Being the Cincinnati Bengals‘ representative for the NFL Players Association and generally a smart quote, the fact that it was starting LT Andrew Whitworth offering his feelings on regular season expansion and preseason shortening caught my attention. Typically an NFL player stating the company line on this topic is sort of old news, but this particular storyline caught my eye considering the source and the substance.
“I don’t think there’s any need for an 18-game season,” Whitworth told USA TODAY Sports. “With all of the things we’re seeing health wise, I don’t think an 18-game season is beneficial for anybody. But I do agree with the fans that preseason is lackluster. There are ways you can fix that. If it’s less games, fine. But I definitely don’t think there are a lot of guys who’d want to play an 18-game season. … (The owners) want to add two games and take two preseason games because it makes them more money. But they don’t have to go to 18 games. Just eliminate some preseason games.”
I typically take the players’ side on this issue because it is becoming an increasingly brutal sport, and a 16-game regular season plus playoffs already takes an insane physical toll. And the preseason is far too long. Plus, if the entertainment product is already near perfect, why stretch it out? Part of the NFL’s beauty is its brevity – thus raising the stakes of every moment.
Another aspect that made this particular story intriguing is that it gets the HBO “Hard Knocks” squad involved, including Bengals Coach Marvin Lewis, who agrees that the team’s joint practices against the Atlanta Falcons have been extremely helpful.
“I’d think that would be something that people would look to do more of, because it would give you another good look, another way to evaluate,” Lewis said, via USA TODAY Sports. “In this environment, sometimes it gets stale, repetitive, to play against the same people all the time. But to see that guy with the other color helmet on? Get ready.”
I truly would not be heartbroken if one or two preseason games were turned into joint practices, just as long as the media can closely observe.
Thomas Emerick is a Senior Writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ThomasEmerick, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google