Neil Hayes does a weekly mailbag segment on the Sun Times’ Inside the Bears blog. Yours truly felt compelled to ask a question. Neil felt compelled to answer and even included the spiffy picture of the Commish in his repsonse:
Q: The current 16 game schedule is very structured. You play six games vs. your division opponents, four versus an NFC division (NFC East for Bears), four versus an AFC division (AFC East for Bears) and then the same-place finishers in the other conference divisions (3rd place in NFC West and NFC South for the Bears this season). If the regular season is expanded to 18 games, how will the last two games get filled out? Any word or speculation out there? Bear Goggles Boomer (<–that’s me!)
A: I spoke with someone at the league office who hadn’t heard anything about this point, either. The earliest there could be an enhanced season is 2012, and any changes would have to be agreed upon by both owners and the NFL Players Association. Personally, I’d prefer if one of the dates encouraged regional rivalries. How cool would it be if the Raiders and 49ers, Jets and Giants, Dolphins and Buccaneers, Texans and Cowboys and Chiefs and Rams played every season? As for the Bears, it could mean an annual date with the Colts or Browns. Not every team has an out-of-conference geographical rival, but it would sure be fun for those who do. The union might like the idea, as well, because it would make for shorter road trips.
Sounds to me like Neil is also a fan of interleague play too. If that’s the case, shouldn’t we just play the Chicago er St Louis er Arizona Cardinals every year? If he’s serious about the regional rivalry, I really hope it’s not an annual matchup with the Colts until after Peyton Manning decides to hang up the old cleats.
Jerry Angelo alluded to the idea that the extra games could be used to add a little international flair to the NFL season:
General manager Jerry Angelo, speaking at a function in Waukegan, said the league’s motivation to expand the season is to add more of an international flavor to the game. The NFL sees untapped revenue streams abroad.
“(Goodell) wants to see each team play one game overseas each season,” Angelo said. “And the increased schedule would allow that without taking away from the number of games a team’s fan base can see.”
That could put a nice twist to my annual Bears road trip, which is heading to South Beach this season, in case you were wondering.
Speaking of mail bags, if you’ve got a Bears question, I don’t know anyone at the league office, but I’ll look it up or make something up if I don’t know. Send your questions to [email protected].