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Union sending mixed signals on 18-game season

NFL Lockout Looms As Negotiations Reach Final Day Getty Images

It seems that some players are willing to play 18 games per year if the price is right and that some are flatly opposed to playing more than 16.  Redskins linebacker London Fletcher told PFT Live on Thursday that he’s opposed to the move to 18 games under any circumstances.

In February, we thought Steelers receiver Hines Ward was in that same camp.  “All money is not good money,” Ward said at one of the various Super Bowl media sessions.   “You may get paid more, but all you’re doing is driving more injuries.  Leave it like it is.  It’s great as it is.  . . .  Add two more games, those extra checks are not worth it, having more stuff done to you that will affect you later on in life.  I don’t want it.”

Now, Ward is singing a very different tune.  “We’d jeopardize our bodies for two more regular-season games so if they can do something special with health insurance I think the players will go for it,” Ward said told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, as MDS pointed out earlier today.

The mixed message suggest that the anti-18 rhetoric is aimed merely at getting a better deal when the union agrees to trade two preseason games for two more regular-season games.  Indeed, while Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated has characterized Wednesday’s comments from NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith as an indication that an 18-game schedule is “off the table,” Albert Breer of NFL Network believes it’s still on the table, and that it remains negotiable.

Meanwhile, you can join the more than 21,000 members of PFT Planet who have voted on whether the season should be expanded.  So far, 65 percent say “no” and 30 percent say “yes”.

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18 Responses to “Union sending mixed signals on 18-game season”
  1. waitingguilty says: Mar 10, 2011 3:24 PM

    I am not for 18 games, but….

    I find it ironic that most players complain about the extra wear and tear coming from 2 games, yet 95% of players in the history of the league have tried to play as many seasons as possible.

  2. 3octaveFart says: Mar 10, 2011 3:48 PM

    Mixed signals could mean:
    “NO!”
    “Are you nuts?!”
    “Over our dead bodies!”
    “Hell no!”
    …like that?

  3. freebird2011 says: Mar 10, 2011 3:49 PM

    Of course, the players want the revenue and paychecks associated with two additional regular season games. It’s nothing more than a major bargaining chip.

    When it comes to more money, the players aren’t going to shoot themselves in the foot.

  4. emdub52 says: Mar 10, 2011 3:51 PM

    I don’t understand why everyone thinks 18 games is a “bad” thing. Players are going to get hurt regardless. If that is your only excuse, then it’s piss poor in my opinon. Expand the rosters and bring what every NFL fan wants. More football.

  5. cappa662 says: Mar 10, 2011 3:52 PM

    Not really the union… just ONE player (or maybe a handful of players who have had one too many concussions).

    Stop trying to instigate PFT.

  6. nortonfest says: Mar 10, 2011 3:52 PM

    I still believe the smartest idea is for a 17 game, 19 week regular season – 8 home games, 8 away games, and one neutral site game with two bye weeks for the players. The neutral games could be international, or they could be at a neutral US site. The neutral games could bring the NFL game to new places. For example, could the Denver Broncos play a game at the Boise State Broncos blue field? Or how about a game between Houston and Dallas in San Antonio? These towns have stadiums and the money to support one game with a lot of fanfare the entire week.

    My scenario would have only three preseason games, so the season ticket holder only pays for one. Also, how much extra TV revenue with the NFL get for the two extra regular season games?

    Exchanging one preseason games for two extra weeks of real football could rake in millions if done correctly. And if the NFL timed it right, the Super Bowl could be on President’s Day weekend, which would keep a lot of people from showing up to work late or hungover on the Monday after the game.

  7. godofwine330 says: Mar 10, 2011 3:54 PM

    On one forum that this question was posted it was 80% no, 20% yes. It is low. Most fans don’t want it and think that it is find as it is. My neighbor wh ois a season ticket holder even said if he had to choose between 18 games, 2 preseason game and 16 games 4 preseason he would vote for the later. He hates having to pay full price for preseason but the rest are find as it is.

