The Aesthetics of a 17-Game NFL Season

As you’re probably aware by now, the NFL recently decided to expand its 16-game regular season — the standard for a non-strike season since 1978 — by adding a 17th game.

My primary thought about this was that sports schedules usually feature an even number of games — 162 for MLB; 82 in the NBA and NHL; 34 in the WNBA and MLS; 24 for the NWSL. Prior to going to 16 games, the standard NFL number was 14 (1961-77), and before that 12 (1947-60) and 10 (1943-45). So by going to a 17-game slate, the NFL was taking the highly unusual step having an odd number of games.

A reader who prefers to be known simply as Bryham has taken this line of thought a bit further. As he sees it, a going from 16 to 17 games is a big downgrade on an aesthetic level. I’ll let him explain.

The Aesthetics of a 17-Game NFL Season
By Bryham

I, for one, am not pleased about the addition of a 17th game to the NFL season. Sure, I share the concerns about player safety and football overload that many people have expressed. But the real reason I don’t like the 17th game is that it doesn’t feel right. As somebody who makes sure all the bills are facing the same way in his wallet, I feel confident in saying that 16 is the perfect number of games for an NFL season, while 17 makes no sense whatsoever. 

Consider the beauty of the 16-game season:

• 16 games in a season; 16 teams in a conference. Perfection!

• 16 is 4 squared (4 times 4), just like the four divisions, each with four teams, in each conference.

• With a 16-game schedule, there are very clear quarter-, half-, and three-quarter-marks of the season, and a team can often win exactly a quarter, a half, or three-quarters of its games during a season. These fractions make sense to most people because we use them every day — think of coins or a tape measure. These benchmarks also make it easy to make statistical projections: If a running back has rushed for 600 yards at the halfway point of the schedule, you know he’s on pace for a 1,200-yard season.

• Each 16-game season can be divided into halves and quarters, just like a football game.
  
Now, consider a 17-game season:

• A 17-game season can’t be divided into halves. In fact, 17 is a prime number, so it can’t be divided into any whole number of games during the entire season. Yikes!

• A 17-game season doesn’t align with the number 4, which is so prevalent in the league. The one-quarter point of a team’s season is at the end of the first quarter of their fifth game. Very unsatisfying!

• A team can’t win a quarter, a half, or three-quarters of its games.  Final records of 12-5 or 7-10 just don’t align with familiar things like tape measures, coins, or familiar fractions. And instead of ending up with winning percentages like .250, .500, .750, you get unfamiliar numbers like .764 and .412.

• A team can’t have an equal number of home and road games.

Now, don’t get me wrong — I like prime numbers, and 17 is just fine as numbers go. But for a professional sports league to use that number of games for its regular season is bonkers, especially when they already had the perfect square number. Bring back 16!

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Paul here. Intriguing analysis, right? I don’t agree with everything Bryham’s written here (I think a 12-5 record feels fine, even if it doesn’t result in a pleasing or familiar winning percentage), but I love that he’s expanded the parameters of what qualifies as athletics aesthetics. A really interesting approach! Nicely done.

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Silver lining: By now you probably know about how the Mets foolishly tried to play a game in the rain on Sunday, and how their starting pitcher, Marcus Stroman, wasn’t happy about it. (The game was suspended after nine pitches.)

Stroman wasn’t wrong — the game never should have been played. But it did result in a doozy of a photo by New York Post shutterbug Corey Sipkin (see above). Gorgeous work!

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Can’t make it up: Memo to the MLB Draft League (a new collegiate summer league featuring draft-eligible prospects): If you’re going to pat yourself on the back for how “diverse” your new managers are, maybe don’t put a stereotyped racial caricature literally front and center in your announcement.

(My thanks to @KCNep95 for this one.)

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Another history mystery (already solved!): Reader Alan Tompas came across this TV special about the Polo Grounds, produced shortly before the stadium was demolished in 1964, called Requiem for an Arena. The video quality isn’t great and the overall feel is a bit too melodramatic, but there’s some great highlight footage — not just of baseball, as you’d expect (the Giants, Yankees, and Mets all called the Polo Grounds home at various points), but also pro and college football, boxing, track and field, tennis, soccer, and even auto racing. As the narrator notes, they played just about everything at the Polo Grounds except polo.

One thing that puzzled me was a sequence at the 8:00 mark, where the narrator says:

With two teams [the Giants and Yankees] sharing the Polo Grounds, the stadium saw its share of heroes. Ty Cobb, who held many of the headlines of that era, came to town with his Detroit Tigers. He was as fast with an autograph as he was with his spikes.

That narration is accompanied by shots of Cobb wearing a jersey I didn’t recognize (it had American flag patches on both sleeves, something the Tigers never wore) and a Giants cap. At one point he’s shown signing autographs with Giants players in the background:

I didn’t know what to make of this. Cobb played in the American League and the Giants were in the National League, so what situation would have brought them together? (Remember, the All-Star Game didn’t yet exist.) And why would Cobb wear a Giants cap? And what jersey was he wearing?

