Goodell doesn't anticipate vote
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The prospect of more NFL games is apparently going to require more talking.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday he doesn't anticipate a vote at this week's spring meeting in South Florida on lengthening the regular season to 17 or 18 games.
The NFL extended its television deals with Fox and CBS on Tuesday for two years through the 2013 season, and Goodell acknowledged "flexibility" for more games. But it now seems likely no decision will be made until talks are held with players in the coming weeks and months.
"We have tried to look at this from every different perspective because you want to know the intended consequences and the unintended consequences," Goodell said. "Whenever you're dealing with the quality of the game, that's a key factor."
Goodell has mentioned in the last few months the need to replace preseason games in which few star players get on the field with "meaningful" football. The plan would likely cut the preseason schedule to two games, start the season in its typical slot just after Labor Day and add the new game or two to the end of the current 16-game format.
Fox and CBS are not opposed to the notion, Goodell said.
"Clearly, they see value in additional regular-season games," he said. "We'll begin discussions and negotiations with our players to talk about what we've found in our analysis. It's important when you're dealing with the core of your product, your game, that you be very careful. We want to make sure we haven't missed anything."
New players union executive director DeMaurice Smith met briefly with owners shortly after the session began. Smith's immediate challenge is a new collective bargaining agreement -- NFL owners opted out of the current contract last year. The pact will expire after the 2010 season, which is to have no salary cap.
Smith said players need to be aware of what's at stake for additional games.
"The players understand the cost to their bodies," he said. "The players understand how tough it is to get through a regular season. They understand how hard it is to try to stand up on a Monday morning. They understand why they need a day off on Tuesday. Their families understand when they get out of football and they have arthritis before they're 40. They understand the cost."
In other news from Tuesday's first session of the two-day event, the league approved details of a new lease that will keep the Saints in New Orleans until 2025; Goodell reiterated he would have to meet with Michael Vick before considering reinstatement for the former Atlanta Falcons quarterback; and the league announced a deal with Comcast to keep NFL Network on that provider's digital cable package and not on a tier that would require customers to pay an additional service fee each month.
Talks on an anti-tampering arrangement involving free agents will take place Wednesday. A vote on the measure has not been ruled out at these meetings. If no vote takes place Wednesday, one is likely in October, Goodell said.
Responding to Delaware becoming the only state east of the Mississippi River to allow betting on sports after new legislation last week, Goodell said the league will examine potential revenue streams that could come from having logos available on lottery cards -- but reiterated the league's anti-betting stance.
"To us, betting on the outcome of our games is something that we will always oppose vigorously," Goodell said.
Goodell said owners did not discuss implementing a rookie wage scale.
Even Goodell seemed unsure about quarterback Brett Favre's future, saying he wasn't certain if the former Green Bay Packers and New York Jets starter turned in retirement papers. Discussions of a Favre return, potentially with the Minnesota Vikings, have been hot in recent days.
"I don't know if he officially retired," Goodell said.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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