There’s a sense of inevitability regarding the “enhancement” of the regular season from 16 to 18 games. And apart from the increased money that will be paid to players for increasing their annual game workload by more than 10 percent (recognizing that their non-game game workload also would be cut in half), we’ve picked up some details regarding some of the things that some players likely will want.
Per a league source, players want to use an Enzyte’d football season as a catalyst for revising the current schedule of offseason exercise sessions and practices.
The idea currently making the rounds involves shutting down all football activities until May 15. At that point, the players would convene for strength, conditioning, meetings, and practices sans pads. The process would continue up until the traditional launch of training camp, with a week or two off in and around the July 4 holiday.
There are a couple of potential problems with this approach. For starters, coaches like the current schedule, not just because it gives the teams plenty of offseason access to players, but because it provides coaches with a full month to shut down and get away before the training-camp grind begins. Even if the players won’t be showing up until the middle of May, coaches will be grinding in February, March, and April, due to free agency and the draft. Thus, the new schedule would reduce the coaches’ vacation time.
Also, a system of continuous workouts with only a short break between offseason and preseason could prompt agents to begin to insist on rookie deals being negotiated before the offseason program begins. Currently, most rookies will participate in the offseason program without being under contract; absent a one-month buffer, that could change.
We’re also told that players hope to place significant restrictions on the hours they spend at the facility during offseason workouts. In some cities, the day begins at 7:00 a.m. and ends at 4:00 p.m. That’s a huge commitment when the only compensation (apart from workout bonuses) is a per diem.
The good news for players is that Commissioner Roger Goodell already seems to be willing to entertain changes to the offseason program. In June, Goodell acknowledge that “we’re going to have to have some guidelines and restrictions on what can be done and can’t be done in the offseason.”
So apart from the money (unless Brett Favre is on the union’s Executive Committee, at which point it won’t be about money), any enhancement to the regular season likely will result in meaningful changes to an offseason that currently makes pro football a full-time, 10-month-per-year profession.