It turns out that the footage in question was actually shot in 1929 (a year after Cobb’s final MLB season) at Wembley Stadium in London, not at the Polo Grounds. Cobb was on some sort of promotional tour at the time.

So the folks behind the Polo Grounds documentary basically fudged the facts on that one. Wouldn’t surprise me if they colored outside the lines in a few other spots, but it’s still an interesting and enjoyable video — worth checking out.

(Big thanks to Alan Tompas for letting me know about this one.)

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Collector’s Corner
By Brinke Guthrie
    

Check out this beauty! This is a St. Louis Cardinals Team Mate clock by Westclox. These are from the early 1970s. It’s got a big ol’ key to wind ’er up in back. I’ve looked for these before and hardly ever seen them. (I used to have one of these for the Reds. Ran quite well, as I recall! I’ve also always liked the spelling of “Westclox.”)

Now for the rest of this week’s picks:

•  Check out this blue Montreal Expos football mini-helmet that was recently included in the Ticker. Turns out the seller also has one available in white. But where’s the pinwheel version?

• I’d say the artist who did this 1970s “Welcome Texas Rangers” sign nailed the TR logo pretty well. But where were they being welcomed to?

• I can’t tell if this women’s Green Bay Packers sweater is a DIY job. It looks like it could be a Sears item, but there’s no collar label. There is, however, a “Specially Fashioned By Grandma” label sewn inside. So maybe Grannie was a Packer Backer.

• This is a complete set of 1966 NHL Player Stamps (or, if you prefer, album des joueurs de la LNH). Brought to you by your local Coca-Cola bottlers.

• Will you look at the terrific design on this early-1970s Mead NFL school binder. Bob Griese, Dick Butkus, Ed Podolak, and Gale Sayers on the front; Jerrell Wilson, Joe Namath, Floyd Little, and Roger Staubach on the back. No team logos on an otherwise dynamite layout.

• Here’s a 1960s New York Yankees popcorn megaphone. The vendor sells you the popcorn, you munch it down, then pop out the bottom disc and you have a megaphone. Like it says, “Easy as 1-2-3.”

• Take a look at the “NY” on this 1960s kids’ MacGregor New York Giants helmet. Looks like a hand-drawn “10” for Tarkenton on the front, too.

• This is a nice-looking 1950s St. Louis (baseball) Cardinals sticker that says “Let’s Go See the Cardinals.” But what is that black thing it’s holding in its right hand? (Or wing?)

• I know this isn’t vintage, but the San Diego Padres did a terrific job on this 2019 Swinging Friar Bobblehead!

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Membership update: Eric Areman recently came to me with an absolutely brilliant membership request: He wanted a card based on the unusual referee’s jersey from the 2000 NHL All-Star Game. To my knowledge, that was the only time this jersey design has ever been worn. (If I’m wrong about that, feel free to set me straight.) Eric’s resulting card design is one of several that have now been added to the membership card gallery.

Ordering a membership card is a good way to support Uni Watch (which, frankly, could use your support these days). And remember, a Uni Watch membership card entitles you to a 15% discount on any of the merchandise in the Uni Watch, Uni Rock, and Naming Wrongs shops, plus the discount also applies to our Uni Watch Classic Cap. (If you’re an existing member and would like to have the discount code, email me and I’ll hook you up.)

As always, you can sign up for your own custom-designed card here, you can see all the cards we’ve designed so far here (now more than 3,100 of them!), and you can see how we produce the cards here.

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Too good for the Ticker: I’ve written many times about how it used to be common for ballplayers to wear their belt buckles off-center. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen one as far off-center as the one in this photo of Pirates pitcher and eventual Hall of Famer Vic Willis. The buckle is basically on his hip — another inch and it’d be on the dark side of the moon! Never seen that before.

(Big thanks to Phil for this one.)

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Uni Watch Hit Parade: A long time ago — before Uni Watch, before I quit office jobs and went freelance — I was so into the 1980s and ’90s New Zealand indie-rock scene that I actually traveled there twice just to see bands and connect with other fans. That scene, like any cultural scene, eventually splintered and collapsed, but every now and then I hear a band or record that reminds me of it.

That’s the case with What’s Growing, the sensational new album by a Christchurch band called Wurld Series that longtime Uni Watch reader Jimmy Lonetti recently brought to my attention. Totally delivers the goods in that old-school New Zealand way.

If the label names Flying Nun and Xpressway mean anything to you, you’ll absolutely dig this record. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, it’s still a great listen — enjoy.

