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Don Corleone

NFL players have rejected an 18-game season before. Will they change their minds?

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When NFL owners proposed during the sport’s last set of labor negotiations to cut the preseason and lengthen the regular season from 16 to 18 games per team, players wanted no part of the idea. They called an 18-game regular season unsafe for players, rejected the proposal and threatened to walk away from the bargaining table if the owners continued to pursue the matter.

The league and owners relented, scrapping the measure and saying they never would lengthen the regular season without the players’ approval.

Now, with a new set of negotiations on the next collective bargaining agreement between the league and the NFL Players Association at hand, some owners again want the league to try to secure an 18-game season. So the question becomes: Does a longer regular season remain a negotiating non-starter for the players?

The answer is: perhaps.

There are some indications that nothing has changed about the players’ view toward an 18-game season.

"As far as I’m concerned, the attitude about that is exactly the same as it was the last time around,” said one veteran player with knowledge of NFLPA planning.

It’s very clear that an 18-game season is, at best, a tough sell for the owners to the players. Players took the position the last time around that even if the total number of preseason and regular season games is kept at 20, the rigors of playing two additional regular season games far outweighed the benefit of having two preseason games eliminated. The NFLPA was proud of the player-safety measures that it secured in the 10-year CBA struck in 2011, with cutbacks on practice-field hitting and restrictions on offseason practices. That would seem to make it unlikely that the union would change course this time around.

But some on the players’ side say that the NFLPA at least should listen to what the owners might have to say on a longer regular season.

"There’s never anything that’s a non-starter,” veteran agent Peter Schaffer said. "It’s an issue of how clever you can get, how creative you can get, how you can morph the issues.” 

Schaffer said he would have player-safety research conducted to see if it would be feasible to have each team play a 17th regular season game (perhaps at a neutral site) while cutting the preseason in half and also giving each team a second bye week during the regular season. That would provide two additional weekends of regular season games.

"I think you would need to do a study on all of this,” Schaffer said in a phone interview. "I’m all for player safety. At the same time, if there’s a way to increase revenues and maintain the same level of player safety, let’s do it.” 

NFLPA executives and Eric Winston, the longtime offensive lineman who serves as the union’s president, did not respond to requests for comment.

It’s early in the process. Two seasons remain on the current CBA. Talks are underway, but there’s no indication that the two sides have begun to deal in earnest with the difficult issues. It’s not even clear yet if those owners who want an 18-game season will be able to convince other owners and the league to pursue that intently at the bargaining table.

But there is plenty of incentive for the owners to want an 18-game season. Two additional regular season games could provide a significant revenue boost, particularly in the sport’s next set of network TV contracts. The owners’ fallback plan if the players balk once again at an 18-game season could be to expand the NFL playoffs from 12 to 14 teams, giving the networks two extra first-round postseason games per year. That could be more palatable to the NFLPA. But some owners are intent on pushing for the 18-game regular season first.

More revenue for the sport automatically means more money for the players under the salary cap system. There are other concessions the owners also could make to attempt to get the players to agree to a longer regular season. Rosters could be expanded, meaning more jobs for players. Some observers have suggested a system by which each team would play 18 games but each player would be limited to 16 games, adding coaching strategy in terms of which players would sit out which games.

Owners seem willing to make concessions to the union on the commissioner’s authority in player discipline and the sport’s marijuana policy, although it’s not clear if those issues would be linked at the bargaining table to an 18-game season.

There is much to play out. Already, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has returned to publicly questioning the need for four preseason games, a possible sign of the league’s intent to pursue a shortened preseason and longer regular season. Will the players be willing to listen to any of it? That remains to be seen.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2019/06/10/nfl-players-have-rejected-an-game-season-before-will-they-change-their-minds/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.274343d4ee21

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Most likely, no. Unless they get something that they really value and that entices them accept the additional 2 games.

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No. I feel like 16 games, plus playoffs, is the likely limit for most players. If they add more games, they are going to need to increase roster size and IR/injury designation. If the owners want to increase the number of games they can sell to the networks, look at expanding the playoffs.

