Cue up Diamond Rio’s hit One More Day because San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle is pushing for the NFL to adopt a second bye week during the season. He doesn’t believe just one free Sunday is adequate for players, given the current 17-game format.
The NFL concluded its first 17-game, 18-week schedule in 2021, adding one additional regular season game to the docket. It may not sound like much of a change, but Kittle highlighted the physical toll every game takes on the body. That’s why he’s advocating for a second week off.
“There’s a huge physical toll,” Kittle said on LOL Network’s Cold as Balls with Kevin Hart. “And like, 17 games is a lot. It’s a lot of games, with one bye, whether it’s Week 4 or the bye is Week 11. I’m advocating for two byes.”
When the NFL opted to move to a 17-game schedule, it attempted to level things off by dropping the number of preseason contests from four games to three. Because not many of the league’s top players see much time on the field in the preseason, it really wasn’t an optimal solution.
Kittle also admitted on the show that he — along with several other players in the league — spends “a couple hundred thousand” yearly to keep his body healthy.
An Even Longer NFL Season Could Be Coming
If George Kittle is pushing the NFL for a second bye week with a 17-game schedule, will he want even more if the league continues to expand its regular season? Because that could be on the horizon.
Last spring, Peter King of NBC Sports reported the NFL was already looking into potentially adding an 18th game to the regular season. No timetable was placed on the possibility, though it was mentioned that the mid-2020s could be a target date.
That would be a pretty quick change for the NFL. The previous 16-game format had been in place since 1978 before finally adopting an 18-week slate for the 2021 season. From 1960 through 1977, the league played 14 regular season games.
“This is a monumental moment in NFL history,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement when the new schedule was adopted. “The CBA with the players and the recently completed media agreements provide the foundation for us to enhance the quality of the NFL experience for our fans. And one of the benefits of each team playing 17 regular-season games is the ability for us to continue to grow our game around the world.”
Players across the league put their bodies through punishment every week. Kittle’s argument to create an additional bye week doesn’t sound like a major ask of the NFL, especially if it’s seriously considering an 18-game format.
If the NFL continues to add games without proper accommodations, careers for players across the league could wind up being much shorter. That would cost Kittle, and others, more than a “couple hundred thousand” dollars.