What’s Up With This Week’s Bye?

In case no one is noticing, all 32 NFL teams will have a bye this week, in advance of the regular season's "Kickoff Weekend" that will begin with September 9's Dallas at Tampa Bay game.

Wouldn't adding a second bye week for each team during the season itself have made far more sense?

With two bye weeks during the regular season — which actually happened in 1993, due to a scheduling conflict with college football that no longer exists today — every team playing a Thursday game (whether it is a Thursday night game or a Thanksgiving Day game) could be given an automatic bye the week before, addressing complaints lodged by Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and many other players, that expecting players to come back on three days' rest is simply too hard on their bodies in today's game.

And if this means that an additional week or two before the last week of the regular season, which already does not have a Thursday game (mainly to take away any advantage from the two teams that play in such a game, in the event that either of both of them make the playoffs), will also lack a Thursday night game as well, then so be it: a new 19th week of the regular season will more than cancel out any loss of revenue that would arise from having one, or even two, fewer Thursday night games. Washington Irving was definitely onto something when he called "the almighty dollar" "that great object of universal devotion throughout our land" — but that wouldn't even be an issue with an additional slate of regular-season games.

Plus, the CFL has had two bye weeks during its regular season for literally decades. True, this is due to the fact that the CFL has an odd number of teams, just like the AFL did in 1966 (when the Miami Dolphins entered that league as an expansion team) and 1967 (the Cincinnati Bengals were added in 1968). But just because the CFL is compelled to do so by having an odd number of teams does not mean that the NFL shouldn't be impelled to do it because of the undeniable benefits that would arise from it.

And besides the second bye week for each team, which the players will certainly appreciate, what other benefits might accrue to the NFL?

The big benefit would be having the Super Bowl played on the Sunday of the Presidents' Day weekend — widely believed to be the owners' "holy grail" for the longest time. This in turn would make "Super Bowl Monday" a national holiday (an idea that enjoys broad support from both fans and businesses, which face huge losses from absences and declines in productivity with so many workers calling in "sick" or hungover the day after the Super Bowl) — and President Biden could score cheap political points (which he could sure use after the both stupid and cowardly stunt he just pulled in Afghanistan) by decreeing that Presidents' Day be placed on an equal footing with New Year's Day, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day as recommended "with pay" holidays, a status that it does not currently enjoy (Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Columbus Day/Indigenous Peoples Day, and Veterans Day are relegated to a lesser category, as will, presumably, be the new Juneteenth holiday).

And appeasing the NFLPA by giving its members a second bye week just might generate enough good will to get the union to agree to an 18-game regular-season schedule (especially if the owners offer every player a 6% across-the-board salary increase, in that 18 is 5.9% more than 17 — and the owners would still come out ahead because 20, the number of weeks that the regular season would be lengthened to, is 11.1% more than 18, the number of weeks there are now, starting this season) which has been the goal of the owners all along (in which case it goes without saying that another game will be chopped off of the preseason — here too putting the NFL in concurrence with the CFL).

As the Andrea True Connection sang back in 1976: more, more, more — how do you like it, how do you like it?

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