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I don't think this will happen.Just too long a season now.

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No. 

Takes too much of a physical toll on the athletes.

Coaches are too smart and will have more chances to figure out a team, watering down the excitement of the game.

More underperforming teams will make the playoffs by virtue of being healthy, rather than being the best in a division.

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The system isn't broken - at least not in terms of how many games or how many teams.  It's just right right now.  They should stop trying to "fix" it.  They'll just screw it up.

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The preseason is necessary for the guys with talent who got a raw deal in recruiting when they were 18-years-old. Removing two games will just help the blue bloods and allow incompetent GM’s to stick by their lousy draft picks.

Without the full preseason guys like Corey Clement, Wes Walker, and Kurt Coleman’s hard work might have gone unnoticed. That would have been a shame. 

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On 6/26/2019 at 9:10 PM, SBorBust said:

The preseason is necessary for the guys with talent who got a raw deal in recruiting when they were 18-years-old. All removing two games does is help the blue bloods and allow incompetent GM’s to stick by their lousy draft picks.

Without the full preseason guys like Corey Clement, Wes Walker, and Kurt Coleman’s hard work might have gone unnoticed. That would have been a shame. 

You dont need your vets playing much, if at all, for those 2 games. They can be dedicated to these fringe players.

Those that think that Vets NEED to play in the preseason only need to look at Week 1. It is a clusterF as it is, vets not playing in the preseason is not going to change that.

I am for an 18 game season only on 2 conditions. 1 - it cuts out 2 preseason games, which all suck. 2 - they add in an additional bye week or at least have a week off between the last game of the season and the start of the playoffs.

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On 6/21/2019 at 4:42 PM, ilikepargo said:

The system isn't broken - at least not in terms of how many games or how many teams.  It's just right right now.  They should stop trying to "fix" it.  They'll just screw it up.

agreed

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Report: NFL owners pitch 18-game schedule, but with players restricted to 16 games

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https://sports.yahoo.com/report-nfl-owners-pitch-18-game-schedule-but-with-players-restricted-to-16-games-181138369.html

NFL team owners have pushed for an 18-game regular-season schedule for years. NFL players have resisted the idea for fears of the added physical toll that would incur.

Is it possible in the league’s the next labor agreement that both sides can find common ground on this issue?

One wild idea that’s resurfacing — as reported by the Wall Street Journal — is for the owners to get their 18-game schedule, which would raise revenue immensely, but for the players to be limited to 16 of those games.

The owners’ proposal during early negotiations is one that radically would reshape roster and game strategy. Here’s a starting point to consider how radical the idea is: Every team would need its backup quarterback(s) to start a minimum of two games each season.

Could something this wild happen?

The current CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) is set to expire following the 2020 NFL season, in March of 2021. A decade ago, labor negotiations were tense and drawn out. An owner lockout lasted well into the summer and wreaked havoc on the timing and planning of the 2011 NFL season, even though it was salvaged with a new agreement that July.

That time around, the owners initially made a strong push for an 18-game schedule, and you could understand their justification. According to WSJ, adding two games to each team’s slate could result in an additional $2.5 billion in revenue.

Extrapolate that, and it could lead to an estimated $15 million added to the salary cap for each team the first year. Spread out over 32 teams, the additional revenue could lead to approximately half a billion dollars going to roughly 2,000 players each year.

But you also can understand how the players balked then at the idea of putting their bodies through an additional 120 minutes of real football each year. Even the promise of additional revenue wasn’t enough to convince them, and the issue died on the vine last time around.

It was clear that health considerations were a big part of the NFLPA’s strategy during the previous negotiations, as one of the union’s biggest concessions gained in the current CBA was gaining more free time for players during the offseason.

What are the potential hurdles?

The 18/16 proposal would solve the wear-and-tear issue — but potentially raise a whole host of new concerns and questions.

Such as:

Are there enough quality quarterbacks in the NFL to keep the product from being watered down?

