Opinion: Expanded NFL Playoffs once again put profit over player safety

Extra NFL Playoff Game is detrimental to players

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Gracen Hoyle

Opinion: Expanded NFL Playoffs once again put profit over player safety

With a nationwide surge in coronavirus cases and growing concerns over the likelihood of injuries, it seems odd that the NFL would decide this is the year to add a game to the playoff schedule. The change in the schedule was passed in March and required approval from three-quarters of the NFL owners. This means that now 43.7% of the League qualifies for the playoffs.

Allowing only the top seeds from each conference to get a first round bye creates less of an incentive for teams to perform well during the regular season. The playoffs were already competitive amongst the top teams. For example, in the 2019 season, three teams in the NFC were tied with the same record, but only two teams were afforded the playoff bye. Allowing only the number one seeds in both conferences to have a bye provides them with a huge advantage that is not often not proportional to their performance in the regular season compared with other top-tier teams in their conference.

Additionally, adding an extra team to the NFL playoffs does not make them increasingly competitive, as the number seven seed is playing the Number 2 seed. Since 1990 (when the NFL expanded the playoff games to include the number six seed in the playoffs), only two teams ranked as the number six seed have gone on to win the Super Bowl. The chances of the team ranked as the number seven seed going on to win the Super Bowl are extremely unlikely, so the NFL should continue to allow the top two teams in each conference to have a bye week in order to rest their starters and decrease the likelihood of injuries.

While the players will be compensated for the game, it also provides the NFL with a way to increase their revenue, especially in a year when they have faced financial challenges due to the coronavirus. This season especially, the NFL has put profit over the well-being of their players and coaches by simply having a season without any substantial efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

On that same note, the NFL also decided that future regular seasons will be increased to 17 games and the preseason will be shortened to three games. This new schedule was proposed by NFL team owners and received pushback from the players, mostly due to health and safety risks. The NFL taking away a preseason game to make up for an additional regular season game does not address these health and safety concerns as starters usually do not play in the last preseason game. This change will not be implemented until the 2021 season at the earliest.

Between adding more playoff games and more regular season games during a global pandemic, the NFL has once again put profit over the safety of their players.