Goodell: We have option for 17-game season, but will continue to talk

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is usually on stage by himself at his annual Super Bowl press conference, but this has been an unusual season and his meeting with the media from Tampa was unusual as well.

Goodell was joined by NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith in the final minutes and the two men discussed the high level of cooperation they needed to have in order for the season to play out amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Cooperation has rarely been the default option for their two organizations, but both men said they have become closer as they’ve “worked together to find solutions.”

Goodell signaled that will continue after the season as well. He was asked about whether the league will implement a 17-game schedule for the 2021 season. The league has the ability to implement that change under the Collective Bargaining Agreement agreed to this year and NFL Media reported late last year that it will happen, but Goodell said it’s something to consider after the Super Bowl.

“We are looking at the 17-game schedule,” Goodell said. “We’ve already agreed to that in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. There’s still more work to be done on that. Once the game is done, we’ll turn our focus a little bit more to that. Even though we have that option, we’re going to continue to talk.”

NFL owners approved a scheduling plan for a 17-game season at their last meeting. It would be an interconference game with each division’s teams, i.e. AFC East vs. NFC West, matched up based on the previous year’s standings.