The NFL season is expected to be expanded to 17 games this upcoming year. There was an expectation of this expansion since late-December. The league now hopes to put this into effect within the next week.
In December, Commissioner Goodell announced that there was already a plan regarding how the extended schedule would work. The NFL and NFLPA agreed upon a new collective bargaining agreement in March of 2020, involving the plan for a 17th game in 18 weeks. A total of 1,978 players voted on the new CBA, approving it by a slim margin of 60 votes. As a result, this agreement will be the standard for the next ten years.
Therefore, the 17th game symbolizes the fourth time the NFL expands its amount of games. The league began with 12 games in 1947; seasons shifted to 14 games in 1961. Thirdly, it became 16 games in 1978, and the schedule has been extended again 43 years later.
As a matter of fact, the league already listed the potential Week 18 match-ups to expect:
In addition to the change in schedule comes reaction from some of the NFL’s top-tier talent. The game’s most prominent names seem unsatisfied with a 17 game schedule and did not hesitate to voice their opinions. Interestingly enough, players such as Aaron Rodgers, JJ Watt, Richard Sherman, and Russell Wilson did not vote in favor of this change.
The most recent star to speak out is Pro Bowl running back for the New Orleans Saints, Alvin Kamara. Kamara quote tweeted Adam Schefter to voice his frustration, saying, “S*** dumb… as hell..” Although the NFL-elite disapproves, the CBA still received enough votes to pass.
Other incentives in the new agreement include an increase in salary for all players on minimum salaries. For instance, those on rookie-minimum contracts receive an extra $100,000 and an extra $90,000 for those on veteran minimums.
In conclusion, an agreement of this magnitude impacts all who are apart of the NFL, superstar or unknown. There will undoubtedly be more reaction by players and staff as the season creeps closer. The 2021 season will provide a look into what a 17 game season looks like and how the athletes respond.