Here's What Steelers Owner Art Rooney II Said About New 17-Game Season

By Jason Hall

April 1, 2021

Pittsburgh Steelers president and owner Art Rooney II is in favor of the NFL's decision to add an additional game to its regular season schedule.

League owners voted in approval of changing the regular season from 16 games to 17 during the Annual League Meeting on Tuesday (March 30), which is being held virtually amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, according to NFL.com. The new schedule will go into effect during the upcoming 2021 NFL regular season and preseason, which will now be limited to three games per team.

"On the football side of things, we have learned we can live without four preseason games," said Rooney at the conclusion of the two-day virtual Owners Meeting that ratified this change via the Steelers' official website. "As you know there was a time when we had six preseason games, and then we went to four. It's still a 20-game season basically, but we're converting one of the preseason games into a regular season game. For fans, they would rather see a regular season game than a preseason game, so that makes sense. And from a football standpoint we can learn to live with three preseason games rather than four."

Each NFL franchise will participate in an additional AFC vs. NFL game based on division standings prior to the 2021 season and on a rotating divisional basis, with AFC teams hosting the matchups during the upcoming season.

The 17th matchup will includes games between NFC East and AFC East teams; NFC West and AFC North teams; NFC South and AFC South teams; and NFC North and AFC West teams. The Steelers will host the Seattle Seahawks as part of their additional 17th game.

The AFC-NFC games for the 2021 season are listed below per NFL.com:

NFC EAST vs. AFC East

  1. Washington Football Team at Buffalo Bills
  2. New York Giants at Miami Dolphins
  3. Dallas Cowboys at New England Patriots
  4. Philadelphia Eagles at New York Jets

NFC West vs. AFC North

  1. Seattle Seahawks at Pittsburgh Steelers
  2. Los Angeles Rams at Baltimore Ravens
  3. Arizona Cardinals at Cleveland Browns
  4. San Francisco 49ers at Cincinnati Bengals

NFC South vs. AFC South

  1. New Orleans Saints at Tennessee Titans
  2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Indianapolis Colts
  3. Carolina Panthers at Houston Texans
  4. Atlanta Falcons at Jacksonville Jaguars

NFC North vs. AFC West

  1. Green Bay Packers at Kansas City Chiefs
  2. Chicago Bears at Las Vegas Raiders
  3. Minnesota Vikings at Los Angeles Chargers
  4. Detroit Lions at Denver Broncos

"This is a monumental moment in NFL history," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. "The CBA with the players and the recently completed media agreements provide the foundation for us to enhance the quality of the NFL experience for our fans. And one of the benefits of each team playing 17 regular-season games is the ability for us to continue to grow our game around the world."

Additionally, all 32 teams will appear in at least one international game during an eight-year span as part of the new enhanced schedule.

NFL Kickoff Weekend is scheduled for Thursday, September 9, and the regular season will end on Sunday, January 9, 2022.

Super Bowl LVI is scheduled for February 13, 2022 at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles. The 2022 Pro Bowl will be held at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Sunday, February 6.

The NFL has played a 16-game regular season since 1978, when it added two additional games to a previous 14-game schedule.

Commissioner Goodell also appears to be optimistic about returning to full attendance in 2021.

NFL Network's Albert Breer reports Goodell said, without being asked, "we expect to have full stadiums in the upcoming season.

NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, who also confirmed Goodell's statement on attendance, added that the commissioner credited last year's limited attendance as a reason for optimism to expand to full stadiums during the 2021 season.

"Goodell says today's virtual league meeting included discussions about welcoming back fans at every stadium. They had 1.2 million fans - safely, he notes -- in 2020. Now, in 2021, the plan is all stadiums full. A strikingly optimistic tone five months away from kickoff," Pelissero tweeted.

Photo: Getty Images

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