NFL resumes quiet push for 18-game schedule

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For most teams, it’s three games down and 13 to go.  If the NFL eventually gets its way, each team would still have 15 regular-season contests remaining.

Per a league source, the NFL quietly has resumed its push to persuade the NFLPA to expand the regular-season to 18 games.

The players consistently have declined to agree to an expanded regular season, even though the players would realize roughly half of the additional revenue.  And while the NFL still has the ability to unilaterally slash the preseason in half, which at one point was viewed as the leverage necessary to persuade the NFLPA to agree to add those two games to the regular season, the league is unlikely to do that, for various reasons.

Apart from losing the revenue with no guarantee the NFLPA would take the bait for replacing the money (and then some) by adding a pair of regular-season games, stadium lease agreements typically require at least 10 games per year.  So if the NFL opts to drop a pair of preseason games and the union calls the bluff, the NFL could end up in breach of multiple stadium deals.

If the players continue to refuse to play more than 16 games, the only way to add two games would be to expand the season while limiting each player’s participation to 16 per season.  This would require coaches to make often difficult decisions about when to rest each player, twice.

Injuries would make those decisions easier.  Lions running back Reggie Bush, for example, already would have one of his two games off in the bank after Sunday’s decision by the team to play it safe with his knee injury.

Likewise, exceptions could be made for specialists and quarterbacks, who already have greater in-game protections and compensation than other players.

The concept would cause strong reactions, in both directions.  Though a union source has described the possibility of an 18-game season with a 16-game limit per player as “fascinating,” many fans would disagree.  Loudly.

Millions of fantasy football owners wouldn’t be thrilled about it, either.  Loudly.

With the league intent on adding regular-season games and the players intent on not exposing themselves to additional physical risks, the shift from 16 to 18 games will happen only if the NFLPA blinks or the two sides come up with something creative.  And the league will keep pressing until one of those two things happen.

95 responses to “NFL resumes quiet push for 18-game schedule

  1. Horrible horrible idea.

    Two games is not enough to evaluate a roster and be ready for a season.

    Especially if a team has a new head coach / coaching staff. This would pretty much doom any new head coach to a terrible first year.

    Even adding Thursday night games is bad enough. Everyone was piling on the Pats rookie receivers after that 2nd game but if you think about it, they were rookies in a very complicated offensive system and no full practices between game 1 and 2. Of course they played poorly.

    Same guys yesterday all played well. If they now shorten the preseason what we’ll get is 2 very poorly played games and add zero to the enjoyment of the season.

  2. Here’s an idea, give each team 2 bye weeks, one in the early season (Sept/Oct), one in the late season (Nov/Dec), and expand to 18 weeks. We get more football, more time for players to rest and recover, but without more scheduled games.

  3. Florio: “The concept would cause strong reactions, in both directions.” Absolutely. Risk of injury, but in essence, a shorter career. If the player’s association is willing to get creative (I think the NFL will do almost anything to get the expanded number) and the genie is let out of the bottle, there will never be any going back.

    For fans, we would love it. For the players, another story. More money may not be enough to make it acceptable to them, but we will see.

  4. I’m not a fan of the 18 game schedule but if they do eventually get their way of the top additional games it should be some sort of home and home with local rivals who aren’t in the same Division like Ravens-Redskins Jets-Giants Raiders 49ers’ at least make it something interested for the fans if you’re going to add two regular season games

  5. Unless the league is willing to both expand team rosters and add in a second bye week into the schedule, this is a ridiculous idea. And if three weeks are added to the schedule, the Super Bowl would be pushed to late February. Would the league want that?

    And as harrisonhits52 perfectly put it, teams NEED 4 preseason games to properly evaluate all the rookies and undrafted free agents looking to make the teams. Fans sure hate them, but that’s a nature of the beast kind of problem. Cutting the preseason to two games won’t give coaches enough film to decide who to keep and who to cut.

  6. Just a bad, bad idea.

    I guess we don’t have enough season-ending injuries so far this year. Let’s try to push these guys even harder, with less preparation, and see what comes of it.

