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Commissioner Goodell outlines proposal for lengthened regular season

NEW YORK -- NFL commissioner Roger Goodell can envision a Super Bowl played in mid-February if the league expands its regular-season schedule to 17 or 18 games.

Team owners are expected to receive a proposal, perhaps as soon as next month, that would eliminate two preseason games and add one or two to the regular schedule. Goodell said Friday at a meeting with Associated Press Sports Editors that such a format could push the Super Bowl back to Presidents Day weekend.

Commissioner Goodell's chat

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell talked about the possibility of an expanded schedule, among other things, in his Wednesday chat with fans. More ...

"The idea has merit, I think," Goodell said Friday, referring to more regular-season games. "You are taking the quality and improving it, taking two meaningless games and making them meaningful within the 20-game framework."

A Super Bowl that late in February could conflict with other sporting events such as the Daytona 500, the NBA All-Star game and, every four years, the Winter Olympics. Then again, there isn't a bigger sporting event in America than the NFL's title game.

Goodell outlined a scenario that would have two preseason games in August, followed by a dark week on Labor Day weekend, followed by the opening week. There still would be a bye for each team during the season and the week off between the conference championships and the Super Bowl. This year, that off weekend will be filled by the Pro Bowl.

"I think there are a lot of positives and opportunities to it, but there are some cautionary things," Goodell said, mentioning overexposure, safety and health issues for the players and agreements with television and other media partners. "We have not found a saturation point for pro football, which is a good thing. I don't want to be around if we do."

After noting the league is "not immune" to the economic downturn, Goodell said he hopes to soon start negotiations with new NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith on a revised collective bargaining agreement.

"I have met with De several times, and I do want to begin as soon as possible, and we intend to do that," Goodell said.

Earlier Friday, Smith said at a news conference that the union needs full and transparent disclosure of the league's finances before any talks would be productive.

"It will always be the same starting point Gene talked about for years," Smith said of the late Gene Upshaw, who held the top union post for 25 years before his death last August. "Let's share the information. It's very difficult to tell you want share of that pie will go to the players when I have to guess what the size of the pie is."

Goodell, however, reiterated a point he has made since the owners opted out of the CBA last year -- the contract ends after the 2010 season, which would be an uncapped year.

"The players know where every penny we made in the league is ... through an independent audit," he said. "They know the cost side, that 60 percent of that goes to the players. On the other side, the stadium constructions, they participate in that, so they know that. We've shared information with them."

Smith, who will travel to Houston, Dallas and New Orleans next week to begin a two-month series of meetings with players on every team, also argued that the NFL already has a rookie wage scale -- something Goodell believes doesn't exist but needs to implement. Smith said less than 4 percent of the monies dedicated to salaries goes to rookies, while Goodell pointed out that $600 million, including $400 million in guaranteed money, will be given to the 32 first-round picks in Saturday's draft.

"Something is broken," Goodell said. "We want the player who has performed on the NFL level to be compensated."

Said Smith: "At the end of the day, teams make decisions about what is good for them. No division has been made between our players and the rookies, our veterans and the rookies."

One thing the NFL isn't doing is considering a Super Bowl in London. Goodell dismissed a report that "substantive talks" with officials in London were held.

"We have never looked at London or Mexico City as a site," he said.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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