Mark Murphy supports 17 games a regular-season compromise

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Given the conflicting quotes attributed to Packers CEO Mark Murphy on Friday, I opted to pretend to be an actual reporter and do some actual reporting.

Short story shorter, I got Murphy on the phone to clarify his thoughts on a potentially expanded regular season.

Murphy said that he remains opposed to 18 games, a position he has taken on multiple occasions in the past. He acknowledges, however, that 17 games could work as an obvious compromise between 16 and 18. Murphy supports 17 regular-season games primarily as a way to continue to grow the game internationally, ensuring that every team would have, every year, eight true home games, eight true road games, and one neutral-site game, with most of those 16 neutral-site games played in other countries. However, Murphy was adamant that the preseason would have to drop to three games, and maybe to only two (despite the loss of revenue that would come from reducing the total number of preseason and regular-season games from 20 to 19).

We interpreted Murphy as being in favor of 18 games based on this quote attributed to him by Darren Rovell of, in an earlier one-on-one conversation with Murphy: “Maybe another way to do this is to add one neutral site game and one international one for every team, so we can use this to grow the game.” Murphy said that he said (or at least meant to say) “or” not “and,” and that he supports 17 games (with a reduced preseason), not 18 games.

Murphy had opposed expansion of the regular season in the past due to player health and safety, and I specifically asked him whether he believes that advances in player health and safety justify increased regular-season exposure. He said that, even though the “numbers are down” from 2018 as to injuries like concussions, the numbers could go up in any given year, and he acknowledged based on his own experience as a player that there’s a “wear and tear” component that builds throughout a football season. Extending the season only adds to that.

Murphy also didn’t rule out during our conversation the possibility of 17 regular-season games and two byes, which would nudge the Super Bowl to President’s Day weekend, something the league quietly has coveted for years. There’s a concern, however, that the networks wouldn’t want each team to have two byes. (The NFL had one season with two byes, in 1993. Then, the league had only 28 teams, four fewer than the current composition of the standings.)

As to the idea of an 18-game season with a maximum player participation of 16, Murphy made it clear that he’s not in favor of that approach, primarily because he believes that fans would not like it. He agreed with my assessment of such an approach as “gimmicky,” and he expressed concern for fans who, for example, have always wanted to see Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers play not getting to see him play because those fans have the misfortune of holding tickets to one of the two games in which Rodgers won’t play.

Personally, I like the 17-game regular season, for many reasons. I don’t like 8-8 records; 9-8 or 8-9 would clearly make a team a loser or a winner for the year. (And, yes, I realize that someone could end up 8-8-1.) I also like the idea of 16 neutral-site games, especially since it could mean a game at Ann Arbor or a game at Notre Dame or a game at Happy Valley or a game at Ohio Stadium or a game at some other large, iconic venue, which of course could be wired for real-time video communication with the league office.

49 responses to “Mark Murphy supports 17 games a regular-season compromise

  1. Expand the roster for the first month and get rid of the preseason games entirely.

    When was the last time a high school or college team played a game that didn’t count in the fall?

  2. Sounds like a reasonable compromise. If they do this they should expand the rosters by at least 2 more player total and allow 2 more active on game day.

  3. Seems like a very logical compromise, particularly with the reduction of preseason games. Whatever they do, they need to avoid the part about players only being eligible to play in 16 of 18 games…nobody wants to see that.

  4. Compromise is the key word here. A concept that we as Americans find harder and harder to do the last 40 years at an escalating pace…

  5. Well, at least the 17 game season will support the dumb international “home game” situation…

  6. First to admit it has been several years since I was in Texas high school football. It has been several years since my sons competed in multiple sports through high school. Every team played a preseason game against non district teams. All college sports play non conference games in all sports.

  7. I like it. Puts everyone on a level playing field instead of a few teams each year losing a home game to play in London or Mexico. Neutral site games in cities that don’t have a franchise would be a great way to expand a team’s footprint as well.

  8. I clicked to fast to send that last message. My strong sense is that Murphy is relaying NFL thinking, not necessarily advocating himself. So his position is noteworthy from that standpoint.

  9. This might be a stupid question, but given the simplicity of the current schedule (2x v your division, 1 game v an entire AFC Division, 1 game v an entire NFC division and then 2 games from the two teams that finished in the same spot as you in your conference) how would they decided who each team plays for game 17?

    The other obvious questions would be: are there really 17 international locations that could successfully host games each year? Or are their 17 neutral site locations in the US with stadiums big enough to host NFL games and the interest to go see two teams that aren’t from the region? And of course given the mess that was Mexico City last year, what happens if that situation pops up again and they need to move the game back, which team gets 9 home games?

  10. I think it’s always good to clarify the position of people, especially when it invloves the most important and successful team in league history.

  11. Odd-number regular seasons never work. First, who do you play? A 7th division game? Another in-conference? Another opposite conference? Second, enough of the international games… watching football at 9 am in the east is just weird… yes, I know the west has done 10 am games for decades, but that’s the time shift they’re used to – and an international game for them could be 6 am.

    This isn’t a compromise, this is another thrown-at-the-wall-hope-it-sticks idea that has no basis in reality and does nothing for the players or the fans.

  12. Bad idea all around. However–if they’re going to do it–think it should go like this.

    18 regular season games. 2 preseason games.
    Thursday games only played by teams coming off a bye.
    Two byes per season.
    International games only played by teams going into a bye. (Dislike the overseas games very much but afraid they are here to stay.)
    Super Bowl President’s Day weekend. Sunday is Super Bowl Holiday and Monday is extra day off for many.
    Extra two games played outside conference against same placed teams from year before. Example–Denver, Eagles, Bears, Saints, and Rams all finish 3rd in Division year before, however AFCW is playing NFCE following year, Denver would play 3rd place team out of two divisions it did not play year before or current year.

