League plans to walk fine line with union on playoff expansion


Monday’s comments from Cowboys owner Jerry Jones applied an unexpected twist to the topic of playoff expansion.  Asked if the league needs the approval of the NFLPA to grow the field from 12 to 14 teams, Jones said, “Not to my knowledge.”

The remark has sparked an impromptu analysis of labor law, which requires “bargaining” between management and the union if/when any changes are contemplated to the terms and conditions of employment.

The league, per a source with knowledge of the situation, recognizes that the union will want one or more concessions for something that the NFL believes the players already should want — an increased chance of getting to the Super Bowl.  Throw in the fact that the money generated by expanded playoffs goes into the pot from which the salary cap is calculated should be more than enough, in the NFL’s view, to get the union to agree to expanded playoffs without getting anything else.

As former NFL punter Chris Kluwe observed via text to PFT, a revenue spike that bumps up the cap means a lot more to the owners than it does to the players.

“You’re essentially dividing one half of that revenue between 1,800 guys and the other half between 32,” Kluwe said.

Of the amount that’s spread among the 1,800, here’s the kicker — the kickers aren’t getting much of it.

“It’ll probably all go to quarterbacks anyway,” Kluwe said, adding a colon and a P.  Which either means that he’s sticking his tongue out at the notion or that he is died.

The issue of playoff expansion is far from died, and the league seems to be planning to walk a fine line as it relates to the union.  The NFL recognizes that bargaining is required, but the NFL doesn’t believe that the union approval is needed.

Technically, the league may be right.  There’s a duty to bargain over terms and conditions of work.  But if the bargaining leads to an impasse, the NFL can implement the change without official union approval.

It’s unclear at this point how it will all play out.  But America’s ultimate reality show suddenly has a new subplot that could make the otherwise slowish period of the calendar a bit more intriguing.

28 responses to “League plans to walk fine line with union on playoff expansion

  1. All 32 teams have a chance to make the Playoffs for 16 weeks. Lets let 7-9 or 6-10 teams play for the SB! My kid gets a trophy for tenth place too.

  2. The question I have is; how are the players’ salary impacted by the playoffs?

    I mean, if the teams make the playoffs, do the players get an extra game check (above and beyond their contract) for each playoff game? Or.. does the agreed contract $$$ is all they get, regardless of how many playoff games.

    If they get extra pay for playoff games (overtime for extra work) I can see the players wanting it pretty quickly… But if they get their a fixed amount of money per season regardless if they make the playoffs or how far they go in the playoffs.. I see that could be an issue.

  3. Such a terrible idea. Yes, it will generate some money in the short and possibly long term. But generating money has never been the league’s problem. It has been ensuring the integrity of the game, from reassuring parents that it is safe for their kids to play, to trying to cut down on the number of games that end on — shall we say — “debatable” referee calls. 100 years ago nobody ever thought baseball would fall out of favor, and then came world series cheating, doping, and lowered playoff standards. Learn from it.

  4. I personally don’t think that the playoffs should be expanded. As many commenters have mentioned, this playoff expansion is probably being pushed by Jerry Jones so that his perennial 8-8 or 9-7 teams can make the playoffs under the expanded format. I think expanding the playoffs any further would dillute the meaning of the regular season. I believe it is in the player’s best interests to oppose playoff expansion because it exposes them to an increased risk of injury, especially for the marginal teams that would make the playoffs under an expanded format and would have to play on the road.

    As Chris Kluwe mentioned, half of any increase in revenues from a playoff expansion would go to the owners anyway, who really aren’t hurting for more money.

    The way labor law is constituted, the union would have to approve of any expansion to the current playoff format because it is a direct and substansial change to their working conditions. The owners can huff and puff about this all they want to about doing it unilaterally, but they are not going to win an NLRB challenge on this issue if it gets that far.

