When the NFLPA responded to the league’s proposal to add two games to the regular season, we sensed that the two sides were in the same ballpark. We came to that conclusion in part because the union wants to see reduced offseason workouts, and Commissioner Roger Goodell previously has indicated that he would support such a move as well.
Goodell has reiterated his belief that the offseason program could shrink, as soon as 2011.
“Being in by next season? I would hope so,” Goodell told reporters at a conference on helmet technology and safety in New York, according to Mark Maske of the Washington Post. “I know we’ve had a lot of discussions about them both internally and with the Players Association. I think there are some very positive things that can be done in that area.”
Currently, teams adhere to an extensive stretch of “voluntary” workouts and a smaller slate of mandatory minicamps from March through June. Over the years, the “voluntary” sessions have become, as a practical matter, not.
“What we’re trying to do is improve the quality of what we’re doing, but make it safer for our players,” Goodell said. “And I think by looking at changes we’re talking about in the offseason, in training camp and possibly during the season, particularly with the focus on rules, and taking those techniques that we think are dangerous out of the game, it can make the game safer for everyone who plays it.”
Though offseason practices entail only helmets, jerseys, and shorts, we’ve heard multiple complaints over the years regarding the amount of contact that inevitably occurs when men full of testosterone and/or other substances are placed into battle without their armor.
In our view, offseason workouts should entail no helmets at all during any 7-on-7 or 11-on-11 sessions. When players wear helmets, they’re less likely to protect the thing that resides inside them.
If there’s supposed to be no contact during offseason workouts, then there’s no need for a helmet. Maybe without helmets, there truly would be no contact.
Anyway, it’s encouraging — not only to hear that the league is committed to making the change but also to hear from Goodell and not from one of his lieutenants on important matters like this.