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NFL owners still undecided on number of preseason games in 2021 and beyond

The NFL is trying to distinguish how many preseason games they will have in 2021.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Carolina Panthers Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

The National Football League, and their 32 owners, held a virtual league meeting Wednesday, and one of the many topics which was discussed was the length of the preseason in the 2021 season.

It isn’t hard to remember those four painful preseason games fans had to suffer through as teams geared up for the regular season, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are probably thankful 2020 canceled the preseason considering they would have had a whopping 5 preseason games while playing in the annual Hall of Fame game in Canton, OH.

The preseason didn’t exist this year, and I think most fans, coaches and players would admit there is value in some exhibition games. The players want to limit the risk of injury at any cost, and the owners want to get fans in seats to bring in revenue to their team.

So, what is a happy median for the players and owners? According to ESPN’s Seth Wickersham, during the league meeting Wednesday there was a group of owners who wanted to decrease the preseason from four games to two, a decision Roger Goodell agreed with, but a small group of owners wanted something different.

Of the owners who were named as wanting something other than a two preseason schedule, Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys, John Mara of the New York Giants and Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots were listed as those who opposed to two game preseason.

According to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Steelers President Art Rooney II also had something other than a two game preseason in mind. Rooney wants a three game preseason.

With an odd number of games, it will be a chore to figure out who will play two home games, and one on the road, and vice versa. Nonetheless, the league has learned a lot playing through the COVID-19 pandemic, and it could even shape how the game looks in the future.

This from Wickersham:

Goodell acknowledged that playing through the pandemic has provided plenty of lessons and said the NFL will confer with the NFL Players Association after the Super Bowl to discuss 2020 measures that might make sense to keep in a post-COVID-19 landscape.

Changes worthy of further consideration include aspects of the virtual NFL draft, the training camp acclimation period, expanded practice squads and unlimited callbacks from injured reserve.

The owners wisely tabled all voting until early in 2021, when they can get a grasp on what the upcoming season will look like in regards to fans in the seats, overall revenue and more.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes on the Pittsburgh Steelers as they prepare for the remaining games in the regular season and the playoffs.