    Godawful just wants more and more TV revenue for this masters. Adding a 2nd bye week means a total of 20 weeks of revenue, I mean football.

    How about the NFL figures out how to keep the current players healthy enough to play 16 games … and do it without putting them in dresses.

  7. Adding two more games would do little if anything for the quality of the sport. It would only increase the likelihood of injuries. It could ruin something that works better than almost any regular season in sports.

    And it will happen eventually, because the money is too good.

  8. No! Increasing the number of games decreases the value of all of them. Teams winning and losing yesterday had playoff implications because of those wins and losses that would be minimized by two more games. We already have a dearth of good quaterbacks and wide receivers. You think two more games increasing the chance of injury will make that situation better? All this is pure greed by the NFL and it’s owners. You think they’re going to lower ticket prices and or concession prices? Uh, no. It’s time the fans loudly say NO! and save the owners from their greed and save the game we all love.

  9. This would negatively impact the quality of play in the playoffs as more teams would entering with more lost players to injury. Isn’t that pretty clear?

  10. Big, big mistake. And I hope the players stick together on this one. This would positively water down the product by the time they get to the playoffs. DON’T DO IT!!!

  11. If the NFL is concerned about safety, why won’t the NFL make everyone on the 53 man roster active on gamedays? This will allow players to rest more on the sidelines during games.

    Also, why doesn’t the NFL have a short-term disabled list for 15 days or so?

  12. There is a simple solution to this. Keep the schedule the way it is, let the owner keep raking in truckloads of money and the fans keep getting their entertainment.

    Kill the golden goose by watering down the product and making it like every other sports league that people only care about for a couple weeks a year.

  13. If they go to an 18-game season, I am done with the NFL.

    The plus side is it will free up my Sundays to do all kinds of more productive things.

  14. For some additional revenue why not leave it at 16 games and extend the season by one week by adding an additional bye week for all the teams? I’ve been pushing this alternative for quite a while. It would add an additional week of primetime games and coverage as a revenue generator, and give players some extra time for rest/recovery during the season. It wouldn’t be as much additional revenue, but it is something that you would think both sides would agree to.

  15. It is a horribly bad idea. Most fans don’t want it, I mean like 7 out of 10 fans don’t want it yet Roger is trying to say that the fans all want it. This guy is so out of touchwith what the people want I compare him to Joffrey from Game of Thrones.

    It’s a joke. We don’t want it, Goodell. We dont’. Please stop it. Leave it alone.

  16. Why no talk of a 2-17 schedule? Each team gets eight home games, eight away games, and one neutral site game.

    The fans get less preseason crap.

    The players get less total games.

    The league gets sixteen neutral site games to expand their offerings internationally. Two in London, two in Mexico City, two in LA, two in Toronto, etc…

  17. Roger Goodell is a joke..
    how in the world can he preach & preach about player safety, while simultaneously trying to subjugate them to an additional 2 opportunities for injury during the season.

    Shortening the preseason will do nothing but deteriorate the product put on the field for the first 3-4 games of the season.

    The only reason fans don’t like preseason, is because those 4 unentertaining games are ALWAYS INCLUDED on the bill for season ticket holders at full price..
    that’s absurd.

  18. Roger, you stand there at press conferences and say the fans want 18 games. No poll or anywhere I’ve read or heard the fans’ voice have we been in favor of this. DON’T DO IT.

    Week 17 is usually a dud for teams who have clinched and can’t go up or down. If you add two more weeks, that’s pretty much two more duds just like exhibition, but worse. You’ll have a team who’s not starting their best against a team who needs to win to get in and people will be pissed.

  19. So let me get this straight… Coaches already have issues with fairly evaluating players due to the practice restrictions in the new CBA. Now the league wants to take two preseason games away from the coaches to boot. The result will be expanded rosters and a thinned out talent pool. That is a recipe for a month (or more) of a crappy product on the field. The game will look like an XFL game. It’s a bad idea. There is no way to cover up bad football.