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The Ticker
By Alex Hider

Baseball News: The full set of MLB Mother’s Day caps has been unveiled, meaning we finally have a look at the three caps that didn’t leak last week — the ones for the Blue Jays, Rays, and Atlanta. … The boxes for the Dodgers’ World Series rings include a miniature video screen that plays personalized highlights from the team’s championship season (from Kary Klismet). … The Blue Jays broadcast last night showed an old photo of Yankees 2B Rougned Odor Photoshopped into his new cap and jersey — resulting in a rare image of a Yankee with facial hair (from Jean Lefebvre). … Joey Meyer, who briefly played for the Brewers in the late ’80s, hit one of the longest home runs ever recorded at an estimated 582 feet. This piece about the homer notes that Meyer, who wore No. 0, was a big dude — so big, in fact, that the team had to go to a local sports bar to find him a “souvenir shirt” that was big enough for him to wear (from William F. Yurasko). … Boulevard Brewing Co. in Kansas City has released a new beer in collaboration with the city’s Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (from R. Scott Rogers). … Good catch by @Finerific, who spotted Red Sox hitting coach Walt Hriniak apparently wearing his stirrups inside-out in an old photo. Note that the No. 33 is backwards!

NFL News: An Atlanta sports blog has ranked their favorite Falcons throwback uniforms (from Kary Klismet). … Broncos blog Mile High Report is calling for the end of the one-shell rule (from Phil).

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College Football News: Here’s an update on which Ohio State freshmen have “lost their black stripe” thus far. The team makes freshman players “earn” the right to wear a red stripe on their helmets (from Kary Klismet). … Pretty cool behind-the-scenes shot of the making of Alabama WR DeVonta Smith’s game-worn patch cards, which will be made out of a pair of his cleats (from @eYank45). … BYU is constructing a uniform evolution display in its new “Player Experience” room (from @BenOnSports).

Hockey News: Hurricanes players all warmed up in Jordan Staal’s No. 11 sweater last night in honor of Staal’s 1,000th game (from Wade Heidt). … Also from Wade: The Avalanche recently acquired G Devan Dubnyk, formerly of the Sharks. During Sunday’s game, Dubnyk dressed in his San Jose mask, pads and gloves (Dubnyk appears at 0:22 in that clip). … New numbers for the Bruins trade deadline acquisitions (thanks to all who shared). … New Penguins F Jeff Carter will wear No. 77, becoming the first Pens player to wear that number since Paul Coffey (from Jakob Fox).

Basketball News: The Canadian men’s national team, which hasn’t made the Olympics since 2000, is hosting a six-team Olympic qualifying tournament this year. As a good luck charm, the games will be played on the same floor on which the Toronto Raptors won the 2019 NBA championship (soft paywall, NYT). The floor had already been sold off in pieces, but Canada Basketball spent $270,000 to get the pieces back. They’ll soon re-finish the floor with FIBA logos and markings for the international game (from Kary Klismet). … We’ve got several updates on the NBA number front. For the latest, check out number guru Etienne Catalan’s Twitter account. … New logo for the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup (from Jeremy Brahm).

Soccer News: Inter Miami has sold the naming rights to its stadium to AutoNation. However, the stadium will be named DRV PNK Stadium, based on the company’s cancer awareness initiative (from Timmy Donahue). … The head of German company Flyeralarm, which advertises on the sleeves of second-tier German club Würzburger Kickers and is the naming-rights advertiser of the top-flight women’s league Frauen-Bundesliga, says he wants to pull his advertising because he’s upset that several crucial calls have gone against Würzburger this season (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … The Russian Premier League changed its Twitter avatar yesterday by putting its bear mascot in a spacesuit to honor the 60th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s first manned space flight (from Ed Żelaski). … Here are some of the other jersey designs USL League One club Forward Madison FC considered for their 2021 away kit (from R. Scott Rogers). … New kits for Bolivian club Bolívar (from Germán Cabrejo). … Brazilian club Fluminense FC’s 2021-2022 home kit has reportedly leaked — a throwback design that honors the 115th anniversary of the club’s first title (from Trevor Williams). … New kits for Detroit City FC (from Ryan Keberly).

Grab Bag: Florida State will be offering a series of classes in the near future that will help student athletes navigate potential name, image, and likeness rules should the NCAA adopt them (from @VictoryCB ). … Greater Western Sydney of the AFL typically wear orange and black, but they’ll be wearing solid black against Sydney next weekend (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … Sanitation workers in India now have a national uniform dress code (from Kary Klismet). … Couple of curling notes from Wade Heidt: The 2021 Men’s World Curling Championship was played in a bubble in Calgary, Canada, but four participants still contracted Covid. As a result, all curlers had to wear masks during play on Sunday. Sweden took the championship, and team skipper Niklas Edin wore black tape to cover up logos on his hat during the run to the championship. … It’s common for countries to award their space explorers a pin upon their return to Earth. But the Association of Space Explorers will soon begin awarding every man and woman who has been to space with a pin featuring the Universal Astronaut Insignia — an international symbol that the association hopes will unite space explorers around the world (from R. Scott Rogers). … Nike said yesterday that it will begin reselling lightly used returned sneakers at a discount in an effort to reduce waste (from Brinke).

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Our latest raffle winner is Patrick Wise, who’s won himself a Uni Watch membership card. Congrats to him, and thanks to Adam Hornstine for sponsoring this one. — Paul

81 comments to The Aesthetics of a 17-Game NFL Season

  • Joel Reagan | April 13, 2021 at 7:50 am |

    In the fain?

