League owners support expanding regular season

ATLANTA (Reuters) - NFL owners have shown overwhelming support for two extra regular season games but have not held a formal vote to impose the expansion, league commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday.

Goodell said a specific proposal to extend the regular season to 18 games from 16 would go to the negotiating team working with the NFL Players Association on a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

The owners have previously said an 18-game regular season and a reduction of pre-season games to two from four could be put into effect as soon as 2012.

"From our standpoint, we think we've moved this concept along," Goodell said he said at a press conference after meeting with owners in Atlanta.

"There's a tremendous amount of momentum for it."

Goodell said that while the owners had the right, under league accords, to change the schedule without a deal with the union, they wanted to make sure there was agreement across the board.

"We want to do this the right way and make it good for players, fans and the game in general. I look at this as an opportunity to create an agreement that will be good for players, good for the league and take our league to the next level," he added.

The NFL chief said there was no timetable for talks on the matter with the union but said the plan would be put to them "rather quickly" and that fans had also supported the idea.

"The fans have spoken very clearly. They want less pre-season and more regular season."

Critics of the proposal have suggested that an increased number of meaningful games -- as opposed to pre-season exhibitions -- will increase the toll on players' bodies and could risk more injuries.

(Reporting by Simon Evans in Miami; Editing by Frank Pingue and Pritha Sarkar)