  20. Dumb idea. As much as I hate preseason, it is the only time teams can truly evaluate talent and see who fits in their roster.

    It is also good for players coming off season ending injuries and getting back into competing in a real game. RG3 could have used a preseason game.

  21. So much for player safety right??? It’s actually not funny, it’s sick & pathetic. Couldn’t agree more with the poster who says Goodell is the devil but don’t forget who put him there. The present NFL owners are some of the greediest human beings on the planet. The amount of season ending injuries is nauseating as it is.

    I’m actually starting to think this short week for Thursday night football is a terrible idea. The players don’t have enough time to recuperate & the games are sloppy. Next there will be Wednesday night games in London, Paris, & Rome. With all of the risk the players are taking IMO the NFLPA has surrendered too much. And this idea of LESS practice being a good thing??? Not sure that helps players make it through an entire season.

  22. NFL should go to a 17-game schedule. 8 home, 8 road and everyone plays a neutral site game in places like London, LA, Toronto….or places like Orlando, Columbus, Portland, Oklahoma City, Hartford, etc.

    The schedule would be the 16 games like they currently have, plus – like baseball – a AFC-NFC rival game each year. This game would happen every year, rotating between home fields. So, every year we would have games like Baltimore-Washington, New York Jets-New York Giants, Dallas-Houston, San Fran-Oakland, Pittsburgh-Phily, KC-St. Louis, etc.

    The pre-season goes to two games, solving a lot of issues of safety, fan apathy, etc. The revenues lost from two pre-season games would be received many times over by the additional regular season game.

  23. This would be great for the Bucs, giving them a chance to set a record form most losses in one season. Our head coach sux. Our offensive coordinator is lost, and our players clearly gave up Sunday against the Pats. Give them another 2 games to repeat that, I’m all for it.

    Schiano must go, and take your garbage staff with you.

  24. No! No! No! How can one talk about player safely, look at the injury list and also talk about expanding the schedule. Crazy! The greed of these b#*tards know no bounds.

  25. We are seeing the injury issue because the players are not working out in the off-season like they did in the previous NFL contract.
    IF the players were to up their conditioning in the off season maybe there could be consideration for additional games, at this point with the players taking it easy on the conditioning, we are going to continue to see the mounting injuries in ONLY a 16 game season. Hate to see the excessive amounts of carnage an 18 game season would bring.

  26. Some of the comments here have merit. 18 games would almost guarantee a roster increase. NFLPA could hardly argue against that. Also 2 buys, although there were 2 buy weeks during the ’93 season and that didn’t pan out well, so was scrapped. Current schedule is probably optimal.

    The real problem is that there are too many teams, which dilutes talent. Going to 18 games with an expanded roster will only make that worse.

  27. The only reason fans don’t like preseason, is because those 4 unentertaining games are ALWAYS INCLUDED on the bill for season ticket holders at full price..
    that’s absurd.

    The reason why most fans don’t like pre-season games, is becayse those 4 unentertaining games are un-entertaining.

    Most fans don’t care about the pre-season, because the games don’t mean anything.

  28. Will fans who bought tickets for the two games Peyton Manning doesn’t start for Denver or that Adrian Peterson doesn’t start for Minnesota when they are healthy get a discount?

  29. sdelmonte says:Sep 23, 2013 10:29 AM

    Adding two more games would do little if anything for the quality of the sport. It would only increase the likelihood of injuries.

    That’s right. If you made a list of every significant change/potential change that has been initiated by the league in the last few years and then marked each one with either a ‘Q’ for Quality or with a ‘$’, guess which one would prevail.

  30. I bet if someone told Roger he could add two more games if kickoffs were pushed back to where they were before, he would take that deal easily. After all, the lawsuit was settled…

  31. NFL should trade the 3rd party appeals of PED infractions occurring due to things other than positive tests, for…

    – 2 preseason games
    – 20 week regular season
    – 2 bye weeks
    – 8 home & 8 away games
    – 2 neutral site games (1 home & 1 away; 1 in north america (Mexico, Canada, Los Angeles), & 1 overseas (Ireland, England, China)

  32. This was not part of the CBA that the owners signed to get the players to play at lower salaries, therefore should be off the table, being that the owners agreed to the terms of the CBA.

