National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell announced yesterday that the thirty-two owners of the teams "overwhelmingly support" an 18-game season. He indicated that they would like to see this implemented as soon as the 2012 season.
This is interesting timing since, according to a report in Forbes Magazine, things do not look good for the upcoming negotiations between NFL players union leader DeMaurice Smith and Goodell. They note that "expert observers think the chances are real for a drag-out battle escalating to a strike or a lockout."
The current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) expires in March 2011, so this concept of an 18-game season would definitely be one of the hot items on the table. Since Forbes is almost guaranteeing some kind of stoppage due to problems in negotiations, why would owners put such a proposal on the table at this time? Probably because they want to be certain to have some kind of leverage should a lockout drag on for more than a few games.
This cannot please players very much, considering the 16-game season is already grueling enough for them, but an increase in games played is not unprecedented. The NFL has gone from a 12-game season to a 14-game season to the current 16 games, so it has happened before. How would the schedule look if this is implemented? Would we be playing the Super Bowl in March?
I think the 16-game season is certainly long enough; with some teams going into the playoffs and playing additional games, it would definitely drag the season out unnecessarily. Two more games added to the season, while no doubt enhancing the owners' coffers, will increase the chances for more injuries and certainly will present a tougher terrain for the players each year. This could well be one of the sticking points if a lockout occurs during negotiations next year.
We do not need an 18-game season in the NFL. I think Goodell and the owners would do much better to start thinking about ways to avoid a lockout next season by doing everything they can to make certain the current 16-game season is played in its entirety in 2011.