It's no surprise but NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith can't agree on much of anything and that includes an 18-game schedule. Because we're at the epicenter of the football world for Super Bowl week, both parties conducted press conferences in a State of the League type of address.
The topic of an 18-game season brought about plenty of disagreement.
The CBA currently allows the NFL to move to an 18-game schedule without the approval of the players, which Goodell pointed out at his Friday press conference. The NFL has said that they wouldn't make this move without the approval of the players even though they don't need it. "If we can't do it right, we won't do it," Goodell said on Friday. Goodell did sound like a man who wants this to get done and is planning on it getting done.
Smith, though, took the opposite approach. "Any change in a season that increases the risk of injury, increases the risk of concussion, increases the risk of a long-term consequence from playing football, has the potential to shorten careers and jeopardize the 3.4-[year] average players have right now without a guaranteed contract. Anything that does that is something that's not in the best interest of the players of the National Football League."
A recent Associated Press poll showed only about a quarter of fans are interested in an 18-game schedule but Goodell pointed to the preseason as the root of the problem. He says fans have routinely complained about the preseason format and emphasized that they would be replacing meaningless preseason games for meaningful regular season games.
The NFL wants to grow the pie for everyone. Goodell said hanging on the status quo is unacceptable under any circumstances. He noted that there hadn't been any new stadiums since 2006 (the Cowboys stadium and Chiefs renovations were already on their way) so there is a need to grow the game.
From my view, I think fans are complaining more about the price of preseason tickets. Personally, I haven't found many fans interested in an 18-game schedule but the NFL views this as an important piece in their efforts to grow the game.