Rosters likely would have to expand as well, and there might be an even greater need for a developmental league to prep players — especially QBs — for action.

Would, say, Kansas City Chiefs fans be on board with paying full price for a game in which Patrick Mahomes doesn’t start?

Are there enough quality offensive linemen to go around?

What about kickers, punters, long snappers and holders — would every team need to roster two of each?

Could players be placed on some sort of exemption list on weeks when they’re not playing to preserve roster spots?

Would highly competitive players be OK with sitting and watching for more than 10 percent of the regular season?

The NFL has warmed on its stance toward gambling on its sport, but this type of lineup tinkering would have a massive effect on the sportsbooks.

Might a team in last place opt to sit all of its key contributors for the final two games of a season and effectively raise questions about tanking and competitiveness?

And so on and so forth ...

The NFL typically lags way behind other major sports in terms of innovative ideas, and this proposal certainly belies that — at least hypothetically. But it also creates a wildly different NFL in which teams would have to rewire their thinking completely on how to construct a team and use their players with considerable restrictions.

"No players are banging down my door asking me to think about this,” NFLPA president Eric Winston said.

Right now, we file this into the too-fantastical-too-accept category, although it certainly can’t be ruled out if the league provides a financial gain for the players that’s too alluring to overlook.

And it’s at least a sign that both sides appear willing to think a bit off the grid in trying to prevent another major work stoppage before it happens.

 

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Absolutely hate that idea. Who would want to buy game tickets well in advance of knowing if the best players will even see the field?

In essence, all that idea does is make two preseason games count. 

Furthermore, I can see the first two weeks largely used for that idea. It’s easier to try and recover from a possible slow start, than it is to fight for that playoff spot late in the year while knowing you still have to sit your starting QB as well as a few other players for a couple games. 

All around stupid idea. 

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22 minutes ago, EagleJoe8 said:

Absolutely hate that idea. Who would want to buy game tickets well in advance of knowing if the best players will even see the field?

In essence, all that idea does is make two preseason games count. 

Furthermore, I can see the first two weeks largely used for that idea. It’s easier to try and recover from a possible slow start, than it is to fight for that playoff spot late in the year while knowing you still have to sit your starting QB as well as a few other players for a couple games. 

All around stupid idea. 

Agreed. 

Im a season ticket holder so wouldnt affect me much there since I have to pay for all the games no matter what, but I also attend 1 away game every year. Id be pretty pissed spending 2-5K to drive or fly out there, book a hotel, car, food, tickets to find out Wentz and others are benched that game and was considered a throw away game. 

Plain and simple the players are paid based off a 20 game season. Shouldnt matter if its 16 or 18 reg season games. Man up and play. 

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1 hour ago, EagleJoe8 said:

Absolutely hate that idea. Who would want to buy game tickets well in advance of knowing if the best players will even see the field?

In essence, all that idea does is make two preseason games count. 

Furthermore, I can see the first two weeks largely used for that idea. It’s easier to try and recover from a possible slow start, than it is to fight for that playoff spot late in the year while knowing you still have to sit your starting QB as well as a few other players for a couple games. 

All around stupid idea. 

That would turn it into an NBA type deal or MLB with guys sitting. They better lower ticket costs then since they have more games and more possibility that certain players won't play. 

Also teams that have homefield locked up won't play the last 1 or 2 games so you get screwed that game too. 

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On 6/21/2019 at 12:38 PM, jean42 said:

I don't think this will happen.Just too long a season now.

I hope you're right, but never underestimate the power of $$$.

IMO, if the NFL does this, this could be the first step to the league jumping the shark. 

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I don't mind if they go to an 18 game schedule, but I don't want the 16 game player limitation. If that's the only way to get 18 games, then I'd want them to just stay at 16.

If they go to 18, then expand rosters to 63 or even 70 and allow multiple IR players to return.

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Could you imagine being a fan who bought tickets for the Week 12 game against Seattle and the team winds up sitting Wentz and other players after playing a huge game against the Pats? I'd be pissed.

