It’s been no secret that the NFL ownership assembly wants to increase the regular season schedule from the current 16 games to 18. And why wouldn’t it want this? According to calculations done by the NFL Players Association, which opposes the idea because of injury concerns among other reasons, an additional two games on each team’s schedule would increase the league’s annual revenue by up to $2.5 billion.
The NFLPA is not impressed, however, and remains steadfast in its position that two more games are not favorable from the players’ position — something the association’s executive director, DeMaurice Smith, recently told ESPN: “I don’t see an 18-game schedule — under any circumstance — being in the best interest of our players. If somebody wants to make an 18-game proposal, we’ll look at it. I haven’t seen anything that makes me think that it would be good for the players.”
While the NFLPA also estimates that the schedule’s two-game increase would add around $15 million to the salary cap for each team in year one, concerns about players’ health in the short and the long term seem to overrule any financial interests at this point. “It’s easy to say it’s more money. But is it good for us? The answer is no,” continued Smith when discussing one of the biggest issues in the ongoing collective bargaining discussions between the NFL and the NFLPA.
In order to sway the player representatives’ opinion on the matter, the league proposed a bold new concept — one that can best be classified as ridiculous: according to the Wall Street Journal’s Andrew Beaton, ownership brought up the idea of an 18-game regular season format in which each player is allowed to only dress for 16 games.
Even with no further details available at this point in time, the idea sounds pretty bad. Just look at it from a fan-perspective: You pay the full price (or more on the secondary market) to see New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady play only to find out shortly before the game that he won’t participate despite being healthy. You’d probably not be too thrilled about it; and you’d probably not be the only one, which might lead to worse attendance numbers for lower-profile games when those star players are most likely to sit.
Add the decreased quality put on the field during such games across the league and the logistics behind it to the equation and you see why this proposal is likely doomed. Above all else, however, it does something different: it shows just how badly owners want more games (i.e. revenue), and how players are so far not willing to give in. Needless to say that this issue will be one of the core topics to discuss during negotiations for the new CBA.
Earlier this month, it was reported that both the NFL and the NFLPA want to get a deal done before the 2019 regular season (the second to last under the current CBA). However, the latest reports about increasing the schedule and the resistance from the players’ side make this an ambitious goal.