    • Paul Lukas | April 13, 2021 at 7:57 am |

      Thanks. Fixed.

  • Sterling84 | April 13, 2021 at 8:10 am |

    Completely agree that 16 games was perfect for NFL. Particularly once they got to 32 total teams.

    Maybe I’m too cynical but I view 17 as merely the paradigm shakeup required to ultimately get to 18 games and more teams.

    I don’t even watch anymore but that just seems like what they’re going for. They still have 3 preseason games to work with and they’d happily donate one more IMO.

    • Jasper | April 13, 2021 at 1:24 pm |

      I don’t think you’re cynical – an 18 game season is almost a certainty and owners will no doubt push for it once the next CBA is negotiated.

      • Bryham | April 13, 2021 at 2:06 pm |

        Thanks for your responses, Sterling and Jasper.

        While I fear we are on the edge of football overload, I for one will be relieved when the NFL reaches 18 games simply because it is much better than 17:

        – 18 can be divided into half, thirds, and sixths, so that’s good.
        – A team can go .500, .333, or .667, numbers we are all used to.

        I still contend that 16 is the perfect number of games, but I could live with 18.

  • Ken T. | April 13, 2021 at 8:25 am |

    Clip of Joey Meyer’s 582-foot homer.
    https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/joey-meyer/

    • Dave L | April 13, 2021 at 9:33 am |

      Fantastic! Why do the Milwaukee helmets and jersey logo look green?
      Is that just aged video tape?

      • Dave L | April 13, 2021 at 9:36 am |

        Oh – sorry – didn’t realize he was playing for the Denver Zephyrs at the time.

      • Defo | April 13, 2021 at 9:38 am |

        It’s a AAA game and Meyer is playing for the Denver Zephyrs

    • Ty Murphy | April 13, 2021 at 11:49 am |

      I remember seeing Joey Meyer play several times when he was at the U of Hawaii and they would come to San Diego to play the Aztecs . . .he was a stud!!

  • RS Rogers | April 13, 2021 at 8:32 am |

    That Let’s Go See the Cardinals bird is doffing a navy-crowned cap with a red bill.

  • Corey | April 13, 2021 at 8:32 am |

    “I’d say the artist who did this 1970s “Welcome Texas Rangers” sign nailed the TR logo pretty well. But where were they being welcomed to?“

    A franchise history of (mostly) mediocrity?

    • Nestor Chylak | April 13, 2021 at 8:53 am |

      That’s an 80s logo.

  • Joe Werner | April 13, 2021 at 8:41 am |

    I also think the 16 game season with the scheduling formula used since 2002 made for as symmetrically perfect of a schedule as possible. Adding the 17th game just completely wrecks that.

  • Wade Heidt | April 13, 2021 at 8:50 am |

    I do not like the 17 games a season. A scheduled should be an even number. A team should have the same number of home games and road games.

    NFL should look to the north and follow what the CFL does. CFL fans can enjoy 2 preseason games and an 18 game regular season (Once the damn pandemic is under control). The prior NFL schedule felt like too many preseason games. Would get that extra meaningful game in and have an even number. CFL switched from a 16 game schedule to 18 games in 1986.

    • Bob Gassel | April 13, 2021 at 9:11 am |

      The owners wanted 18 games and compromised…it will go to 18 in the not-too-distant future.

  • Wade Heidt | April 13, 2021 at 9:00 am |

    I would select a Falcons throwback in a minute to replace their current uniform and become the team’s primary look. My dilemma would be which look of 2. Red helmet for sure. The hard choice is the black jersey over white or the red jersey over silver.

    Could still have both with one of the looks as an alternate. Leaning towards liking the red jersey over silver pants better. And would want silver pants that have a sheen to them like the Raiders have managed to acquire.

    • ChrisH | April 13, 2021 at 9:58 am |

      I’d prefer the Eagles to bring back the silver pants.
      If the Falcons kept the silver facemask, matching pants/numbers might not be too off-putting.
      Anything/Everthing would be an improvement over what they wear now, but for me it’s gotta be the ’76-’77 set.
      The more red, the better!

  • Robert | April 13, 2021 at 9:04 am |

    The season was already seventeen weeks long with the bye week. Now the schedule is an even eighteen.

    • Block "O Canada" | April 13, 2021 at 4:34 pm |

      The NFL has an off week, not a bye week.

      • Robert | April 14, 2021 at 7:02 pm |

        How many people say bye week when talking about the NFL? More than use the term “off week”

  • Bob Gassel | April 13, 2021 at 9:09 am |

    Yes, the owners wanted 18 games with 2 exhibitions, and this was a compromise. Next time the players make a demand, look for the owners to get that 18th game in return…I’m guessing in about 5 years.