  8. marvsleezy says: Mar 10, 2011 4:03 PM

    If you want to know what teams will look like injury wise after 18 games, why not just study the Patriots Colts and Steelers?

    Virtually every year 2 of these 3 are playing 18 games – And its been this way for years 10 years now.

    Are there more guys hurt after 18 games? Lets just look it up.

    The Colts have played almost 18 more games than the Buffalo Bills in the past 10 years.

  9. kellyb9 says: Mar 10, 2011 4:04 PM

    I find it strange when an organization of over a few thousand independent people send mix signals. /Sarcasm

  10. lbcoach34 says: Mar 10, 2011 4:14 PM

    I thought this was the root of it all – 18 games = health hazard for Union and $$$ for Owners

    Solution – play 18 games – provide healthcare benefits to retired players and owners get revenue from 2 more games

  11. eaglebobby says: Mar 10, 2011 4:18 PM

    I bet players and fans of the 2010 Giants and Bucs wished for an 18 game season. I agree with another poster–you have players that are trying to play as long as they can–hello, Ronde Barber, who’s going into what–his 15th season–yet they say they’re opposed to an 18 game season? Please–if the owners give on a shorter training camp, shorter OTAs, more roster spots per team, De Smith would jump all over it. You can have 2 byes per season–start the 2nd to last week in August, with the first bye coming for every team on Labor Day weekend–that weekend typically the NFL doesn’t play because that’s when the college season starts, and then you stagger the rest of the byes like always during the season.

  12. deadmanwalking47 says: Mar 10, 2011 4:38 PM

    leave it at 16 if you can.bargain with the owners and get more money for the retired players,if ya have to play two more games,that’s the way the cookie crumbles!

  13. lunarpie says: Mar 10, 2011 4:55 PM

    Is it me, or does DeMaurice Smith look like Patrick Ewing’s little brother!?!?!?

  14. jetsjetsjetsjets says: Mar 10, 2011 6:06 PM

    Season ticket holders want 9 meaningful home games…or a signficiant discount on the preseason tickets…

    It’s ridiculous to pay FULL price for a scrimmage. I haven’t gone to the preseason in 15 years. (Nor do most others, I have not seen a full stadium on TV for a preseason game ever!)

    The rest of the NFL fans are happy the way it is. As I would be, if I were not a season ticket holder.

    I am sure the fan support dividing line is drawn accordingly.

  15. Deb says: Mar 10, 2011 6:14 PM

    Would I like two more weeks of meaningful football? Absolutely! But no one wants two more weeks of starters sitting because their teams have already clinched … or more players being lost to injuries during the season … or favorite players being forced to retire younger because of longer seasons.

    If the league has solutions for these byproducts of a longer season, let’s hear them.

  16. vonsmoky71165 says: Mar 10, 2011 6:29 PM

    I agree with nortonfest Gil Brandt had a similar idea with only 2 preseason games. This definitely makes the most sense.

  17. wtfru2 says: Mar 10, 2011 10:48 PM

    This De Smith is one ugly dude and you keep getting the most unflattering pictures of him. Keep up the good work…..

  18. anthonyfromstatenisland says: Mar 11, 2011 3:10 AM

    The 18-game schedule is more about the future than the present: Sooner or later there is going to be expansion – and with 18 games, there can be as many as 40 teams and the neat rotation of every team playing every other team every so many years can be preserved, plus the strength of schedule can be kept at least flat, if not progressive (the current schedule is “flat” in that every team gets four games against first-place teams, four games against second-place teams, four games against third-place teams, and four games against last-place teams, based on the prior year’s standings). With 32 teams playing 18 games, the schedule will actually become “progressive” if, as seems likely, the two new games match up teams that had the same finish in their division the year before.

    What the owners don’t want to return to is the way the schedule was done in the early and mid-1970s, when it was often “regressive;” that is to say, weak teams got saddled with the toughest schedules, while strong teams got to play the easiest schedules (the 1976 Giants being an example of the former, the 1972 Dolphins the latter).

    To me at least, that’s looking out for the best interests of the game, and has nothing to do with “greed.”

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