NFL still wants to expand regular season

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Before the NFL realized that it was impossible to reconcile player health and safety with an expanded regular season, Commissioner Roger Goodell routinely criticized the quality of preseason play. The purpose was obvious; the league wanted to reduce the preseason from four games to two, and to increase the regular season from 16 games to 18.

Once it became clear that the players weren’t interested in an expanded regular season, the criticism of the preseason subsided. Goodell’s recent comments regarding the preseason serve as a clear reminder that the league still wants to swap fewer preseason games for more regular-season games.

And that’s clearly what the league still wants, even if it no longer will say so.

“Any change in the [overall game] structure, we said that we would collectively bargain,” Goodell said.

But here’s the reality. To reduce the preseason, the NFL doesn’t need to bargain with the union. The 2011 CBA gives the league the right to do that unilaterally. The league won’t voluntarily reduce revenue without a way to replace it, which is how collective bargaining comes into play.

After the CBA was finalized, the thinking was that the league eventually would inform the union that the preseason would be chopped in half, hopeful that this would prompt the players to volunteer add two regular-season games. When it thereafter became clear that the union would call the NFL’s bluff, unilateral reduction of the preseason never happened.

However it plays out, the league knows that it can’t ask for the regular season to expand. If it’s going to happen, it needs to come from the players. If the players ever would be willing to do it, they could parlay it into significant financial gains.

Still, there’s no reason to believe they ever will — especially as more is learned about the realities of CTE.

So look for the preseason to remain at four games, and for the Commissioner to periodically huff and puff in the hopes that the players eventually will agree to blow the preseason down to two games, and to pump the regular season up to 18.

53 responses to “NFL still wants to expand regular season

  1. No, they will for sure reduce the preseason to three games. I hope not, because I love preseason games. It’s fun to watch guys fight for jobs. Tonight’s game was awesome for Deshaun Watson. Wednesday night and I was watching.

  2. The league could offer to make the team raster 63 instead of 53 that way the players would be able to share the load better.

  3. If coaches universally said they don’t want 4 preseason games to evaluate the talent for roster decisions (I assume they do) then I’m ok with a shorter preseason.

    I am not ok with adding extra games and watching an even more-compromised postseason where the healthiest, not best, teams succeed in the playoffs.

  4. Packernet says:
    August 9, 2017 at 10:20 pm
    No, they will for sure reduce the preseason to three games.

    The owners are not going to just lose that revenue

  5. Here’s my idea for this – reduce pre-season to 2 games, expand active rosters by 6-7 players, add the two extra regular season games, BUT only allow each player to play in a maximum of 16 regular season games – this makes for some really interesting strategy on the part of the coaches deciding when they have to do a healthy off-week for players, and makes that #2 QB a super critical consideration on all teams, and provides those #2 QB’s legitimate opportunities to showcase what they can do with a group of starters in a game that really counts. The league should be able to increase TV contract revenue, and players are not exposed to any greater risk than they currently are, aside from the argument that QB’s will have reserve linemen protecting them more often, but that’s a reality of the game already. I’d even suggest that players on a designated off week might be required to be away from the team facility for a true bye week – I think the NFLPA might actually like that idea!

  6. While most teams play a 16 game schedule, the Patriots regularly play 19 games. So how is it that they’re the best team in the league? Shouldn’t they be beat up and battered? The Patriots are Roger Goodell’s proof that playing more games is actually a good thing.

  7. Reduce the preseason by two games, increase the regular season by one, to 17, with the extra game to be played at a neutral site (London, Berlin, Tokyo, Seoul, Mexico City, and US Cities without an NFL team but has a large stadium such as Orlando, Bryant Denny in Alabama, the Horseshoe, Cornhusker Stadium, U of Oregon, and Cleveland)

  8. I have zero interest in an expanded season or, worse, edpaned playoffs. I am tired of this league under this commissioner constantly trying to kill the sport.

  9. The “starters” seldom make the field for the first two pre-season games. Those 2 are essentially a tryout under game conditions for the rest of the line-up. The next 2 games are a bit of tune-up for the vets and more auditions for those that made it past the first 2 games. I think the system is ok the way it is. Except that ticket prices are often the same as regular season.

