17-game season limits players and fans, these additions could expand NFL’s ambitions

By: Jordan Kendall, Senior Staff Writer 

Views expressed in opinion columns are the author’s own.

The NFL will expand the regular season to 17 games, something they haven’t done since 1978. The 17th game will be AFC vs NFC and will be determined based on last year’s division standings. It’s received some backlash from players and fans, and I agree with many of the points mentioned. Instead of explaining why I’m not a fan of the change, I want to focus on what changes I would’ve made to the format.

There will not be an additional bye week added to the schedule. This is arguably the main reason why I don’t like adding another game. One more game means one more chance for a player to get hurt. 

Injuries already affect NFL teams enough. I feel that adding another game is only going to make it worse. It’s one more game players have to physically and mentally prepare for. I think the NFL should add another bye week to decrease these odds and ensure players can finish the season as healthy as possible.

What I would do is change the rules for bye weeks. Each team would get two bye weeks but the second one would have to be at least six weeks apart from the first one. This way teams who have an early bye now also get a midseason break that, I feel, would be really helpful.  

I think it benefits everyone: the players, coaches, fans and owners. It gives the players more time to recover, especially to those who have injuries. It also gives coaches either some time off or more time to evaluate their team and maybe prepare for an upcoming opponent. They could use that time to start scouting for the draft and maybe go and see a top prospect play in person. 

The fans and owners get two more weeks of football. Fans of a team with a bye week now get two weeks where there’s still a lot of games on to watch. This can give them the chance to watch some of their favorite players on other teams or just check out the rest of the league. It benefits the owners since they get another two weeks of revenue. It’s two more weeks of TV revenue, ticket sales, concessions, merchandise, parking and anything else that generates money. 

Another idea I had was to either make the 17th game a rivalry game. If it’s a rivalry game then each team would be assigned a rival outside their division. 

They would play that team every season, if they’re already scheduled to play, then they play twice and each team gets a home game. The rival would be based on either geography or history between the two teams.

I think most teams can easily find a rival but I think the NFL can get a rival for each team. This would create matchups we normally don’t get but would add a new element to the league. I would enjoy seeing matchups such as the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers as a battle for LA, or the Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts since the Colts were originally based in Baltimore. I think this would be great for the fans, but also for the league because they can promote these games as serious rivalries and matchups.

My other idea is to allow both teams to wear throwback uniforms for one game. I am interested in uniform combinations and really enjoy throwbacks. Every team would get a dark and light throwback that doesn’t already have one.

I think it should be one of the last four weeks of the season where the NFL chooses a week and the entire league would wear throwbacks. Since it’s after the bye weeks, it also prevents anyone from missing out. I believe it also is a win-win for everyone. 

Players care about uniforms more than ever, and so do fans. Throwbacks are a really popular way to honor a certain point in a team’s history. It can help to introduce newer fans to older generations of players from their favorite team. For older fans it can bring a sense of nostalgia seeing a uniform their team wore when they were younger. 

The owners and NFL can sell more merch and make more money. The NFL would need to relax the one helmet rule, they’re considering allowing teams to wear multiple helmets but I think this would add a lot to the league and also make the 17th game more special. 

I think the NFL can do a lot more with an extra game than it seems they plan to. I don’t feel my ideas are that unreasonable either, so I hope they consider them going forward. I know I’m not alone in some of these ideas so I think with enough support we could see some changes in the near future that benefit everyone involved.

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