It’s the topic that will subside, but that will never completely go away: The 18-game season.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell at one point openly politicked for it, trashing the quality of the preseason to justify a shift from four preseason games and 16 regular-season games to two and 18. Once the NFL became more serious about player healthy and safety, open chatter about an expanded season ended.
Recently, Packers CEO Mark Murphy reiterated his concerns about the impact of more games on the well-being of the players.
“On the 18-game season, with the concerns about health and safety, we can’t justify increasing the season,” Murphy told Peter King of TheMMQB.com.
Murphy has made a similar comment at least three times before.
“I think with all the concern about player health and safety, it would be difficult to go from 16 regular-season games to 18,” Murphy said in 2015. “One of the things that has kind of been looked at is, do we reduce the number of games overall [to] three preseason games and 16 regular-season games? But obviously there’s a loss of revenue that comes with that.”
In 2013, Murphy said the same thing: “I think with all the concerns about the health and safety of players, it’s hard to justify,” Murphy said this week. “To go from 16 to 18 regular-season [games] would be a lot more wear and tear. It would be additional games for your starters.”
In 2012, Murphy said the same thing: “I couldn’t support a move to 18 [regular-season games] and two [preseason games]. With the focus on player safety, it would be really hard to support that.”
Throughout the last four years, the sense nevertheless has lingered that an expanded regular season is inevitable. And the NFL Players Association seems to be willing to entertain a proposal for a larger regular season, if for no reason other than to see what the NFL would give up in order to get more games.
At some point, the growth of international games will require teams like the Packers to give up home games — unless the NFL increases the total inventory of games. A middle ground of 17 could make sense, since it would give all teams the ability to play eight home games, eight road games, and one neutral-site game.
Either way, Murphy’s opinion represents one vote. If 24 of the other 31 disagree, and if a deal can be struck with the NFLPA, the season will expand.