Would you like to see an 18-game NFL regular season if players could only play in 16 contests?

Leading Off: NFL's greed puts its players in jeopardy

Published: Wednesday, Sep. 25, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Wednesday, Sep. 25, 2013 - 12:32 am

Whenever Roger Goodell decides to step down as NFL commissioner, he'd probably like to be remembered for making the league safer for its players and more lucrative for its owners.

But in football, you can't punt the ball and keep it, too.

If Goodell really had the best interest of the NFL's players, the 49ers and Rams would not play Thursday night – four short days after punishing losses in which both teams suffered key injuries.

In addition, Goodell and his 32 fat-cat owners would also forget about adding two games to the regular season, which they are reportedly continuing to push for quietly behind closed doors.

The short week and call for extra games, of course, do nothing for the players other than put their health at risk.

Generations of players have said it takes at least three to four days before their bodies fully recover from a Sunday afternoon game. So why play Thursday night games, which are usually filled with sloppy play and tired players who are at great risk for injury?

Why? So the NFL's cable network can rake in the dough, of course.

And it's unlikely you'll find many players eager to play 18 regular-season games, even if the league cuts two exhibitions. Despite new contact rules to protect players, NFL games are a brutal display of controlled violence in which players are susceptible to season- or career-ending injuries on every play.

Sixteen games are enough, the National Football League Players Association says.

Goodell and the owners' response is a scenario where teams play 18-game schedules and force players to sit out at least two. You know, just to keep them safe.

Imagine going to Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara in two years, paying $50 to park, $125 for an end-zone seat and $30 for a beer and hot dog – all to watch a healthy Colin Kaepernick carry a clipboard.

No thanks.

If Goodell is serious about wanting his players safe but is determined to schedule 18 regular-season games, he should allow teams to expand their rosters from 53 to 65 or 70 players. There's enough unemployed talent to hire, and the league wouldn't be watered down.

What to watch

Baseball, A's at Angels, 12:35 p.m., CSNCA: Dan Straily gets the start for the A.L. West champs.

Today's poll

Would you like to see an 18-game NFL regular season if players could play in only 16 contests?

• Yes

• No

Vote above or leave your comments in the comments field; or go to www.sacbee.com/sports

Tuesday's poll results

What do you think of Shaquille O'Neal becoming part owner of the Kings?

• I love it: 56%

• I hate it: 7%

• I don't care: 37%

Total votes: 394

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Read more articles by Victor Contreras

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