    Still a horrible idea.

  13. As a neutral third party, I support merely letting Murphy go, as a compromise between him staying on as CEO and the wishes of those Packers fans who would prefer loading him into a cannon and firing him into Ontario.

  14. Why not do this and go one further so you can add the game the league wants. Except in addition, no player (outside of the kicker and punter) may play in more than 16 games a season.

  15. I’ve always thought 17 regular games and 3 preseason are the right balance, but can’t understand why this hasn’t been agreed on already.

  16. Get rid of divisions. For a 16 game schedule: Play every team in your conference once and then play one team in the other conference that finished in the same place.
    For a 17 -18 game schedule: Play every team in your conference once and then play 2 or 3 teams in the other conference that finished in the same group place.

  17. 17 games is an outstanding idea. 8 home games, 8 away games, 1 neutral site – Internationally. Drop the awful Preseason games to 2. This would save season ticket holders from having to pay for extra preseason game.

  18. I like the idea of a neutral site game being played in a different NFL city, how about a Viking/Packers game played in Miami in December? Let’s the fans get some football and beach time? What about Falcons/Dolphins in Denver and get some ski trips in? Don’t forget the fans…

  19. There are too many traditional rivalrys to eliminate the divisions.
    I don’t know what the answer is. But I would like to see them go to 17 or 18 games,.. only 2 preseason games,.. expand the rosters to 58, .. and somehow work 2 bye weeks into the schedule. If you want the best product on the field you have to let some of these guys get healed up occasionally.

  20. Maybe not so significant, but with an odd number of preseason games, how do they plan on reconciling it to the teams that still get 1 less home game?

  21. Even though a 2 game preseason would be less revenue, I am sure the tv money for the ads for an extra regular season game make up for it.

  22. I been saying this for years that 17 game schedule, week 8 or 9, all games will be at neutral site. Card vs dallas in Albuquerque, pitt vs buffalo in montreal. Then your could have game sin Italy, germany, england and spain same weekend and following weekend everyone has a bye!

  23. TheCakeIsALie says:

    July 12, 2019 at 7:12 pm

    I like it. Especially if the Pats neutral game is in Fenway.
    I don’t think you understand the meaning of neutral. I could see someone playing in Fenway but likely it would be teams down south or off the West coast.

  24. High schools have scrimmages all the time, at least they do in Massachusetts. Colleges may not have “preseason,” but there is a reason many of the powers play FCS or low level FBS teams in Week 1

  25. With the amount of injuries, more games is ridicolous. The Packers made $700K last year. Okay, not even Micheal Jackson fans believe that.

  26. artic19 says:
    July 12, 2019 at 8:59 pm
    Get rid of divisions. For a 16 game schedule: Play every team in your conference once and then play one team in the other conference that finished in the same place.
    For a 17 -18 game schedule: Play every team in your conference once and then play 2 or 3 teams in the other conference that finished in the same group place.

    No, the reason the schedule these days is so that you’re guaranteed seeing the other teams periodically….every 4 years. For old timers, Marino and Elway only played against each other twice in their careers (I believe). They need a formula to ensure that happens where the top stars and their teams play against each other. Maybe you could devise that without divisions but it sounds complicated.

  27. mikemcarthy says:
    July 12, 2019 at 7:00 pm
    Yea. He has all the answers. Just ask him.

    I believe that’s exactly what Florio just did.

  28. I do not like games played out of country. This is our sport for one, while this expansion is about money and nothing else. Greed has ruined a lot In this life. Some people just can not have enough money, period. Nothing lasts forever, especially the good things.

  29. The upside? Kirk Cousins will no longer be a .500 QB.

    [Like Donovan McNabb … I don’t believe in ties.]

  30. I have been saying this all along. Get rid of that basically useless fourth preseason game and make that the new week 1. Decent compromise for all involved.

  31. To be clear, I’m against a 17 game schedule but the schedule change would be simple. Keep the 6 divisional games and the 8 games against AFC/NFC divisions but convert the 2 strength of schedule games to inter-conference games and you have a natural 17th game. In other words, the 2 games played against in-conference teams that finished in same position would then be against inter-conference teams that finished in same position and the extra game is the 3rd division team that finished in the same position. That would give each team 10 in-conference games and 7 inter-conference games.

  32. If they go with a 17 game schedule then the .500 season will go the way of tie games – near extinction.

  33. Hey, is anyone at 345 Park Avenue listening? Good.


    Why do human beings always try to ruin a good thing?

  34. Didn’t Murphy play when there were 14 games? Anyway, easy for him to say play 17 games. And Murphy’s argument for this is so poor. “9-8- or 8-9 would clearly make a team a loser or a winner for the year.” I understand you are with the packers Murphy. But I don’t think 8-8 teams think they had a winning season.

  35. Some people are saying a 17 game season would ruin football.

    The joke’s on them, though, because the Vikings have been ruining football for 6 decades. Through 14 game seasons, 16 game seasons, strike-shortened seasons, the Vikings have stunk it up throughout.

  36. The best schedule proposal I have seen is this one:
    1. 3 game Preseason 
    2. 17 game Regular Season (1 International or neutral site game)
    3. Every team gets 2 bye weeks, one of which must be prior to playing a Thursday nite game.
    4. No limit on # of games a player may play.
    5. Add 1 wildcard team in each Conference.
    6. Only the #1 seed in each Conference earns bye week. 
    7. Wildcard weekend features a tripleheader in each Conference.

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