|2011 National Football League season|
|Duration||September 8, 2011 – January 1, 2012|
|All dates listed are tentative. This season may be affected by a possible work stoppage due to labor issues between league owners and players.|
|Start date||January 7, 2012 – January 29, 2012|
|Super Bowl XLVI|
|Date||February 5, 2012|
|Site||Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana|
|Date||January 29, 2012|
|Site||Aloha Stadium, Halawa, Honolulu, Hawaii|
|National Football League seasons
The playing of the 2011 NFL season, the 92nd regular season of the National Football League, is contingent upon the adoption of a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the league owners and the National Football League Players Association, the players' labor union. The season is tentatively scheduled to begin on Thursday, September 8, 2011 at Lambeau Field, the home of the Green Bay Packers, Super Bowl XLV champion; and end with Super Bowl XLVI, the league's championship game, on February 5, 2012 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. However, a work stoppage is expected if there is no CBA in place, which may, depending on how long it lasts, shorten or cancel the entire season.
Potential labor dispute[edit | edit source]
NFL owners unanimously voted in 2008 to opt out of their current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) following the 2010 season. That last labor agreement gave players about 60 percent of the league’s $8 billion in revenue. A major reason for opting out is that the owners want a better deal to help pay for investments they have made on new stadiums and other expenditures. On the other hand, the players are very skeptical that the owners are losing money, and therefore are resisting to take the necessary pay cuts across the board.
As bargaining chips, the owners have proposed to extend the regular season from 16 to 18 games, establish a rookie wage scale, and implement other health and safety issues. But the players are concerned that these health and safety proposals would be offset by the potential injuries that might occur during those two extra games.
Anticipating a lockout initiated by the owners if no deal is made, a number of players have voted to decertify the union, which would expose the owners to potential antitrust lawsuits. However, the players would then lose the ability to collectively bargain with the owners. The league is also exempted from most facets of antitrust laws as a result of Public Law 89-800, passed in the wake of the AFL–NFL merger in 1970, complicating any potential lawsuit against the league.
The players union has also hired firms to lobby members of the U.S. Congress on their behalf, claiming that a work stoppage could potentially cost each NFL city $160 million in lost business, a figure that the league owners say is inflated.
As for other contingency plans, the league has yet to make these public, including whether to temporarily change the postseason format (like after the 1982 strike). NASCAR, which traditionally holds its opening race the weekend following the Super Bowl, has postponed the start of their 2012 season back to February 26, to avoid competition with either a delayed Super Bowl or any extension of the season.
Schedule[edit | edit source]
If the entire 2011 season is played as scheduled, it would begin on Thursday, September 8, 2011 at Lambeau Field, with the Super Bowl XLV champion Green Bay Packers as the host team; the last regular season games would be held on Sunday, January 1, 2012; the playoffs would then start on Saturday January 7, 2012; and Super Bowl XLVI, the league's championship game, on February 5, 2012 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Under the NFL's scheduling formula, intraconference and interconference matchups will be:
The league's plans for an International Series game is on hold until the labor issues are resolved. The league needs a few months in advance to plan the logistics of such a game played on foreign soil, and a prolonged work stoppage would threaten to cancel it. If the International Series game can be held, the league is in negotiations with Croke Park in Dublin, Ireland as a potential host site. However, under the terms of the Bills Toronto Series agreement, a regular season game will still be scheduled to be held in Toronto.
Additionally, under the NFL's scheduling formula, the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins are the two AFC East teams eligible to face the Dallas Cowboys for the 2011 Thanksgiving Classic. The Detroit Lions will face an NFC team (the possibilities are the Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers and San Francisco 49ers). The teams for the Thanksgiving nightcap on the NFL Network will be determined in the spring.
Christmas Day, December 25, 2011, falls on Sunday. The league's general policy when this happens is to hold the majority of its games during the day on Christmas Eve, with one or two National Football League Christmas games on Christmas evening.
Media[edit | edit source]
This will be the sixth season under the current television contracts with the league's television partners: CBS (all AFC Sunday afternoon away games and one Thanksgiving game), Fox (all NFC Sunday afternoon away games and one Thanksgiving game), NBC (17 Sunday night games and the kickoff game), ESPN (17 Monday night games over sixteen weeks), NFL Network (eight late-season games on Thursday and Saturday nights, including one Thanksgiving game), and DirecTV's NFL Sunday Ticket package. These contracts run through at least 2013.
On December 22, 2010, the league announced that its national radio contract with Westwood One has been extended through 2014. The league also extended its contract with Sirius XM Radio through 2015.
The league has yet to announce plans to compensate their media partners should the season be shortened or canceled if there is a work stoppage. The networks that carry the NFL have also yet to announce their own contingency plans, and possible alternate programming. A work stoppage could potentially cost these networks billions of dollars in ad revenue and other entertainment platforms that depend on the games being played. (Under the NFL's television contracts, the networks must still pay the league regardless of whether or not the league plays any games.) Meanwhile, the United Football League has set aside a portion of their television contract for their 2011 UFL season, as a potential package of replacement programs for the networks.
