- Associated Press - Thursday, August 26, 2010

ATLANTA (AP) - NFL owners are eager to increase the regular season from 16 to 18 games.

The players aren’t so sure.

During a five-hour meeting at a posh hotel in downtown Atlanta, the push to add two more games to the regular season picked up steam Wednesday _ at least among those who sign the checks.

“I think it’s a win-win all around,” said Bob Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots.


The owners also unanimously approved Stan Kroenke’s proposal to purchase majority ownership of the St. Louis Rams, assuming he turns over control of two other teams he owns _ the NBA’s Denver Nuggets and the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche _ to his son.

Kroenke owns 40 percent of the downtrodden Rams and exercised his right to purchase the rest of the team from the Rosenbloom family for a reported $750 million.

“Obviously, all of us know and respect Stan,” commissioner Roger Goodell said. “He’s been a terrific owner in the NFL and we’re confident he will continue to be a great owner.”

Kroenke must turn over operational and financial control of the Nuggets and Avalanche to his 30-year-old son, Josh, by the end of the year. He must give up his majority stake in the teams by December 2014 to meet NFL rules against cross-ownership of franchises in other NFL cities.

But talks on the expanded season dominated most of the meeting.

Goodell pointed out that the league already has the right to impose an 18-game schedule _ and keep four preseason games for each team _ under the current labor agreement with the players. But that contract expires after this season, and it’s clear the expanded schedule will be a central issue in talks on a new collective bargaining agreement.

The owners would like to keep the season at 20 weeks, reducing the number of preseason games from four to two.

“We want to do it the right way for everyone, including the players, the fans and the game in general,” Goodell said. “There’s a tremendous amount of momentum for it. We think it’s the right step.”

The owners held off on voting on a specific proposal that could be presented to the players union. Among the issues that still must be resolved: when to start the expanded regular season, possible roster expansion to cope with more games, and changes in training camp and offseason routines to come up with ways for evaluating younger players who wouldn’t have as many preseason games to make an impression.

“We want to continue to address a variety of issues before putting together a specific proposal, which our negotiating team will provide to the union’s negotiating team,” Goodell said. “There’s tremendous support for it. Almost all the questions, all the discussions, are how to do it in a way that’s fan friendly.”

Around the NFL, however, many players questioned the wisdom of making an already grueling season even longer. At the very least, they want more money _ and several proposed changes in the rules governing injured players, or adding an extra bye week to deal with the grind.

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