  • Rob S | April 13, 2021 at 9:38 am |

    Aside from Dubnyk still wearing his Sharks gear, how’d anyone miss commenting that his NOB was radially arched, instead of the Avs’ standard vertically arched NOBs? Since they brought him in on the road, it makes sense they wouldn’t have custom letters ready for him yet. It’s still interesting, though, to see the difference with everyone else.

  • Alex Ridoré | April 13, 2021 at 9:41 am |

    Great analysis by Bryham!

    I never thought of sports aesthetics in this aspect. Also I think of all the arguments against Bryham made I think the one that’ll bring about a large amount of issues and revisiting of the expanded game amount is that a team can’t have an equal number of home and road games. Imagine a team who only has 8 home games misses on the playoffs by a game to a team who was able to play 9 home games. Controversy waiting to happen. Thanks for bringing this to our attention Bryham!

    • Artie | April 13, 2021 at 12:04 pm |

      A fair point, Alex, but the NFL is structuring the extra home game so entire an entire conference will have the same number of home/road games in a given season. Next year, it’ll be AFC with 9 home games, then NFC in 2022. So teams will never compete for playoff spots with squads who have played a different home/road schedule.

      (They will continue to compete with teams [even within their division] who have played competitively imbalanced schedules as the NFL already uses inherently unfair formula that punishes teams for success, but 1. everyone chooses to ignore that when assessing record/worthiness and 2. it fits with society’s recent push for ‘equity’ over ‘equality.)

      • Alex Ridoré | April 14, 2021 at 10:41 am |

        Ahhhh. Thanks for the clarification.

  • Jim Vilk | April 13, 2021 at 9:48 am |

    As somebody who makes sure all the bills are facing the same way in his wallet

    That is the one area of my life where people confuse me for being an organized and efficient person: money.

    That was drilled into me during my stadium vendor days. You stacked your bills neatly. No folded corners. Eyes forward at all times. If the counters who verified your total noticed any of these things amiss, you’d get the scowl of disapproval. You did not want the scowl.

    My office and my closet are a bit of an organized chaos. But inside my wallet it’s largest bills (when I actually have them) in front and ones in the back. Always.

    The floor had already been sold off in pieces, but Canada Basketball spent $270,000 to get the pieces back.

    I’m guessing Canada Basketball isn’t an organization that’s swimming in looneys and twoneys. Instead of blowing all that money in the name of “good luck,” why not paint a replica of the court for inspiration…and for thriftiness?

    • RS Rogers | April 13, 2021 at 10:37 am |

      I had much the same lesson drilled into me as a teenager working cash registers at a movie theater ticket office and popcorn counter. But the bills in my wallet are sorted from smallest to largest bill, with smallest in front to largest in back, which is how the theater had us stack when counting out the till.

      • RobYaz | April 13, 2021 at 1:44 pm |

        I also do the same any time I get cash back. I assume the clerks all think I am distrusting of them and that I am re-counting the money, but I am just organizing it. I don’t know how people can handle money with the bills differently facing up, facing down, facing forward, and facing back…. Maddening.

        I place my smallest bills in the front, though, and largest in the back.

    • Jeff | April 13, 2021 at 10:49 am |

      It does seem like a lot of money for what mounts to big rabbit’s foot. Guess we’ll see.

      • Paul Lukas | April 13, 2021 at 11:01 am |

        Maybe they’ll just sell it off again after the tournament and make back their money (or at least a good chunk of it).

    • StLMarty | April 13, 2021 at 7:37 pm |

      I just realized that I’ve never had a job in which cash was exchanged.

  • GTV | April 13, 2021 at 9:49 am |

    I’m also not a fan of the 17-game season. Odd numbered seasons can be done – college football had 11 games before 2006. But from the time I heard about the 17-game season I did not like the idea. 16 games + the playoffs is probably far too many for safety, etc. One effect of the COVID crisis is that my interest in big-time sports of all kinds has greatly diminished. It’s all bread and circuses. I still enjoy the uniforms, the color and pageantry, the traditions, etc., but as for the business of sports, the importance placed on them, and the worship of athletes (and celebrities of all kinds), not my thing.

  • Rich P | April 13, 2021 at 9:49 am |

    I love seeing the day by day progression of the leaves and flowers in the Daily Porch Pic in the springtime. Came her to just to say that. Have a good day everyone

  • Dootie Bubble | April 13, 2021 at 9:51 am |

    The home/away disparity is the big problem with a 17 game season. Last year was, hopefully, an aberration with no fans in the seats. Typically home team wins about 55% of the time. If you are a typical team you’ll win one more game. The winning likelihood averaged across a season would be .503 for teams with one more home game and .497 for teams with one more away game. It sounds like something small but it’s a pretty big thumb on the scale to bake into a schedule.

    • RS Rogers | April 13, 2021 at 10:40 am |

      This is my objection as well. If they instituted 8-8 home/away games plus one neutral-site game, I’d be much less aesthetically bothered by the odd number of games.

      The first few neutral sites are easy, and the NFL is already doing a few. But after London, Toronto, maybe a couple of games each, what next? Big college stadiums not near an NFL team, like Iowa City, Omaha, Eugene?

