The NFL once again came to a fork in the road separating common sense and greed, and shockingly, the league chose to put off collecting hundreds of millions in extra television revenue.
Don’t worry, the avaricious owners will return to bottom line form next year, likely voting to expand the NFL playoff format from 12 to 14 teams because their insatiable appetite for money always wins out.
Just don’t put the NFL’s gluttonous desire for wealth all on Commissioner Roger Goodell and 32 owners. Truth be told, most of us — fans, media, advertisers — are football whores who treat the sport like all-you-can-eat buffet.
Less is never more in today’s football world. Every proposal or campaign is about adding games — expanding NFL playoffs, expanding broadcast days, expanding college football playoffs. It’s a money grab that ignores the physical toll on players, regardless of how often Goodell stresses the importance of player safety.
When owners tabled a proposal this week to add two playoff teams for this season, they were really saying, “We’ll jump on that money train next year. We can’t appear too anxious while all these lawsuits are swirling around.”
This is an awkward time for the NFL. It must address the sins of its past while growing revenue that the league will need to pay the consequences for a $765 million concussion settlement, a number that could grow higher.
Another lawsuit was filed Tuesday by former players, some involved in the concussion case, claiming the league handed out painkillers to keep them on the field without warning them of the long-term risks.
It’s anybody’s guess what the NFL might be on the hook for when the legal dust settles. One thing is certain: Owners want to make sure that television revenue streams more than cover legal damages.
Just once, I’d like to see the NFL put a tourniquet on greed and recognize that adding regular-season or playoff games to a plentiful football menu is self-defeating. Is the bottom line so precious that it’s worth more long-term health risks for players?
Some of you might think it’s no big deal to add two wild-card playoff teams. It’d give struggling franchises like the Jaguars and their fans more hope to know postseason chances remain alive deeper into the season.
Yes, but the downside is that adding high-intensity games magnifies the dangers of players being exposed to collisions that could threaten the NFL’s long-term future.
Next year, the NFL playoff field will be 14 teams, then a Jerry Jones and other owners will soon push for 16. When does it stop? Does the NFL want to reward 8-8 or 7-9 teams who don’t win their division with a playoff berth?
My guess is as long as the television money is too good, that’s all that matters. And the football prostitution will live on.
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