The NFL owners approved Tuesday to extend the regular season to 17 games. This is a decision that has long been expected to bring additional revenue to the wealthiest sports leagues in the country.
Players have agreed to additional games as part of the 2020 collective bargaining agreement. This allows the league to expand as soon as the 2021 season arrives. The pre-season will be reduced from 4 games to 3 games to maintain CBA compliance. This limits the total number of pre-season and regular-season games to 20.
One week remains for each team. The season begins on Thursday night, September 9th and ends on January 9th, 2022. The Pro Bowl will be performed at the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on February 6, 2022, and the Super Bowl LVI will be performed at the Sophie Stadium. Los Angeles has been postponed for a week from February 6th to February 13th, 2022.
Shortly after the owner finished the first day of the two-day virtual meeting, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the decision to expand was “a monumental moment in NFL history.” He also quoted league data with the highest player injury rates in pre-season matches. (Many of the people who play extensively in pre-season games are backups, and it’s unlikely that other players will form a team.)
“What we really do is make sure we are doing things according to data and science. [well] We aim to be better in every way, not just in terms of health and safety. “
The formula for scheduling a season in odd-numbered games consists of two parts. First, the AFC and NFC teams alternate between 8-9 home games each year. AFC will have 9 games in 2021. The additional match will be a cross-conference match based on the previous year’s division rankings and the division schedule rotation two seasons ago.
The full 2021 schedule will be released later this spring.
The NFL said the enhanced season will ensure that each team will play an international match at least once every eight seasons after 2022. Up to four neutral site games are planned, mainly in Canada, Europe, Mexico, South America and the United Kingdom. The league also said it could volunteer to play home games internationally so that interested teams can now. Chris Harbin, NFL Executive Vice President, Chief Strategy and Growth Officer, said Germany is one of the countries that can host games in the coming years.
The NFL Players Association has agreed to the change last year, but some players have been speaking on social media for the past few weeks to complain about additional games. on Sunday, New Orleans Saints Run back Alvin Kamara Tweeted, “It’s ridiculous … like hell.” Green Bay Packers safety Adrian Amos Tweet: “We really made this happen.”
Player salaries will not change, but will be paid for 18 weeks instead of 17 weeks. However, the benefits of some players will change.
According to Foreign Affairs George Ataller, Executive Director of NFLPA, the owner’s decision to enable the 17-game option will trigger a change to training during the off-season and during the season. Among them is a reduction in the maximum amount of time a player can spend at a team facility during the season. Since December, NFLPA has been advocating making last year’s virtual off-season permanent as a way to reduce body wear.
The league is working on a plan for this year’s off-season program, which will be affected, at least in some way, by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In a Tuesday memo obtained by ESPN, the league informed teams that OTA for all teams would start on April 19 (previously, teams with new head coaches were two weeks earlier than other teams. Was allowed to start).
According to the CBA, OTA is voluntary for all players. The COVID-19 inspection protocol established last year will continue to be implemented. Training bonuses for player contracts must be paid as specified in those contracts. The League and NFLPA will discuss other off-season program issues over the next 10 days, including virtual or direct OTA meetings, field participation requirements and restrictions. Other matters. The memo states that if no agreement is reached between the league and the union on these issues, the current CBA guidelines will apply to the 2021 OTA.
Approval on Tuesday came a year after the owner expanded the playoff field from 12 games to 14 games. This adds two playoff games and is estimated to generate $ 150 million in annual revenue. Most NFL revenues are distributed to players according to CBA terms. With the addition of the 17th game, the player distribution will be 48.5% of the sharable revenue.
“Players share the revenue they bring to the NFL, so as the NFL’s funding grows, so does the player’s revenue. The new CBA also increases the player’s revenue sharing as part of the negotiated media kicker. This will be effective if: We play 17 regular season games, and as a result, players will see even greater revenue growth in the future when new media revenues actually begin. Probably, “the NFL Players Association said in a statement.
This expansion guarantee was incorporated into new media distribution rights announced by the League earlier this month with Amazon, CBS, ESPN / ABC, Fox and NBC. According to reports, these deals will generate more than $ 100 billion in revenue for the NFL and its players during the 2023-2033 season.
The NFL has played 16 game seasons since 1978, but some owners have been pushing the expansion for over a decade. The league approached imposing it in 2014 without the consent of the players, but eventually planned to save it as the next CBA bargaining chip.
ESPN’s Dan Graziano contributed to this report.
– NFL Sports
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