(WFRV) – It’s been a busy offseason for the NFL as a whole. The announcement of a 17th game is just the latest in a long line of changes happening over the past year.
“This isn’t something we just planned this past year. This is something we’ve been looking at and thinking about. You look at all really high quality, and the one thing that in my mind stands out is the preseason. It’s not a good product,” said Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy.
The owners have long wanted to add to the regular season, and a year ago the players gave them the ability to do just that. By approving the new collective bargaining agreement, the NFLPA allowed the owners to have an option to add a 17th game to the schedule starting in 2021.
On Tuesday, the owners took advantage of adding an extra game to the regular season and removing one game from the preseason.
For the players there was some buyers remorse on social media. Something that Packers president Mark Murphy understands as a former player himself.
“For me it’s a difficult issue. You’re going from 16 games where players are playing to 17, more wear and tear on their bodies. We think we can make this change in a way where were protecting player safety,” said Murphy.
Adding another game to the schedule also opens the door for the Packers to play abroad. The NFL announced that all 32 teams will play an international game between 2022-30. That includes the Packers, who have long avoided playing an international regular season game.
“We have been very clear that we were not going to give up a home game. Our home games, relative to other markets, just have such a big impact. It never made sense for us, but under this proposal, which was approved, we will be required,” said Murphy.
The collective bargaining agreement between the NFLPA and league last year is just one piece of the puzzle. The NFL also announced a milt-year media contract between CBS, FOX, NBC, ABC and Amazon Prime worth more than $100 billion dollars this offseason.
That security will help the league have stability for more than a decade, according to Murphy.
But there’s still plenty of big questions out there as the league battles back from the pandemic. Last season there were 1.6 million fans at NFL games. A vastly greater number than the usual 16 million people filling the seats.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said on Tuesday the league is hoping to have full stadiums this fall. Something Murphy has more confidence in this year, but there’s still plenty of work to be done.
“It all is going to depend ont he rollout of the vaccine. I’ve been very encouraged with what I’ve seen. That’s really the key. The sooner we get everybody vaccinated, we can go back to some sense of normalcy,” said Murphy.