Union says playoff expansion is “absolutely” a topic of collective bargaining


The NFL could be throwing a curve ball at the NFLPA by expanding the postseason field from 12 to 14 without seeking union approval.  The NFLPA thinks it knows how to hit this specific curve ball.

In response to comments from Cowboys owner Jerry Jones suggesting that the league won’t seek agreement from the union before expanding the playoffs, NFLPA spokesman George Atallah tells Bob Glauber of Newsday that adding a pair of playoff teams (and in turn a pair of playoff games) is “absolutely a topic for bargaining, no question.”

Atallah seems to be right.  The National Labor Relations Act requires the parties to a Collective Bargaining Agreement to “confer in good faith with respect to wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment.”  The number of games to be played by NFL players surely falls within that broad definition.

But there’s really nothing that stops the NFL from huffing and puffing about unilateral implementation of playoff expansion.  If the NFLPA fights too loudly, the union could risk losing the P.R. battle.

Players routinely talk about the goal of making it to the playoffs.  As some fans would say, how could the players balk at having enhanced opportunities to qualify for the postseason and to compete for the ultimate goal of winning a Super Bowl?

Still, the law seems to require the NFL to negotiate with the union.  Which means that the NFL may have to make one or more concessions that it’s not prepared to make, especially when the NFL possibly believes that the union benefits from enhanced playoffs via the current formula that divides revenue almost equally between the league and the union.

Maybe, in the end, the NFL isn’t huffing and puffing.  Maybe the NFL will implement playoff expansion and force the union to fight something that most players possibly want.

54 responses to “Union says playoff expansion is “absolutely” a topic of collective bargaining

  1. The steelers won’t be affected either way as they are in a Spiral downward since being tebowed out of the playoffs years ago!

  2. The regular season means so much in the NFL. Unlike the NHL and NBA, it’s single elimination in football. Adding another team in each conference forces the #2 seed to play during Wildcard weekend. A #2 seed may in all actuality be the best team in the league who may have had a tougher schedule, btw. But, now the owners want them to be subject to a bad game, bad refereeing, fluke injury, or some other unforseen pitfall that CAN’T BE OVERCOME like in basketball or hockey where the better team often rebounds to win the series. Unless they give everyone a bye except the #6 and #7 seeds, and we know they’re too greedy to have just two games the first week of the postseason, this is a horrible idea.

  3. This shows there is a lot of players that care more about money then a chance to win a championship.

  4. I’m not sure how righteous the NFLPA wants to get on this issue.

    It’s pretty simple – more teams making the playoffs means more playoff money for more player’s. The NFLPA shouldn’t posture like its a concession they are making when the NFL knows its a management/labor win win.

    That would undermine the NFLPA’s credibility, if they have any, moving forward.

    That being said this should be done collaboratively by mutual agreement – not unilaterally. On that the NFL has clearly misplayed this.

  5. This is awful…at least it is if you root for the Rams. Imagine the guest list on the party you want to get invited to just got bigger and you’re still left off it. Leave it alone. It’s fine right now.

  6. This is the one time I actually agree with the union. And I disagree with the article–I think they will surely win the public relations battle here, since the majority of fans don’t want to change the structure. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

  7. thetooloftools says:
    May 19, 2014 9:21 PM
    The players union is going to drive off the fans.
    Tons of really good player to replace those already there.


    Jerrah Jones and his cohorts are the ones driving off fans. He is going to keep diluting the playoffs until his crap team can get in with a 500 record. Contrary to what jerrah says. More teams in the play off dont make them better.
    The playoffs are a goal to achieve by playing good in 16 regular season games. By diluting the playoffs it takes away meaning from reg. season games.

    Whats next for Jerrah when his cowboys and tony choke in round 1 of the new expanded playoffs?
    Double elimination?

  8. Thank you NFLPA, for being the one thing standing in the way of Goodell and the owners trying to devalue the game. If it were up to the owners the Super Bowl would be a best of seven series!

  9. I keep seeing articles related to this issue;yet, none of the articles actually reference the CBA. What does it say?

    The quote in this article is a reference to the collective bargaining process which, in this case, has ended in a collective bargaining agreement. What does the agreement say?

  10. Will expanding make the product better? No. Is there anything else that matters? Long term success will be achieved by making the game better, not by short term greed.

  11. I seem to recall after the last stand off for this current deal, that all parties already agreed to expanded playoffs if owners decided to go that route. So what was reported at that time was that adding REGULAR season games required negotiation. This would not go over in PR world for PA to fight adding a couple teams to the playoffs, and it would seem pick your battles would be good advise.

