INDIANAPOLIS -- Roger Goodell expects to be watching a Super Bowl in Indianapolis, and he's still hoping it takes place in February.
The NFL commissioner took questions Wednesday night from Colts' season ticket-holders and the topics ranged from the proposed 18-game regular season to the drop-dead date for reaching a collective bargaining agreement that would end the lockout.
Colts fans were most interested, though, in whether the city's first Super Bowl would be played, as scheduled, Feb. 5.
"I do feel strongly that we made a commitment to the city of Indianapolis," he said. "We look forward to being there. We look forward to playing in Indianapolis and we'll stand behind that commitment."
The response should not be a surprise to Indy fans.
Super Bowl organizers said months ago if this season's title game was canceled, something that has never happened, they had been told Indy would get a future Super Bowl, presumably in 2015. New Orleans has the 2013 game, and New York is scheduled to host the 2014 Super Bowl -- something Goodell reminded the roughly 4,000 fans who were on the conference call.
When would the league be in jeopardy of losing games, and presumably a Super Bowl?
Goodell would not give a drop-dead date, though the league's preference, he said, is to play all 16 regular-season games and the full preseason schedule.
But the league does have some built-in wiggle room if the lockout persists.
NFL officials asked city organizers to keep open two weekends for the Super Bowl, the originally scheduled date and Feb. 12.
The league also could eliminate the open week between conference championship games and the Super Bowl, and there is a possibility bye weeks were scheduled in such a way that the league could get another week back that way.
If true, the league could make up as many as three games, if the season did not start on time.
Clearly, though, Goodell believes time is of the essence and acknowledged he wanted a deal sooner rather than later.
Colts owner Jim Irsay is in the same camp.
On his Twitter account Wednesday night, Irsay wrote this from New York: "About a third of NFL Owners n town,the sentiment is let's get out of the courts n get2 collective bargaining n get this thing solved to 2019."
Goodell would not say whether an 18-game season would become a reality, only that fans have shown interest in trading two preseason games for two more regular-season games.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press