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NFL about to trade quality for money | COMMENTARY

About two weeks after every NFL season comes a period of withdrawal.

That’s because the league has lived up to its reputation as America’s No. 1 spectator sport with some great, exhausting last-minute wins in the playoffs. And then there is this void to fill until next season.

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But the postseason shows again that quality is usually better than quantity.

Well, maybe not anymore.

According to a reported proposal for the league’s collective bargaining agreement the NFL owners have agreed to expand the postseason from 12 to 14 teams with seven teams each coming out of the AFC and NFC, and only the top seed getting a first-round bye.

League officials also want to change the 16-game regular season to 17 in exchange for dropping the number of preseason games from four to three and reducing contact practices throughout the season.

The owners still want you to think they are concerned about player safety as they stash millions of dollars in their pockets, but if they really were there wouldn’t be any Thursday Night Football.

But that’s a side issue.

I love football. I enjoy the emotion and passion of the game. The schematics, innovations and in-game adjustments are wonderful from the Pop Warner Leagues up to the NFL. And NFL playoff games add special excitement because there is so much at stake in one game.

But if the NFL expands the regular season, we’re going to get quantity instead of quality in a league that is already watered down. Only 13 of the league’s 32 teams had winning records last season. In fairness, do we need to see another mediocre team like Atlanta, Chicago and Dallas in the postseason?

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According to the new proposal, the Los Angeles Rams (9-7) and Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8) would have been in the playoffs in 2019-2020. To reward mediocrity is absurd. But if the league cuts down on contact practices, the level of play will get worse. Players struggle tackling in the NFL now. Offensive linemen are back to basics as far as run blocking, and some of these new young quarterbacks can’t even read an entire field as far as coverages.

I don’t want to see another week of bad football. I don’t need to see Cleveland versus Cincinnati in Game 17.

Supporters of this new CBA proposal will say that it keeps more teams and fans interested in the playoff picture until late in the season and that a No. 7 seed has a good shot to get to the Super Bowl. The lower seeds have a better shot than those in some other pro sports because the chances of winning one game is better than winning a five- or seven-game series.

But that seldom happens in the NFL. Few No. 6 seeds have gone onto their respective conference title games, much less the Super Bowl.

If the NFL wanted to cut the number of regular games from 16 to 14, preseason games down to two and have only four teams from each conference play in the postseason season, that would create more intensity and a stronger sense of urgency.

But this new proposal is all about money. If it goes through, the NFL will have triple-header playoff games in the first week of the postseason. The 17th game for each team could be played in at a neutral site or another country.

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More money, more money, more money…

And imagine the millions the networks would have to pay the NFL to televise more games, and the millions in additional commercial revenue.

Some of the players will fight back because they know with additional games come more injuries. By the end of the season it’s not always about the best team but a battle to survive. We see it now. The winner is not always the best team, but the one that is healthier.

The owners will point out that players stand to make more money. It’s always about the money. They’ll also point out that the current playoff system hasn’t changed in about 30 years.

But in reality it’s about more revenue for the owners and less quality play for the fans. It’s nothing new.

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