18-game season is “still on the table”

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With the Commissioner’s annual pre-Super Bowl press conference a day away, a topic that many presume has disappeared has now been resurrected.

The 18-game regular season.

On the next edition of Costas Tonight, which debuts Thursday night at 9:00 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network, Bob Costas asks NFL executive V.P. of football operations Ray Anderson about the status of the league’s desire to shift from 16 games.

“I think it’s still on the table, but it’s obviously going to be discussed at length with the players and the [NFL] Players Association,” Anderson said.  “And there are legitimate questions about the impact on safety, and so as we continue to look toward ways to making it better and safer, that debate will continue.  But, yes, it’s still something that will be discussed.”

From the perspective of the NFLPA, it’s likely something that will never be accepted.  Especially since the NFL no longer can unilaterally expand the regular season.

Under the pre-2011 labor deal, the NFL had that ability.  Now, the NFL has the power only to cut the preseason in half, which from the league’s perspective ideally would happen in conjunction with the expansion of the regular season.

After the new labor deal was finalized, it was believed the league would eventually exercise its right to cut the preseason from four games to two, assuming that the NFLPA would respond by embracing the growth of the regular season, since the NFLPA now receives nearly half of every dollar that comes through the cash register (and, in turn, loses half of every dollar that doesn’t come through).  But the NFLPA seems to be resolute in its refusal to accept two additional games — even if the absence of two preseason games would shrink the shared pie.

In the end, the compromise could be shrinking the preseason, expanding the playoffs by one team per conference (which would add two more postseason games per year), and selling off a chunk of the Thursday night package currently broadcast by the network the NFL owns.  Under that scenario, the new revenue would likely more than offset the lost revenue, with only two “real” games added and 32 exhibition games scrapped.

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45 responses to “18-game season is “still on the table”

  1. As a former season ticket holder, I used to want the 18 game season since I was required to pay full price for the preseason as well as the fact that I simply love the NFL and figured more had to be better. But I don’t think it is.

    We all know players have evolved over the decades and gotten stronger and faster but it seems that in literally just the last two or three years, they have become so ridiculously strong and fast that they are injuring each other at a record pace.

    Keep it at 16 games. If having two additional games means watering down the talent pool for the entire season, it’s not worth it.

  2. “Under the pre-2011 labor deal, the NFL had that ability. Now, the NFL has the power only to cut the preseason in half”

    Wow, the union actually managed to negotiate something GOOD for their players in that deal.

  3. As a season ticket holder, it’s a disgrace that we have to pay for two home pre-season games at full price, considering the value.

    Make it 18 games if you must, but it’s not necessary. Either charge 1/2 price or remove it from the season package entirely and have the teams sell them on the open market to see what they’re really worth.

  4. All I want to see is 7 instead of 6 make the playoffs on each side… Two teams don’t need bye weeks, only the 1 seed gets the bye in this format… The wildcard week would have the 2 seed play the 7 seed, 3 play the 6, & 4 play the 5 seed… The next week, we re-seed with the #1 seed playing the lowest seed left & the remaining 2 teams play each other to reach the Championship round.

  5. So, adding one playoff team to each conference? Would that mean that only the #1 seed in each conference would get a playoff bye week? And would season ticket prices drop by 1/10th in cost? I bet they would not, and would not be surprised if they went up by that fraction. Nawh, keep it the way it is and stop fooling with the schedules.

  6. While an 18 game season will more than likely not come to fruition, I had a thought on how the schedule could look. Each team could play the teams in its Division twice a piece and then every other team in the Conference once. I never was a fan of NFC teams playing AFC teams during the regular season and vice versa. This would assure that the two teams in the Super Bowl don’t see each other during the regular season. Just my two cents.

  7. Expanding the season can be easily accomplished by expanding rosters (probably from 53 to 60 with 50 player gameday rosters), and limiting every player to being available for 16 regular season games. Most of those extra players would be minimum salary guys and it would bring a baseball managerial element to football, starting and sitting guys based on matchups or to preserve health. Players would like it because there’s more available jobs in the league. It wouldn’t expose players to additional hits, nor would it harm the integrity of season/career NFL records – in the 16-game era anyway.

  8. The only people that do not want changes are those without season tickets.

    For those that do have accounts, it’s ridiculous that the teams charge full price for preseason “scrimmages” and they must be purchased as part of the season package

  9. I don’t care how they couch the issues: The league continues to attempt to “grow the brand” at the expense of player safety.

    If they want an 18 game regular season schedule, then cut out the Thursday night games.

    If they want to keep the Thursday night games (a bad idea by itself) then leave the schedule at 16 games.

    This year, to start the season, the Ravens played 4 games in 18 days which in no small measure played a part in the 43-13 drilling Baltimore got at the hands of Houston in week 4.

    And while they’re at it, they should shelve any thoughts of expanding the playoffs by 2 teams beyond the numbers already seeded. If that happened this year, the 8-8 Steelers and 7-9 Chargers would have qualified.

    I have a lot of respect for the Steelers organization but they were not playoff caliber this season. The Chargers thought enough of the job Norv Turner did that they fired him.

    The NFL should not in any way, shape, or form emulate the NHL.

  10. if they increase the season by 2 games they should mandate that all players sit out a total of eight full quarters over the course of the year to make up for the 2 games. after the initial wave of complaining and hysteria about the 18 game season and the additional records that need to be kept, it might make for some interesting strategy by coaches concerning when to sit star players. and it would give announcers something to talk about.

  11. I have no issues with trying an 18 game season. I have some concerns we will end up with teams that have clinched things a month before the season is over, but not concerned enough to throw a fit.

