Does the NFL need a summer league?

Christopher Spinks Roar Guru

By Christopher Spinks, Christopher Spinks is a Roar Guru


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    Atlanta Falcons' Matt Ryan runs for a touchdown during the first half of the NFL football NFC championship game against the Green Bay Packers, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017, in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

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    The NFL has what is arguably the shortest season in professional sport, just 16 games. Four preseason games and if you are lucky enough, a total of four finals games, culminating in a Super Bowl.

    It’s clear the game is more physically demanding than Major League Baseball (176 games) or the NBA (82 games) or most of the major football/soccer leagues in the world (30-60 games). But are four preseason and 16 regular season games enough to grow talent, build structure or create a bond between players? I think not.

    It takes longer than that for players to know each other games, let alone form a cohesive approach to winning championships. Yes, I understand they have been doing this for many years now, but why not have a longer pre-season or a summer league like the NBA to help develop that talent into what coaches want their players to be.

    Not only does that help to improve players, the NFL can also sell tickets to the games and make more money. It seems a no-brainer to me.

    Here’s why.

    In the NFL you have 32 teams who are split into eight divisions of four teams. You play the other teams in your division twice, meaning six games. Then you play ten other teams in the league once.

    I used to think I knew how the format worked, but they seem to throw me a curve ball nearly every year. For this purpose, let’s just say you play ten other teams.

    Adam Gotsis Denver Broncos NFL 2017

    (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

    Before the season starts, teams reduce their squad from 90 players to a 53-man roster who will compete in week one. Of those 37 players who are dropped, not a lot see game time. They train and run drill with the practice squad and are assessed by the team in a non-game format. Why not give those players a chance to compete in real, game time situations by introducing a summer league?

    You don’t have to play them in big stadiums, in front of 40,000 people. You can simply play them at local suburban grounds. Bring the game back to the people.

    You don’t need to play people like Aaron Rodgers or Cam Newton. But it gives you a chance to blood young kids in a game-like environment.

    You sell ticket to such a game or open the doors for free. You would find that you would fill seats quite easily. It’s not cheap these days to attend live sport, of any code. Why not give back to the people.

    Surely this is a viable option for the league. Sure, insurance premiums would go up. But it’s not always about teams making money. It’s about teamwork, cohesion and understanding the moves your teammates will make.

    The NFL needs to consider expansion for a summer league or even expansion of the competition. But that’s an argument for another day.

    I personally, can’t wait for September to roll around for the season to start. Early February always comes too quickly for the culmination. It’s the only sport in the world which runs less than five months. Unless you count Hungarian ice fishing.

    The time for change is here. The NFL can cash in, the teams get a chance to blood young players and the fans get more games. Why is this not a thing?

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    The Crowd Says (7)

    • October 27th 2017 @ 7:27am
      Not so super said | October 27th 2017 @ 7:27am | ! Report

      Playing at suburban ground letting the NFL cash in?
      Funniest thing I read this week

    • Roar Pro

      October 27th 2017 @ 11:58am
      Alexander Clough said | October 27th 2017 @ 11:58am | ! Report

      I see absolutely no reason why the NFL would do this. The huge preseason is what allows teams to develop and I don’t see any reason why coaches would want their players – after what’s already a physical season – going into another competition. Yes you talk about the 37 cut players, but who really wants to see a bunch of rejects turn out?

      The suburban ground argument doesn’t really hold up when fans already flock to the games and enjoy the “game day experience”. Could you recreate the tailgate atmosphere of say Mercedes-Benz at a suburban ground? Doubtful. You could argue the game should be more accessible, but that’s an entirely separate argument on ticket price (I admit, I don’t know the average/minimum cost), merchandise, etc.

      You’re also clashing with NBA finals which completely illogical. Networks would be unwilling to jump on board as they go into ratings and awards seasons and don’t want to devote too much coverage to the new league.

      Furthermore, the NFL is already the global leader in marketing, awareness and outreach. What’s the point in changing anything?

      All in all: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

    • October 27th 2017 @ 5:24pm
      McNaulty said | October 27th 2017 @ 5:24pm | ! Report

      Maybe they could loan players out to the Canadian Football League.

      If they start going down the minor leagues route they will create an enemy out of the NCAA and also High school football fans. Friday night game are already frowned upon.

    • October 28th 2017 @ 9:47am
      no one in particular said | October 28th 2017 @ 9:47am | ! Report


    • Roar Pro

      October 29th 2017 @ 7:56pm
      The Doc said | October 29th 2017 @ 7:56pm | ! Report

      interesting read and i agree that lenghty off-season is an issue. I havent done the calcuations but I would dare say one of the longest off seasons in world sporting profesional leagues. I for one though despise lengthy pre-seasons. THere is little reason to see players – for newly drafted players who often make big impacts in their season (compared to AFL for example) you have often 3 years of college data on them. Micky mouse pre season games that mean nothing are pointless friendlies, risk for injury.
      I think they should play a longer season – 16 games is very short. THe hits are big but each player plays much less than the 60 minutes allotted game time. If they are so worried about injuries then increase squad sizes. AFL, rugby, even ice hockey players all play much longer seasons, absorb huge hits and maintain endurance/power – the NFL professionals should learn to do the same.
      As for a clash with NBA/NHL playoffs – the NFL season ends in feb; NBA playoffs dont start till May. THere is at least a 2 month window to get the extra games in and with NFL being the number 1 sport for tv viewership and revenue I dont think they will be too worried about other sports.

      I think a 20 game season should be achievable (+ 3 playoff + superbowl + 4 preseasno) = 28 game season

    • Roar Guru

      October 30th 2017 @ 11:45am
      Dogs Of War said | October 30th 2017 @ 11:45am | ! Report

      Have a read of the history of such an attempt to create that league.

      Ultimately it comes down to having lots of money that entice people to play the game, and draw some talent away from the NFL.

      • Roar Guru

        October 30th 2017 @ 3:22pm
        Dogs Of War said | October 30th 2017 @ 3:22pm | ! Report

        I should add, if you look at NFL Europe and the other leagues the NFL invested in. They are only interested if the NFL can develop talent there. That stopped happening with NFL Europe so even though they were losing only $30mil a year which would probably be small change for all the NFL teams when you divide that amongst them. It was the lack of talent coming through which hurt them.

        Maybe if they tried it again, but with new rules that you must have 5 undrafted rookies each season (via it’s own draft) etc. It could work. Just depends if the NFL is interested in going down that route again. Maybe an NFL American Summer League only could work rather than the European model.

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