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NFL may add 17th week

The National Football League is close to making a schedule modification that could eliminate the extra week off before next year's Super Bowl in Tampa, Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen said Thursday. The NFL is considering adding a 17th week to its 16-game regular season to give each team an open date. That would add a 17th week of programing and make for a more attractive package in the league's television negotiations.

Teams would play for 17 weeks in 1991, as well, before going to an 18-week season with two open dates in 1992 and 1993. That would give NBC, CBS, ABC, ESPN and the league's newest network, WTBS, extra broadcast dates.

Shortening the preparation and travel schedules for the game could put a squeeze on next year's Super Bowl in Tampa. "We're preparing for the worst," said Task Force Director Barbara Casey, "and hoping for the best."