NFLPA president on 17-game season: “I never say never”


In recent years, not much has been said about expanding the NFL regular season. However, as the NFL continues to make commitments to play more and more games in other countries, at some point the league will need a greater inventory of exportable games, unless teams like the Cowboys, Steelers, and Patriots become willing to give up home games. (And they won’t.)

Enter the 17-game solution. PFT recently explained that it could happen, eventually. Possibly, it would be part of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The potential configuration would go like this: (1) 17 regular-season games instead of 16; (2) two preseason games instead of four; (3) a second bye week, which would push the Super Bowl to Presidents’ Day weekend, giving plenty of fans who have been clamoring for the ability to imbibe on a Sunday night the freedom to not show up for work the next day with bloodshot eyes and/or a disdain for loud noises.

The end result also would be 16 extra neutral-site games that could be played anywhere — from London to Mexico City to China to Australia to the University of Michigan’s gigantic stadium to wherever the NFL wants to stage the games.

Current NFL Players Association president and Bengals tackle Eric Winston recently addressed the possibility of a one-game expansion to the regular season during a visit to The Drive with Jody, MJ & Bauer on FOX Sports 910 Phoenix.

“As far as expanding regular season games, I just don’t see what the use is at this point,” Winston said. “We’ve got a great game. 16 games is plenty. . . . I don’t think there’s a lot of guys around the league that are interested in playing more games. I don’t know how it makes sense.”

But then Winston nudged the door open: “I never say never about anything. . . . To me if just doesn’t seem to make sense, but you never know what comes down in the future.”

That’s a far cry from Winston’s position on the issue from March of last year, when he essentially did say “never” on the subject of expanding the season by two games.

“I can tell you 16 to 18’s dead in the water,” Winston said. “I won’t let it happen. I don’t think any of these other guys are going to let it happen. It’s a safety issue.”

The safety issue isn’t the same when expanding by only one regular-season game, especially if the trade off is two fewer preseason games and an extra week off during the season. Besides, the money issue could be gigantic, with two extra weekends of regular-season games and the Super Bowl landing on a weekend in which it will generate even more excitement and anticipation, if that’s even possible.

51 responses to “NFLPA president on 17-game season: “I never say never”

  1. Imagine all the third string QBs starting by week 19. The NFLPA will be demanding roster expansion to 60 plus an expanded shadow roster. Expect the draft to add a round or two as well and the NFL will add a 4th day to the already drawn out spring circle jerk.

  2. This just may actually work. This solution provides a win for everyone. The league, the players, the fans, the networks, and the advertisers.

    I like it.

  3. I like it! Stretch out the season a little longer and give teams a little more healup time with the 2nd bye.

  4. Goodell and most of the owners lack the intelligence and discipline required to just leave a good thing alone. It’s just a matter of time before international expansion and an extended schedule ruin the NFL.

    As it is, there aren’t enough good players to go around, extending the season will result in more injuries and diminish the quality of play. Championships will be won by teams with the good fortune to stay injury free, not by the best teams. Of course, this might be the only chance Goodell’s Jets have to win a championship, so all the more reason for the league office to push the issue.

  5. All these people clamoring for additional games probably NEVER suited up and ran at top speed to purposely collide at top speed into a person doing the same to them. It might go a long way to change their mind as to the viability of such an endeavor for ever longer and longer periods of time.

    Oh, I forgot…the League cares about its players. Integrity is its top priority!

  6. Why don’t we just go back to the 1993 formula, 16 games in 18 weeks. If you wanna add an extra wildcard game and split the tv money that way then fine. I think it would equal out $wise that way and in the long run than to add an extra regular season game and look hypocritical on the injury/player safety front. Plus with a likely odd amount of home games if you eliminate a preseason game then the owners can really implement staggered pricing for attractive games. But what do I know, I’m just a dumb grad student.

  7. Why even try to export NFL games?! Is world cup (FIFA) soccer played here? Surely not in Cincinnati. Lets keep American sports in America. Before you know it, baseball and basketball games are going to be over there also. Those euro people can come here if they want to watch our sports.

  8. @redrew and @the8man

    Agree completely. This would be a move to make the NFL more international and year-round. They want to compete with the EPL and NBA for growing global revenue. Amazing the NBA isn’t doing multiple games abroad yet…and stupid. Basketball is an international game too, like football/soccer. MLB and NFL- not so much.

    The addition of a game forces larger rosters and more time off. Bigger practice squads, development of more players, potentially a larger draft pool or lottery system for undrafted/semi-pro guys? More creativity is certainly coming.

    The great irony is that what makes the NFL potentially appealing internationally is its gladiator-style, violent nature. Huge, athletic men hurtling themselves at each other for 5 months.

    Given ‘Concussion’, CTE, and other medical conditions becoming more relatable to constant head blows…Parents are beginning to pay attention, ex-players (like me) are starting to wonder.

    Is this moving to a solution, or a greater problem?

  9. What about an 18 game season 2 preseason games 2 bye weeks and no Thursday night games (except Thanksgiving). I think pretty much every team hates Thursday night games. Plus Thursday night games are mostly awful games anyway.

