On push for 18 games, Goodell points to strides in making the game safer

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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell doesn’t give many interviews these days. When he does, the news contained in his answers, to the extent there is any, doesn’t always jump off the page. In a business-issues sit-down with Julia Boorstin of CNBC at the annual Sun Valley, Idaho “summer camp for billionaires,” Goodell gave an answer with important news that only becomes clear when considering it within the context of the specific question asked by the interviewer.

First, the question from Boorstin: “There seems like one of the sticking points is your push to have 18 games. How do you address concerns about player injuries, as well as the question about whether there could be just too much football?”

Said Goodell in response: “We always talk about, ‘How do we restructure our season?’ Is it the right structure with 16 regular-season and four preseason games? Should we look at expanding the playoffs? Those are discussions we’re having with the [NFL] Players Association. I think the steps we’ve made to make our game safer and better have worked tremendously well in collaboration with our players, but also in changing rules and equipment. We had a 30-percent reduction in concussions last year, and I think we can use that same model to reduce injuries in lower-body injuries. So I think the way we’ve modified in the last Collective Bargaining Agreement was to really work to a way to train our players differently and modify our game in such a way as to address those issues.”

Considering the talking points provided in response to the question asked, a fair and reasonable analysis is this: Yes, Goodell still wants 18 games. (Indeed, he never denied the existence of a “push” for 18.) And, yes, Goodell believes that expansion from 16 to 18 regular-season games (along with a reduction for four to two preseason games) is justified by the advances that have been made in player health and safety.

It’s the closest anyone from the NFL has come to admitting that 18 games isn’t just on the table but it’s front and center. Basically, the NFL believes it has made the game safer over the last eight years, so the NFL now believes the time has come to increase the number of regular-season games.

Look at it this way. If Goodell disagreed with the premise of Boorstin’s question, all he had to say was, for example, “we’re not pushing for 18 games” or “we don’t plan to push for 18 games” or “health and safety issues prevent playing 18 games.” Instead, Goodell acknowledged discussions with the NFLPA regarding the “structure” of the season (without denying a push for 18 games), and he then rattled off the reasons why the game is safer “as a way to address those issues.”

Which issues? Based on the question he was asked, concerns about player injuries in an 18-game season.

So, basically, the push for 18 games continues. And the league currently believes the game is safe enough to justify it. Even if Goodell didn’t come right out and say it, he essentially did.

31 responses to “On push for 18 games, Goodell points to strides in making the game safer

  1. Just add a bye week and an additional playoff slot for each conference. They league gets another week of games without lengthening the regular season and two playoff games are worth more money than a week of regular season games. They aren’t even trying to hide that their player safety initiative is a farce at this point. They are just going through the motions to limit liability in any future lawsuits.

  2. Sounds like we’re going to have 18 unwatchable weeks of football because they’ll have to outlaw tackling.

  3. That may all be well and good that the owners want 18 games. And if their argument is that the game is safer, then the NFLPA’s response should be ‘if you think the game is that safe then guarantee your contracts. If the game is not safe enough for a guaranteed contract, it is not safe enough for an 18 game season’.

    Outside of quarterbacks, there is exactly 0% of players that either miss a game because of injuries or play injured and their performance is diminished.

    18 regular season games is a bad idea. Teams that make it to the playoffs would be hampered by injuries and thus they would not play their best football when it counts the most both for themselves and for fans. Bad idea.

  4. Perhaps you could compare the stats on injuries per game in the preseason to injuries per game in the regular season when determining whether an extended season would indeed be more dangerous?

  5. How about a different direction to get the owners more money – a direction that does not entail more wear and tear on NFL players’ bodies? Have the NFL or individual teams invest in Australian Rules Football League or teams and televise time delayed games on the NFL Channel (rename it the “Football Channel”). The Aussies play games from March through September on a schedule that could be customized to prevent overlap. The growth in advertising revenue would be enormous and allow the owners a new revenue stream. The AFL (Australian Football League) would benefit from growth in their game and through sharing some of the US advertising revenue. Everyone wins and the NFL players will not be physically taxed further.

  6. I am not against 18 games if they would reduce the preseason by 2 games or even 3! But if they do that NFL rosters should be expanded by 10 players and all teams must carry 3 active quarterbacks. Have two bye weeks, no more extra playoff teams. We already have teams with medicore records getting in and expand halftime back to 15 minutes to allow a couple of extra minutes to check on injuries etc. Plus it allows fans another minute or two to get in their seat and a little more halftime entertainment as the atmosphere at many NFL stadiums is lacking. I am not against it being mandatory for all players to have to sit 1-2 games except for kickers and punters.

