NEW YORK - The NFL doesn't have a deadline for when games would be canceled without a collective bargaining agreement.
"We don't have a date by which the season is lost, or a date by which we have to move from 16 games to some other (number)," Eric Grubman, the league's executive vice president for business operations, said Friday at a meeting with Associated Press Sports Editors. "Our intentions are to play a full season, and we will pull every lever that we can within the flexibility we have or can identify to make that happen."
Even during the lockout, Grubman said, the NFL and teams are working so they will be ready to start the season quickly once a deal is reached.
"We have to be able to figure out: When you turn the key, is the gas going to flow?" he said. "Is everything going to work?"
The 2011 schedule released Tuesday has games beginning Sept. 8 but includes some room to maneuver. The NFL could still squeeze in 16 games with a delayed start by eliminating bye weeks and the week between the conference championships and the Super Bowl, and the league has a deal with host Indianapolis to potentially play the Super Bowl a week later.
The regular season is slated to kick off Thursday night, Sept. 8, when the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers host the New Orleans Saints at Lambeau Field.
The first Sunday features several high-profile games, including Indianapolis at Houston and Atlanta at Chicago. But much of the national focus will be on Washington and New York, the two cities most affected by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.