Yesterday, the NFL owners voted to increase the regular season from 16 games to 17, effective immediately . . . so beginning this coming season.
The owners have wanted to do this for a while . . . the players were reluctant. However, it became inevitable when the players agreed to a collective bargaining agreement last year that INCLUDED an option for the owners to add a game.
A few players have already grumbled about the plan . . . but at this point, there’s nothing they can do . . . at least until this agreement expires after the 2030 season. So, 17 games will be the reality for the next decade.
So how is it going to work? Here are FIVE THINGS you need to know:
1. The season won’t start earlier, it’ll be extended. And each team will still only get one Bye Week.
The 17th game will replace a preseason game, so there will be three preseason games instead of four. The regular season will still start at the same time . . . just after Labor Day . . . and the season will go long, with the Super Bowl now scheduled for the middle of February.
For the upcoming season, Super Bowl 56 will be on February 13th.
2. The players won’t get paid more . . . but they will benefit financially.
Some players aren’t enthusiastic about adding a game because it’ll take some time before they’re able to reap the benefits.
Initially, most players will be paid the same . . . and actually, their paychecks will be LOWER because their salary will be spread over more weeks. A few players will be eligible to get paid for an additional game, depending on their contracts.
That said, the players as a whole are entitled to a 48% share of the revenue, and this expansion triggers an additional boost, which will likely push it to around 49%.
Because of that, and the fact that the NFL will rake in a TON of money by adding a game, the players will see their future contracts get fatter in the coming years . . . so there will be a trickle-down effect over time.
3. Not every team will have the same number of home games.
There’s an odd-number of games now, so only half the teams will have an extra home game. In 2021, the AFC will have nine home games and eight away games. In 2022, it’ll flip . . . and the NFC will get some extra home-cookin’.
4. The teams will play an extra cross-conference game.
The league will match each division with a division in the other conference . . . rotating each season . . . and the opponent will be based on teams’ records the previous season.
So, the team that finished first in one will play the top team in the other, and so on.
5. There probably won’t be any asterisks in the record books, since this has happened before.
Some season-long records may be in jeopardy, but it shouldn’t be a major issue. Prior to 1978, the regular season was just 14 games. So, even though it’s been the same for 43 years, it hasn’t ALWAYS been 16 games.