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That 17th game doesn’t seem so bad now that the Steelers still have eight games left

Are you ready for some (more) football? I am.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Who doesn’t want more football, more of that NFL action?

I mean, my goodness, we spend all offseason consuming every little professional football nugget we can get our hands on. Who are the Steelers cutting? Who are the Steelers losing in free agency? Who are the Steelers signing in free agency? Who are the Steelers drafting? Who are the Steelers playing during the regular season? If obsession had a name, it would be spelled S-T-E-E-L-E-R-S.

So, who doesn’t want more football, more NFL action, more Steelers action? Lots of people, apparently, at least that’s what so many of them said during that period where league owners were trying to get a 17th and 18th regular-season game pushed onto the schedule. Why didn’t they want more real football? I don’t know. I guess there were folks who were concerned about injuries and, of course, diluting the product.

I’ll give you the injury thing, but diluting the product? Did you read my second paragraph? The appetite for all things football/Steelers appears to be more insatiable than ever.

How could you not want more? Why did so many fans back the players and their desire to work less? I get them wanting to work less—the injuries suck, the time away from family sucks, the longtime physical toll on the body sucks and more work always sucks for everyone—but I find it hard to believe a financial-savvy person would want to pay just as much for a preseason game involving dozens of players who will be (say it with me) bagging groceries in a few weeks as he or she would a regular-season contest when so much more is at stake and the only person who will be bagging groceries in a few weeks is the offensive coordinator (at least that’s always the wish). That’s what you’re doing, you know? You’re paying just as much for those meaningless exhibition games (that’s right, NFL, I used the e-word to describe your summer “football”) as you are the real ones.

Anyway, the players and the fans were never going to get their way regarding an expanded regular-season menu. The people who sign the checks always win, and NFL owners sign lots of checks. When you sign lots of checks, you need lots of revenue. The owners were never going to relent in their desire for more real NFL action.

The owners got their wish for a 17th regular-season game (and you should be prepared for an 18th in the near future); now you get to experience more real NFL action. The Steelers’ 2021 regular season has been a long one, so far, hasn’t it? They’ve played nine games. Normally, this is the time of year when things appear to start winding down. Instead of that, however, Pittsburgh still has eight more games to play. That’s right, while the Steelers have played more games than they still have yet to play, they still have to play as many games as they used to play when they had reached the halfway point of their campaign.

Isn’t that glorious?

Not only do the Steelers still have eight more games left to play, but four of them are against AFC North opponents. Seven of them are against AFC foes. In other words, the Steelers still have time to figure things out (Heaven knows they have a lot of things to figure out) and can still reach their dreams.

You know what this 17th game feels like? It’s like that first day when you turn your clocks back; you think it’s time for bed, but you look at your smartphone and, holy cow, it’s only 5 p.m. Better yet, it’s like that rare nine-day vacation when your boss okays back-to-back weekends off sandwiched around the weekdays that the company only has to pay for.

Now that the 17th regular-season game is a reality, to reiterate, isn’t it so awesome?

We can worry about who the Steelers will sign, cut, lose, draft and play when the time is right. As for now, I want to watch some extra football.

Believe it or not, so do you.