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An 18-game NFL schedule would be inhumane

by Berry Tramel Published: February 16, 2011

Have you ever sat close at an NFL game? Bottom 20 rows or so?

If so, you know. You've seen a different game than those glorious Sunday afternoon battles aired every autumn on NFL networks.

You've seen the brutality of the sport. I've been on the sideline for the final five minutes of many a pro football game. And it's straight out of Gladiator. Braveheart has nothing on NFL players.

The hitting is fierce, the collisions extreme.

The question is not why so many NFL players get hurt, but why so few.

Which brings us to the labor negotiations and the owners' desire for an 18-game schedule. They've got to be kidding.

Pro football annually is a season of attrition. Sixteen regular-season games, plus playoffs. Last man standing wins.

“It would be absolutely ludicrous to go to an 18-game schedule, especially with the way my body's feeling now,” Steeler linebacker James Harrison said during Super Bowl week. “Depending on what position you are in the playoffs ... you're looking at 22 games before it's all said and done. That takes a terrible toll on your body.”

NFL owners trotted out the 18-game schedule as a revenue enhancement: replace two exhibition games with games that have meaning.

Season-ticket holders would love it; they long have griped about having to pay for preseason games that don't have a tenth the entertainment value of the regular season.

Networks would jump at it. More inventory. America loves its pro football. The more games, the better.

But the price is too high. Too many crushed bones and torn ligaments and subdural hematomas.

The 18-game proposal comes at an inconvenient time for owners. The NFL talked all season about minimizing the danger and health risks for players. Started policing all kinds of hits, some legal even, in the name of player safety.

So how does the league now ask those players to play two additional games? Who's going to be able to play these games?

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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