Goodell again doesn’t rule out 18-game season


Plenty of skeptics believe that the league’s intent to alter its calendar, moving the draft from April to May and the Scouting Combine from February to March, arises not from a desire to expand the league’s footprint during the offseason but to lay the foundation for an expansion of the season.

On Tuesday, Commissioner Roger Goodell gave credence to those concerns by once again pointing out that the 18-game regular season remains a possibility.

“[The options] are all on the table,” Goodell said at a press conference that concluded the quarterly ownership meetings in Boston.  “As I have said before, I think the structure of the season is something that we consistently reevaluate.  I have been quite open about [indicating that] we have to address the quality of the preseason.  I hear from fans consistently that they want to make every NFL event more valuable.  They see the preseason as being less valuable to them because they don’t see the best players and the games do not count.  We have to address that, whether we are looking at 18 [regular-season games] and two [preseason games] or 16-and-two and expanded playoffs.  They are all on the table and things we are going to evaluate.”

Nudging the draft and the Scouting Combine deeper into the calendar would help accommodate a Super Bowl played two weeks later, which would in most years put it on President’s Day weekend.  But the shift of the start of free agency from the middle of March to early March would arguably put too much of a pinch on the Super Bowl teams, which will have less time to negotiate with their looming free agents before they hit the market — or before the deadline for using the franchise tag.

Of course, the crowding of the Super Bowl and the start of free agency could be aimed at persuading the NFLPA eventually to say, “You know, we should move the start of free agency to April,” which the NFL reportedly wanted when talk of adjusting the calendar first emerged.

The bigger challenge for the league remains getting the NFLPA eventually to say, “You know, we should just play 18 regular-season games.”  Two years ago, the thinking was that, if/when the league exercised its unilateral ability under the new CBA to shrink the preseason from four to two games, the union would calculate the impact of the lost revenue on the salary cap, compare it to the influx of revenue with the addition of two regular-season games, and not just agree to but insist on a move from 16 to 18.  Since then, it has become harder to reconcile player health and safety with adding two games that count, and it’s hard to imagine the NFLPA accepting 18 games unless the league adopts the idea that every player would be limited to 16 appearances.

For those (like us) who think 18 games would be overkill, it’s encouraging that Goodell mentioned the possibility of 16-and-2 plus expanded playoffs as an alternative.  Expanding the postseason would potentially replace the revenue lost by scrapping half of the preseason.  Sure, it would mean one more game — but only for either four (if the field expands to 14) or eight (if the field grows to 16).

The league may be years away from resolving the issue.  With each passing season, however, it’s harder to tolerate a four-game preseason — especially since Goodell has made it clear in recent years that the quality of those games is unacceptable.

52 responses to “Goodell again doesn’t rule out 18-game season

  1. I hate his name. I hate his hair. I hate how he thinks he is bigger then the NFL. When will the league realize that he is bad for the NFL. Yes owners and GOODELL might make alot of money for the next couple years but if you change it too much and lose the interest of fans then you really got nothing. An the way he Is going there won’t be much of a future with the NFL. Just fade way roger

  2. 18 game regular season with 2 “exhibitions” is best. Yes we all want it.

  3. I would like them to keep the current structure but don’t charge full price for the preseason games. That is what annoys me the most when buying season tickets. I would not mind if they charge the same total amount but have the preseason tickets be half price and spread the difference over the regular season games. So for my season tickets, instead of paying $90 for every game, including pre-season games, have the pre-season games be $50 each and the regular season games be $100 each so I am still paying the same $900 for the season but do not feel as ripped off.

  4. The only thing an 18 game season will accomplish: guys drafted in the later rounds, that have no business being on a NFL team will see some playing time because the starters will all be injured, rested, or seeing limited snaps.

  5. This is a really simple issue: Nobody should care about the lack of enjoyment in preseason games. The NFL forces fans to care because they force them to pay for it with every season ticket.
    To put this in perspective: The Jets would have had a real shot at the playoffs with two games to go last season, had they expanded the playoff structure.
    Just stop forcing people to pay for preseason games and lets rip them like we always do – it’s half the fun.

  6. Goodell done lost his mind, the NFLPA shouldnt even deal with him. tell the owners he has to go now or
    we will end up watching QB’s and WR’s play catch. they working on that now

  7. I wish you would have put other options there. I’m in favor of a 3 game preseason, 20 game reg and adding two weeks of games to the post season.