    • Robert | April 14, 2021 at 7:00 pm |

      A whole conference is either home or away. Everyone competing for the same playoff spots have the same number of home and away games.

  • BvK | April 13, 2021 at 9:55 am |

    Love, love, love Bryham’s piece today! I feel exactly the same way and it’s gratifying to see someone else articulate it so well. There was a certain symmetry to the 16-game season that was both pleasing and functional, and the 17-game season messes that all up. I agree with Bryham that 17 is a fine number in its own context, but not for the number of games for an NFL season.

    • EternalRecurrence | April 13, 2021 at 10:14 am |

      I too love what Bryham has done. He’s surfaced the aesthetics of form — and as Kenneth Burke pointed out long ago, humans respond to form. We inhabit it and anticipate its completion. Form mirrors nature in many ways and thus, the rhythms of life. A sense of “rightness” and well-being accompanies elegant form.

  • Mic | April 13, 2021 at 9:57 am |

    I agree with so much of what Bryham wrote. Aesthetically & numerology wise it is ugly.
    I think my biggest issue will be the unbalanced schedule. I know SOS is a current factor in the NFL. The in conference division standings matchups are not equal, but the rotations are balanced and it is an equitable system over the longer term. Most important it is excellent for the fans. I think it is great that I can know based on standings the previous season exactly who my team will play.
    6 games in the division
    4 intra-conference rotation
    4 non-conference rotation
    2 additional conference opponents based on previous year standings
    What will the 17th game be? I suggest an MLB style interleague or natural rivalry game.

    • Jacob | April 13, 2021 at 10:34 am |

      The 17th game is against a team from a division that finished in the same place in the standings. For example, NFC North plays AFC West, so Packers play Chiefs, Lions play Broncos, etc. The divisions rotate each year. One conference will get all the home games (AFC this year), so home/away differences won’t affect playoff race within a conference.

      • Jacob | April 13, 2021 at 10:36 am |

        Missed a bit. Should read “The 17th game is against a team from a division from the opposite conference that finished in the same place in the standings.”

    • Neeko | April 13, 2021 at 10:35 am |

      The matchups will be interconference based on standings on a rotational basis.

      In 2021, those matchups see the AFC East teams face the NFC East. The AFC West will match up with the NFC North, and the NFC West will face the AFC North. Therefore, the AFC South will face off with the NFC South to complete the schedule.

    • mike 2 | April 13, 2021 at 11:41 am |

      Forget conferences and divisions. Here’s a different way to look at the current schedule. No matter where you finish, your season consists of:

      – 4 games against teams that finished first in their division the previous season
      – 4 games against teams that finished second
      – 4 games against teams that finished third
      – 4 games against teams that finished fourth

      Perfect symmetry.

  • Sandman | April 13, 2021 at 10:19 am |

    One reason I like a 17 game season – no more garbage 8-8 teams winning a division! Flip side is the NFC east of course, which will be won by a team that’s 8-9…sigh….

    • TIm | April 13, 2021 at 12:57 pm |

      That’s a good point. Much less likely for an 8-8 (or 8-9 finish for that matter) making the playoffs.

      • Peter | April 13, 2021 at 3:20 pm |

        Actually, it increases the opportunity of a losing division champion making the playoffs.

        Mathematically, you truly only need to win the bare minimum of games to win a division. There is more weight to a division win over an intra conference win (an inter win is only worth something of value as an individual win, not a tie breaker). Just as we saw in the NFC East this year, the total number of games isn’t the issue, it’s how fair or poorly the other teams do OUTSIDE of the divisional play. I.E. team 1 wins all 6 divisional games but loses every other game. That is 6-11, but it is plausible, though unlikely that the other teams (at best) go 5-12.

        You would eliminate this scenario hut increasing division games.

  • Sandman | April 13, 2021 at 10:20 am |

    One more reason….one more time to watch TB12/year :)

  • Christopher Falvey | April 13, 2021 at 10:35 am |

    And… no more .500 teams. While I detest ties in any sport… I happen to like the idea of a flat, exact .500 team.

    Are they good? bad? Kinda neither?

    I always look at the end of the MLB season for even 81-81 teams because… well… it’s interesting.

    I don’t like .500 teams making the playoffs, mind you. But that’s a discussion for another time.

    • Stan Bunting | April 13, 2021 at 1:08 pm |

      I don’t know. It seems like in general the league is full of pretty average teams, and I just went back and calculated the overall record of the league by adding up every team’s wins and losses last season and it came out to .500.

      I haven’t checked but I bet in the 70s and 80s when there were great teams the league average was higher.

      • John H. | April 13, 2021 at 3:06 pm |

        Seriously, Stan? For every win there’s also a loss so every season winds up exactly at .500.

