18-game NFL schedule: What has commissioner Roger Goodell said?

18-game NFL schedule: What has commissioner Roger Goodell said?

Commissioner Roger Goodell has once again addressed talk of an extended NFL season, admitting that the league is considering adding an 18th game.

An 18-game schedule would need to be approved by the NFL Players Association, which would likely have concerns regarding player safety and the quality of on-field action. Nevertheless Goodell refused to rule out an extra fixture when speaking to reporters this week.

“The key thing for us is looking at making sure we continue to do the things that make our game safer,” the commissioner said. “Seventeen games is a long season, so we want to make sure we look at that and make sure that we continue the safety efforts.”

“We would do it in the context of reducing the number of preseason games. We think that’s a good trade: less preseason games and more regular-season games. I think most anybody would think that was beneficial.”

Why are there 17 games in an NFL season?

In contrast to the 82-game NBA regular season and the marathon MLB schedule, spanning 162 games per team, the NFL’s 17 regular season fixtures is an outlier in US sport.

The NFL regular season lasts just four months, meaning that teams who miss out on the playoffs have a vast break between campaigns. American football has always had a comparatively sparse schedule, owing to the huge physical toll that a single match has on players.

For this reason the league had played a 16-game regular season since 1978 but an extra game was added in 2021, as part of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the Players Association and team owners.

At the time the CBA was passed Goodell described the introduction of a 17th game as a “monumental moment in NFL history” and insisted that players’ well-being was not being put at risk.

“What we are actually doing is following the data and following the science to make sure that we are doing things [well] both from a health and safety standpoint as well as seeking to get better in every way,” he said.

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