    As long as rosters are expanded by 6-8 players, including game day actives.

  8. The reason I am for preseason is because of the rookies. The tryouts. They deserve a fair shot at making teams and for many, it is their only chance to play in NFL games.

    But I do believe season ticket holders should get Preseason games for free.

  9. I like Roger more than most people. He can be polarizing, that’s for sure. But to lead this league you have to have a tough resolve and the man has got it so I respect that.

    That being said, an 18 game schedule is the biggest hypocritic crap I’ve ever heard. Don’t be the champion of player safety and then make them play more games. THAT is what will cut careers short.

  10. Like a dog with a bone.

    The owner’s $20 mil per year lap dog. I’ve gone from admiring Goodell to having little other than contempt for him and his blatant hypocrisy.

  11. If the NFL is going to go to an 18-and-2 format, start the regular season two weeks earlier. Don’t push the Super Bowl back two weeks later. By August, we’re all ready for football to get started but by President’s Day, it should be over. Earlier start to the season, not a later end.

  12. Give me a 17 game season with 2 pre-season games.
    Have game 17 be each team matched up against their AFC or NFC ranked equal from last year, that insures a rematch of the super bowl every season, it also give the NFL what they really REALLY want, 16 games that they can put in neutral cities every year.

    LA can finally get three or four game a season, Toronto can get a game every year, London can get their two. You can play around with it each year and continue to make the NFL an event to behold.

  13. I prefer going back to a 14-game regular season… and a 28-team league.

  14. It ain’t complicated, Roger.

    Just don’t charge your paying customers full game prices for what amounts to a glorified scrimmage.

    Yeah, I’m sure the owners will put up a mighty fight. God forbid some change falls out of their pockets.

  15. Here’s the ultimate fan solution.

    1. Eliminate the preseason altogether.
    2. Start the regular season with the HOF inductions. The HOF game can be Bengals/Browns every year as a regular season game in Canton with the home team rotating.
    3. Each team plays 3 games in August, 3 in Sep, 3 in Oct, and 4 in Dec. That’s 4 bye weeks per team per season. You want player safety? Now they get three extra weeks to heal up injuries and concussions. There’s no huge negotiation to pay the players more for two extra games that will wreck more careers. In fact, with the extra byes you extend players’ careers.
    4. The owners lose two pre-season home games. You figure outside of the hot-beds in Green Bay and Pittsburgh the average preseason game generates 30,000 fans and mediocre TV ratings. That’s $120M accross the league.
    In exchange, you get 4 weeks of regular season TV ratings and 14 prime time games (4 SNF, 4 MNF, 4 THNF, 2 K/O specials). Current TV revenue is $550M per season with 17 weeks. Just using the current rate the league could charge $715 for a 21 week TV season WITHOUT ADDING GAMES TO THE SEASON. That’s a cool $45M a year added to league revenue per year over the two preseason home games the teams lose.
    5. Goodell will never do it because it makes too much sense.

  16. One other point is the February sweeps for the TV networks. The Super Bowl is the prime banana for the network which broadcasts it, and it largely guarantees that network way more $$ in ad revenues.

    So, is this really about football or making money? If you hurt more players in the process of an 18-game season, are you concerned?

    On one hand the NFL acts like they have player safety at the forefront, then turn around and place the players at risk with two more full impact games.

    The owners get the el primo ripoff with four exhibition games at full price. They won’t like having to cut revenue across the board. The rookies trying to make the team also get shafted with fewer exhibition games.

    Playing football in winter diminishes the game for the fan paying premium buck for a seat.

    The NFL is starting to become a parody on itself, or it is the parable of the Goose That Laid The Golden Egg.

  17. Oh yeah, and here’s another leap.
    1. You eliminate in-game TV time outs altogether and put in an LCD field wrap they way they do in professional soccer. The ads run on the LCD while the game runs with NO TV timeouts. Then extend halftimes to 20 minutes with 10 minutes devoted to commercials/infomercials. Scarcer but longer adds reduces supply, drives up demand = more TV $’s and more fans attending games = more gate $’s.
    2. With no TV timeouts the games will run in about 2 hours. Now the fan experience at the stadium improves because you’re watching football instead of watching the players standing around while rap music blasts out so loud you can’t even have a conversation.
    3. You can totally change the TV Sunday schedule.
    Early game starts at 12:30pm. First double-header game starts at 3:00 pm. Second DH game starts at 5:30pm. Primetime game starts at 8:30pm and ends BEFORE midnight. Both Sunday networks get a DH game every week instead of every other week with the 3:00 and 5:30 PM time slots alternating between them. That’s 21 additional DH games per CBS/Fox. More TV $’s.
    4. Again, Goodell will never do it. Too much sense.