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Just read they’re proposing 18 games but limiting the players to 16 games each

meaning each player would have to miss 2 games

dumbest Fing thing I’ve ever heard of 

even worse then shocker and eaglephan1966’s threads 

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Why mess with a good thing?  16 games is fine and it's worked for many years.   

Cut the preseason by 1-2 games and only do Thursday games for Thanksgiving.

If they did increase it to 18 then it's only right that the players get more money and guaranteed money as well as expanding the roster more than 53.

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On 7/13/2019 at 6:08 PM, Eagles9193 said:

Just read they’re proposing 18 games but limiting the players to 16 games each

meaning each player would have to miss 2 games

dumbest Fing thing I’ve ever heard of 

even worse then shocker and eaglephan1966’s threads 

 

I am so f'ing glad they did this and it became public knowledge.  This is exactly what i have been saying about seasons and breaking points in quality of players you get to watch.  MLB is the best example, the push from 144 to 162 has only brought us 5th starters that suck and 40 games/yr of backup catchers.  The move from 14 games to 16 games evntually caused DLine rotations and RBBC.  NHL expanded their season until they got more games by backup goalies.

 

At what point do you have to sit your starting Qb in certain games or or certain halfs at least?  The answer is very likely if you go to 18 games. 

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11 hours ago, RepPhilly said:

Why mess with a good thing?  16 games is fine and it's worked for many years.   

Cut the preseason by 1-2 games and only do Thursday games for Thanksgiving.

If they did increase it to 18 then it's only right that the players get more money and guaranteed money as well as expanding the roster more than 53.

The big revenue is TV/streaming.  Getting to 18 regular season weeks is easy peasy.  Cut PS by 1-2 games and add a 2nd bye for each team.  2 byes allows players more time to heal in season, its win-win-win.

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34 minutes ago, dawkins4prez said:

 

I am so f'ing glad they did this and it became public knowledge.  This is exactly what i have been saying about seasons and breaking points in quality of players you get to watch.  MLB is the best example, the push from 144 to 162 has only brought us 5th starters that suck and 40 games/yr of backup catchers.  The move from 14 games to 16 games evntually caused DLine rotations and RBBC.  NHL expanded their season until they got more games by backup goalies.

 

At what point do you have to sit your starting Qb in certain games or or certain halfs at least?  The answer is very likely if you go to 18 games. 

I don’t have an issue with it in other sports BUT football is def exception 

each game is so important having players sit as healthy scratches is ludicrous 

nfl is really becoming a money **** league

rhey need to get rid of Thursday nights also 

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8 hours ago, dawkins4prez said:

The big revenue is TV/streaming.  Getting to 18 regular season weeks is easy peasy.  Cut PS by 1-2 games and add a 2nd bye for each team.  2 byes allows players more time to heal in season, its win-win-win.

Something like this seems most palatable. The owners get a longer season without putting out a subpar product or exposing players to more wear and tear. As far as pre-season games nothing is forcing teams to play starters or veteran backups. Play them no more than necessary but I wonder how much of a benefit it is to see rookies or lower roster players in a game situation vs. practice before cut down day. Yeah those games would look like the 4th game of the current system but how much value is there for coaches in those games?

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13 hours ago, eglz1 said:

Something like this seems most palatable. The owners get a longer season without putting out a subpar product or exposing players to more wear and tear. As far as pre-season games nothing is forcing teams to play starters or veteran backups. Play them no more than necessary but I wonder how much of a benefit it is to see rookies or lower roster players in a game situation vs. practice before cut down day. Yeah those games would look like the 4th game of the current system but how much value is there for coaches in those games?

I don't think there is a single player, coach or fan who actually believes there needs to be 4 PS games.  I believe most would agree 3 out of tradition but in reality 2 is the real answer.

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There's already enough injuries as it is.  16 regular season games is enough. There used to be 14 games per season and it went up to 16.  And, now the game is much more physical and the players are more talented across the board.

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