To no surprise, the NFL continues to be moving toward an “enhancement” of the regular season from 16 to 18 games.
On Wednesday in Atlanta, the league’s owners expressed support for the move. No vote to proceed with the shift from 16 regular-season games and four preseason games to 18 regular-season games and two preseason games was taken.
But no vote really needs to be taken; it’s obvious that the league wants to do it.
“I think it’s a win-win all around,” Patriots owner Bob Kraft said, per the Associated Press.
Commissioner Roger Goodell, who said that the enhancement would be implemented in 2012, noted publicly for the first time the fact that the current labor deal already authorizes an 18-game regular season and a four-game preseason, which would result in 22 total games. As we explained on May 24, Article XXXVIII, Section 12 of the CBA gives the league the ability to
increase the regular season to 18 games by giving at least 90 days
notice to the NFLPA. Article XXXVII, Section 6 limits the preseason to four games. (The teams in the Hall of Fame game play a fifth time in the preseason.)
The problem, of course, is that the current labor deal is being scuttled. Thus, the union likely will contend that, if the owners wanted to impose an 18-game regular season pursuant to their current rights under the CBA, the owners shouldn’t have pulled the plug on the CBA two years early.
And if the league takes the position at the bargaining table that ownership already has bargained for the right to conduct up to 22 preseason and regular-season games per year, the union should respond by pointing out that the union already has bargained for the right to 59.6 cents on the dollar, after roughly $1 billion is taken off the top to cover certain expenses.
Regardless of any past deals, everything will be on the table when it’s time to negotiate the next labor contract. Later tonight, we’ll have some details about what the players likely will want in return for adding two regular-season games.