  10. Sunday and Monday is enough. Thursday, expanded schedule and exported franchises is too much. Spreading your customer base too thin and making your product a continually available commodity is a path to ruin.

    That and Dalton’s the best!

  11. I would like 18 games, and I would like them not to be stingy on the bye weeks. A bye week means better health for the players.

    Perhaps they could have a bye week before Thursday night football as well.

    As it is now there are a lot of games I don’t get to watch that I would like to watch. Having more weeks to watch a few fewer games is fine by me.

  12. 4 preseason games is what’s wrong now and going forward if more “home” are taken away to play out of the country then the 17th game solves that issue. I’d goes as far as 18 games if the roster was expanded and an extra bye week included to help keep injuries down. For now 17 works .

  13. Take a lesson from NASCAR. When you have something good, don’t screw it up in search of more money.

  14. The NFL has intentionally been pitching an 18 game regular season, so they could back off by a game, which would appease the NFLPA and fans more than the alternative. More over, it helps the NFL with their dream of forcing teams to play one game out of the country.

    I feel like they just tried brainwashed a bunch of people and it worked. #pathetic #scoreoneforroger

  15. 2 bye weeks during the regular season.
    1 bye week for finishing top 2 in the Conference.
    1 bye week pre-Super Bowl.

    So a team could have 4 bye weeks? That’s absurd. If you add a bye week mid season, you have to drop the pre-Super Bowl one. Which they won’t do because of all the media crap.

  16. Too many injuries already. That being said there needs to be a 2nd bye starting next year. I like the idea of stretching out the season. No need for more games though

  17. Here’s what they’ll do. Give the owners more regular season games in return for more money. Then sue and appeal long enough to get rid of the extra games while keeping the extra money. Same thing that they did when they gave the commish power to hear appeals. Get the money and sue when he exercises his rights under the CBA that they signed.

  18. 17 games 2 byes, stay out of Los Angels market, make it one of the neutral site games. Any team that comes to LA will not be able to fill the arena after a few years if they are not winning anyway. See the Lakers, Dodgers, Kings, USC football, etc. If you are not winning no one goes to your games here, there is simply too much else to do. Give us 8 games a year that are non conference gams i.e. Jags Seahawks, if we get every team every few years their fans will fill the stadium buy the jerseys and crap. Owners win, fans win. We also host the best superbowl btw.

    Longtime LA resident

  19. The game is getting sloppier and sloppier with owners trade practices for money. Football will become less popular as a result. The owners are going to end up losing money because they are so greedy

  20. I’d prefer 46 games plus 4 playoff games… I only get 2 weeks off a year, thats plenty for them. FOOTBALL ALL YEAR ROUND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  21. It’s funny when fans say the league is ruining the game when their ratings records continue to be broken multiple times a year. Let me guess, the NFL is “inflating” those ratings.

  22. You guys are nuts.
    The amount of money any of these players make is rediculos. They can’t play 2 more games. Oh so SORRY. How about 12 hour shifts 6 days a week as a CFS worker for $12 an hour taking care of other people’s radical kids?
    The gambling business needs the MONEY TOO.
    Complaining about 2 more games. Go play flag football or get a job at McDonald’s Fing wines!

  23. Interesting approach Florio. Of the options presented, there wasn’t one for 16 regular season games and cut back to 2 preseason games.
    With less physical practice time, it seems there are a lot more injuries. And injury plagued games are not as interesting nor are they as meaningful. Additionally, many of the preseason games are about as interesting as 1940’s TV reruns. Exactly.
    The game is getting watered down enough as it is. GOODELL needs to stop the expansion idea that benefits no one but the owners. Better yet, just fire Goodell.

  24. Here’s middle ground:
    17 game season….but
    – only 2 pre season games unless your picked for the HOF game.
    – mandatory bye week before your Thursday game
    – no back to back 3 time zone games

  25. When it happens Goodell will claim some kind of “research” about what the fans want pointed him in this direction.

    When the only research done was how a move like this would expand their bank accounts.

  26. I’d like to first hear from a few of the better coaches in the League on some of the following.

    Can they truly evaluate draft choices and talent in less than 4 pre-season games?

    Can they truly game condition and prepare their teams for the regular season in less than 4 games?

  27. Injuries always happen in any sport even Golf. Game is not getting watered down. New England won Super Bowl years ago with 16 starters out for more then half the season. So don’t feed that BS.
    PLAY through the pain or don’t play. Look at Emmitt Smith’s career or a Steve Yzerman. They played hurt. Even better example Jason Witten this year. He doesn’t wine. He PLAYS.
    We got 6 backup QB’s playing this week and it’s what week?
    Why don’t we do a 3 game season all divisional games and then playoffs start. You will still have injured players!

  28. If a team is put in London, 2 byes are a must.

    Traveling across the Atlantic is a big disadvantage. The team would need to have long homestands and long times as visitors. Probably a 4 road/8 home/4 road, with the neutral game in the road spans.

    Teams visiting London play a Thursday game, go to London, then get a bye.

  29. I know Winston will find this “100 percent sickening,” but I propose:

    18 games
    No preseason The teams should run scrimmages on their own dime.
    2 byes
    Every team gets a neutral site game each year.

