On Tuesday, Patriots owner Robert Kraft expressed optimism that a new labor deal can be negotiated by the end of the year.
Kraft’s top on-field employee is pleased.
“I love to hear that he’s optimistic,” quarterback Tom Brady told Gary Williams and Steve Phillips of Sirius XM’s Mad Dog Radio. “I know one thing about Mr. Kraft is he’s a deal maker. I think he’s very open to getting things done. And I know our guys who represent the players are also for it. So everyone’s trying to make it happen. I think we’ve enjoyed a lot of success with the NFL and I think we’ve avoided a lot of the issues that have come up in the other leagues. I think football is extremely popular, right now the most popular sport in America, and for good reason. I think everyone has worked hard to contribute to that success so it’s good to keep it moving down the right path. There’s got to be give and take from both sides. Ultimately everybody wants to see a deal get done. I love to hear that he’s optimistic. That always is a great sign for the players. And we, as players, have got to do our part. I sure hope something happens.”
On one of the biggest points of contention — the “enhanced” 18-game season — Brady’s remarks demonstrate the lingering existence of a potential impasse.
“I know that’s a big point of contention from the players, the owners,” Brady said. “I think there’s a lot of things that still need to be thought out about that. It’s easy to say, ‘Just play a couple more, substitute those, or why not play 20 games or 24 games?’ And then where does it stop? I know the toll that it takes on me on a week to week basis. I’m not sure so many players will be excited about that. So we’ll have to see what happens.”
What will have to happen is that the NFL will have to give up more than just two more game checks per player per season. Players realize that the enhanced season will diminish careers; at a minimum, they want the path to post-career health care benefits to reflect that.