On lengthening the regular season to 17 or 18 games:
We have to look at our relationship with our fans as part of this, because of the length of the season. That includes weather conditions with the potential for the season to go into late February. It involves, obviously, our relationship with the players, our relationships with media companies and the quality of the preseason. We've discussed this also in the context of the offseason. Again, that goes to the part about football readiness and how there's greater interest from our fans of having a longer and deeper relationship with the NFL all year round.
I'm not suggesting playing games all year, but there was a suggestion about the idea of a spring game of some type. A preseason-type game.
Any suggestion that two preseason games would hurt the evaluation process for teams as they make their final roster cuts?
I think that's what we mean about football readiness. I think that has to be evaluated. From a football perspective, there are two purposes. One, you want to get your team ready. Two, you make your evaluations of who will make your team. Those are the two primary objectives. We want to make sure teams have the ability to do that.
The likelihood is that teams will adjust to this, work in more scrimmages or other ways to evaluate players. The second point is, and I think I mentioned this yesterday, a developmental league of some type. That's another question that a lot of clubs raised: how do we continue to develop our players?
Before there is a vote on this, will the proposal include a definitive number (17 or 18 games), or will there be more discussion as the CBA negotiations move along?
First, we have a lot more work to do on the analysis. This is something we will continue to pursue and will continue to evaluate. Eventually, we'll have to decide strategically which proposal would be most beneficial to our players, our media partners, and other parties involved.
Do you have a timetable for when you'll decide on a CBA proposal and then make it?
We're working on a proposal now. The major focus is analyzing the labor agreement and assessing the impact that this could bring to the table. We're talking about cost recognition, the overall economics of the labor agreement, including stadium construction, retired players, and the potential of expanding to more regular-season games within the 20-game format. All of those things are factors that we're considering.
Is it clear whether or not the proposal will be 17 or 18 games yet?
There are different viewpoints on that. I would say the prevailing thought that I sensed in the room was that it would be 18 games rather than 17 right now. People were still debating that.
On adding a potential regular-season game to the back end of the season as opposed to the starting the season earlier:
That is how we discussed it this morning and that is how we're analyzing it. On the other hand, there are people who want to discuss how fans perceive that they are going to regular season games in January. That is something we have got to be sensitive to. We're going to evaluate that and doing some studies on that to see what we can determine.
So you're still open to starting the season a little earlier?
I wouldn't rule anything out.
You mentioned a spring preseason game. Is there an appetite for that?
It is interesting. That was raised by a few clubs. It is more in the context of what colleges do with their spring game. It can be in the form of a scrimmage. It was an interesting concept that has been raised before and was discussed this morning by a number of people.
Is it one team playing another?
It could be. It was an interesting idea, which we'll look at. It was raised by more than one club.
Are you exploring expanding the number of teams in the playoffs?
There was some discussion of that. That came up. Some folks thought that was important to consider and include. Others had a different view on that also.
What is your personal preference?
We have to evaluate it a little bit more. I think it should be very special to get to the postseason. I think to set a bar where to make it into post-season you have to achieve success, and make that special, is something we should continue.
adding two more teams to the playoffs two total or two per conference?
We haven't gotten into the specifics of it. There have been proposals over the last 10 years or so of extending the playoffs.
Those haven't gotten much support. Do you sense more support?
There was support last time. I think there was quite a bit of discussion when we realigned the league. It's been a few years.
Do you think there would be more support if it comes in conjunction with a longer season?
I'm not certain whether there is a strong correlation between the two. They are two distinct decisions. I think in some people's minds those might impact on their ultimate vote. But I think they are ultimately two distinct decisions at this point in time. As we evaluate it, we might draw that this is something that should be done as part of that, if we get to the conclusion that we should expand or restructure the season.
The rest in Part II