NFL and union officials discussed adding two games to the regular season when they met Wednesday for their first negotiating session since February.
Teams would still play a total of 20 exhibition plus regular-season games under the proposal. The league would go from four in the preseason and 16 in the regular season to two and 18.
“This is an idea that is really gaining momentum, particularly with the owners,” Green Bay Packers president Mark Murphy said.
The current collective bargaining agreement expires in March, which could lead to a work stoppage during the 2011 season.
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In quotes released by the NFL Players Association, Tom Brady and Ray Lewis expressed concern about the damage two extra regular-season games could do to players’ bodies.
“The long-term impact this game has on our bodies is well documented,” said Brady, the New England Patriots quarterback.
Murphy suggested that more regular-season games would mean more revenue and more money distributed to players. The earliest season with an expanded schedule would be 2012.
“I know our fans may not like preseason games, and I don’t like all of them,” said Lewis, the Baltimore Ravens linebacker, “but swapping two preseason games for two end-of-season games — when players already play hurt — comes at a huge cost for the player and the team.”
The NFL could expand to 22 games — four exhibition, 18 regular season — under the current CBA, subject to financial negotiation with players, but Murphy said the league would not make a change without an agreement from the union.
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