The NFL officially agreed to add a 17th regular season game on Tuesday, the first addition to the league’s fixture list since 1978.
To make room for the extra game, the league owners removed one preseason game and left three for each team. The upcoming regular season begins Thursday, September 9th and ends a week later than usual on Sunday, January 9th, 2022. The Super Bowl LVI, which will be played in Inglewood, California, will also go back a week. until Sunday, February 13, 2022.
The teams still only have one goodbye week during the season.
The team owners agreed to the expansion at an annual meeting held virtually, but the new calendar structure was almost guaranteed to move forward after the league was announced March 18 that it had reached a number of long-term distribution agreements with CBS, Fox, and other media companies. The current collective agreement, achieved in March 2020, gave team owners the option to add an additional regular season game if the league has signed at least one new media deal.
With the addition of a 17th regular season game on top of the two additional playoff games the league added last season, the NFL has negotiated significantly higher prices for its media rights. The new deals, which total more than $ 100 billion, almost double the amount of the expiring contracts.
“One of the advantages of any team that plays 17 regular season games is the opportunity for us to expand our game around the world,” said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in a statement.
During the negotiations on the employment contract last year many prominent players including Richard Sherman and Aaron Rodgersdeclined to add a 17th regular season game. The owners ultimately persuaded reluctant union members to back the deal by just 60 votes, with the players seeing their share of the NFL’s revenue increase from 47 under the old deal to 48.5 percent.
Some players stay against a longer season. Denver Broncos Security Kareem Jackson called the additional game “Complete BS” in a post on Twitter. New Orleans Saints run back to Alvin Kamara used spicier language convey his displeasure before softening his reaction Write“17 games still stupid” in the app.
Goodell said on a conference call with reporters that players would still play a total of 20 preseason and regular season games. Injury rates, he said, are higher during preseason games, so eliminating them could result in fewer injuries. Most established players, however, only play frugally in the preseason when coaches prefer to rate free agents and newbies as they vie for squad spots.
On Tuesday, the owners also approved a rule requiring all 32 teams to play a game overseas at least every eight years. This allows the league to schedule up to four neutral-based games outside of the United States each year starting in 2022. Teams like the Green Bay Packers were reluctant to play internationally because they didn’t want to give up the income from a home game and because of the stress of extra travel. In recent years, some franchises have been willing to play games in London and Mexico City for the right to host a Super Bowl. The new rule would end this compromise.
With the league looking to add to the game’s international footprint, NFL executives said it may play again in Canada, as well as South America and elsewhere in Europe, including Germany. Chris Halpin, the NFL’s chief strategy and growth officer, said finding a Canadian stadium that meets league specifications for hosting a game continues to be a problem.
The 17-game regular season gives half of the NFL teams an extra home game each season. For the sake of simplicity, the 17th game will be hosted by all teams in a conference in turn. In 2021, each AFC team will host nine regular season games, while NFC teams will host eight. In 2022, NFC teams will have their ninth home game.
As usual, the teams play a total of six games at home and away against their three rivals. Interdivision games within the same conference are continued in a rotating three-year cycle, inter-conference games in a four-year cycle. The remaining games will be determined based on the previous year’s rating.
The newly added 17th game will take place between inter-conference teams based on the previous year’s ranking. A team with first place from a division meets a team with first place from a division in the opposing conference for which no game was planned due to the usual planning rotations.
That will lead to some interesting inter-conference games in 2021. The Green Bay Packers, for example, winners of the NF.C. North will travel to Kansas City last season to play against the Chiefs who won AFC West. The Seattle Seahawks, NFC West winners, will play the Steelers in Pittsburgh during the Super Bowl Masters Tampa Bay Buccaneers will play the Colts in Indianapolis.
The NFL will announce the dates and times for all of these games in the coming weeks.