting system that is very integral to as sophisticated a society as in existence today. It draws heavily upon publications inclusive of magazines, books, newspaper, and the internet to an intensive level. Communication is as integral a part of today's football as the concept of hometown support and loyalties were decades ago. But the type of communications is as much an importance today as the style was in the NFL's infancy.
Additionally, the financial integrity of a franchise has to be integrated to a very refined level to even become and remain competitive. The industry has to utilize the full spectrum of industry available in the field at the very top levels of consumption. Food, entertainment, television, transportation, cutting edge construction and facility characteristic electronics have become cutting edge and developmental in their very natures. The system demands for organizational, analytical applications, scouting, recording, as well as player evaluations and scheme development against a changing array of league tendencies and players has reached historical highs. They by nature require unbreached efficiency as well as play. That all comes with a price.
When the question of to 18 game or not comes to the front...well, one has to look upon the demand that is transfered to the player. Injury has always been a part of the game. Early injuries in the sport, were more dramatic and harder to overcome than they are today. It is a drain on every player who receives an injury. Often, long recoveries and intensive tolerance of pain and patience are required to return to former levels of play. This part hasn't changed, but today, except for the most severe of injuries, a player can return to general levels of performance and hence, play again. Things have continually improved over time to the player's advantage.
Where does an 18 game regular season take these considerations?
I feel that there is less likelihood for injury in an extended season with a shortened exhibition season. Most teams only have a single live practice in between game days. This tendency would help and not hurt players strictly on levels and numbers of injuries due to actually competing at full speed in game types of conditions. Individual drain could well be relieved by better and improved rotation as well as depth in rosters.
What about ability to evaluate and determine success indicators by the younger players. Here, I think that one has to consider the real sophistication and saturation methods at use in today's game. Scouts are in the field paying fine tuned analysis and recording of individual players as they rise up to and through the collegiate ranks. Their instruction and physical developments are in accord and give root to the actual sustaining methods in the field by the NFL itself.
By the time that today's player reaches the Combine, enough documentation by film and scouring reports exist to firmly have indicators as to levels of potential involved in those entering into a period of schools, organized activities, and then training camp by teams. Even these training activities aren't as blind in nature as would be implied by introducing the question of enough evaluation by NFL levels of games. Here, it's still what a player does on the 'carpet' that determine careers. That won't change by two Preseason Games as opposed to four.
In horse racing, it doesn't take too many non-race runs to be able to acquire measureables that will point to whether to spend the funds to enter a horse in real track races. The same decisional indicators exist with potential players. The player has to be able to expand effectiveness of internal and team play to an opponent. If he doesn't stand on equal ground with team quality already, the additional time and potential for injury just doesn't improve those tendencies and potentials.
Next considerations, would be on the picture of finances. With more actual games, the potential for player increase in revenues improves as well. More games means the leverage to be paid for more finished product being provided by the player. His comparative earning limits have been expanded by time 'on the job.' In effect, he is being given additional overtime hours to add to his earning net totals.
The question at large, presently, is whether or not to fight for the same rate of league wide diversion to the benefit of a Union represented group, or to the advantage of owners.
Here, things are what they are. It doesn't simply boil down to milking off the top as was implied in the not too distant past. The level of revenues going to players surpasses any other industry levels in the entire country. Owners require huge revenues to negotiate the high load demands upon their very sport. They are presented with a world wide economic picture that is pitted with shortcomings, regulational deficiences, and cost inflation that would stagger a Camel fresh from water. Cost effectiveness almost demands that owners regain a little more control in the total revenues for their strengthening and yes, further developementally as franchises.
This doesn't imply, that the player has to swallow pride and just take one for 'the Gipper.'
No, with an increase in earning potential still indicated through an increase in 'real' games, his gross will still be improving despite a loss of total initial level cash flows. The average player will instead be benefitting through his increased earning potential instead of losing strictly in an association with percentage of gate and associated revenues as it enters the sport's picture from the top. The player's ability to earn will still have the flexibility to improve when an increase in games is compaired with a reduction in top level diversion where the picture is strictly limited to an association with percentage at onset.
I don't think this adaptation really changes the integral elements for success of the sport. Records are always made to be broken. Playing conditions do become subject to changes as well. But, the love and appreciation of a fan is in the playing of the sport itself. Methods of reporting through the various media and even season length doesn't affect the love that a fan possesses even into the 'now' of the sport. A couple games added, won't affect the base love that a fan experiences when he is in the stands; watching his satellite; or listening to his radio. He is excited by team and player achievements and successes. His response is just as responsive now as they were when Frank Gifford was at the helm for those New York Giants.
And as the purests of the sport will change on almost a decade long basis, the real elements of the sport have transcended time. I don't see a hindrance of a couple games. Here their net results should and will result in improvements for ownership, the players, and yes, us fans as well.