By Wayne Allyn Root of WinningEDGE.com
None of us want to see a NFL strike threaten the 2011 season. All of us that are in businesses that profit off the success of the NFL should be working overtime to come up with ways to avoid a strike. I will today present just such a proposal.
We all know the NFL wants to expand the regular season from 16 to 18 games- preferably with an extra bye week as well. That would effectively add 3 weeks to the actual regular season. The NFL Players Union acts as if they are against it. They are not. That position is merely a negotiating ploy. The players and their union leaders could not possibly be that ignorant. Regular season expansion is simply an almost-magical way to instantly increase the value of the product and dramatically raise revenues, without really changing a thing (2 preseason games would be dropped). Fans would pay far more for two extra regular season games with meaning, while eliminating two exhibition games that are meaningless and provide poor value to all involved. The result is a substantially bigger pot for both the owners and players to split- without raising ticket prices on the fans.
But I have a suggestion that takes this idea a step further. Has anyone heard the NFL mention whether an expansion of playoff teams is on the table if the season is expanded? This should certainly be part of any regular season expansion deal.
Right now fans are left out in the cold in two significant ways. First we currently have teams that now are eliminated at Week 13 or 14 of a 16-week season…who have nothing to play for over the last 2 or 3 weeks. That is unfair to fans paying huge money for tickets. With the advent of an 18-week season, those same teams could potentially be all-but-eliminated by week 13 or 14 of a 18 week season- thereby leaving what amounts to a month (or more) of meaningless action for their fans.
Why not solve the problem by adding 4 more Wild Card teams to the Post Season? Obviously more potential Playoff slots means more football teams will be “in the running” until the final week- creating far more excitement and meaningful games.
We also had a situation this year of two quality 10-win teams (New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers) missing the Playoffs- also a major disappointment to their fans. Add in a 9-win team that never made it (San Diego) and an 8-8 team (Oakland) that finished the season undefeated in their division and never made it. So four teams that were shut out of the 2010 Playoffs could and should have qualified. Why deny the players and fans this wonderful reward after such a long (and now potentially even LONGER) season? Why give up the extra revenues in television rights fees and ticket sales?
Is the NFL’s answer that an 8-8 team like Oakland has no right to make the Playoffs? That their fans would not be interested? Really? I think Seattle’s Playoff run this past season certainly dispelled that idea. Seattle at 7-9 beat the defending Super Bowl champion, and played to a packed, raucous, home crowd. Doesn’t the NFL think allowing the New York Giants, Tampa Bay, San Diego and Oakland into the Playoffs would have had the same result? Didn’t their fans deserve the same opportunity as the Seahawks’ fans?
The results of an expanded Playoff format are obvious: Packed stadiums, more tickets, more food, more beer, more parking fees, more TV revenues, and more happy fans (potentially 60,000 X 4 Playoff teams= 240,000 extra happy fans). Everyone wins.
Not to mention the fact that Wild Card teams like Seattle and this year’s Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers have proven that on any given day in the NFL, anyone can win a Playoff game (or a Super Bowl). Why not give a chance to as many quality teams (and their fans) as possible?
It seems rather foolish and antiquated for so many teams to make the Post Season in the NBA and NHL, yet the NFL allows so few teams to be rewarded for a well-played season. NFL fans deserve a few more Playoff slots available for the taking.
18 regular season games PLUS 4 new Wildcard teams equals hundreds of millions extra dollars added to the pot in extra revenues for everyone to split. Everyone wins- players get richer, owners get richer, TV networks get richer, businesses that service the NFL get richer, and fans get to watch substantially more games. There are no losers.
Most importantly with all this new revenue, it is pointless to fight in the middle of a depression. Problem solved. Strike over. That extra revenue should theoretically end the potential for a NFL Players strike in the first place.
Editor’s Note: Wayne Allyn Root is the creator and owner of www.WinningEDGE.com, one of the most popular sports handicapping web sites in the country. He is the author of “The King of Vegas’ Guide to Gambling” (Tarcher/Penguin Publishing). He is the only sports handicapper in the world with his own star on the Las Vegas Walk of Stars (in front of New York New York).