Say “Bye” to 18-Game NFL Schedule?

For years and years, it appeared as if the 18-game regular-season schedule was the holy grail of the NFL owners.

But then along came George Kittle.

As reported previously in these lines, 49ers tight end George Kittle, a three-time Pro Bowler, would like to see a second bye week added to each NFL team's regular-season schedule, an idea that enjoys wide support — from at least the "twitterverse" anyway.

Responses from that medium include the following:

Ben Maller (from FOX Sports Radio):
"I'm thumbs up on George Kittle advocating for two bye weeks in the NFL ... He's going to get his wish..."

Yaya Dubin:
"There should absolutely be two bye weeks. Give it to teams before they play on TNF, and stop doing the thing where teams play on Thanksgiving and then the following Thurs, also. Those teams are the only ones that don't get their 10-day break immediately following the three-day break."

But the next two really cut to the chase:

Chris Trapasso (from CBS Sports):
"There *absolutely* should be two bye weeks. Bonus beyond player rest would be that it'd get the Super Bowl on Presidents' Day Weekend."

Andrew Abrahamson:
"Two bye weeks and make Super Bowl on President's [sic] Day weekend. No brainer."

The point is that holding the Super Bowl on the Presidents' Day weekend would make "Super Bowl Monday" a national holiday — and whoever is in the Oval Office (and his/her entire political party) will receive a huge bump if s/he issues an executive order placing Presidents' Day on a totally equal footing with New Year's Day, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Memorial Day, Juneteenth, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day as "with-pay" holidays (and would debunk, once and for all, the myth of baseball still being our "national pastime," which by any objective measure hasn't been the case for literally decades).

Naturally, like with anything else, the NFL will need to get it just right for it to work as intended.

First, that means an automatic bye the week before for all teams playing a Thursday game — whether that game is played on a Thursday night, or on Thanksgiving Day (and no Thursday night game in Week 2 — a small sacrifice for the league to make).

This will also mean that at least two teams will need to have a bye week as late as the next-to-last week of the season — something that actually happened in 1999, 2000, and 2001, when the league had an odd number of teams (31).

Of course we've seen this movie once before — in 1993, when each team had two bye weeks, leading to that year's 16-game schedule getting played over 18 weeks. But that was due to the fact that in that year, both Christmas Day and New Year's Day (in 1994) fell on a Saturday — and it would have not been possible to hold the four wild card playoff games on the latter weekend due to concurrence with the college bowl games, so the postseason had to be pushed back one week (there was no idle week between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl that year — but that idle week would be kept if the Super Bowl were to be deferred to the Presidents' Day weekend).

The owners could still try to extend the regular season to 18 games, while keeping the two bye weeks for each team, once the present collective bargaining agreement expires in the spring of 2031, at the expense of eliminating the idle week between the conference title games and the Super Bowl on a permanent basis.

But, as Ted Kennedy should have said, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it — and in all likelihood, the NFLPA will see to it that we won't cross it.

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