  12. Mark Cuban is right, nfl is getting greedy n arrogant. A watered down playoffs like the nba would not be apealing to a lot of people

  13. Oh, this union headed by that fraud Smith need to be quiet because in the end, we all know they’re going to bend over as usual like the owners tell them to do. Gene Upshaw is rolling over in his grave. How’s all that transfer of money from the top 10 rookies to the veterans going, guys?

  14. Both the NFL & the NFLPA get on my nerves with their talk & posturing. In this case, I side with the union. Expanded playoffs waters it down like college football. 30+ bowls games & everybody gets one. Half the league should not make the playoffs. Its striving for mediocrity just to pad full pockets.
    Just leave the damn game alone.

  15. Is there a more overpaid position in the world then union head. They work maybe one week every 5 or 6 years. And most of the time never get a deal done on time.

  16. When is the greed going to stop? It works just the way it is leave it alone.
    I’m beginning to believe Marc Cuban may have been right.

  17. I can see adding an extra team in each conference. Every year on the last Sunday tiebreakers decide who makes the playoffs. How would you like it if your team doesn’t make the playoffs because the the other team clinched the playoffs with the 27th tiebreaker.

  18. Hope the union fights this watered down new playoff format. No need to turn the nfl into the nba/nhl playoffs making the regular season moot. Lord Goodell and his minions ruining the nfl one day at a time

  19. If they do it, I hope a 7-9 team wins the Super Bowl. It would be especially funny if it was the Browns.

  20. It’s not about If the players want it or not. The owner’s want it, and the players have to approve it according to the CBA. So the players union is going to try to get something back in return that is favorable to the players. That isn’t selfish. It’s just good business. The owner’s and the commissioner already hold most of the chips. The players want some control back. This is just another thing to add to a list to try and get Goodell to release his power. If he let his power go in exchange for 18 game seasons, expanded playoffs, and HGH testing, the players would sign off on it tomorrow.

  21. Sounds like an opportunity for the union to draw a line in the sand and stand up to the owners and their leader on a number of issues that got pushed through in haste last time around. This time I hope they hold out and get everything right! I’m anxious for the season to begin but am more concerned with preserving the integrity of the game which means keeping it in tact without further changes!

  22. ANYTHING that the players have to suit up for automatically is an NFLPA matter!

    To extend the schedule in any way is a no brainer and the league knows it.
    Trying to extend the playoffs without input from the union is just asking for a walkout and then lockout.

  23. Reading this article made me sigh. When did football become so much more about the NFLPA vs. the Owners and the Commissioner biccering back and forth? What happened to players just playing the game, owners owning the teams and coaches coaching. I am losing interest in the NFL, time for a Baseketball type league to come along.

  24. the owners & rog have shown their true colors, and its green

    1. charge full price for practice games
    2. take away a home game away from a team to try and get international money
    3. holler ‘safety’ when it suits them but try and get more money by adding a non deserving team to the playoffs

    I love this sport, but the owners are going to ruin it

  25. This is yet another example of the NFL being too greedy. Adding more playoff teams is stupid. It de-values the regular season even more than it is now and we will see a sub .500 team make the playoffs.
    All Goodell cares about is lining the owners and his pockets.
    As for Jerry Jones, the reason he wants this is it’s the only way his Cowboys have a chance to make the playoffs with him in charge.
    The NFL is becoming like the NHL and NBA. A joke.

  26. Mediocre teams continue to make the playoffs with no real chance of advancing to the Super Bowl, let alone their conference championship. You think the Bengals – my team, by the way – were a true threat in the AFC? Not a chance, and they’ve been in the last three years. Adding playoff teams would dilute the playoffs, while doing the same to the regular season we’re now glued to watch, and add nothing more to the value off the NFL. True, more revenue would come from those playoff games. But you’re watering down your product – the regular season AND the already incredible playoffs. This is greed (of no surprise) on behalf of the owners that would weaken “the shield.” The NFL is a machine, and I understand that they want to capitalize on their popularity. But not at the risk of killing the golden goose.

  27. There’s a lot of self-righteousness going on in here. People are assuming that their team will make the playoffs. Any team can suffer the same fate as Houston or even Green Bay and have a bad season or QB injury. I’ll bet if it came down to it and their team had a chance to get into the playoffs,they’d scream and dance for the opportunity. So what if two more Wildcards get in. If the other teams are so good,they’ll knock em out. If not,fantastic,let that 8-8 or 10-6 team move on. If that #1 winds up playing a WC team and gets knocked off,then they suck and the better team won the day.

