The NFL is not ready to give up on an 18-game schedule, and the controversial topic has resurfaced at the absolute perfect time—during Super Bowl week.
Everyone is anxiously awaiting the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers' battle inside the Mercedes Benz Superdome for the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Usually the Super Bowl itself is enough of a diverson.
But this week, plenty of other, rather distracting, storylines have materialized.
Bernard Pollard hinted at league extinction to Clark Judge of CBS Sports. Randy Moss said he was the greatest receiver of all time (h/t ESPN). A Sports Illustrated report emerged that Ray Lewis allegedly used a banned substance to help speed his recovery from a torn triceps muscle.The legendary linebacker denied.
Chris Culliver said an openly gay player would not be welcomed on the 49ers. He later apologized (h/t Los Angeles Times). Amani Toomer called Lewis a "caricature" and cited "hypocrisy" when he looks at him to USA Today.
On Thursday, the New York Post reported Dan Marino fathered a child with a CBS employee in 2005. The Post's source said "They had an affair, and she had a baby. Everything was on the down-low and secretive.”
Not precisely Super Bowl related, but yet another attention-grabbing headline.
There's so much happening in the NFL world right now, Vice President of Football Operations Ray Anderson was able to slip in the following about, as ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio put it "the league's desire to shift from 16 games" without garnering much publicity:
I think it’s still on the table, but it’s obviously going to be discussed at length with the players and the [NFL] Players Association. And there are legitimate questions about the impact on safety, and so as we continue to look toward ways to making it better and safer, that debate will continue. But, yes, it’s still something that will be discussed.
With the New Orleans Saints' bounty case, Pollard's comments and Junior Seau's suicide fresh in everyone's minds, the continual push for an expanding schedule is probably not the best idea for the NFL.
But, it's a business—a multi-billion dollar business—and more games equals more profit to be shared among the league, team owners, the players and the player's association.
The 18-game season, the floating of expanded playoffs, the idea of a team in London all speak to the NFL look for new avenues for revenue.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) January 31, 2013
However, it's unlikely that the NFLPA and nearly every NFL player have wavered on their firm stance against an 18-game schedule—the league knows that.
With all football-affiliated Google searches leading elsewhere, the week of the Super Bowl was the ideal time to subtly remind everyone that the league isn't prepared to bury a proposal of schedule expansion, especially with the 2013 offseason just days away.