NFL: NFL Draft
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Commissioner Roger Goodell recently downplayed the potential for an 18-game NFL schedule and laid out three key elements that would have to be addressed to get there.

While fans have clamored to have the league replace pre-season games with more meaningful contests, the logistics behind such a move aren’t quite that simple.

Goodell, appearing on The Pat McAfee Show during last month’s draft, sparked discussion of the matter when he appeared to suggest he’d been looking into a change.

“I’m not a fan of the preseason,” he said. “But the reality is, you know, I think I’d rather replace a preseason game with a regular-season [game] any day. That’s just picking quality, right? So if we got to 18 [regular-season games] and two [preseason games], that’s not an unreasonable thing.”

NFL: NFL Draft
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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Goodell Downplays 18-Game NFL Schedule

Addressing reporters last week, Goodell downplayed the notion that the league office was actively looking into an 18-game NFL schedule. He also pointed out what things would have to be ironed out to even get to the planning stage.

Player safety and of course, placating the NFL Player’s Association would be a priority.

“The key thing for us is looking at making sure we continue to do the things that make our game safer,” Goodell said. “Seventeen games is a long season. That’s number one.”

“Working with our players association is number two. We would reach an agreement with them if we were going to proceed in that level.”

The third aspect addressed by Goodell would be the quality of play, something he suggests would be a logical result of swapping out a pre-season game for a regular season game.

“We think that’s a good trade,” he said. “Less preseason games and more regular-season games. I think most anybody would think was beneficial.”

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Not Actively Considering

That said, quality is affected by player safety. An additional meaningful game could mean additional injuries and subsequently more backups getting action filling in for hurt stars.

Not to mention, more games that count in the standings could water down some late-season matchups. In sports with a greater number of scheduled games – the NBA and MLB for instance – there are a significant number of teams with little to play for late in the season.

If fans are hoping to see an 18-game NFL schedule, it seems like they’re going to be waiting a little bit.

“I wasn’t floating something that we’re actively thinking about now,” Goodell said. “It is something that we think about in the long-range context.”

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