It’s a subject that comes up from time to time, but which apparently never gets enough traction to be taken seriously. Should the NFL season be longer than just 16 games? It seems like the question is once again being thrown around, but team owners are reportedly paying more attention this time. They are rumored to be contemplating adding an additional game to the season to get more bang for their millions of bucks.
The NFL and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) are currently discussing how to establish a new collective bargaining agreement and several topics have been especially contentious. Not the least of which is the suggestion that the regular season go to 17 games, but it would come with a tradeoff. Preseason games would be completely eliminated. From both a player’s and a team’s point of view, that would make perfect sense.
Of course, the idea on the part of the owners is to get more value for the hundreds of millions of dollars they sink into players each year. For example, Seattle Seahawks owner Paul Allen would love to be able to put Russell Wilson to better use in order to pay off the $140 million he picked up this past April. That will see him earn, after a $65-million signing bonus, $35 million a year for the four-year contract. He’s guaranteed to earn $107 million, no matter what happens.
Not surprisingly, the NFLPA isn’t too enthusiastic about the idea. The union might consider extending the season if players were offered more financial incentives to play an extra game or two, but that would ultimately defeat the purpose, from the owners’ point of view, of extending the season.
Talk of an 18-game season went around the bargaining table this past July before being batted down like a Julius Peppers football. The NFLPA asserted that it would in no way benefit players and the idea was scratched and even some team owners seemed to shy away from the idea.
Discussions for a new collective bargaining agreement are heating up and it’s uncertain what the future holds. Team owners had wanted to have a resolution in place prior to the start of this season, but there is still nothing concrete established. On a positive note, though, both sides are optimistic that they can reach an understanding soon and are happy with the progress that has already been made. The current agreement expires after the 2020 season and everyone is confident that a solution will be in place well in advance.
Surprisingly enough, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has an ally helping to solve some key issues and bring the negotiations to a close this season. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who went after the commissioner a few years ago for his $200-million compensation package, even threatening to sue other team owners for agreeing to it. By last year, though, the two had apparently patched things up and were working together to move the league forward.
If the 17-team season doesn’t find enough support, there are still other options that might be considered. Perhaps adding another game in the playoffs would appeal to players, as it would give some an extra chance for a shot at a Super Bowl appearance. This idea is being tossed around, but there isn’t anything specific yet in the works.
With sports gambling becoming so popular – and legal – in the US, perhaps there’s some way to capitalize on wagers to give incentives to the players. The NFL could set up its own sportsbook and offer a 17th game prop bet that would give a percentage of the take to the players. That way, everyone would win – the NFL, the sportsbook, the fans and the players.