  • robert brashear | April 13, 2021 at 10:56 am |

    1. Totally agree with all negative comments re. 17 games. Ugh.
    2. Re. Mothers’Day caps. Rays is at least interesting.The A’s
    ;logo would be cool if it was not pink. While I understand the argument against the jerseys, I actually preferred them for aesthetic reasons. I find the jarring combination of pink trim hats with non-matching uniforms disconcerting to say tje least…

  • walter | April 13, 2021 at 11:26 am |

    Best Falcons’ throwback uniform includes any suit they wore with the red helmets.

  • Frank Mercogliano | April 13, 2021 at 11:27 am |

    Just a note on the curling, but no one contracted COVID within the bubble. It was deemed that there were four false positives (there was one positive from four different teams including Chris Plys of the US) but all of the teammates tested negative, and each positive tested twice afterwards and all were negative.

    Turned out there was a contaminated sample that led to the four false positives. For the next event in the Calgary bubble that starts Friday, curlers will not have to wear masks.

  • TIm | April 13, 2021 at 11:27 am |

    Totally agree with all of the comments on the NFL’s 17 game schedule. But first and foremost, it just seems strange (a team finishes 10-7, WTF?). That said, I don’t know why it bothers me. In college, seemingly forever, teams played 11 game seasons with the 12th being a bowl if they qualified. So, we often had odd numbered records (7-4, 8-3 and so on). Similarly, when they went to 12 game seasons, I though that seemed strange. All in what you get used to I guess.

    • Bryham | April 13, 2021 at 1:55 pm |

      Thanks for commenting on my post, Tim. I was a kid when college football teams played 11 games, so I don’t remember it too well. As I was reflecting on the 17-game schedule, I did consider the old 11-game slates (and occasional 13-game regular seasons now). I consider 11 or 13 game schedule, along with other inconsistencies (7 home games, 5 away games, uneven conference scheduling) to be sort of endearing and a reminder that college football is NOT professional football. Of course, as times move forward and college football looks and feels more like professional football, those fun and interesting quarks will continue to go away.

  • John | April 13, 2021 at 11:30 am |

    Heads up on the New Zealand music scene. I highly recommend The Beths. Very fun indie pop rock stuff. “I’m not getting excited” being a wonderful entry point. One of my favorite discoveries the past couple years.

    • Paul Lukas | April 13, 2021 at 12:26 pm |

      Yes, I’m fan!

      • Jimmy Lonetti | April 14, 2021 at 9:23 am |

        Me too regarding the Beths. So jealous of New Zealand that they are already holding full blown music concerts.

        • Paul Lukas | April 14, 2021 at 9:29 am |

          I considered moving there in 2017. Ultimately decided against it and now regret that decision. (Can’t move there now, as their age limit for residency visas is 55.)

  • John Marek | April 13, 2021 at 11:37 am |

    I have to respectfully disagree with the notion that a 16 game season is aesthetically superior to a 17 game season. I grew up with 14 game seasons. That made sense to me because 14 is a “football” number. Two touchdowns. Sixteen always felt forced to me because it is not a football number. Sure, you can get to 16 simply enough, but it is not like 3, 7, 10, 17, 21 or 24. Those numbers have a certain purity to them from a football score standpoint. Joh

  • Al Hirschen | April 13, 2021 at 12:28 pm |

    The last New York Yankee to be in uniform with a full beard in season was Oscar gamble. Who as on the beach for the first game after Thurman Munson died. It was his first game back with the Yankees .Aug 3,1979

  • Brinke | April 13, 2021 at 12:35 pm |

    Well, doggone, someone already bought that Cardinals clock! (That wasn’t my first choice; the seller had a Tigers one, and I chose that one. That one was bought late Monday so I had to scrap that one.) These must be popular!

    If someone sees a Reds or Giants one- LMK

  • Cris | April 13, 2021 at 1:12 pm |

    I agree with RS Rogers comment regarding the 17 game (8 home/8 away/1 neutral site) schedule and I would take it one step further:

    A 2 game preseason and a 17 game/19 week schedule starting Labor Day weekend with two bye weeks for all teams. (Scrap the whole “save Labor Day weekend for college football”. It’s not like there’s a boatload of college games on Labor Day Sunday.)

    8 home games, 8 away games and the new 17th game would be at a neutral site played between weeks 6-14. Foreign neutral sites could include London, Mexico City, Toronto, and potentially Germany or Japan. Homeland neutral sites could include Oklahoma City, Birmingham, Portland, Orlando, Hawaii (if they have a stadium) and potentially St. Louis, Oakland & San Diego.

    Scrap the Thursday night games weeks 2-5. The first bye week could start week 5 so that teams playing the week 6 Thursday game could avoid the short week. Provide a bye week to teams either the week before or after playing abroad.

    End Thursday night games after the second week in December and shift those to Saturday.

    With this proposal, there’s 19 weeks of regular season football. That includes 19 Sunday afternoon national doubleheader games, 19 Sunday night games, 18 Monday night games, 11 Thursday night games plus the traditional Thanksgiving games, and 2-3 weeks with Saturday games depending how the holidays fall.

