NFL owners are only going to follow the money trail when it comes to installing a 17th game.
When the National Football League and its Players Association reached a deal for a new collective bargaining agreement last March, one of the concessions from players was that the league’s owners would get to install a 17th regular season game on the schedule at some point in the next year to three years—from 2021 to 2023—that is, if they wanted.
You can rest assured that, yes, NFL owners want it. And they will install it sooner than later.
NFL owners are set to have some virtual meetings on Wednesday to discuss the 17th game idea along with other needs, including COVID-19 protocols, coaching diversity and more, according to Judy Battista. While no one is quite sure when an official vote will take place on the addition of another regular season game, it stands to reason that it will happen and it’s only a matter of time. Wait, let’s clarify that: it’s a matter of the shortest possible amount of time.
It’s been noted that the 17th game inclusion in the collective bargaining agreement is merely an option for owners—one they do not necessarily have to exercise. However if you think a group of billionaires who have the chance to add another week of revenues from parking and concessions, media and merchandise, then you’re an ostrich with your head in the sand.
Throughout the course of the day, owners might leak reports from their virtual meetings to the press about their concern for player safety and the rigors of the 17-game season, but just know these are businesspersons first and foremost. And like any other enterprise, any social benefit is the cherry on top. The primary concern is the almighty dollar.
Why would the players even budge on this issue? Well, they were able to secure significantly more money for themselves. There are more jobs than ever thanks to expanded rosters and practice squads. Minimum salaries were increased, and the players’ overall revenue share is higher as well. There are myriad other concessions on the part of owners, but much of that was in exchange for the task of playing 17 regular season games instead of 16.
It would be a major upset if it didn’t happen as soon as next year.
You might hear that owners are waffling on the decision or trying to take other perspectives into account, but if the paperwork states that they can add another full week of regular season revenue to the books as soon as 2021, then every NFL owner is going to vote for that to happen. They aren’t going to delay a year of opportunity, and they certainly aren’t going to decide against the option. It’s exactly what they pushed so hard for.
There can be positives and negatives here for a 17-game season, especially if it gets rid of some preseason games on a permanent basis. But no matter what you believe about it, for better or worse, you can know it’s coming and it’s coming in a matter of months.