The NFL will play on Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays, but apparently not in Week 18.
So far, the league has gone to unthinkable lengths to accommodate all the rescheduling forced by adherence to safety protocols after positive COVID-19 tests. Teams have had upcoming opponents changed on barely a week’s notice and reconfigured bye weeks. Myriad changes made Sunday affected 10 teams, including the Jets, over six weeks.
And yet the NFL has resisted adding a Week 18 to the schedule to make up postponed games. How much longer can that strategy last?
“Flexibility is going to be critical,” commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters Tuesday.
Troy Vincent, the league’s executive vice president of football operations, offered more insight into Goodell’s thinking.
“The focus is playing the 256 [regular-season] games in the 17-week window knowing that potentially, if the season continues to progress and things happen, the 18th week potentially could be an option there for him,” Vincent said.
Other contingencies, such as canceling games, have not been discussed, Vincent said.
Adding Week 18 — a couch potato’s delight — would cause minimal disruption to the postseason schedule because the extra week between the conference championship games and Super Bowl could be collapsed, but it might mean a rust-creating two-week bye for the No. 1 seed in each conference.
Giants owner John Mara admitted he urged his peers before the season to “be reasonable” and understand this season might not be a fully level playing field — from fans in the stands in some cities but not others, to the possibility not all teams will play 16 games and winning percentage might have to be used to determine playoff participants.
The Titans are under investigation by the league for protocol breaks that led to 24 positive tests over two weeks, the postponement of one game and the delay of another played Tuesday night against the Bills.
“This is not about discipline,” Goodell said. “This is about making sure we’re keeping our personnel safe.”
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