NFL, Union Have Discussed 17-Game Schedule, But Details Lacking
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Steelers President Art Rooney II "provided the first public confirmation" that owners are "seeking a 17-game regular season as part of their ongoing labor negotiations with the players' union, but it's not clear to them at this point whether that effort will be successful," according to Mark Maske of the WASHINGTON POST. Neither Goodell nor Rooney "provided a prediction on whether the NFLPA would agree" to expanding the season. The proposed lengthening of the regular season "probably would be accompanied by a reduction of the preseason, from four to two or three games." There also "could be an expansion" of the playoff field from 12 to 14 teams. The additional regular season and postseason games would "serve to increase revenue to offset those lost from the reduction of the preseason." The current 10-year CBA runs through the '20 season. Negotiations are said to be "far more amicable than they were before the owners locked out the players" before the '11 agreement. Goodell said of negotiations, "I don't know how to gauge when or how soon. I'm hopeful that we all see the benefits of doing something earlier and that we can get something done. But that's still to be determined." Rooney: "I don't want to put a date on it. ... We need to keep the conversation going at the negotiating table before we say much publicly about it" (WASHINGTON POST, 10/17).
FAR FROM UNANIMOUS: USA TODAY's Mike Jones cites sources as saying that there is a "significant rift on the matter of extending the season" among owners. An 18-game regular season was "met with strong opposition among owners, so the focus shifted to a 17-game slate." However, nearly half of the owners "oppose that setup as well and would prefer to continue playing just 16 games." Beyond maintaining the usual Labor Day weekend start date and playing further into February, there are currently "few concrete ideas on how the league would make a 17-game season work" (USA TODAY, 10/17).
NEGOTIATING TABLE: NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith just completed his annual visit to every team, and ESPN's Dan Graziano said now that this owners' meeting is done, the "hope is they can get back to the bargaining table and hammer this thing out." Graziano said because there has been "enough agreement on many issues that aren't the top line financial issues," a deal could "come together very, very quickly." But, the "top line financial issues are no small thing." At issue is if the 17-game schedule is agreed to, "what percentage of the revenue are the owners willing to grant players in exchange." Graziano said of the most important issue for the owners, "The key thing is they need money for stadium projects and that's something that historically has come right off the top before the revenue split so going into these negotiations that seemed to be the priority" ("OTL," ESPN, 10/16).
MONEY RULES THE DAY: NBCSN’s Chris Simms said the “money is going to be just too great for all parties involved to where this will get done" ("PFT," NBCSN, 10/17). ESPN’s Damien Woody said a 17-game schedule “has nothing to do with player safety because we all know if you throw enough money” at the players, they "will got the extra mile.” Woody: “I just don’t like the NFL tinkering with something that’s still good” (“Get Up,” ESPN, 10/17).