  18. The current structure is just fine. I really hate the direction that Goodell headed with 18 game season and now we hear about draft in May. Stop it already!!! We like the NFL the way it is. I understand that lawsuits are causing some of the rule changes but to make those changes and then go to 18 game season just stinks of greed.

  19. You know, I didn’t think about this at all. I just figured he was moving it back for the hype. Using another lameduck excuse (see Rosh Hashanah for the Raven’s opener this season) to try and get his way.

    But now that you say it, this makes pretty good sense from his 18 game season (or any of the above expanded season possibilties) point of view. 3 extra weeks of playing time in January/February means 2 more games and an extra bye week for everyone. I could totally see them trying the pan that out as both good for the game (MOAR MONAY!) and good for the players (extra bye week).

    Not that I like the idea right now, but I could see some people at the top of the NFL food chain start to scheme for this.

    What do you think?

  20. I don’t mind system changes from time to time if its for the betterment of the league but I’m starting to bristle at ANY proposed changes these days just because there seem to be so many floated out there.

    A big part of it is how these ideas are positioned. For instance, when either side tries to use the fan base as a leverage tool in negotiations, I’m thinking “We’re not idiots guys, we see what you’re doing here. Figure it out on your own. We’re already donating plenty of capital to the cause.”

    When the league tries to bleed every last nickel out of us instead of saying maybe too much is too much, that drives me nuts. It is their business and certainly their right to try to maximize revenue but there are times when it actually makes me as a fan hate the league just a little bit and I don’t know in the long run how good that will be for the NFL.

    And mostly, the obvious dishonesty tied in with some of these proposals (i.e. ‘Scheduling conflict’ with Radio City Music Hall). I think any perceived dishonesty will hurt the general perception of the league in the long-term even though it may lead to increased revenues to some degree in the short term.

    For any owners that are in this for just the short term, I get it. For those that are in this for the long haul, I’m begging you: Please don’t drive this league into the ground.

    Okay, NOW I’m done.

  21. Just stop charging full price for preseason games!!!!!!

    The hypocrisy of the NFL is just overflowing here! You want to charge 2, 3 or 4 times the regular season seat price for playoff games because they’re “more important” (and I agree). But by that logic preseason should be 1/2 price (or less) as they’re far less important.

    So if you’re going to charge season ticket holders regular season prices for preseason, we should get regular season prices for post season as well.

    Of course the NFL doesn’t truly care about the fan experience. All they care about is the fans wallet. Everything else is just a way to that mean….

  22. My main man Goodell sticking it to Major League Baseball…….Gangnum Style.

    Alto bito gangnum style………

    And it’s outta here!!!!!!

  23. For the real die hard fan the preseason is to see what the new guys look like on the field. Also a chance to see a friend or family member playing in an NFL game even if not going to make the team. Also some guys take longer then others to develope and the 4 game of preseason might be the one he shines in.

  24. Eighteen regular-season games is just too many! I’d be willing to pay what I pay now for season tickets and just do away with preseason games. Replace them with scrimmages open to the public; the owners can still collect on concessions sales. Roger: please STOP thinking in terms of “expanding this,” “extending that” and tinkering with the rules. You’re watering-down the product and longtime fans are sick of it!

  25. I think what is getting lost here on all 4 sides (owners, media, fans, players) is player evaluation. The coaches need these preseason games to evaluate talent and get the best available team suited up.

  26. You know, if I cared about player safety half as much as Roger Goodell claims that he does, the very first thing I’d do is to lengthen the regular season by two games (12.5%). After all, there’s no way that those two extra games – played at a time that the fields are even more worn down due to constant use – could cause more ACLs, concussions or other injuries.

    Every time I think I can’t dislike the Commissioner any more intensely, he opens his mouth and my contempt for him grows.

