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”.