  10. Its been said a million times but I’ll say it again. Add another bye week. The season becomes 18 weeks and you’ve actually made the game a little safer for players by giving them another chance to rest and recover. The people that say 16 games are enough are happy, the season is longer so the front office is happy, more rest so the players are happy. It makes so much sense it’s an absolute guarantee the NFL won’t do it.

  11. Why do you think the NFL is now saying publicly that they are looking into medical marijuana as a pain relief alternative? The league is getting ready for the next CBA as we all know. We also know Roger & the owners will never let go of the 18 game schedule desires.

    So, when the time comes it will be….. we’ve agreed with medical experts/reports that medical marijuana usage is a great alternative to opiods.

    The league will be willing to deploy a highly regulated “test” in the league so players that want to use it can without suspensions for positive tests. In exchange for an 18 game schedule.

    Then in the classic pull the rug out move, once the CBA is agreed upon – the NFL will declare an inconclusive result & ban Marijuana once again. That’s what it smells like to me.

  12. If the players want to be paid like NBA players, they will increase the number of games to 40 games and they will reduce their roster to about 30.

  13. Less is more. Eliminate one pre-season or two, keep 16 reg season games, and expand playoffs by 1 team in each league. The real money is in the playoffs not in the regular season and definitely not in the exhibition games. The NFL needs to keep teams where they are and stop this musical chairs, where teams with over 50 years of history move. NFL needs to wake up!

  14. I might be in the minority here, but I like preseason games, mostly because its an opportunity to watch rookies and other young, unheralded players in action. I’d support a developmental league for the same reason. The current format of 4 and 16 is just right and should not be changed.

  15. Wrong direction. Drop the season back to 14, boost ratings through the roof. Better for everybody.

  16. With all of the hoopla regarding player health (100% warranted BTW) let’s not exponentially increase their risk of further personal damage for the sake of the league’s bottom line.

  17. This isn’t that complicated. To address the CTE concerns, all the NFL would have to do is to mandate that 6outside of the kicker and punter, no player can play in more that 7 games each “half season”. That would put a cap on the total number of regular season games played at 16 (just as it is now), and add new strategy for how the coaches use their rosters. It would also make the backup QB a lot more relevant on the rosters too.

  18. Get rid of preseason game 4, keep the regular season at 16.

    After the week 3 dress rehearsal game, the preseason becomes useless. Most teams already have their roster set before that last preseason game anyway.

  19. The season is long enough , reduce preseason to three games for sure as no one worth a damn plays anyway , get the Sunday night and Thursday night games off as the league is getting boring , stay out of England the games are to early to watch and the refs need to stop throwing flags on every play. I miss the old NFL when they played hard and could hit the QB

  20. The league can get this approved by players tomorrow, just guarantee contracts like they do for coaches, and like the MLB, NBA, and NHL do for their players.

  21. I want the 18-game schedule too. It would allow teams to play 2 whole divisions inside their conference instead of one with 2 games against the corresponding finisher of the others like we have now. For example, the NFC South could play the NFC North and East, instead of just the NFC North with Atlanta playing Dallas and Seattle while Carolina gets to play San Francisco and Philadelphia. Gives everyone within a division the same schedule of teams.

    To address the safety issues, I have long said the roster should be 60, with no game-day inactives. Have 12-player practice squads, with no ability to signe players from other teams’ practice squads. Also, have 3 tiers of IR (3 weeks, 8 weeks, and 7 months) with no limit on the number of players that can return from the 2 lower tiers. And for crying out loud, move faster on equipment improvement. There is a helmet out there that has give to it, like the SAFER barriers at NASCAR tracks. It took NASCAR 6 months to come up with that barrier after Dale Earnhardt was killed. Why is the NFL taking years and years to act?

    The players get more money with a higher salary cap. The owners get more money by replacing 2 practice games with real ones, resulting in more TV/ad revenue. Fans get more real football. Everybody wins.

