For the first time in almost 40 years, the NFL is thinking about making a big change to its regular season schedule.
During a recent meeting with reporters, Packers president Mark Murphy revealed that the league has been tossing around the idea of moving to a 17-game schedule.
For the NFL, adding one game to the schedule would serve two purposes: It would potentially lead to more international games and cut down on the preseason games that fans and players both hate.
"As you look ahead, if we're going to have more and more international games, something's got to give at some point," Murphy told ESPN.com recently. "One thought that's been discussed is to go to 17 [regular season games] and three [preseason games], and then everybody would have an international game. So nobody would have to give up a home game. That's [one thing] people in the league office [have been] thinking. It's never been voted on or anything like that."
For the NFL, adding international games has been a priority over the past decade. The international series started in 2005 when the 49ers and Cardinals played a game in Mexico City, the first regular season game to be played outside the country.
Since then, the NFL has been adding international games regularly, with a total of four scheduled to be played in 2016. That number will likely jump to at least five games by 2018 because the Rams are scheduled to play in China that year.
Mark Waller, the NFL's vice president of international, has said that the league would eventually like to get big in Canada, Mexico, Brazil, U.K., Germany, China, Japan and Australia, which means each one of those countries could eventually be hosting a regular season game, if they haven't already.
The big obstacle standing in the way of any potential change in the regular season schedule is the NFLPA. The player's association would have to approve of any plan that calls for 17 regular season games, and from the sound of it right now, that's not going to happen.
Here's how NFLPA executive George Atallah reacted after hearing the NFL's proposal.
HAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHA 😂😂😂😂😂 https://t.co/cbkZYQOeyR— George Atallah (@GeorgeAtallah) June 29, 2016
Woooo. I needed a good laugh.— George Atallah (@GeorgeAtallah) June 29, 2016
Nothing says "committed to player health and safety" like wanting to add more contact to the offseason and a 17th regular season game abroad— George Atallah (@GeorgeAtallah) June 30, 2016
The upside for the players is that a 17th game would mean more revenues for the NFL, which in turn would mean a higher salary cap, which would mean more money for the players.
If the league can convince the NFLPA that revenues on a 17th game would make the plan worth it -- and the players would also have one less preseason game to worry about -- then they might go for it, or they might laugh like Atallah did.
If the NFL did add a 17th game, it would be the first major change to the schedule since 1978, when the league went from a 14-game regular season to a 16-game schedule. The league also made a change after the 1960 season, when it went from a 12-game schedule to 14 games.
Anyway, no matter what happens with the regular season schedule, Murphy definitely wants to see the preseason cut down.
"I think one thing we can all agree on is the quality of play in the preseason is not good," Murphy said. "And players don't need game time, they don't need preseason games to get ready for the season. Certainly not four."