Commissioner doesn't expect vote on longer regular season this week

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The prospect of more NFL regular-season games apparently will require more talking.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday that he doesn't anticipate a vote on lengthening the regular season to 17 or 18 games at this week's spring meeting in South Florida.

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On Tuesday, the NFL extended its television deals with Fox and CBS through the 2014 season, and Goodell acknowledged "flexibility" for more games. But it now seems likely that no decision will be made until talks are held with players in the coming weeks and months.

"We have tried to look at this from every different perspective because you want to know the intended consequences and the unintended consequences," Goodell said. "Whenever you're dealing with the quality of the game, that's a key factor."

Goodell has mentioned in the last few months the need to replace preseason games in which few star players get on the field with "meaningful" football. The plan likely would cut the preseason schedule to two games, start the season in its typical slot just after Labor Day and add the new game or two to the end of the current 16-game format.

Fox and CBS aren't opposed to the notion, according to Goodell.

"Clearly, they see value in additional regular-season games," he said. "We'll begin discussions and negotiations with our players to talk about what we've found in our analysis. It's important when you're dealing with the core of your product, your game, that you be very careful. We want to make sure we haven't missed anything."

DeMaurice Smith, the NFL Players Association's new executive director, briefly met with owners shortly after the session began. Smith's immediate challenge is a new collective bargaining agreement -- NFL owners opted out of the current contract last year. The pact will expire after the 2010 season, which is to have no salary cap.

According to Smith, players need to be aware of what's at stake for additional games.

  -- NFL commissioner 

Roger Goodell on the possibility

of an expanded regular season

"The players understand the cost to their bodies," Smith said. "The players understand how tough it is to get through a regular season. They understand how hard it is to try to stand up on a Monday morning. They understand why they need a day off on Tuesday. Their families understand when they get out of football and they have arthritis before they're 40. They understand the cost."

In other news from Tuesday's first session of the two-day event:

» The league approved details of a new lease that will keep the Saints in New Orleans until 2025.

» Goodell reiterated that he would have to meet with Michael Vick, who's expected to be released from federal prison Wednesday, before considering reinstatement for the suspended Atlanta Falcons quarterback.

» The league announced a deal with Comcast to keep NFL Network on that provider's digital cable package and not on a tier that would require customers to pay an additional service fee each month.

» Talks on an anti-tampering arrangement involving free agents will take place Wednesday. A vote on the measure hasn't been ruled out at these meetings. If no vote takes place Wednesday, one is likely in October, Goodell said.

» Responding to Delaware becoming the only state east of the Mississippi River to allow betting on sports after new legislation last week, Goodell said the NFL will examine potential revenue streams that could come from having logos available on lottery cards -- but reiterated the league's anti-betting stance. "To us, betting on the outcome of our games is something that we will always oppose vigorously," Goodell said.

» Goodell said owners didn't discuss implementing a rookie wage scale.

» Even Goodell seemed unsure about quarterback Brett Favre's future, saying he wasn't certain if the former Green Bay Packers and New York Jets starter had turned in retirement papers. Discussions of a Favre return, potentially with the Minnesota Vikings, have been hot in recent days. "I don't know if he officially retired," Goodell said of Favre.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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