There goes player safety

Kyle Riviere @kyleR_sports
Weekly Citizen Sports Editor Kyle Riviere.

It's pretty obvious with all of the rule changes of the past five years that the NFL's No. 1 priority is player safety. Well, that's what they claim, at least.

They've adopted a zero tolerance approach on defenders hitting receivers helmet-to-helmet. They've even recently made it illegal for a ball-carrier that's outside of the tackle box to lower his head to protect himself against a defender.

Quarterbacks are protected like fine China, if defensive backs look at a receiver too long they can be flagged for interference or illegal contact and in five years, kickoffs may no longer exist.

All of these things make hardcore football fans like myself cringe. It's almost like being amped up to watch "Pulp Fiction" just to find out it's playing on cable.

However, Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL big wigs think we're being too unreasonable. What they've done recently is helping the game and making it better.

After all, the NFL is all about player safety. Well, that is until it conflicts with the opportunity to see more dollar signs. That's when players become expendable and all of that "player safety" stuff falls to the waist-side.

If Goodell and his crew really care about the well-being of the players, then why are they so giddy about adding two more regular season games to the schedule?

The change has been discussed for years, and it picked up even more steam last week when Goodell and the owners openly discussed it at the spring owners meeting.

I'm no rocket scientist, but it's not hard for me to figure out that by adding two more games, it gives players two more opportunities to get hurt.

Their plan has always been to eliminate two preseason games and create an 18-game regular season schedule.

They argue that it all evens itself out. Yes, you add two games to the regular season, but two meaningless preseason contests are out the window.

Well, that sounds great and looks good on paper, but things just aren't that simple.

With the way the preseason is set up today, teams play four games. Usually, starters will only play a series or two in the first game, a half in the second, maybe three quarters in the third game and they usually take the fourth game off completely.

They won't have that luxury if this 18-game schedule is implemented. With only two preseason contests to get ready for game one, the players are going to have to see much more preseason action than they normally would.

The NFL would like you to believe that it makes no difference adding the two regular season games with the two practice games being scratched. In actuality, that's like comparing apples to oranges.

The preseason games don't see players going full-out, desperately trying to get wins and playing every single minute. The two regular season games that will take their place will see just that.

The season is already long enough. Sixteen games are plenty. A team like the Ravens that had to make a run to the Super Bowl as a wild card team ended up playing 20 games.

That's a lot of football. That's the equivalent of two high school regular seasons. The wear and tear the players experience in that 20-game marathon is already brutal. Now, a league that prides itself on player safety wants to add two more games for their stars to get battered and bruised?

It just doesn't make any sense and stinks of hypocrisy. But then again, when you take the dead presidents into account and look at the NFL's bottom line, it all seems perfectly clear. More games equals more money for the league.

They say it's all for the fans. They've been clamoring for more action.

You know what that means: more tickets, more ratings and more $100 bills falling from the sky. And as long as the league sees those, the term "player safety" can conveniently be scrapped from their vocabulary.