As the regular season winds to a close, the owners gathered—virtually—recently for a meeting to discuss a number of topics pertaining to the future of the game. One of the central topics involved the possibility of changes to the landscape that were necessitated by the Covid-19 pandemic to persist beyond its necessity.
We discussed one such idea that was floated about by the NFLPA, with the potential that they will argue against allowing teams to require players to dorm within an off-site training camp location. One change that is more likely to happen is an abbreviated preseason.
While this was already an inevitability for whenever the NFL officially adopts a 17-game season, reducing the preseason to three games—the CBA stipulates that there may be no more than 20 combined preseason and regular season games—the NFL is reportedly in favor of reducing the preseason to two games.
According to an ESPN article, commissioner Roger Goodell was in favor of the reduction from four games to two in the preseason, even if that change precedes the shift from a 16-game season to a 17-game regular season. Not all teams are on board with this, however.
The article specifically names the Pittsburgh Steelers and owner Art Rooney II as being among those resistant to the idea of reducing the preseason to two games, arguing that three—which would be the maximum allowed in a 17-game regular season—is more workable.
It is also noted that there was no vote taken on the matter, and that there have been no decisions made on either the preseason or the regular season. While the NFL, of course, wants to expand to 17 games, and it’s more a matter of when rather than if, the fact remains that the when is still in question.
The league, of course, had no preseason this year, even though they wanted to have two preseason games. It was the NFLPA that fought to have zero preseason games, arguing that it was not a suitable health risk amid a pandemic to perform in exhibition games, including the travel and all of the other factors involved.
As I’m sure most of you would know by now, we are big fans of the preseason here, and I’m not really even happy about the idea of reducing it to three games. I believe the four-game format is about the perfect amount of time for teams to scale upward toward preparations for the regular season.
But I’m also a realist and I understand that is will be on its way out the door sooner rather than later. Eventually, I’m sure, there will even be an 18-game regular season. It would be hard to argue against ever completely doing away with the preseason altogether, but it certainly won’t be surprising if it is scaled down to two games in the near future.