Roger Goodell: Owners May Vote on Lengthening NFL Regular Season

By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 24, 2009

DANA POINT, Calif., March 23 -- NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said here Monday the league's franchise owners might vote in May about the possibility of lengthening the regular season to 17 or 18 games per team.

The issue is being discussed by the owners and NFL officials at the annual league meeting that began Monday morning and runs until Wednesday.

Goodell said he does not expect any votes on the topic to be taken at this meeting. The owners have their annual spring meeting scheduled for May and might vote then.

"It could come as early as this May," Goodell said at a news conference. "But I think we'll have a very good sense of the ownership and our clubs as we come out of this meeting. Then we'll make a determination of when that vote is necessary. But I think it's dependent in large part on our relationship with our [television] partners and the players."

Goodell reiterated the owners plan to address the possibility of extending the regular season with the players' union as part of the upcoming labor negotiations. The parties would have to agree to additional compensation for the players for the measure to be enacted.

At this point, though, the owners don't even have a proposal to make to the players because they haven't voted on what they want. The owners appear intent upon extending the regular season but have not officially decided that. And they haven't decided whether they prefer a 17- or 18-game regular season.

"I think we all recognize that would add value for the fans," Houston Texans owner Robert McNair said. "But there are a number of questions: What do you do with your roster? What impact might that have on injuries? What do you do with injured reserve? . . . I think we'll be going through that process. But those are a lot of questions that have to be answered. And we don't have those answers yet."

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay said: "It's something that we've talked about, and we'd certainly consider. I think you just have to really look at every aspect of it. I haven't seen the whole thing broken down in terms of positives, negatives, how it affects everything from A to Z. I think based on that information that there's a good likelihood that we would make a change there, [but] at the same time, there's nothing definite at this point."

The owners apparently would like to lengthen the regular season as a means of potentially generating additional revenue in their next set of network television contracts. They would shorten the preseason by the corresponding number of games, keeping the total number of games at 20 per team.

"That's the analysis that we're going through: How can we create greater value with the content we have?" Goodell said. "Making it attractive by making sure you don't overexpose your product is another issue. This would stay within that 20-game framework, which is still, I think, roughly two months less than any other professional league. So I think we keep our content tightly presented and continue to be attractive to all the people who want our content."

Goodell said it's unlikely the measure will be enacted before the 2011 season.

This meeting began with Goodell addressing the owners about the challenges of operating amid the national economic crisis.

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2009 The Washington Post Company