  33. We don’t want a longer season, a 16 game season is presently a battle of attrition for these teams.

    Jerrah Jones wanting to put more games in his cow barn is not a reason to expose these players to a longer and more grueling season.

    IF these owners were truly concerned about the well being of these players, this idea would be scrapped.

    But they aren’t.

    Truth is, they don’t care.

  34. I am not sure why people feel two preseason games are “not enough” to evaluate a roster. The new rules put in place for practice and training camp servery limit what coaches can do to evaluate players. Right now, preseason game time is one of the most valuable tools.

    However, the coaches will tell you that it is impossible to work on game situations in the preseason. How many 2 minute drills can you run? Goal line plays? Specific situations?

    The answer is team scrimmages where coaches can control how many goal line players are run, 2 min drills, special teams/kicking game, etc etc etc

    All the league would have to do is allow team 2-4 scrimmage practices against other clubs the limit preseason games (Attended by fans) to 2 games. I am sure the starters would play the first half before turning things over to the 2nd team.

    This would make the preseason more enjoyable while allowing the coaching staff to properly evaluate new players. This is not a hard fix. The issue is compensation and stadium agreements. From a season ticket holder perspective, getting saddled with only ONE preseason game would be a blessing and I would WELCOME a change that lowered face value on those tickets by more than 50% with the revenue lost there spread over the rest of the home games slightly increasing per game prices.

  35. Oh, and one more thing…

    IF this is passed, put a stipulation that a majority owner, such as Jerrah Jones or Daniel Snyder MUST start at MLB in both of these additional games.

  36. For me 16 games is just right. Its the full rate being charged per ticket for preseason games that means little and nobody goes to that is a problem. Address that 1st!

  37. They quietly added an additional 11 minutes of commercial time to each game as well. Which can equate to over a million $ in revenue per minute.

    Remember the NFL is classified as a NON-PROFIT organization for tax purposes. Tear.

  38. I guess all the safety concerns mean the money-men have an ulterior motive. Kind of like fattening the calf before the slaughter? More games = More injuries + diluted product.

  39. Replace two preseason games with two regular season games.
    Bump up the team limit by five from 53 to 58.
    Increase the practice squad by one spot.
    Abolish the active/inactive designations each game.
    Each team gets two byes.
    Keep the rule of 51.

    The two lost preseason games can be ameliorated by expanded rosters and scrimmages, which are already used. Expanded roster and two byes helps both player safety and player development.

  40. I love the preseason games, getting to watch the players I have been watching in college trying to make the pro’s is compelling. On TV.
    That said, the NFL should abandon this idea altogether. The beauty of the game is being able to measure a players career against the greats of the past and you dilute that and all your league records going to 18 games. The NFL ownership needs to ask themselves if the benefit of any extra revenue is worth sacrificing.

  41. OK..18 regular season games but the best players, even when healthy, only play in 16 of them? That might be the stupidest thing I have ever heard.
    For one, your best players are not deciding things.
    For two, it’s basically preseason games that count.
    For three, no one will want to watch the backups.
    For four, season ticket holders will not want to pay full price for the two games when healthy starters sit out.
    For five, the league trips over itself to protect QBs. How does having them play more games than anyone else accomplish that?

    Seriously, dumbest thing anyone could ever possibly say.

  42. Those of you who complain about the rules regarding hitting and such, and comment that it isn’t flag football, shouldn’t be complaining about an 18 game schedule. Can’t have it both ways…


  43. They could have at least waited for the ink to dry on the concussion settlement before blatantly doing something sure to increase concussions. It does not matter if some players will only play 16 games, because some will play 18. And the reserves can also get concussions. Not sure if the league undertands that, but they’re completely out of control now. Someone needs to knock them down a peg or two.

