Goodell expands on idea

Mid-February Super Bowl? (David J. Phillip/ Associated Press)
By Barry Wilner
Associated Press / April 25, 2009
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NEW YORK - NFL commissioner Roger Goodell can envision a Super Bowl played in mid-February if the league expands its regular season to 17 or 18 games.

Team owners are expected to get a proposal, perhaps as soon as next month, that would eliminate two exhibition games and add one or two to the regular schedule. Goodell said yesterday at a meeting with Associated Press Sports Editors that such a format could push the Super Bowl back to Presidents' Day weekend.

"The idea has merit, I think," he said. "You are taking the quality and improving it, taking two meaningless games and making them meaningful within the 20-game framework."

A Super Bowl that late in February could conflict with such other events as the Daytona 500, the NBA All-Star Game, and, every four years, the Winter Olympics. Then again, there is no bigger sporting event in America than the NFL's title game.

Goodell outlined a scenario that would have two exhibition games in August, followed by a dark week on Labor Day weekend, followed by the opening week. There still would be a bye for each team during the season and the week off between the conference championships and the Super Bowl. This year, that off weekend will be filled by the Pro Bowl.

"I think there are a lot of positives and opportunities to it, but there are some cautionary things," Goodell said, mentioning overexposure, safety and health issues for the players, and agreements with television and other media partners.

"We have not found a saturation point for pro football, which is a good thing. I don't want to be around if we do."

After noting the league is "not immune" to the economic downturn, Goodell said he hopes to soon start negotiations with new NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith on a revised collective bargaining agreement.

Smith said the union needs full disclosure of the league's finances.

"It will always be the same starting point Gene talked about for years," Smith said of the late Gene Upshaw, who held the top union post for 25 years before his death last August.

Goodell, however, reiterated a point he has made since the owners opted out of the CBA last year - the contract ends after the 2010 season.

One thing the NFL is not doing is considering a Super Bowl in London. Goodell dismissed a report that "substantive talks" with officials in London were held.

"We have never looked at London or Mexico City as a site," he said.

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