  28. It’s hard to see how the union is going to lose any PR battle by resisting expansion of an already watered down playoff system. How many fans really want to see their 7-9 team limp into the playoffs to get obliterated in the first round just so Jerry Jones can pocket some more TV money?

    If the regular season really means so little that over half the teams in the league can get into the post-season, smart teams will simply rest most of their guys for much of the regular season so they’ll be rested and ready for January. Call it a 16 game pre-season (assuming Goodell doesn’t expand it to 18, of course) and be done with it.

  29. Jerry Jones proves more and more he is not fit to be in his position. If my job decided to add more work days without approval from both parties I would be upset too! The players Union is only looking out for the players being included in compensation for a move that would increase revenue in a company. It is in best intrest for two parties to agree on this matter!

  30. Most people already understand that this has nothing to do with football, or giving more teams an opportunity to win a championship. This is all about money; it’s about a bunch of billionaire NFL owners trying to give themselves a raise.

    Expanding the playoffs means more playoff games. More games means more TV commercials…..and more TV commercials means more advertising revenue for the league. More advertising revenue=more $$$$ in the owners’ pockets.

    It’s just that simple.

  31. Why does the NFL need more playoff teams? ITs gonna rival the NHL playoffs. Why not have a playoff system that includes every team no matter the teams won/loss record. That way every fan can experience the playoffs.. “My team was in the playoffs with a 2-14 record”…Eeeegads, enough already, the playoffs have been watered down to the point of boredom.

  32. The 16 game regular season is basically like a big playoff today. Fans watch every week. It’s nothing like NBA or MLB where even crazy fans know they can miss a few games. Letting 14 teams in reduces the importance of the regular season and when they eventually let 16 teams in the regular season viewership will really drop, as early in the season many divisions will be locked in terms of playoff spots and seeding will be all that is left. Sure, the NFL has expanded before successfully, but that wasn’t when it was by far the number one sport. Changing things now is messing with a proven successful format.

  33. They could do it like a pigtail round. Have the 4 wild cards play themselves first. But they’d probably have to add a week to the post season schedule.

  34. Even one week of reduced viewership in the regular season could negate all the gains from the playoffs. The league shouldn’t assume that a devalued regular season will get the same viewership.

  35. May 19, 2014 9:37 says: Adding another team in each conference forces the #2 seed to play during Wildcard weekend. A #2 seed may in all actuality be the best team in the league who may have had a tougher schedule, btw. But, now the owners want them to be subject to a bad game, bad refereeing, fluke injury, or some other unforseen pitfall that CAN’T BE OVERCOME

    I call B.S. on this. Wild card teams have won the superbowl after playing three ROAD games to reach the superbowl. Any single event in any game can be overcome by just playing better for the other 59 1/2 minutes. The whole idea that one play makes or breaks a game is bogus. The other 150 plays don’t count.

    People opposed to more playoffs are people who don’t like to watch much football anyway, or whose teams are so bad that even with 2 more playoff teams they STILL won’t make the playoffs.

    As a sports fan, one thing I know: If you want to be called the best if football, the world champion, you have to beat all challengers to the title. Relying on playing fewer games to get to the title simply shows that you aren’t worthy to begin with.

    It’s funny. Half those opposed say the two new playoff teams aren’t worthy and dilute the playoffs. The other half of opposed ‘fans’ say the two new teams will defeat the second seed. Talk about talking out of both sides of your butt! SMH.

  36. The owners are slowly destroying the NFL with their stupid rules and now this. I hate the “everyone deserves to play” mentality that abounds in this country. If you aren’t good enough to make the playoffs then you don’t deserve to be in them.

  37. People made all the same arguments about watering down the playoffs, etc. in 1990 when the NFL went to the 12-team model, and that clearly didn’t hurt the game. Adding two more playoff spots would simply make for more meaningful games in weeks 15-17, as fewer teams would be mathamatically eliminated earlier on.

  38. No need to confer about this.

    It only effects 2 more teams, not every player in the league. Seems like
    the vast majority of players would be getting vacation for another week.

  39. Except it doesnt affect anything.

    It means the 2 teams currently getting a bye will be playing instead. They are already getting paid for that week. Meaning they dont need to be compensated.

    And if they add 2 teams into the playoffs, they will be playing for money for playoffs and SB bonuses. So they also will be getting paid.

    So in other words, the NFLPA is blowing smoke. If the owners want to expand the playoffs, they can do that without NFLPA permission. They have already proven that.

  40. terrible idea.

    we already have had 7-9 teams make the playoffs.. How depleted of talented teams do we want to make the most sacred of tournaments

  41. Bad move for the sport
    Don’t need clubs under 500 going to the playoffs
    And call off these games in England ,

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