Fooch's Note: Aside from the fact that the writer's name is Dave, I thought this FanPost is interesting and put together quite well. I love seeing comparisons to sports with which we are not quite as familiar. I think it helps us learn about these other sports and provide some more context to the 49ers and the NFL. Thanks Dave.
Recently I have started to make use of Podcasts - I know a little slow in getting there but I have started listening to some, mainly because it is the 2nd offseason in a row that has been packed with insanity and I like to hear people talk about it whilst I work. Also because I am a little tired of the music I have been listening to since the 90's and sullenly refuse to 'get more modern stuff'.
On one of these podcasts the conversation turned to 'how can the commissioner advocate an 18 game season and being super concerned about injuries if he is planning on coming down hard on Saints players for the bounty scandal and what that represents'.Now personally I see these as 2 entirely seperate things, yes an 18 game season potentially means more injuries and yes a bounty for injuring a player is likely to cause more injuries, you know unless the players don't want the money (and lets be honest its not like the chance of an extra few thousand hasn't convinced a few players to go to dubious teams rather than contenders in the past, so I am sure they are going to try and take what is on offer). The point would be though that in a competitively fair world an 18 game season might, and I mean its a possibility, there are additional injuries whereas a bounty paid out to explicitly injure a player is a different thing altogether.
I think the Commissioner, if it is his desire, has the right to investigate the 18 game season without the bounty scandal being a part of the discussion. Who knows how many bounty programs there are out there prior to the Saints scandal and who knows how many injuries have been inflicted because of these things. Anyway to stick to the point. I am not necessarily in favour of the 18 games season and to be honest as a guy without the ability to go to the games each week I would say the main factor in any fan potentialy supporting it , ie paying full whack for 2 meaningless pre-season games being unfair, so can I please if I am paying full whack have a proper game, doesn't necessarily mean fans want more games.
But lets consider it momentarily, more games well, more football, thats not bad is it? OK, so I have the joy of English soccer every week and all the attendant media attention that goes with it, and with a major international tournament this summer, soccer (a word I detest but figure it stops confusion) will be going on for all but about 2 weeks this year. I confidently predict that some of the major stars from that tournament will struggle mightily next season, some won't but a lot will. I too will struggle...to care after a while, it almost becomes meaningless, an endless procession of matches where winning a championship or a cup means almost nothing because there is no time to bask in the reflected glory of winning - as a fan.
Is 18 games going to take it to this point? No but how many meaningless games occur in the NFL? Very few, espescially if you compare it to the Premiership where we are at the point for about 8 of the 20 teams nothing they do matters right now and the last 5 matches become pointless. At least when you have a 16 game season all the matches matter, espescially for fans hungry for them. But, the removal of 2 meaningless presason games for a couple of extra genuine games wouldn't be that bad and I could live with that happily, I can tell you as a fan in the UK, having proper games at Wembley recently has made a significant difference to the interest levels in the sport here, where when meaningless 'friendly' games were played interest died.
But are those games meaningless? Its hard to consider how much time coaches have to see players in competitive situations and evaluate them, without removing some of that. Tell Dobbs, Tukuafu, Hunter even Antony Dixon that those preseason games don't matter, are they on the team without that opportunity, even against other 3rd string players, to show their skills?
And when a team has a very limited practice squad and you have to fear another team snatching a guy you might like to develop but aren't 100% about - Scott Tolzien (Chargers) you need to make the most of the opportunities to evaluate and see what they might develop into, I mean you might miss out on Welker(again Chargers) or Blount (Tennesse) and what they might add for you.
Ah so, you increase squad size to account for extra games. OK back to a soccer analogy - there are 96 professional soccer teams in England, yes 96, do you have any idea how diluted the talent is? Do you have any idea how bad some of that football that fans of local teams go to see can be? I am a Coventry City fan, its poison to the eyes at times. One of the things I like about the NFL is you have to be really, really, really good, just to get a look, even if you played on the 0-16 Lions team, so increased Practice squads might be good but would it dilute the talent levels orwould it give players time to develop so they reach their best?
Does there need to be a minor league? Well NFL Europe didn't work out so well, so maybe not, maybe the balance is good as it is? Maybe changes mess with it too much, maybe injuries are too much of a problem? maybe it is hypocritical to punish for bounties but want to add more games? Maybe changes are the evolution of the game and make it better?
I love Rugby Union, up until 1990's it was an amatuer sport, the only stuff worth watching was international, it went professional and people cried out that the soul of the game was being destroyed, it was only truly competitive when people played for the love of playing. Now I can tell you its awesome and I watch the club stuff with eager anticipation, money made it matter, for a while it got a little ugly but now with professional coaches having come through 2 decades its starting to look really, really good, some of it is really eye-catching stuff, it took a while but it was worth it. Is there a bigger change in a sport than that? Going from amateur to Pro? Am I maybe more open to changes and evolution, probably, but I say if you are going to change things stop <expletive deleted>ing about and get on with it...but pay for it, pay the players or stop making the fans pay as much for developmental judgement call games as they do for the 'real thing'.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?