If you have signed up for news from the NFL, you got Roger Goodell's letter talking about the future of the league (specifically, some of the changes getting proposed for the CBA). If not, you can read it here.
But why bother, when it is peppered with such toasty bullshit as this: "A significant change would be to resolve fan complaints about preseason by modifying our 20-game format. Fans tell us they don’t like the quality of the preseason games, and we’re listening. An enhanced season of 18 regular season and two preseason games would not add a single game for the players collectively, but would give fans more meaningful, high-quality football."
Obviously, this would add to the players workload. Teams currently (generally) use two pre-season games to get a look at their young guys and two games to prepare for the regular season with their starters. I think it is safe to assume that most organizations would feel forced to play their starters for at least one of those pre-season games to make sure their gameplan is flowing. You can rest slightly banged up starters in pre-season games that maybe you can't for a regular season game. I don't think there's any doubt that a healthy veteran player would end up playing at least four more quarters, and probably more. Maybe that's no big deal; maybe you'll say that they are millionaires, and they should just suck it up. That's fine, if that's your position--but let's be clear here--saying that you would be adding no extra games to the players collectively is true only in the most literal reading of the change. It is a fundamentally dishonest position to take. But that's what you get from this commissioner.
The fans don't complain about the quality of the pre-season games just because. Acting as if fans are the ones demanding more regular season games is bit mendacious, to say the least. The problem fans have with pre-season games is that they cost just as much to attend as regular season games. And for two of those games, no starters are playing. The obvious solution that would benefit fans (but not owners, who Goodell is shilling for here) would be to cut the cost the prices of the pre-season games.
What's really silly, though, is to suggest that adding two more games would add a lot "more meaningful, high-quality football." Sure, maybe for a couple of teams, it may do that. This year, I'm sure fans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the NY Giants would have not minded a couple of more games. But if you were a fan of half of the teams this year, you couldn't wait for this season to be over. By my count, sixteen of the thirty-two teams in this league just wrapped up a sixteen game schedule below .500. Fully half of the league was done and buried by Week 17, and adding two more games to the schedule wasn't going to change that.
If you are a Vikings fan, do you really want two more weeks to see if this team can get to 8-10? Maybe the Panthers could win a third game. Maybe everything could fall into place for the Arizona Cardinals and they could get into the playoffs with a 7-11 record. That sounds promising.
No, wait--it sounds like more garbage at the end of the year, when teams like the ones I mentioned and a dozen more besides are done playing and just want to go home. There is no grand protest from the fans about the need to add more games to what is just about a perfectly balanced schedule. Pretending that there is? That's just what you get from an NFL Commissioner these days.