  30. Been saying this for at least 3 years….

    Add a second bye week, and have it precede the Thursday Night Football game. Then, make the TNF game a FEATURED GAME between two good teams, not an afterthought game (like this week’s Jags vs Titans).

    Teams would have an extra half-week to prepare and for players to get over injuries. They could even expand to Wednesdays if all of those games are preceded by a bye week.

  31. stung4ever1983 says:
    Nov 21, 2015 1:02 PM
    If a team is put in London, 2 byes are a must.

    Traveling across the Atlantic is a big disadvantage. The team would need to have long homestands and long times as visitors. Probably a 4 road/8 home/4 road, with the neutral game in the road spans.

    Teams visiting London play a Thursday game, go to London, then get a bye.

    Teams can’t play a night game in London because of the time zone.

    For the game to be televised in the US in the same Prime Time slot it’s in now, the game would need to start around midnight in London.

  32. No preseason. Two eight-game seasons per year. Each season is followed by seeded playoffs and a Super Bowl. That way you get two Super Bowls per year, tire fires don’t need as long to play out a string of meaningless games, and fans of the 1-7 and 2-6 teams can delude themselves more quickly into thinking “we’ll do better next season.”

  33. If the Players Union was smart they should trade an 18 game season and limit the Thursday night schedule by giving the teams that play in that game a bye the week before the game. Limit the games to the top 16 teams from the year before. The Thursday night games as they stand now are terrible and inferior. I think this scenario is a win win for the NFL, Players and the fans………

  34. 17 Games, 2 Pre-season, and an extra bye week.

    That’s one less game than they plan now and two less meaningless games than they play now. Not to mention a second bye week helps get rid of nagging injuries a bit better.

    That being said, they should also increase roster size by five players and the salary cap by $5 million per team in order to make this happen, as the revenue will increase and the players should get a cut of that.

  35. 1. If the season is lengthened, and 2 pre-season games “turned into” regular games the following will occur:

    a – in an 18 game season there will be more injuries, and more time for nagging injuries to get worse.

    b – the first 2 games will suck because the players aren’t yet up to speed.

    c – there won’t be enough time to develop young players and give them playing time in pre-season.

    We will get 2 more crappy games, and with more injuries, we’ll get a worse product. Making the playoffs will be more about not suffering injuries, than skill.


    2. If the league wants “free” revenue just give every team 2 buy weeks, that are spread out. Advantages:

    a – have the buy before a Thursday night game, so the teams will have extra time to prepare and rest. This will make the Thursday night games good, rather than the crap fest they are now.

    b – players will have more time to heal up, so the quality of play will be better and games better.

    c – the TV revenue will increase, without having to play more games. The players don’t get hurt.

  36. ““We’ve got a great game. 16 games is plenty. . . . I don’t think there’s a lot of guys around the league that are interested in playing more games. I don’t know how it makes sense.”

    Replace “16” with “12” and you have a quote from 1960. I don’t where they get these dinosaurs from.

  37. That’s OK, as long as on years the Super Bowl would fall on Valentine’s Day move it back a day to Saturday. Having the Super Bowl on Vakentine’s Day will cause a lot of guys a lot of unnecessary problems.

  38. Heres a better solution. Ditch the pre-season. The pre-season is a joke and a waste of time for everyone involved, fans, coaches, players. Go 18 games with 3 bye weeks.

    If you’re a coaching staff and you dont know who the best 53 players are, then you have no business coaching. College coaches know who the best players are, dont tell me the NFL coaches dont either.

    I would allow teams to dress 3 QBs per game in case of injury with the 3rd QB not counting towards the game day roster.

    Ian Eagle or Fouts said during the Browns Steelers game Heath Miller was the emergency QB. You are trying to tell me the product is better having a TE have to play QB, if Roethlisberger couldnt finish the game.

  39. If they have to make more money by going to 18 weeks instead of 17, just have two bye weeks, and keep it a 16 game schedule.

  40. Why ditch the pre-season?
    It’s a joke because the players aren’t ready and they play newly drafted players. So of course its a joke – its pre-season.

    The problems season ticket holders have is they are being forced to pay for this. If they didn’t would you still want to get rid of pre-season?

    Does adding a couple of bad games make you happy?
    Having a poorly played game count doesn’t make it more fun to watch.

  41. 17 games, 2 byes and increase in roster size to 75 and able to activate all during game day.

  42. “maestro1899 says:
    Nov 21, 2015 1:22 PM
    Teams can’t play a night game in London because of the time zone.

    For the game to be televised in the US in the same Prime Time slot it’s in now, the game would need to start around midnight in London.”

    Read my post again. Teams playing in London play a Thursday night game, THEN go to London. The Thursday night game comes the week before, giving them a longer time period to recover from the flight to London.

  43. If you’re playing extra games, you need to account for more injuries. How do you do this? An additional bye week is one way. Another, which would likely get the players union to approve a longer season, would be larger rosters.

    With 16 game schedules, we still see free agents get signed mid season and players get promoted from the practice team. Just add more players to the roster. As for the union, they get more members, so they should be happy.

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