The 2009 NFL Meetings just concluded in Dana Point California this week. A lot of things happened, but nothing more significant than the proposal of an 18 game season. The consensus says that this is going to happen, but not until 2011. A collective barganing agreement with the Players Association will have to be hashed out first.
There are many coaches and players objecting to this proposal, so why is it so certain to go through? There are several reasons, but the solid gold biggie is this: The Networks are begging for it. Why?
You have to understand the proposal. Under the new plan, the NFC & AFC championships will be pushed all the way forward into February. The Super Bowl will happen toward the end of February. Feb happens to be sweeps month. Sweeps determined network ratings for the year. Network ratings in Feb determine what networks will earn all year long in terms of advertiser money. Feb is a dead month in terms of sports. March Madness is a month away. The NBA is a long way from finished. There is no Baseball. Football has packed it in for another year. This is why Sports Illustrated puts out a Swimsuit issue in Feb. Sports radio hosts look for any scandal they can find, because there is little or nothing to report. We hear a lot about verbal gaffs and steroids in Feb.
The Networks want to put the NFC & AFC championships as well as the Super Bowl in sweeps months, knowing full well the power of attraction these events hold. It could boost network revenues considerably in a time when network ratings are circling the drain. The Networks will break their megar bread with the NFL, if only the NFL will do them this favor. Oh, yeah... More games will help the situation also.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Roger Godell's pet project is 1 international game per team per year. Roger wants to see American Style Football become an international powerhouse. Roger knows that the NFL must be the leader in this push. The NCAA will never undertake this project by themselves.
Certain owners, such as Jerry Jones of the Cowboys, objected strongly to this project... at least in the framework of a 16 game season. Jones sited the fact that he just invested in the Tajmahal of football, and can ill afford to loose 1 home game per year. It would mess up his entire financial game plan. On the other hand, Jones won't object to getting an extra home game... every other year.
The 18 game season seems like a deal in the works. The Networks are begging for it. It gives Godell the space he needs to undertake his international intiative. Guys like Jerry Jones won't object to more games and more revenues.
I think this is going to happen.