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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Only Equitable Way

NFL's decision to play 16 games is only fair, says NFL analyst


Though it's uncertain how a three-week layoff will affect the Bucs when they play Minnesota, the reworked NFL schedule is fair to all

by Gil Brandt,

Editor's note: As personnel director for the Dallas Cowboys for three decades, Gil Brandt helped assemble the teams that appeared in five Super Bowls.

The NFL always has been the premier sports league because it always has been fair. When Commissioner Pete Rozelle and the member clubs adopted bylaws in favor of revenue sharing, the possibility of teams from larger cities having a greater advantage than the smaller market teams was eliminated.

In the NFL, the Green Bay Packers have the same opportunity to win the Super Bowl as the New York Giants or the New York Jets.

The NFL's decision to complete a 16-game schedule is a fair decision. It eliminates the asterisk that would have been applied for a 15-game season, and it preserves the integrity for everyone. I don't think it would have been fair to proceed with 15 games and a few clubs having played only seven home games.

Is there a more fair way to do this? I say no.

The decision made is fair to everyone because it makes winning every game more important; more games at the end of the season will affect greatly the playoff picture.

There are a few Week 2 matchups that now become more interesting. Instead of traveling to Chicago in September, Jacksonville now will face the Bears in the Windy City in January.

The Giants, who had a tough game in Denver on Monday night, would have lost a couple of days of practice before they faced Green Bay in New York.

Naturally, some people will say the decision is not fair to the teams that may miss out on the playoffs.

But if you look back at the 1985 season, when each conference had two wild-card teams, Denver, New England and the N.Y. Jets each finished 11-5 in the AFC. The Broncos missed the playoffs because the tiebreakers went against them, and the Cleveland Browns advanced to the playoffs because they won the Central Division with an 8-8 record.

That might not have seemed fair to Denver, but that was the system and everyone understood it.

With the current decision being made before the second games of the season, everyone knows the rules and what must be done. There's going to more emphasis on focus and coaching.

This week, Pittsburgh, New Orleans and Tampa Bay have bye weeks. By the time Week 4 rolls around, they will not have played a game in three weeks. How will that layoff affect them?

The next few weeks are going to be very important because of this. Every year, there's a team that makes a move in September and show its identity. Who will be the Rams of 1999? Who will be the Giants of 2000?

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