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NFL may extend season to 17 or 18 games in 2011


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DANA POINT, Calif. -- Once, the NFL talked about reducing its preseason schedule and increasing its regular-season games. Now it looks like the league is ready to take the leap.

Expect no vote on the subject at this week's league meetings here, but you might look for one at the NFL meetings in May. Commissioner Roger Goodell is, and he's behind the move to expand the regular-season schedule to 17 or 18 games.

However, if it happens -- and it seems it will -- don't look for a change before the 2011 season. Goodell doesn't. As he pointed out, there will be no new format until the NFL confers with the networks and NFL Players Association, and the players might be the bigger hurdle. They must gain a new collective bargaining agreement before the 2011 season, with the threat of a lockout that year a real possibility.

"This is something we want to pursue and make sure we fully understand," Goodell said. "It's improving the quality of the content."

Translation: The league thinks you'll like the next menu better than the one you're holding.

Now, let's get down to what we're talking about: Players are paid for 20 games, no matter if the games that count are 16 or higher. So they’re paid for 16 regular-season games and four exhibition contests, but that's now. In the future, that ratio could be 17 and three or 18 and two, and don't ask me which. There just seems to be support for expanding the number of regular-season games.

"I'm for it," Houston's Bob McNair said. "It could be 17 or 18. I don't have any preference at this point because there are a number of issues that still are to be determined, such as roster sizes, what do you do with your rosters and what do you do with injured reserve? Can you carry more, for instance, or do you let people come off injured reserve after, maybe, six weeks? And what do you do with byes or open weeks? Do you have maybe two to give people a break? So there are a lot of issues. The key is we want to do whatever will add value for the fans, and that's one way we can do that."

There are a couple of things to keep in mind here. If the league expands the regular season it almost certainly will expand it from the back, not the front. There is no way TV will agree to a schedule that has the season opening earlier than it does now, which means you push the regular season into January ... and that means you push the playoffs into February.

The Super Bowl already is there, but the playoffs that precede the league championship game are always in January. That would change. So with the regular season ending in December, and I think you can see where this is going: More cold-weather games. But if the NFL has Pittsburgh playing a home playoff game at night in January, it probably isn't all that concerned about having it play a regular-season game ... or two ... there that month.

"Can you see them playing games in January in Chicago?" one general manager asked.

I can now.

If the league goes to an 18-game format, insiders said, it would include two byes and push the Super Bowl to President's Day weekend. If it's 17, it would stay with one. Eighteen regular-season games is easier because the scheduling is easier -- with nine games each home and away. But a 17-game format would present more of a problem, with teams taking nine home games every other season.

That I get. But this I don't: If the league goes, say, to 18 regular-season games how does it expect to have starters ready for two exhibition games in five days? Clubs would play one weekend, right? Then they almost surely kick off the following Thursday. So how do you expect players to go for something like that?

"Good question," a GM said.

There is also the concern of injuries. More regular-season games probably means more injuries because starters generally don't play any of the four preseason contests in their entireties. That means the NFL wants to hear from the players as much as it wants to hear from the networks.

"Players are paid for 20 games," McNair said. "Some people think they aren't paid for preseason, but they are. They share in that equally. Players stay in such good condition now, it's not the way it used to be where they play themselves into condition. Now they don't do that. They're ready to play when they walk into training camp."

Owners aren't ready to vote. Not now. They want more information. But, trust me, once they have it, we will have an expanded regular season.

"It's something we'd certainly consider," Indianapolis owner Jim Irsay said. "You have to look at every aspect of it. I haven't seen the whole thing broken down in terms of positives and negatives and how it affects everything from A to Z. But, based on everything, I think there's a likelihood we would make a change there."

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as a fan id like to see an increase in games and also an extension in the season. i think you could get 2 bye weeks in the system an add a new game day that includes wed night .and thurs. or friday to make room that way we can all see the extra games. it would require teams to play diferent through out the season. but i think that would mean alot more back-up players so roster should be changed. all in all it could be fun but details i would prefer to see first.

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i saw this earlier on nfl net , if there were games added they would play less preseason games , and also extend the 53 man roster, problem would be for rookies and 2nd yr players adjusting to an 18 game NFL schedule, and they would only get 2 preseason games to show what they can do, Remember M Ryan didnt lock down the Starters job till the 3rd preseason game.... soooooo yea

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Translation: The league thinks you'll like the next menu better than the one you're holding.

New and "better menu" means higher ticket prices.... <_<

This is really setting the table for what Roger Goodell really wants, overseas football & eventual expansion. By adding a 17th meaningful game to every teams schedule, they can much more easily schedule 1 overseas game for every team. The overseas game would come off of a bye week, or just before a bye week. By doing this with a 17th game, teams can keep an even number of home, away, and neutral site games, which is what they want.

Once every team becomes accustomed to playing a game overseas, and once they have developed a solid audience overseas, they can begin the international expansion with either a single team or possibly a full division overseas. That is what the NFL has been pushing towards the last few years.

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BAD IDEAAAAAA!!!!! If they do that, the roster better go from 53 to 75 to take account of injuries. RBs better get huge *** pay checks from now on because their number of years in the league just dropped by 3-4 years.

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if by "they ",you mean the cia....i know they also have a conspiracy against the falcons. i hate those guys.(finneran fumble after "they" broke his legs 2 seasons in a row.i hate the cia and they're apparent hate for the falcons.also like 3-4 fumbles from turner this season. all CIA.if you notice they appear on our board,(not me), but i seen them.they always have like 30,000 posts but you never seen them before. real clever guys.watch and see next season matt ryan will be arrested for fighting dogs or some bull crap like that.we will lose turner on a big game due to a prostition sting.those CIA are clever thats all im sayin.GOD, i hate those guy's(CIA).

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The part I don't like about reducing the number of preseason games is that it gives fewer chances for rookies to make an impact and get comfortable with the team. For ones that project to be starters, they gain valuable experience by logging many more snaps of "real" game action playing alongside their teammates. For the ones that are fighting for a roster spot or a position in the rotation, there are plenty of chances for them to show their worth in the latter parts of these games, which I'm afraid would get squeezed out if the number of preseason games were reduced.

Also, I don't understand how you can say that the chances of injury are reduced by eliminating two preseason games in favor of two regular season games tacked on the end. Yes, the number of games are technically the same, but assuming training camp starts at the same time it does currently it will mean that 2ish more weeks of football action will be required from every player every year. This will undoubtedly lead to more injuries as the season progresses...

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18 games seasons? Hmmmmmm. More of the USFL legacy shall live on after all. ^_^

Other USFL tidbits the NFL has since established:

The two-point conversion (since adopted by the NFL, in 1994).

The college rule of stopping the clock after first downs was used only for the final two minutes of each half.

For the 1985 season, a method of challenging officials' rulings on the field via instant replay (using a system that is almost identical to that used by the NFL today).

A salary cap of $1.8 million to reduce inevitable losses and spread talent throughout the league. The NFL introduced a salary cap in 1994.

The NFL would also eventually have franchises in some of the markets where the USFL proved fertile or renewed interest in the game, including Arizona (the St. Louis Cardinals moving there in 1988), Jacksonville (the Jaguars being awarded as an expansion franchise for the 1995 season), and Tennessee (the Houston Oilers, while waiting for their Nashville stadium to be completed, commuted to Memphis for home games).

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