Chicago Sun-Times

Bears players not thrilled about extended season

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NFL owners met in Atlanta on Wednesday to discuss extending the regular season from 16 to 18 games. Six hundred miles to the North, Bears players are not warming to the idea of what owners are calling an "extended season," even if it would mean playing two fewer preseason games.

"I like the 16-game season," H-back Desmond Clark said. "I hope it says like that. If they say 18 weeks I guess we have no choice but to play 18 weeks. I'm not going to sit around here moaning and complaining about it. That's not going to get anything changed, but if I had to vote I'd vote to eliminate two preseason games and keep it a 16-game season.

"As long as you're out there playing, the more your body breaks down and the more susceptible you are to injuries. When you get into December, you're like a walking zombie. You can't feel your joints. You're all beat up. Everybody is the same way which is why the game is still played at the same level by every team, but it's difficult to be out there. To lengthen that schedule all you're doing is putting more pounding on the body that is already to the point where it's even hard to get up and walk anymore."

Veteran center Olin Kreutz said NFL careers are short enough without expanding the schedule, which would likely lead to players playing fewer seasons.

"You get beat up," the 13-year veteran said. "It's a long season. Two games, you're out there you could get hurt. You could end your career in one of those two games. It's not like this is a long career. If you go on the field in the 17th game and blow your knee there goes your career. People say, "What's the big deal, two more games?' Well, I've seen a guy's foot turn the wrong way in one game. I've seen a lot of injuries. Now you're out there for two more games flying around. There's no way to fake football. You could get hurt."

Chances are, in the end, it will all come down to money.

"There's a reason why you make a lot of money playing football," Kreutz said. "It's a dangerous thing to do. We walk out there we know it's dangerous. That's what we sign up for. But to put us out there for two more games for the same money, that's insane."

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It seems obvious to me that even a 16 game season is probably too long. I love watching it, that's not the issue. Do we want the NFL to be like the NBA where they sit the elite players for some of the games? We already have things like running back by commitee and a rotation for the D-line. Do you want to see that for the starting O-line and the quarterbacks? We are getting real close to it.

If they add two more games you will have situations where in Week 17 LeFeavour takes the snap from Beekman and drops back behind Webb looking to hit Greg Mathews on a crossing route. And throws a pick against a team who till has a couple starters left on defense.

This is such an obviously bad idea that I wonder if it's just a smokescreen? If the owners wanted a few more cards to play when they negotiate with the players union this could be one. "Ok if we give on two more games, we get to keep the salary cap. That's fair right?" Is the players union that dumb?

Biggest concern I have heard is that although many veterans don't need four preseason games the bulk of the younger players filling out the 80 man roster do need four preseason games -- and the 2-3 guys that stick that otherwise would get cut in favor of high draft picks who didn't pan out will increase. I think 16 games is plenty but if they're going to eliminate two preseason games they also need to somehow work out a system that younger guys have more formal scrimmages so they can prove themselves.

Roger, I'd assume that with a longer season they'd increase the roster sizes slightly which might help with keeping a few more youngsters on board.

The NFL should increase to a 17-game regular season. But in doing so, it can also add a second bye week for all teams. Additionally, it should make the extra game for all teams a neutral site game against a foe from the opposing conference.

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This page contains a single entry by Neil Hayes published on August 25, 2010 1:43 PM.

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