Uniforms[edit | edit source]
2011 will mark the last season that the Denver Broncos will be wearing their navy blue jerseys as their primary colored jersey, as the team plans to designate their orange alternate jersey the team's new primary jersey color for the 2012 NFL season. The move is being made due to overwhelming fan support to return to using orange as the team's primary home jersey color, which harkens back to the days of the Orange Crush Defense, as well as John Elway's return to the organization as the team's executive vice president of football operations. The team had considered making the switch for the 2011 season, but were too late to notify the NFL of the changes. The move will also likely mean the retirement of the Broncos' blue pants, which Elway was not a fan of as a player and would not aesthetically match up with the orange or white jerseys. The aforementioned navy blue jerseys, which had been the team's primary home jersey color since they were first introduced in 1997, are expected to be the team's new alternate colored jersey.
On February 9, 2011, the Buffalo Bills announced that the team plans to introduce redesigned uniforms for the 2011 NFL season. No details were given on what the uniforms would look like, but it was said that the charging buffalo logo would be kept. An official unveiling of the new uniforms will be at a fan appreciation event later this year.  This would be the first full redesign of the Bills' uniforms since the 2002 NFL season.
Coaching changes[edit | edit source]
The uncertain labor issues were speculated to have a minimizing effect on coaching changes prior to the 2011 season, with owners predicted to be more hesitant than usual to hire a high-price, high-profile head coach. Eight coaches were fired either during or immediately after the 2010 NFL season, compared to three in the year prior; only one of the new hires (John Fox) had ever been a head coach in the NFL prior to their hirings or promotions.
at start of season
|2010 Interim||2011 Replacement||Reason for leaving||Story/Accomplishments|
|Dallas Cowboys||Wade Phillips||Jason Garrett||Fired||Phillips, son of former NFL head coach Bum Phillips, was fired on November 8 following a 45-7 Week 9 loss against the Green Bay Packers, leaving Dallas with a 35-24 (.593) record. Phillips was later hired as defensive coordinator of the Houston Texans. On January 5, 2011, Jason Garrett, the team's offensive coordinator and presumptive head coach in waiting, was named the Head coach for the 2011 season.|
|Minnesota Vikings||Brad Childress||Leslie Frazier||Fired||Childress was fired on November 22 following a Week 11 loss against the Green Bay Packers, 31-3. The Vikings entered week 12 with a 3-7 record, second-to-last in the NFC North. Childress also faced controversy by releasing Randy Moss without the approval of owner Zygi Wilf and lost control over the locker room.  Childress amassed a record of 40-37 (.519) record during his time in Minnesota. Frazier, the Vikings' defensive coordinator since 2007, was named head coach following the end of the 2010 season.|
|Denver Broncos||Josh McDaniels||Eric Studesville||John Fox||Fired||McDaniels was fired on December 5, following a 10-6 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 13. After a 6-0 start in the 2009 season, the Broncos lost 17 of their next 22 games, and became subject to a videotaping scandal. McDaniels's record was 11-17 (.393) as coach of the Broncos. McDaniels was hired by the St Louis Rams to be their offensive coordinator. |
|San Francisco 49ers||Mike Singletary||Jim Tomsula||Jim Harbaugh||Fired||Singletary compiled a record of 18-22 (.462) during his 2½ years as head coach of the 49ers and was criticized for his lack of focus on the team's offense. Singletary is now the Linebackers coach for the Minnesota Vikings. 
Harbaugh, a former NFL quarterback, came from the Stanford Cardinal football team, where he led the Cardinal to a 12-1 record in 2010 behind the arm of top quarterback prospect Andrew Luck. (Luck was expected to declare for the 2011 NFL Draft if Harbaugh left, but has decided to stay at Stanford.)
|Carolina Panthers||John Fox||Ron Rivera||Expired contract||The Panthers announced on December 31, 2010, two days before the final game of the 2010 season, that his contract will not be renewed for 2011. Fox spent nine seasons with Carolina, including an appearance in Super Bowl XXXVIII, and leaves Carolina with a total record of 78-76 (.506).
Rivera had spent the previous three seasons as defensive coordinator for the San Diego Chargers.
|Cleveland Browns||Eric Mangini||Pat Shurmur||Fired||The Browns announced on Monday January 3, 2011 , the day after the end of the 2010 regular season that Eric Mangini will not be returning to coach the Browns  Mangini led the Browns to back to back 5-11 seasons and an overall record of 10-22 (.313), the second-worst in Browns history. On January 13 Browns announced that they hired Pat Shurmur, who spent the last two seasons with the St.Louis Rams and from 1999-2008 with the Philadelphia Eagles.|
|Oakland Raiders||Tom Cable||Hue Jackson||Expired contract||The Raiders announced on Tuesday January 4, 2011, that they will not exercise the option on Tom Cable's contract. He finishes with a 17-27 (.386) record, which included an 8-8 record in 2010, while going undefeated against division rivals. On January 17, the Raiders announced that Hue Jackson, their previous offensive coordinator will replace Cable, who was later hired as the Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Line Coach for the Seattle Seahawks.|
|Tennessee Titans||Jeff Fisher||Mike Munchak||Resigned||On January 27, it was formally announced by the Tennessee Titans, that Fisher would not return to coach the Titans in the 2011 season, following a dispute with Titans quarterback Vince Young. Fisher, whose time with the team dated to when it was still the Houston Oilers, had the longest tenure as head coach with one team among active head coaches in the league at the time of his dismissal. In 17 years with the Oilers and Titans, Fisher compiled a record of 147-126 (.538). Munchak, who joined the Oilers in 1982 and has remained with the team as a player or coach every year since (serving most recently as offensive line coach), was promoted to the head coach position as Fisher's replacement.|
References[edit | edit source]
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- Source: Croke Park is linked to hosting NFL RTE.ie, 27 January 2011.
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- http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news /story?id=5975190
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