The idea is hardly new, but it’s emergence as a formal concept in collective bargaining is.
Andrew Beaton of the Wall Street Journal reports that, as part of the NFL’s push for 18 regular-season games, the league has advanced the possibility of an 18-game season with a per-player limit of 16 games per year.
That idea has been percolating for years; it’s been the subject of multiple PFT stories, PFT Live discussions, and #PFTPM monologues.
Most recently, the topic was discussed during an interview with Hall of Fame head coach Tony Dungy last month, the video of which is attached to this blurb (the question is asked at the 9:37 mark).
The next day, Coach Dungy called after the show with another important observation: Some fans will revolt against an 18/16 approach. For example, this year the Browns play at Arizona in Week 15; it’s Cleveland’s once-per-eight-years trip to the desert. Browns fans in Phoenix who want (and who paid) to see Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham, and Jarvis Landry play would be upset if they found out 90 minutes before kickoff that one or more of them is healthy, but not playing.
As to Mayfield and all other quarterbacks, the problem could be solved by an exception for that position, given the enhanced safety rules that apply to them. (Kickers, punters, holders, and long-snappers would/should get similar treatment.) Still, the NFL has plenty of stars who aren’t quarterbacks, and plenty of fans would be plenty pissed off if they show up for a game hoping to see a star player who isn’t playing because this is one of the two games that he won’t be playing.
The fact that the NFL would even suggest such a revolutionary concept, one that oozes with unintended consequences, shows how desperate the league is to expand the regular season — and how effectively the NFL Players Association has rebuffed those efforts. At this point, the league may get 18 games only by making the players a financial offer they can’t refuse.