Although expanding the regular season to 18 games has faded into the background as NFL owners and players have found other issues to fight about, Commissioner Roger Goodell has confirmed that he still thinks that’s the direction the NFL should go in.
And Goodell says season-ticket holders agree with him.
“We do think it is attractive to season-ticket holders,” Goodell said on a conference call with Titans season-ticket holders. “I hear that all of the time from our season-ticket holders. We have not abandoned our position on that. We do think it is the right thing for the game. It improves the quality of what we do, and it improves the value for you as season-ticket holders. . . . We do think it is a benefit for everybody, but we want to do it the right way, and we want to do it responsibly. That includes the players’ perspective.’’
The players’ perspective is already clear: They don’t want an 18-game regular season. And polls have shown most fans don’t want an 18-game regular season.
Goodell may have more success, however, in appealing directly to season-ticket holders, who don’t like having to buy tickets to two meaningless games when they buy their tickets to eight meaningful games. In speaking to that particular segment of the NFL fan base, and in emphasizing the reduction in preseason games, Goodell may get a sympathetic ear.
Of course, even without expanding the regular season, the NFL is free to reduce the number of preseason games, and teams are free to stop forcing fans to buy preseason tickets with their season-ticket packages. That’s something fans could support.