This is a column by Morgan Campbell who writes opinion for CBC Sports. For more information on CBC opinion section, please look Frequently Asked Questions…
Adrian Peterson, a future Hall of Famer who finished on the injured Seattle Seahawks list this year, said on Monday that he ready to play another season… Although he has already registered 15 of them. Despite the fact that in March he will turn 37 years old. And although at the moment he is a free agent.
If you have a long enough NFL memory, you remember Peterson as a Punisher six feet two inches tall and weighing 220 pounds. who controlled the ball with the power of a bulldozer and the speed of a cheetah… At the end of the 2011 season, he tore two ligaments in his knee and attacked his offseason rehab just like his opponents. He ran 2,097 yards the following season, still the second best in a single season in league history.
He has always been – and in a sports context people consider this the highest praise – the beast… But at nearly 37, Peterson isn’t just approaching 40; he rushes to work, where 31 makes you a pensioner.
Last weekend marked the end of the first season of the NFL with 17 games, and if the path to the finish seemed endless and frustrating, then this is not you.
This extra week seemed like three or four to sports fans trying to follow the NFL, as well as follow traditional winter leagues like the NHL and NBA. The league is demanding more than ever from its talent pool, which must expand to include players like Peterson who would otherwise be watching along with the rest, as well as our attention.
All of this is in line with the steady rise in earnings that the NFL is looking forward to – the league believes it could be profitable. US $ 25 billion per annum by 2027… If future negotiations with the National Association of Football League Players include team owners pushing for even more regular season expansion, you’ll see why. Each additional game in the regular season is an opportunity to make more money.
But this money is not free.
Staging more games, more weekends, more platforms, more nights per week reduces the scarcity that makes each game valuable. Each expansion to the schedule promotes games across the spectrum from watching meetings like a title fight to simple inventory like most of baseball’s 162 games. You can ask fans to be more attentive, or you can ask them to tune in every night. Few people, other than TV presenters and beat writers, can expend mental energy on both.
Physical losses must be paid
And there is a price for the players’ bodies. In a league where the players can’t handle the pressures, you cause injuries that create opportunities for people like Nick Mullens, who was late promoted from the training team. to the starting defender when the COVID outbreak hit the Cleveland Browns, and for Peterson, who ran 1,042 yards in 2018, but utilization and yards per carry have declined steadily since then.
Anyone who follows the NFL knows the ideal of the Next Player League and recognizes that most teams are as good as their backups. But when the real Next Man Up is a 36-year-old backdrop whose reflexes and brute speed have dulled, we also have to admit that product quality suffers.
Of course, the coronavirus pandemic has changed both lineups and schedules this NFL season. The coup was not as extreme as in the NBA, where the Raptors had a starting lineup that included several players who met their new teammates at the last minute only in minutes before the one-sided defeat by Cleveland… But as Mullens’ emergency ad has shown, continuity can be a luxury in professional sports in the COVID era.
Nine months before the start of the 2023 campaign, we do not know if we should prepare for yet another season of pandemic football with its glitches and patchwork squads. But we cannot guarantee a new version or politicized opposition to reasonable public health measuresor the collapse of the health care system won’t stop the NFL’s next attempt at a smooth 17-game regular season.
Meanwhile, high-profile American college football tycoons are pushing for the sport’s playoffs to be expanded from four teams to at least six. More play for players on elite teams gives non-NFL players a better chance of proving themselves in front of professional scouts, but also creates more opportunities for future first-round players to be seriously injured.
Add his name to the injury list of recent Alabama stars, which includes Tua Tagovailoa (thigh), Jaylen Waddle (ankle) and Brampton native John Matchey III (knee). These select examples from the multi-year title contender are not a trend, but they illustrate the risks players take when organizers extend the season.
A generation ago, major NCAA football conference schedules ran up to 12 games – 11 in the regular season plus a bowl game for teams that earned invitations. Alabama and Georgia have played 15 players this season, and each new game has exposed players to severe and incremental damage that could affect their draft squad and professional careers.
Since both pro and college play require more performance from the same group of players, something will have to be compromised. They can play more, or they can play better, or they can play longer, but doing all three is nearly impossible.
If the 17th game in the NFL leads to the 18th, it will all lead to a load that players cannot handle, individually or collectively. Their bodies will suffer or the quality of the product will suffer.
And if the NFL cannot depend on any of these commodities, what exactly are they selling, and why should we keep buying?