18 game NFL season may provide leeway to avoid stoppage


It is unknown if there will be a 2011 National Football League season – the contract between the league and the players is set to expire, and the possibility of a strike or a lockout loom. However, at least one observer believes the likely onset of an 18 game schedule offers room for fruitful negotiation.

The analysis comes from Andrew Brandt in an article published by Huffington Post.

What the 18-game schedule does, obviously, is put more money on the table. The NFL has no problem monetizing regular season games, but has never found a way to effectively cash in on pre-season games, for reasons that aren’t at all surprising.

In addition to adding two more games that count to each team’s schedule, Brandt says another possibility might be giving each team a second bye week. This will be a nod to the physical condition of the players, providing an extra week in-season to allow their bodies to bounce back at least a little bit.

That move, it seems to us, would require adding yet another week to the regular season schedule, which would be one more opportunity to bring in broadcast advertising revenue.

Play benefits that the NFL can offer include less contact and practice during the off-season, bigger team rosters, bigger game-day rosters (fewer players declared inactive), larger practice squads and changes to how injured reserve works. These offers by the league would address concerns about injury and durability that players have, and would offer more opportunities for employment.

Brandt notes that the NFL could simply declare its plan to switch to an 18 game season unilaterally. He says the fact that it has not done that is a good indication that it will use the proposal as an opportunity to negotiate in good faith with the players.

RBR-TVBR observation: This will be a high profile, high stakes negotiation involving many disparate interested parties on both sides, and each side will likely have its share of hot-headed hard-liners. For the sake of the many third party interests who do not have a seat at this poker table, of which broadcasters are one, we hope that cooler heads prevail and that the next football season proceeds without disruption.