The National Football League voted tonight to increase the regular season from 14 to 16 games for 1978 and to add a second wild-card team, from each conference to the playoffs.
The club owners also voted to place Seattle permanently in the NFC Central Division beginning in 1978 and Tampa Bay in the AFC West.
For 1977, Tampa Bay will be in the National conference and Seattle in the AFC, the reverse of last season.
The 16-game schedule and additional wild-card teams will provide extra games for the television networks as the NFL begins negotiations for new contracts, beginning in 1978.
Commissioner Pete Rozelle noted earlier that the NFL was trying to come up with a more attractive schedule to obtain more revenue from television to help pay off the $107 million collective-bargaining agreement with the NFL Players Association.
The 1978 package also provides for an entirely new scheduling pattern.
The date of the upcoming draft also was announced for May 3-4.
The new scheduling pattern will mean that the Redskins and all other teams in the NFC East will play at least 12 common opponents.
On the basis of last year's standings, the Redskins would play the top four teams in the AFC East - Baltimore, New England, Miami, and the New York Jets - once each. In subsequent years, the NFC East teams would play the teams in some other division, on a rotating basis.
For the other four games, the Redskins, who finished second in the NFC East, would play two teams that finished second in the other divisions, San Francisco and Chicago, and two teams that finished third, New Orleans and Detroit.
The increase in the schedule to 16 games will mean that two of the usual six exhibition games for each team will be ordered.
The wildcard setup provides that if, say, the Redskins and Chicago Bears ended up as the wild-card teams in the National conference, they would play each other the first Sunday after the regular season.
On the same day, the two-wild card teams from the American conference would play each other.
The victors in those games would join the six division winners for the rest of the playoffs.
The 16-game schedule, the permanent placement of the two expansion teams and the new scheduling formal were voted on as a package and passed, 21-7, after discussion that lasted 9 hours 15 minutes.
It was learned that the Redskins favored the package. Among those opposed were Pittsburgh, Dallas and Oakland.
The wild-card issue was voted on separately and passed unanixously.
What is being termed "the new face of football," as a result of more balanced scheduling was, of course achieved without realigning the league geographically.
He said that the television networks discovered that league rivalries had more appeal than local rivalries when the antiblackout law first permitted the telecasts of some local games, in places such as New York City. He said that doubleheader games involing teams outside that city were preferred to local games, particularly when the Giants and Jets were having poor seasons.