  44. whoknowsnothing says:
    Sep 23, 2013 10:32 AM
    If the NFL is concerned about safety, why won’t the NFL make everyone on the 53 man roster active on gamedays? This will allow players to rest more on the sidelines during games.

    Also, why doesn’t the NFL have a short-term disabled list for 15 days or so?
    I’ve been saying this for eons. 18-game schedule – home & home within division, 4 games with 1 division in other conference, and 8 games with 2 of the 3 remaining divisions in-conference. Expand rosters to 60 with NO inactives. 3-tiered IR – 15-day, 30-day, and season-ending. Play 9 games, then the Pro Bowl, then 1 week with no games (the week before Thanksgiving), then 9 weeks to finish the season.

    Everyone in the division plays the exact same schedule, expanded roster reduces injury risk, 2-week break in the middle allows minor injuries to heal, 1 less crap game fans have to pay for, season still ends in February, players & owners have more money. Everybody wins.

  45. This is just insane! I myself would love to see a couple extra games a season as a fan of the sport! I can also understand the players not wanting to play 2 extra games because the risk is just that much higher! But that said, these players make millions and millions of dollars! If they added 2 more games I could see contracts being up in the 200 million range for some elite players! Things are just getting way out of control with the NFL!

  46. Here’s an idea that would make the league money.

    Stick with the same16-game schedule and add in a second bye week for each team, making the regular season last 18 weeks. It’s an extra week of tv revenue for the league and players to share and fans would hardly complain. Players would get more rest. Everyone wins.

  47. Why doesn’t the NFL just add an extra bye week? The league gets an extra week of TV revenues and the players get an extra week to rest the injuries they’ve been complaining about.

  48. This is what’s wrong with the entire country. Greedy people trying to get more money for themselves on the backs of the people that work for them. The owners don’t care one iota if there are more injuries to players as long as they can get more money. As with the other major sports they are no longer sports they are pure business. This is what the Walmarts of the world have brought us.

  49. DONE DEAL… Play an 18 game schedule; play 2 less preseason games. NEW RULE: ALL Players except the QB are only allowed to play in 16 regular season games; and add 2 to 4 additional roster spots. New strategies emerge… Palyers still play 16 games; fans get 18..WIN WIN..EVERYONE WINS!!!

  50. How can Goodell possibly say with a straight face that his top priority is player safety and push for an 18 game schedule? Football is already brutal enough with a 16 games.

  51. This is crazy. Look how many injuries happened in pre-season alone. Now add all the injuries since the season started…………Look at the players already on IR ending their seasons.

    It’s all about money.

    I would rather watch quality over quantity

  52. With 18-games, you can enforce players to sit 1 or 2 games and/or add an additional bye week. That would go a long way to elongate careers. The bigger problem would be renegotiating contracts if and when the switch is made.

  53. When your entire fan base thinks it’s a horrible idea to have more of what they love, you should probably listen to said fan base.

    Personally nothing could make me start disliking football more than stretching out the schedule and increasing the likelihood that my team’s best players survive the season.

    The league’s best team should hoist the Lombardi Trophy. Not the team who manages to crawl to the finish line with the least amount of torn ACL/MCL’s.

  54. As a season ticket holder, I have been forced to pay regular-season prices for two worthless exhibition games for 27 years. Let’s get rid of one of them, and make it a regular season game. Work it out NFL and NFLPA!

  55. So says the league that is supposedly SO concerned about player safety. Great, more games, more chances to get injured, more superstars hurt and unavailable when the playoffs starts.

    The hypocrisy of the NFL knows no limits. Goodell’s playing this game where he imposes ridiculous personal-foul rules in a desperate attempt to reduce injuries, then lobbies to add more games which WILL result in more injuries.

    I’d understand if the players went on strike over this.

  56. This is as idiotic as the Pro Bowl. This would mean more concussions and more injuries. This should be completely up to the players, especially the veterans.

