NFL Notes: 17-Game Season, NFL Protocols, NFL TV Deals


17-Game Season

  • Per a report from ESPN’s Seth Wickersham and the Associated Press, the NFL owners voted to push back a decision on adding a 17th game to the regular season next season to sometime early in 2021.
  • NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the negotiations for new TV deals play a role in the decision and timing on the 17th game: “It obviously comes into play with respect with our future media arrangements that we obviously are contemplating. We expect a decision will be made on that in the next several weeks.”
  • They did approve the scheduling formula for the 17th game, which will be an interconference game based on divisional standings from the prior season on a rotating basis. For example, if approved next year the Chiefs would play the first-place team in either the NFC South, West or North. They’re already scheduled to play the entire NFC East as a part of the NFL’s existing rotational scheduling format. 
  • Wickersham reports Goodell was in favor of eliminating two preseason games as a part of the move to a 17-game schedule. However, a vocal group of owners including Dallas’ Jerry Jones, New England’s Robert Kraft, Pittsburgh’s Art Rooney and New York’s John Mara opposed the idea, saying three games might work but not two. 

NFL Protocols

The NFL informed all 32 teams on Tuesday that they are revising its COVID-19 protocols for the postseason and will no longer require players and coaches to stay at the team hotel on the night prior to games. 

“Under the current Protocols, clubs may provide hotel rooms for players that cohabitate with roommates or family members, if the player elects to move into a hotel in order to avoid possible exposure to the virus from their cohabitant(s). The cost of such lodging will not count as a Salary Cap charge. This provision will remain in place throughout the post-season, however, with the exception of the night before the game when players and coaches are required to stay in the team hotel, clubs may not require players and staff to stay at a hotel in their local area. This decision is based upon an analysis of the frequency of positive cases in the league compared to the risk of significant spread among players and staff gathered for an extensive period of time at one hotel,” the memo stated, via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. 

The league added that they will require all players and staff at team-hotels to wear a Kinexon device at all times. 

“To further protect against the risk inherent in gathering players and staff at a hotel, we will now require all players and staff who are staying at a club-provided hotel in their local area to wear a Kinexon device at all times until they return to their hotel rooms to go to bed each night. The prohibition against gathering and the requirements to wear masks and practice physical distancing will continue to apply to players and staff staying at a club-provided hotel in their local area. The provisions of the Travel Protocol will continue to apply for hotel stays prior to game day, either at home or in an away game city.”

  • According to Dan Graziano, the NFL’s daily COVID-19 testing will continue for a week after each organization’s end-of-season. Teams will then be permitted to create their own testing measures with the stipulation that players are screened before entering facilities. 
  • The NFL is considering keeping certain protocols that were instituted because of the pandemic this year in place for the future, including parts of the virtual NFL draft, the training camp acclimation period, expanded practice squads and unlimited callbacks from injured reserve. (ESPN)

NFL TV Deals

  • Andrew Marchand of the New York Post says the NFL is discussing TV rights deals with its broadcast partners that could far exceed $100 billion over the next 10 years. The NFL currently makes about $10 billion a year from broadcast rights. 
  • Marchand notes things will mostly stay the same with NBC, CBS, FOX and ESPN/ABC, but Amazon has emerged as the leader to acquire the broadcast rights for Thursday Night Football. 
  • He adds Sunday NFL Ticket is not expected to stay with DirectTV and could be purchased by either Amazon, ESPN+ or potentially Apple+. 
  • Marchand notes the deals are not completed and things could change but they are expected to be finalized early in 2021. The expected boom in revenue from these deals could have an impact on where the NFL salary cap ends up in 2021 and obviously for future seasons. 
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