In the past, the owners of the 32 teams in the NFL have met in Dallas to have their December meetings, often making it as much a social occasion as a business meeting. Due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic this year, the December meetings were held virtually and one of the main topics of discussion was the possibility of a 17-game season next year. The idea has been talked about for a couple of seasons now and it looks like the proposition is still up in the air as the owners decided in their virtual meetings that the idea would once again be put on hold. The idea will be brought up for discussion once again in early 2021 when the owners get together again.
No 17-game Season For The NFL
Actually, what might have been one of the biggest hurdles to the extra game next season was the NFLPA, the players union. But it had already signed off on the idea during the collective bargaining talks earlier this year. Add one more game to the regular season schedule, but not this year.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told the press, “We had a lengthy discussion on this. Obviously, it’s an important decision for us. We did not take any votes with respect to committing to do it. In the collective bargaining agreement, we have that right to do it.” Naturally, how future television and media deals shake out will be an important factor in the potential change, but the league appears to be readying itself to make the addition.
In the collective bargaining agreement, a scheduling formula for a 17th game was approved unanimously. It would include an inter-conference matchup, based on divisional standings from the preceding season and on a rotation divisional basis. The idea is to facilitate competitive fairness, create additional value through quality matchups and preserve the objectivity of the scheduling process,” the NFL Commissioner’s office said in a statement to reporters.
No More Preseason Changes
During the virtual meeting, the subject of preseason games was raised and discussed with the main topic being whether to reduce the number of games in that preseason window. Goodell seemed to be in favor of reducing the number of preseason games from four to two, but he got some serious push back on that plan from Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys, Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots, John Mara of the New York Giants and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Art Rooney II, so, that was that.
Goodell agreed that playing through the pandemic has provided plenty of lessons and added that his office would confer with the NFLPA after the Super Bowl in February to discuss the 2020 season and try to make a little sense out of it all, and to see what measures that they might want to keep in a post-COVID-19 setting.
“This has been a period of learning” said Commissioner Goodell. “I think it has forced us to think differently and innovate, and we’ll look at that and see how we implement things going forward.”
Reduction In Injuries A Major Topic
Some changes worthy of further discussion and consideration include aspects of the virtual NFL Draft, as well as the training camp acclimation period. Expanded practice squads and unlimited callbacks from injured reserve are also going to be on the table when next they get together.
One thing that the owners virtual conference did get done was to approve the Tennessee Titans’ realigning of ownership, with Amy Adams Strunk remaining the primary owner. Goodell said that the matter should be completed by the end of December and added, “I think it strengthens our ownership in a way that is very positive.”