Sean Gilbert, who conducted a media conference call on Tuesday in connection with his plan to pursue the position of NFLPA executive director, wants to achieve a variety of gains for the players. In return, Gilbert is willing to give the NFL something for which it had stopped asking: An 18-game regular season.
Appearing that same day (coincidentally, or not) on ESPN’s SportsCenter, De Smith addressed the issue of expanding the regular season.
“It’s not my decision to make,” Smith said. “If someone thinks it’s better for them to play 18 games. I know that there’s a healthy number of football players now who would say go ahead and do play 18 games.”
Current NFLPA president Eric Winston strongly opposes the idea of expanding the regular season to 18 games. Few players have argued in favor of adding a pair of games. Given the current climate of player health and safety, it’s hard to imagine Gilbert’s proposal taking root among the rank and file.
Smith also addressed the fact that he faces an actual challenger for the job, a dynamic that the sitting NFLPA executive director hasn’t confronted in decades.
“I don’t give much thought to people who want this job,” Smith said. “I have the pleasure of working for the players of the National Football League, the players decide who their leaders will be. I look forward to March. I intend to be in this job for as long as the players will have me.”
The issue could be resolved long before March. The election of the 2014-15 team-by-team player representatives, which will occur in the coming weeks, potentially will result in the eventual winner being determined, if at least 17 of the 32 reps favor one of the candidates.