The momentum has grown in recent months for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement that expands the NFL’s regular season from 16 to 17 games. As the NFL Players Association prepares for a Thursday meeting of the union’s board of player representatives, a source with knowledge of the dynamics of the situation tells PFT that a 17-game season remains a very difficult to sell to the players.
While there’s always a chance for posturing in a situation like this (and there will be plenty of that as the plane lands), the thinking is that the push for player health and safety makes it more difficult to get players to agree to another regular-season game. Complicating matters is that the season has just ended; as the source explained it, the offer currently on the table likely would have been accepted by the union in September, before their bodies were beaten up and broken down by a full season of football.
The willingness to shrink the preseason isn’t regarded as much of an inducement, since veteran players already are playing less and less in the preseason. More reductions to the offseason program and training camp (which cost ownership nothing but which potentially undermine the quality of football early in the regular season) remain possible.
Logistically, the NFLPA Executive Committee must first decide whether to recommend the league’s current offer to the board of player representatives at the Thursday meeting. If the Executive Committee makes the recommendation, and if two-thirds of the player representatives accept the proposal, all dues-paying union members would then vote on the proposal (roughly 1,900 players) with a simple majority getting the deal done.
The biggest takeaway seems to be that there’s at least a firm proposal that union leadership deems worthy of discussing and potentially presenting to the board of player representatives. But there’s no guarantee that player reps or individual players, more cognizant than ever of the safety issues associated with football, will embrace a 17th game, regardless of the financial inducement made by the league.