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18-game season looks kaput

Green Bay Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy

Green Bay Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy stands on the field before the Packers took on the Minnesota Vikings during the NFC Wild Card. (Jan. 5, 2013) Credit: Getty

I’ve never been a proponent of the NFL expanding the regular season schedule to 18 games, so Packers president Mark Murphy’s words in an interview with the Green Bay Press-Gazette was music to my ears.

According to Murphy, the 18-game season is essentially dead.

“I think with all the concerns about the health and safety of players, it’s hard to justify,” Murphy told Press-Gazette Media this week. “To go from 16 to 18 regular-season (games) would be a lot more wear and tear. It would be additional games for your starters.”

Cutting down the preseason from four games to two (or five games to three for the teams playing in the Hall of Fame game) isn’t a viable solution either. But at least teams have the option of not using their starters for parts, or even all, of selected preseason games. So keeping the four games is tolerable.

There are a “couple issues there,” said Murphy, who serves on the NFL’s management council executive committee, competition committee and health and safety committee. “You’ve got loss of revenue. You don’t have much TV revenue from that, but you do have ticket revenue. And then the other big issue is being able to really evaluate and develop young players. Taking away those two game opportunities, especially since we have so many fewer practices (in training camp) … you don’t block and tackle (in practice) so the games are really important in terms of evaluating.” 

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