  57. Great idea!!!!!!!!!!!! I rather see 18 regular season games and 2 MEANINGLESS preasons anyday. Those who believe otherwise just don’t get it. It’s more revenue across the board for everyone including the players. The networks would love it too.

  58. is Roger Goodell still insisting that this is something the fans want? There are zero fans that want this. Goodell simply says the fans want it to legitimize the argument. What if teams rest their players for 3-4 games at the end of the season instead of 1-2 as they currently do?

    Terrible idea.

  59. Absurd idea. It is pure GREED–which sadly is what we have come to expect from U.S. businessmen. A 16-game schedule is PLENTY LONG. There is no reason AT ALL to add two games except to add more coin to the pockets of men who are already filthy rich. And, yea, I’m sure the fans would like it–but 18 games would totally abuse the players in a sport where injuries are a constant and careers are very short. Are the owners going to boost all salaries/bonuses by 15 percent as part of this two-game greed grab? I didn’t think so. Of course they want to do this quietly–they know nobody likes the idea.

  60. It is also worth noting: a LOT of NFL roster players are not making much money–there are veterans making $1 million or less, which is chump change in professional sports and doubly so given the injury risk and the shortness of careers. MLB and NBA players = overpaid. NHL and NFL = seriously underpaid.

  61. I Think the only argument they may listen to at this point, is that they will lose fans due to records becoming meaningless

    I mean really, what will a 2,000 yard rushing season really mean anymore? what will ALL records mean? if they do this, then its time to re-do overtime and model it after college. because at that point of 18 games over 16, you have already sacrificed decades of records.

  62. seriously, why are so few fans pointing out the records issue. this to me, should be of serious concern to the NFL. a lot of the hype comes from those numbers

  63. Apparently those who oppose the expansion of the regular season subscribe to the Miss Cleo psychic network. While some of these predictions have some basis in reality, where they diverge from reality, first of all, is where they assume some manner of referendum is being conducted. You’re fooling only yourself if you think the league office or the owners don’t, at this very second, presume to possess absolute authority in the timing and implementation of any business decisions concerning their business. Secondly, the spectrum of owners can in any number of categories, be classified within a very narrow variety, economic self interest being one. The nature of capitalism demands that for an individual business or an industry to thrive it needs to grow, opinions very on what a healthy rate is, to slow may deplete capital assets, to fast there are chances that the quality of product or service you provide will suffer decreasing demand. Expanding the season by two games is an increase of 11.111% per team. Does anyone think that is unmanageable from an individual franchises perspective and that a couple of roster spots and coaching/scouting position won’t mitigate the added evaluation time and effort of said roster spots and potential injuries? Who knows how much the NFL, with 32 overall added games will be able to demand in their next TV deal. Starting 2014 each team, in media money alone, will receive 218,750,000 that’s two hundred eighteen million, seven hundred fifty thousand. All before one ticket, beer, hat, jersey or trinket is added to the nearly 100 million the owners have to cover the coaching staff and all the rest of the flotsam and jetsam that a nine and a half billion per year industry supports. I must have been mistaken in my speculation that the majority of comments on this site welled from the expert opinions of the bourgeois, reactionary faction. Probably just a knee jerk reflex to change, coupled with the impotence of having no influence over the outcome. Just relax, it’ll all be over for you soon enough.

  64. I may be naive, but how would making two less preseason games would make more money as they charge full price for everything. There would be less time for the teams to evaluate players, and the best possible competition from the teams would be effected. Fans could lose interest.

  65. I’ve always liked the idea of more games that would be sick. Everyone here is half empty on their glass. I would even like the idea of having one game a week during the off-season played in Europe, But yes I know that’s unrealistic. The two extra games each week would be easy to figure out. For example the AFC East is playing the AFC North this year. So the patriots who took first can play the two second places out of the south and the west. And whoever took second between the Jets and Dolphins which I forget last year could play the two number one teams out of the south and west. In the same thing for if you came in third you play the fourth-place teams and if you came in fourth play the third-place teams.

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