    If they expand the playoffs, that will be the end of my NFL watching though. I already don’t watch hockey because their regular seasons are meaningless and having over a third of the NFL teams making the playoffs is already on the cusp of that.

  12. Why are they STILL talking about this? Next Goodell is going to say that the fans are clammoring to have a team in Europe. The fans want cheaper exhibition that stars future UPS & FedEx drivers. Season ticket holders want to not have to pay full price for preseason games, or not to have to buy preseason tickets at all when all they want are the regular season games.

    Most fans DO NOT want 18 regular season games, Roger. Roger that?

  13. For some reason, I think the NFLPA is going to give in. De always talks tough to the media, but behind closed doors… he’s Goodell’s butt boy i.e. The players got a crappy deal, player fines are just really bad, the salary cap hit on the Redskins and Cowboys, the collusion case, and etc.

  14. “Most fans DO NOT want 18 regular season games, Roger. Roger that?”

    What is this based on exactly? Most of the people I’ve talked to would love to see an 18 game season. Myself included.

    Fans are always looking for something to complain about… it doesn’t matter who the commissioner is or what the commissioner does. If this league hadn’t done anything to the game over the last decade it wouldn’t be nearly as popular as it is now. Yet most “fans” will still sit here and bark at any little change that surfaces.

    14 to 16 games worked out wonderfully, and there’s no doubt in my mind 18 would be just fine too. Records will be broken no matter if its 12, 14, 16 or 18 games… they will go down… so why sit here and worry about it? Those players with those records will likely forever be enshrined in the HoF anyways.

    Play on Mr. Goodell… 18 games for the win!

  15. Just suspend Sean Payton and the Saints for another year, that should solve the whole “player safety” issue.

  16. I can live with 16 or 18 regular season games but, as a season ticket holder, I REALLY want the number of preseason games cut in half. It is bad business for the NFL to force their best customers to pay full price for tickets that are worth just a fraction of that. Hardly anyone thinks four preseason games are necessary and the last preaseason game is particularly unnecessary.

  17. I’d take 2 more regular season games over 2 less preseason games anyday…..it’s a no brainer folks and believe me it’s going to happen. It’s all about EXTRA revenue and 2 more regular season games mean just that….more revenue in the owner’s pockets.

  18. Don’t like the proposed 18 game regular season but if it means 2 fewer overpriced preseason games then I’m for it. I’m sure anyone with season tix would agree.

  19. I’d love to see an 18 game season and hope it happens. I hope the NFL can help the players union see that this is good for everyone, especially the fans!

  20. They could increase revenue by keeping the same number of games, but stretching the season out to 18-19 weeks and adding 1-2 more bye weeks per team. More Prime Time TV games, more rest/recovery time for the players, same number of games.

  21. 1 more playoff team, 2 preseason games 18 game season 1 additional bye, sorry folks, I just can’t get enough football.
    It’s still not over and i can’t wait to 13 season.

  22. The Great Roger Goodell has to choose–Either go to 18 games, OR say you’re concerned about player safety. Even you in all your self-declared magnificence can’t have it both ways.

    Oh, that’s right. You can have it both ways, because you’re The Great Roger Goodell. Things are not as they are, but what you say they are.

  23. I don’t like an 18 game season. I don’t like Thursday night football. Both in time will be linked to additional injuries due to increased player fatigue. This is all about greed by the NFL, as if the doesn’t generate enough revenue already. Personally, I would rather see the Thursday night games moved to Friday night. And I would like to see rosters increased to 60 players. A 53 man roster is fkn ridiculous. And lastly, I think GOD er uh Roger is a huge ahole.

  24. I think they should cut the pre-season in half, move to an 18 week schedule with two byes and, to ensure no competitive dis-advantage, all teams in a Division have the same byes.

  25. There had better be lots of byes, pro-bowl break mid season, get rid of Thursday games except for thxgiving of course, etc. in this new 18 game schedule talk. I don’t mind if they stretch the season out, like an extra month, but adding more games is certainly not helping the game’s “safety” cause.

  26. I do understand the concern in regards to the safety of the players in correlation to the 18 game season. An injury can occurr on the 1st snap of pre-season or the last snap of the now current 16 game schedule. I would hope the police force would not cut down on their schedule/hours due to a possible injury, the risk will always exist regardless, so again…Please Commish approve that 18 game schedule ASAP!!!!!! I love the NFL & my Chargers!!!!!

    PS Good luck Lewis on Sunday!!!! Hope to see you ride off into the sun-set a SB winner!!!

  27. What is it with the NFL and these crazy ideas they won’t just let die? Tomorrow Goodell will mention how much he’s looking forward to London getting a team.

    18 games is so dead the bones have turned to dust. Even if they could somehow bribe the players into okaying the idea, the league’s lawyers would stop to it to keep it from being ammunition in all the former players’ lawsuits. Can you imagine the cross examination where Goodell was forced to explain how expanding the season wasn’t contradictory to player safety?

  28. Adding even two more teams (L.A. and London?) will FORCE the adoption of the 18-game schedule because there is no way to preserve the neat rotation of every team playing every other team every so many years with 34 teams playing only 16 games.

    If you don’t believe me, sit down one day with a pad and pencil (don’t even THINK of using a pen) and try it (I have).

    And what happened this year with six of the eight division champions from 2011 repeating (and all four in the AFC) also provides impetus for going to 18 games – in that the 17th and 18th games can be made interconference games matching up the previous season’s 1st-place teams, 2nd-place teams etc., giving the top teams tougher schedules and making it harder for them to keep repeating.

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