The NFL released the list of professional football games they plan to export next season and it isn’t pretty. Ravens – Jaguars, Saints – Dolphins, Vikings – Browns, and Cardinals – Rams are the four matchups that are meant to entice the people of the United Kingdom to love football. That’s right, the NFL is giving the U.K. some of their worst teams. Again.
Currently, the Vikings, Dolphins and Saints could possibly reach the playoffs, but they probably won’t. The Browns and Jaguars are two of the worst teams year after year. The Rams suck. The Cardinals were in the playoffs a year ago. If you’re not going to send anyone good, why send anyone at all? I mean, they couldn’t even send Cam Newton and the Panthers over as punishment for this season? London gets Joe Flacco and Drew Brees? That’s it? In 2017? That’s just wrong.
We’re going on a decade of sending the NFL to London and it remains nothing more than a joke and a pain in the ass. End this expansion garbage and just let the NFL be an American thing. It’s okay. Nobody is forcing cricket on you. Not everyone in the world needs to like your sport. Be happy with your billions of American dollars. It’s enough. I promise.
Now here are a few other things that the NFL could do to help make their product better in the country that actually likes it.
Stop Pre-Thanksgiving Thursday Night Football
Remember when Thursday Night Football was a special treat saved for the end of the season? Now it’s every week and any special-ness is gone. Teams hate playing the short weeks and it shows. Even marquee games are usually ugly. A Thursday night game to kick-off the season is fine, but give teams full weeks off.
Shorten the Preseason
It doesn’t matter if you cut one or two preseason games. Just shorten the preseason. Nobody cares about the preseason. Football is dangerous and fewer games is a good idea for the product. I know owners won’t want to do this because they lose money, but you know what? Screw those guys.
Start the Season on Labor Day Weekend
What do you do with that extra weekend? Play football. Get rid of that stupid Monday Night Football double-header and play a early evening game / late game double-header on Sunday, when nobody has to go to work in the morning.
Add Bye Weeks
You start the season a week early and you can give every team an extra bye week. Or two extra if you eliminate two bye weeks. If you really want to expand the season, do it with extra weeks, not extra Thursdays. Each city will lose a week of home team-related revenue, but you’ll also have an extra week of national ad revenue. How much more would ads for that extra regular season week be worth than a week of preseason ads? Plus, extra rest and teams don’t get screwed with that awkward early or late-season bye.
Split Sunday Afternoon Games Equally
This weekend there are 8 early games (1 pm Eastern) and 4 late games (4 pm Eastern). Stop that. 6 and 6. At no point should a regular person have enough televisions in their living room to watch all the games at once on a Sunday afternoon.