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News » NFL looking to extend regular season

NFL looking to extend regular season

NFL looking to extend regular season
DANA POINT, Calif. - The National Football League ended its annual meeting Wednesday with the major focal point being discussion about increasing the regular season to 17 or 18 games.

"We are looking at a variety of formats for restructuring," Commissioner Roger Goodell said at the conclusion of the meetings. "Our goal is to improve the quality of what we're doing."

That is as much about decreasing the number of preseason games, which Goodell acknowledged are not quality games, as adding to the regular season. The latter, of course, is a way "to grow the game," according to Goodell, as well as create additional revenue.

No vote occurred at this meeting, although Goodell said "camps are definitely forming" with those that favor 17 or 18 games. It's possible, although not definite, that a vote could come at the league's spring meeting in May.

A spokesperson for DeMaurice Smith said the new executive director of the NFL Players Association hopes there will be discussion with the players before a vote takes place.

Spokesperson George Atallah told Sports Business Daily, "He'd like the league and the owners to consider the players as equal business partners when making any decision, particularly when it comes to a decision like extending the season. Mr. Smith is confident that all parties can work collaboratively on this issue and all other items so that everyone involved can benefit ... the players' basic interests need to be considered. He's ready to be that voice."

Goodell said Monday and reiterated Wednesday that he plans to talk with the players and broadcast partners about the proposals.

The restructuring of the 20-game season also affects the entire year's schedule, from the scouting combine to the draft, OTAs and training camp as well as roster and practice-squad size. Scheduling would also be an issue. Currently, each NFL team plays six division games and eight games against a division from each conference. The remaining two games are against conference teams that finished at the same place in their divisions. For example, if the NFC East is matched up against the NFC North, the first-place team in the NFC East would be the first-place teams from the NFC South and NFC West.

An equitable way would have to be found for those extra one or two games.

Said Goodell, "Everything is being looked at."

The biggest issue for coaches will be preparing their players for the season with a shorter preseason.

Said Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, "If you go to a two-game preseason schedule you've got to acknowledge that the development and evaluation of young players, specifically the quarterback under game circumstances will change. And at that position and others I don't think you know what you have until you have them under those circumstances. But if we go to a two-game preseason, the vast majority of that time will be spent preparing starters to play football. I think that is one of the question marks we will all have around the league in regards to that potential change."

For those that believe the injury factor would be significant, 49ers coach Mike Singletary said, "I don't think you're going to have any more than you have at any other time in the year. Those things don't concern me as much as really taking football to a place where, it's really too much. We have a great thing going right now. Whatever the league decides, as coaches we're going to be on board.


McNabb has previously said he wants a contract extension and also wants to feel comfortable about the direction the team is headed. While little has been reported recently, Reid said simply, "We sure like Donovan, obviously. We understand that from a player's standpoint, he's the face of the Philadelphia Eagles. We want to keep him at that position."

  • New Browns coach Eric Mangini said the current plan is for Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson to compete for the starting job.

    "I don't have a projected starter at this point," Mangini said. "What we're going to do is we'll have an open competition where they'll both get a chance to establish that they'll be the starter. I've been through this before in New York. I think that competition was fair. I think it was thorough. And at the time it was very clear to me who the starter should be. I anticipate it being the same way.

    "I'm excited about both of them. I sat down with both of them (and have) been able to spend some time with them. They've been spending time with (offensive coordinator) Brian Daboll, (quarterbacks coach) Carl Smith learning the system. I like both guys. I like a lot of the things that I've learned about them through conversations and also things that I've seen on tape."

    When asked if Anderson's belief that the fans favor Quinn would have any bearing on the final decision, Mangini said, "What's most important to me is who can help us win. I think if anybody is helping move the team forward then people will rally around him and there will be a positive response."

    Rules changes

    Before concluding the meetings, owners approved several more changes, the most notable being adjustments for instant replay and the draft order.

  • Now available for review in instant replay will be plays ruled as incomplete passes where the opposing team recovered the ball and the play was actually a fumble. A recovery could be awarded although no advance of the ball will be allowed.

  • The order of the draft will now separate non-playoff teams from playoff teams. Picks from 1-20 will be for teams that failed to qualify for the postseason. Choices from 21-24 will be for first-round losers, 25-28 will be second-round losers, 29-30 will be losers in the conference championship games and, as it has been, picks 31 and 32 will be the Super Bowl loser and winner, respectively.

  • Jacksonville withdrew a proposal that would have seeded the first round of the playoffs by record rather than guaranteeing a division winner a home game. There are simply too many teams that believe a division champion should automatically have a home game, even in a situation like this past season when the 8-8 San Diego Chargers hosted the 12-4 Indianapolis Colts.

  • In May, the league will discuss a proposal that would allow agents to negotiate contracts for potential free agents in a 5-7 day window prior to the start of free agency. However, players would not be permitted to take physicals, visit teams or sign a contract with a new team.

    Currently, negotiations are prohibited until after player contracts expire at midnight on the final day of the league year, which this year was Feb. 26.

    Howard Balzer is an award-winning sportswriter who has covered the National Football League for more than three decades and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee. He is a senior NFL writer for The Sports Xchange.

  • Author:Fox Sports
    Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
    Added: March 26, 2009

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