As discussion continues both publicly and at the bargaining table, it is a good opportunity for a reminder that the status of the proposed 18-2 enhanced season format has not changed. It is still a concept under review among NFL clubs, the NFL Players Association, and NFL business partners. Following are Commissioner Roger Goodell’s comments on the enhanced season from his August 25 press conference following a league meeting in Atlanta. These comments continue to be accurate.
Commissioner Goodell: The most significant discussion of the day was the enhanced season and restructuring our season from 16 and 4 to 18 and 2. There was overwhelming support for the concept and that we want to continue to address a variety of issues. We are putting together a specific proposal, which the negotiating team will provide to the union’s negotiating team. There is tremendous support for it.
Do you have the right to unilaterally impose the enhanced season and did you not because of sensitivities with the players?
As you know, in the Collective Bargaining Agreement we have the right to go to 22 games. The ownership does not think that’s the right step to take. We want to do this the right way and make it good for everyone, including the players, our fans, and the game in general. From our standpoint, we think we’ve moved this concept along. There’s a tremendous amount of momentum for it. We think it’s the right step to take. But we want to do that with our partners, including the players.
On expanding OTAs and other training to prepare for the season:
It’s got to be a comprehensive solution. That’s why we’re taking the necessary steps here and taking the time to address the concept and all of the aspects of this that will make it successful. That’s our focus. How do we make this successful for everybody? But we had a lot of discussion on the Competition Committee analysis about offseason training, what we would do with rosters, what we would do with injured reserved rules. All of those things would allow us the ability to do this correctly.
On comprehensive proposal to union, how will it be different than previous discussions?
What we’ve done to date is show all the analysis that we have shared with the ownership. We have shared all of that with the players from the first negotiation session in June 2009 to the more recent discussion in June and obviously the negotiating session of just 10 days ago. Right now we have to get more specific about what exactly we are talking about, how we think it can be successful and work with the players to make sure it’s done the right way.
Do you think the players will buy into this idea?
I do because I think there are a lot of benefits to the players. We understand the player health and safety issue. They’ve identified the issues in our discussions that they’re concerned with. We are aware of all of those. And we want to make sure we address them appropriately.