  22. The player safety issue is going to hurt the NFL, and players having year to year contracts to maximize their value (fair or unfair) is going to hurt the NFL. Free Agency already made it harder to root for players because you never know if they will be with your team next year. Not judging the players or owners for that matter, I get its alot of money…but it doesn’t help the fandom. Free Agency (right or wrong) was the big poison into all the sport leagues.

  23. By the time the SB comes around. The teams in it will have about 7 or the original 22 starters from opening day. Leave it as is. It’s perfect and they make billions.

  24. Reduce the Preseason to 3 games, extend the regular season to 18 games and add a 2nd bye week to give the players more rest. This stretches the regular season over 20 weeks of which the NFL will be raking in the dough, but only causing the players to play one extra game.

  25. Keep diluting the product and people will stop watching.

    Agreed. And let’s kill off Thursday games while we’re at it. I’m not watching those, and I know very few people who are. They’ll get better ratings if they ditch ’em.

  26. If they would just wake up!!!!You trade 1 preseason game that would be the last game. Add a regular season game that starts the 1st weekend in Sept. This would give the players their 10 days off before the 1st game. Give us fans 4 complete months of regular football games. Also giving the owners more money in their pockets for salary increases. If you have ever been to a 4th preseason game the attendance is way off let’s get smart Rodger 1 for 1 vs. 2 for 2.

  27. American greed. People with money always want more, more, more. The people profitting from the NFL are no different. They’ll keep going until the game becomes unrecognizable. Some would say it already is unrecognizable.

    Leave it as it is. Be content with the millions you have and will continue to earn. Let us enjoy the sport.

  28. Don’t be too hard on Goodell, it has taken him years of practice to be able to count to 18.

  29. If the NFL wants to expand the Regular Season without adding games. Just give each team two bye weeks during the regular season. Problem solved. The additional bye week will help players recover and the league gets more than 17 regular season weeks. Win-Win.

  30. Oh good. Cant wait to see Scott Tolzein vs Case Keenum leading their teams during the playoff push.

  31. I am one to say that sometimes it is just fine to leave things alone just like they are. As it is now the season starts in early September and the Super Bowl is in early February. If you go to an 18 game season will the regular season start in August with two byes? if not and the owners keep 4 preseason games and there is still one by the regular seas will end after new years. If they go to two bye weeks the NFL might be having the Super Bowl after pitcher and catchers report for spring training.

  32. These owners really are just complete and utter morons. Hey nitwits- basic economics-scarcity creates demand. The NFL ratings have done nothing but go down over the last five years and the owners solution is to add more games?? Increase the roster spots, eliminate Thursday night games, stop putting crappy matchups on MNF to appease owners of perennial losers- noone wants to see Cleveland, Jacksonville, Chargers, Rams, Jets, Bills or Dolphins. Stop playing in London and Mexico City and cut the number of pre-season games to two.

  33. charliecharger says:
    August 9, 2017 at 11:44 pm
    While most teams play a 16 game schedule, the Patriots regularly play 19 games. So how is it that they’re the best team in the league? Shouldn’t they be beat up and battered? The Patriots are Roger Goodell’s proof that playing more games is actually a good thing.
    Yeah but you’re forgetting if you expanded the season to 18 games the Pats would regularly be playing 20 or 21! And the Pats have coped by concentrating on depth rather than a couple of huge names, and by rotating a lot more than other teams, and by uber-conditioning of the sort some players find “no fun” and leave – so they’re already stretching things to the limit and they were quite banged-up going into the SB – 7 starters were walking wounded plus Gronk absent. I’d love to see more games but it just isn’t realistic.

  34. aj66shanghai says:
    August 10, 2017 at 10:48 am

    American greed. People with money always want more, more, more.

    That’s generally why they have money. Not sure it is limited to the USA, though.

  35. “Still, there’s no reason to believe they ever will” really? wasn’t too long ago that the season was only 14 games or was it 12?

  36. By the time these players get to the NFL, they likely have CTE anyway, so adding two more games to the season isn’t going to affect that.

    Of course, if the NFL paid more than just lip service to player safety, they would keep it at 16 games, shut down TNF, and stop with the international games.

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