    Another idea is simply add 1 game instead of two but still reduce the preseason by 2 games and add a second bye week. The extra game could be played either overseas or in Non NFL cities. You grow the game but you don’t cheat fans out of a game either.

  7. No just NO. Right now with 32 teams, 8 divisions, 16 games, they have a well balanced formula for who plays who ever year with divisional rotation, and players do not arrive to the playoffs exhausted.

    Two extra games creates an asymmetrical schedule and players that are all the more beat up. Plus now the Super Bowl doesn’t happen until the 3rd weekend in February, players will have played 20 or 21 games to get there, the quality will drop both from player exhaustion and more injuries.

    If the billionaires don’t have enough money already, find some other way to make more than making an already softened and damage product suck all the more.

  8. He’s missing the point. It isn’t necessarily injuries (directly) that I believe players object to. It’s the wear and tear on their bodies, which can lead to injuries.

  9. Goodell points to strides in making the game safer….in moving towards flag football, I am waiting for lifetime bans for god forbid tackling the QB.

  10. This is how one slaughters a golden goose.I guarantee they’re such ego maniacs that they haven’t even performed a study on this or thought to ask what fans want. Why not 82 games?

  11. As a fan I don’t want 16 games…

    One of the things I’ve always enjoyed about the NFL is there are not a million games in a season like the NBA, NHL, and MLB. Each game is meaningful and has value, really bad teams not notwithstanding.

    And they don’t send everybody and their brother into the playoffs. The regular-season is meaningful

    Does the NFL really need to squeeze every single last dime oit f us like a Scrooge McDuck acquire their swimming pool of gold coins?

  12. “I made the game safer so we can cram in two more games and bring it back to being just as dangerous as it was before.”
    –Roger Goodell

  13. Expanded playoffs, more rules to protect the lower body, ever changing rules on what constitutes a catch, random and arbitrary replay for interference…

    Can anyone say with a straight face “I’m confident the commissioner will make our game better”?

  14. deathspiralx says: “Each game is meaningful and has value, really bad teams not notwithstanding.”

    “Value” of each game:
    NFL (16 games) = 6.25% per game
    NFL (18 games) = 5.56%
    NBA (82 games) = 1.22%
    MLB (162 games) = 0.62%

    Seriously, going from 16 to 18 games is barely changing the importance or “value” of each game, unlike basketball, hockey or baseball.

  15. A 30% reduction in concussions has a negligible impact to the overall health of every teams roster. Concussions has never been a notable cause for IR.

    That is a very elementary spinning of numbers… How about showing a 30% reduction in injury reserves?! That would be something to brag about!

  16. Only greed and a complete lack of consideration for players’ well-being would allow this to happen.

  17. This is a no-brainer. Two exhibition games, 18 regular season games, and one additional bye for each team. Start the season one or two weeks earlier than it currently is. You’d still have the same number of games–it’s just that two of the exhibition games would go away, and everyone (except the coaches) would like that.

  18. what are you all going to do? not watch the added games after 16? ha! it’s the right business move by goodell. he knows you’re all addicted to the game. If I was him, I’d go higher. If players gripe, i’m sure the nfl can find some other ones who will play for million dollar contracts.

  19. They’ve taken steps to make the game safer, like eliminating weekly Thursday night games which were created solely for the purpose of promoting the NFL network? Oh wait, never mind…

  20. So in the last 48 hours, the NFL has taken a position not to have full-time officials (downgrade in quality of games), to have more games but limit players from playing in all of the games (downgrade in quality of games, but more money from more games, and larger television contracts), and asked for public financing/relief for stadium and surrounding community upgrade project in JAX (while owners are buying $200M yachts in the off-season). Hmmm….

  21. Can’t help but keep trying to squeeze even more money out of folks. The 18 game season is about acquiring more $$$ for the league period.

    The current game structure is just fine the way it is. Same with the playoffs.

  22. I really don’t think Goodell wants 18 games, he’s just using this topic as a smokescreen to get all the other things he wants in the CBA. If I was the players I would push hard for what they want, even if they have to strike.

  23. ebhaynz says:
    July 12, 2019 at 2:51 pm
    I really don’t think Goodell wants 18 games, he’s just using this topic as a smokescreen to get all the other things he wants in the CBA. If I was the players I would push hard for what they want, even if they have to strike.
    Unfortunately the one thing that would benefit the players (and the league) most would be the ouster of Mr Integrity of the Game himself…..

  24. ….and the news is in. 32 owners just split up $8.8B, while the NFL doesn’t want full time officials, needs public money to fund NFL projects, and wants more games for more money (for more yachts). Roger says it’s “safety improvements”. Hmmm….

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