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Expanding NFL to 18 games no slam dunk ...

Don’t you just hate it when something seems like a no-brainer but then ends up being a lot more complicated and thus well short of being a slam dunk?

I am mixing my metaphors, but I refer to the National Football League and its confounding situation of a four-game exhibition season that is about as satisfying as kissing your sister.

Having largely determined that the current system has long since exhausted its usefulness, NFL moguls are left with the thorny problem of figuring out what to do next.

I’ve always objected to the four-game dress rehearsal tour on ideological grounds; to wit – professional football is not a game suited to be played in a half-assed manner. It thrives on its brutality and intensity, so asking the players to get through a four-game warm-up where the principal goal may be to avoid getting injured simply does not work.

Naturally, the NFL made it worse by including these flimsy charades as part of season-ticket packages, meaning that to scratch, for example, two of the games they are then compelled to turn them into regular-season fodder.

So what seems like a logical solution becomes more than a little troublesome, made worse this year by the impending labor/management tussle as the collective bargaining agreement expires in March of 2011.

Making two of those faux games the real deal sounds simple, but the players are going to have a thing or two to say about it, and they’ll be doing so at a time when the league and its minions have more pressing concerns to address.

The NFL played 12 games per season through 1960, then moved to 14 per for the next 17 years, then upped it to 16 in 1978. Adding two more games may not sound to daunting for the guy on the couch munching on Cheetos, but it’s a big deal to the guys in the trenches getting knocked around.

For the guy pictured here – Buffalo Bills linebacker Harry Jacobs, selected simply because he looks cranky – the 18-game schedule would be a 22 percent increase in workload; for Johnny Unitas in 1960, it would look like a 50 percent jump.

Even if we are ready for some football, I have my doubts the players are, or at least that much football. My active dislike for preseason games doesn’t really cause me all that much aggravation anyway, since I don’t watch them.

Around these parts, it just means I have to fend off Packer chat for a few weeks in August while I await the start of the real deal.

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