  27. re: the preseason, the answer is obvious. Let fans attend at a very reduced price or for free. Preferably for free. This is not rocket science. The reason fans hate the preseason is because the greedy NFL charges full freight for meaningless games and requires season ticket holders to purchase, at full price, two practice games featuring players who will never make the cut.

  28. Why wouldn’t you just start the season earlier? Beyond that if you extend the season, I thinm giving teams another bye week is neccessary. They need more time to heal from all of that extra contact.

  29. One of the most notable things in what The Great Roger Goodell Himself Live And In Person said is his reference to the games as “events”. IMO they are games, they are contests, they are NOT events.

    He doesn’t give a rip about the games themselves, does he? So long as his masters Kraft and Mara are happy, he doesn’t give a darn what happens on the field so long as it generates revenue. Eighteen or 16, who cares as long as it gives the league (and Himself) mo’ money, mo’ money, mo’ money…

  30. I used to hate the preseason but don’t anymore. For me personally, football games that don’t count but are played the way our forefathers intended it to be played has now outweighed the ticky tack, penalty filled, two hand touch, track meet scored rubbish goodell has jammed down our throats.

    I’ve actually started trading my reg season tickets for them. My season tix get well paid for and I still get to see 2 games a year when players actually try to kill each other to gain a roster spot. The dreaded 4th ps game is now the best.

  31. Goodell was at the owners meeting? I didn’t know he was an owner. Was D. Smith at the ‘owners’ meeting?

  32. Goodell is OWNED by the owners. He is entirely on the side of the owners. He doesn’t even try to hide it, like previous commissioners did in the past.

  33. It needs to happen and everyone knows it including the players. Subtract two preseason games and get this done! The roster should be expanded by 4-6 players for backups and injury.

  34. How about instead of all that nonsense, you DONT make season ticket buyers buy preseason tickets?

    Or dont make them full price…since the different between the product is obvious, and you even stated it (they dont count, stars rarely play, etc.).

    Make the tickets 20 bucks first come first serve, and keep everything as is. It will give many people who dont want to (or cant) pay regular season prices the chance to see their favorite team.

  35. “All options are on the table” in the same manner some married guy theoretically could take a month off to go fishing with his buddies in the Caribbean…as long as his wife approves, of course. Goodell can’t just decide to have 18 games…he’d need the players to agree to that. And that’s never going to happen.

  36. The strength and speed of the game keep improving. The League might have to change after some of the law suits are decided in the future (concussions). Everyone knows this is all about money. That’s in agreement with the League, the owners, the players and the fans… At some point they are going to kill the goose who is laying the golden eggs… We all know there are too many attorneys, too many lawsuits etc… At some point, the League will lose, be it 5 yrs from now or 10 yrs from now… Now, if they are only allowed to be active for 16 of the 18 games in the course of the year, increase the number of players etc… (but this eats away at their precious profit)… We’ll all know how it plays out in time…

  37. The grubby little owners want the money from a 4 game preseason. If those 4 preseason games were dissolved and no more, the regular season would be a 100% better. How would, no preseason, effect injuries? Have weekend scrimmages against other teams but drop the preseason and see how much better the regular season will become. Then, his majesty could invent two new playoff games.

  38. Players have trouble staying healthy for 16 games and playoffs right now. As players get,bigger and stronger can their bodies survive playing 2 more regular season games??

  39. Roger Goodell has made player safety a cornerstone of his tenure. Fine. There have been good advancements, rule changes, etc. Adding 2 more regular season games doesn’t correlate to improving safety. The owners want this ($$$!) the players, not so much I think.

    Do this:

    – Keep a 16 game regular season (4 4 game sections, works out nice)
    – Abolish 1 preseason game (Too many key guys get hurt in these)
    – Play one of the 3 remaining preseason games in a neutral location, to give locals there a chance to see the game (Lions vs Browns in Toledo, KC vs Vikes in Des Moines, etc. Seems better than this London nonsense).
    – Limit preseason ticket price to 50% max regular prices
    – Move SB to week right after AFC & NFC Champ. games…no break.
    – Have a Pro Bowl….on paper. Quit bothering to “play” the game…not going to be missed.

    A smart owner realizes the most profits come from earning return/repeat business, not squeezing every last penny out of everyone, and driving people away.

  40. Underneath the mild-mannered facade. Behind the humble looking nice-guy persona, lurks a raging, power tripping, egotistical, megalomaniac.

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