    • mike 2 | April 13, 2021 at 1:42 pm |

      Building on that idea – college weekend, in the middle of the season, where every game is played in a college stadium.

      No byes, 16 games in front of epic crowds.

  • Andrew | April 13, 2021 at 1:38 pm |

    I wonder if the belt buckle is that far to the left hip so it wouldn’t interfere with sliding head first or foot first into the base…I don’t know what the condition of the infields were back then, so maybe there were large enough chunks of stone that he was worried it would slow his slide down if the buckle got caught…

  • Jasper | April 13, 2021 at 1:40 pm |

    I enjoyed Bryham’s “think piece” today, and agree that the 17 game schedule doesn’t “feel” right.

    I will, however, have to question whether or not it is truly an issue of “aesthetics”, which I have always understood as being associated strictly with visual beauty. Kind of a nitpick, I know, and maybe Paul put it best by saying that Bryham has expanded the realm of athletics aesthetics. But I can’t help but think that what Bryham is talking about is more of an abstract/mental appreciation of numbers rather than a visual one.

  • Marc | April 13, 2021 at 1:54 pm |

    Lest we forget that in 1966-67 the NBA played an 81 game schedule to keep a “balanced” schedule to accommodate the expansion Chicago Bulls.

  • RS Rogers | April 13, 2021 at 2:16 pm |

    I just realized that both 83 and 163 are prime numbers, so all of the “big four” leagues have been operating with schedules of prime-minus-one games for most of my life. And of course, some baseball teams do play 163-game seasons to break ties.

  • Jerry | April 13, 2021 at 2:46 pm |

    Re: 17th game. Beware the unintended consequences.

    Most agree that an 18 game schedule is the next step. What you’ll lose – the tight races for division titles, byes, etc. The more games you play, the more separation between teams.

    Just look at the standings of MLB after 16 games, then again after 162.

    Wild card races may still be interesting (unaffected?) on the last Sunday, but they’ll have lesser records.

  • hershky | April 13, 2021 at 3:27 pm |

    On the other hand, the 18 week schedule will be great for a fantasy football schedule. My 12 team league which is already split into 3 divisions of 4 teams will have a schedule of playing each of the other three division teams twice and the out of division teams once. Playoffs during weeks 15-17 and of course take week 18 off.

    • Stan Bunting | April 13, 2021 at 5:07 pm |

      Correct. This is all that really matters anyway!

  • Jerusalem Stone | April 13, 2021 at 3:54 pm |

    @Paul — Are you a fan of Glenn Donaldson’s band the Reds, Pinks & Purples? He recently mentioned Wurld Series and I believe is also a big NZ scene fan.

    The Reds, Pinks & Purples are bar none the best thing I’ve heard recently, but I’m eager to check out Wurld Series after endorsements from you and Glenn.

    • Paul Lukas | April 13, 2021 at 4:27 pm |

      Not familiar with them. Will check them out now!

      • Ebin Sandler | April 13, 2021 at 4:48 pm |

        Yup, just checked out Wurld Series and they had me after about two chords of “Moved In.” Incredible stuff. Thank you, Paul!

        Apart from the Clean or the Bats, which Flying Nun bands should I give a listen to?

        • Paul Lukas | April 13, 2021 at 5:56 pm |

          So many!

          – Tall Dwarfs (plus most of the Chris Knox and Alec Bathgate solo stuff)
          – 3Ds
          – Bird Nest Roys (full LP, not the debut EP)
          – Goblin Mix
          – The Chills
          – Straitjacket Fits
          – Jean-Paul Sarte Experience
          – Verlaines
          – Able Tasmans
          – Bilders

          There’s more, but that should be enough to keep you busy for now!

    • Nick | April 14, 2021 at 4:17 pm |

      I came here to recommend the Reds, Pinks, and Purples as well. A little late, I guess! It’s like listening to the early days of the Bats.

  • Kevin | April 13, 2021 at 4:23 pm |

    The YouTube video of the Polo Grounds says that Howard Cosell produced the program. That would probably explain why it was so melodramatic.

  • 84Hoya | April 13, 2021 at 7:42 pm |

    Properly promoted, adding the 17th game in week 9, and in neutral sites, would be a marketing bonanza for the NFL, and a subtle nod to any cities vying for future franchises to show up big.

    Neutral site candidates? In alphabetical order, Austin, Columbus, Edmonton, Knoxville, London, Memphis, Milwaukee, Monterrey, Oakland, Raleigh, St. Louis, South Bend, Syracuse, Toronto, Tuscaloosa, and Vancouver.

  • Patrick in MI | April 13, 2021 at 8:39 pm |

    Bryham, I’m in total agreement with you. Ever since the NFL announced this abomination it’s been bugging me. I don’t want to see a team go 4-13; it just sounds horrible. Along the same lines, every time I go to the grocery store I consciously pick an even-numbered checkout lane. Big anxiety moment this past Sunday morning when only lanes 9 and 11 were open!

    The only NZ band I can think of is Push Push.