On March 30, 2021, NFL [National Football League] owners voted their approval on a certain set of rules for the new season. One rule change in particular that made the news and set the sports world on fire was that the NFL extended its regular season from 16 games to 17 games.
There was positive and negative feedback to this change throughout the league, but it has drawn the question among even the most passionate of football fans: is there such a thing as too much football?
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry, the leader in rushing yards in 2019 and 2020, returned in the divisional week of playoffs.
Henry suffered an injury in week eight against the Indianapolis Colts and missed the rest of the season, but fortunately the Titans secured the number one spot in the AFC without him. Other teams might not have been as fortunate to succeed without their star player.
Henry’s injury was one of the many injuries that took place this season. Many superstars were injured during the season and some had to come back and play injured.
The plethora of injuries carried over into the playoffs as well. Some teams like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a massive injury report going into their game against The Los Angeles Rams this past weekend. The Bucs were fortunate enough to activate star running back Leonard Fournette, who was put on the Injured Reserve this year.
This issue caused disapproval among some players in the league. Players such as Alvin Kamara, Aaron Rodgers, and Russell Wilson voiced their displeasure with the new rule change.
In the past, players disapproved of the rule change when the NFL discussed it in prior meetings. However, some players like Tom Brady supported it and President of the NFL Players Association and center for the Cleveland Browns J.C. Tretter also voiced his support.
If there is any positive to this rule change aside from the extra revenue generated for the league, it was the last games of the regular season.
There were the most action-packed, interesting games of the season because of the different playoff scenarios and teams fighting to get into the playoffs.
Fans were seconds away from witnessing a tie between the Las Vegas Raiders and the Los Angeles Chargers that would have sent both of those to the playoffs.
But as much of the last game also brings excitement to fans, there’s no need for 17 games to bring that excitement because 16 games can be as exciting. This year happened to be an outlier and makes this change seem better than it is.
With all that being said, is there such a thing as too much football? Yes, adding another game does add an extra toll to the players, putting their health at risk for the sake of revenue.
As Buccaneers Head Coach Bruce Arians said via The Tampa Bay Times, “If you have an early ‘open date’ on a 17-game schedule, that’s going to be a grind in December.”
Sure, fans love to see more football but is it worth it when their favorite players are getting hurt and when the players are unhappy?
We’ve gotten to the point where teams that make it through the Wild Card will have played 21 games in a season if they make it to the Super Bowl, plus another four from preseason.
Even though both number one seeds fell this year, that raises questions of the advantage the top teams will get as well-rested compared to their bruised opponents.
This season was exciting and played in support of the rule change, but with the amount of injuries and games being played, the threshold of too much football has been surpassed.