NFL News and Rumors: Roger Goodell Discusses 18-Game Schedule, Harrison Butker, Tom Brady Raiders Ownership, and More

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke at the league meetings in Nashville on Wednesday, addressing topics such as an 18-game season, Tom Brady, and Harrison Butker.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke to reporters at the league meetings in Nashville on Wednesday, addressing several topics, including a potential 18-game regular-season schedule, Tom Brady’s bid to become a Las Vegas Raiders minority owner, Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker’s controversial comments, and more.

What Roger Goodell Said at the Spring NFL Owners Meetings

18-Game Regular Season

The NFL has been considering expanding the regular season from 17 to 18 games for some time.

Goodell told ESPN’s Pat McAfee in April that it wouldn’t be “unreasonable” for the league to add another regular-season game while removing a preseason contest.

On Wednesday, Goodell slightly resisted the idea that an 18-game season is near, but he admitted an expanded campaign is on the table.

“I wasn’t floating something we were actively thinking about,” Goodell said today of the 18-game season. “It is something that we think about in a long-range context.”

From 1961 to 1977, the NFL played a 14-game season. The schedule moved to 16 games in 1978 and added a 17th game for the 2021 campaign.

“The key thing for us is looking at making sure we continue to do the things that make our games safer,” Goodell said. “So we want to make sure that hits the first boundary. Seventeen games in a long season, so we want to make sure we look at that and make sure that we continue the safety efforts.”

“We would do it in the context of reducing the number of preseason games,” Goodell added. “We think that’s a good trade: fewer preseason games and more regular-season games. I think most anybody would think that was beneficial.”

Mark Maske of the Washington Post reported in April that there is “considerable support” among the NFL’s owners to switch to an 18-game season. The league could push for an extra regular-season game before the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement concludes in 2030.

With another game on the schedule, the NFL players union would probably request that each team receive two bye weeks instead of one. The league used a double-bye week configuration for one season in 1993, but television networks balked at using two bye weeks when the NFL expanded to 17 games in 2021.

New York Giants owner John Mara thinks most owners support an 18-game season. But he told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler on Wednesday that he isn’t among them.

“I can’t say I’m necessarily crazy about extending the season,” Mara said. “I worry more about player fatigue and wear and tear on the players moving forward. That’s one of the reasons why we have to have the discussion with (the players union).”

Tom Brady, Raiders Owner?

Brady will debut as Fox’s No. 1 NFL analyst in 2024, but he’s still trying to become a minority owner of the Raiders.

Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reported this week that some rival teams are “vehemently opposed” to Brady becoming a partner in the Raiders’ ownership group.

“They simply don’t want to have it,” Pelissero said. “They’re not going to let him into production meetings. They don’t want somebody on [TV] talking about their team who’s the owner of another team.”

On Wednesday, Goodell said Brady’s potential conflict of interest will be addressed, noting that “progress is being made.” However, Maske reported it’s “doubtful” that NFL owners will vote on Brady’s Raiders deal this week.

Goodell on Harrison Butker

Butker’s divisive comments at a conservative Catholic Kansas college’s commencement resulted in a statement from the league, noting the Chiefs kicker’s “views are not those of the NFL as an organization.”

Goodell mostly pointed to the NFL’s statement on Wednesday when asked about Butker.

“We have over 3,000 players,” Goodell said. “We have executives around the league. They have a diversity of opinions and thoughts, just like America does. That’s something we treasure.”

Private Equity NFL Ownership

The NFL is the only major American professional sports organization that doesn’t allow private equity firms to invest in franchises.

That could be changing.

Ben Fischer of the Sports Business Journal reported that the NFL has “established a framework for allowing private equity to invest in teams, and that framework will lead further discussion around the final policy in the coming months.”

While the league’s owner did not take a formal vote on private equity ownership, Goodell said he expects a policy to be in place by the end of the year.

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