  5. The logic that expanding the playoffs “gives players an increased chance at the Super Bowl” is faulty. It’s a zero-sum game. Only one team gets to the Super Bowl from each conference, and while the entire #7 seed’s squad does in fact see an increased chance at making the Super Bowl, since they’ll be in the playoffs now, the chances for the other six playoff teams in the conference are reduced to some extent or another.

    Certainly the chances of the #2 seed are impacted the most since instead of resting, they are not only playing an extra game and risking injury but also risking elimination rather than sitting home during a bye. I’m not sure why we’re so eager to reward the third wild card team in each conference at the expense of the second best team in the conference.

    To be honest, a second bye is particularly useful because it provides a reasonable and fair incentive for the other three division winners when a strong team dominates an otherwise weak division and locks up one of the byes due to general schedule imbalance.

  6. I think expansion of playoffs is terrible idea unless they expand the number of teams in the league. 12 out of 32 teams is enough.

    14 will reduce the importance of the regular season, and it is the critical nature of every game that makes fooball a superior sporting experience to any other.

  7. I do not understand how it can be required to “haggle” about the issue and yet one side could just then do as they pleased. Would a judge really say the requirements regarding such issues need not be agreed upon? Just haggle for a while and then do as you please? It would be far more sensible that if you agree to bargain (haggle), you must come to an agreement. Of course, I realize that common sense does now always apply in law.

  8. Guys like Kluwe are a problem for the world. Yes, 32 guys get half, and 1800 get the other half. What’s the harm in that? They ponied up the money and invested in a Team. That is why the 32 get half. We are always too eager to point out that someone else is going to make more out of it than someone else, and the one making more is the bad guy.

    Expand the playoffs to 7 or 8 per conference, it will mean 2-4 more games, and 2 -4 teams a chance at a run. Yes that would mean a 8-8 team sneaks in once in a while, but you left a 10-6 Arizona team sit out this year? For every subpar team that gets in, a deserving one was left out.

    And Kluwe, it is hard to take you seriously when you make a smart mouth remark after making your point. I want to like you and I believe your experience in Minnesota, but you are making it hard to like you as a person.

  9. The NFL seems intent on finding the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Will it be over-expanding the playoffs? Some rule change? A failing team in London? Games being on pay-per-view? It’s just a matter of time because once greed takes over, there is no good end.

  10. Have no problems with the additional team. What I hate to see is the #2 seed losing the bye they currently get. Would like to see stats on how much the bye is worth after a long season.

  11. If they expand the Super Bowl to 4 teams, then the Jets might make their first appearance since the LBJ Administration!

  12. I can imagine an 8-7 team resting it’s players during the final season game to get ready for the playoffs.

  13. Actually, I am not sure this could be viewed as a substantial change to the working conditions, after all adding two more playoff games, allows 106 more players or so to play in the playoffs. You already have 12 teams playing so adding two more doesn’t change the working conditions or hours at all. It just allows more players to earn more money and increase the teams salary caps a tiny bit.

  14. One point that is being overlooked on this is the requirement in the cba that the NFL is required to take every action possible to maximize the gross revenues of the league to increase the amount allocated to the players. When we “bash” the owners as greedy, remember, they are also living up to the terms of the cba as negotiated by the union. Failure to pursue every option could result in a NLRB complaint by the union.

  15. Playoff expansion sucks. There isn’t a large enough sample size (only 16 reg season games) to sort out the middle of the pack teams. I see this leading right into and 18 game reg. season schedule.

  16. To the Glenn Beck lover…. Kluwe isn’t complaining that he’s sharing the pie with 1,800 other players. He’s pointing out that Jones’ position that “growing the pie” benefits all is misleading.

  17. by the way…..many of the owners didn’t pony up anything. My man John Mara was born on life’s third base.

  18. I just have 2 questions:

    1. Is there anyone that spends time on this site that doesn’t already understand that any increased revenue split, regardless of reason, would be more advantageous to the owners than it would be to the players just because of the number of people in each group?

    2. Can we draw a line SOMEWHERE at which point Kluwe’s opinion is no longer relevant?

    Surely there must be an average Active punter that has opinion on expanded playoffs.

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