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NFLPA: 18-Game Season is Biggest Hitch in CBA Negotiations

With less than two months left before the current collective bargaining agreement between NFL owners and the NFL Players Association expires, the owners and the NFLPA are working hard to come up with a new agreement before the 2011 NFL season is threatened by a lockout. Unfortunately, according to the players there is one issue that the owners are pushing that is causing a hitch in negotiations -- an 18-game season.

The NFL wants to implement an 18-game regular season and eliminate two of the four preseason games. The NFLPA is concerned about how an 18-game season could cause unnecessary injuries and increase the number of players that go on their teams injured reserve.

"To me, right now, as things stand, 18 games, the way it's being proposed, is completely unacceptable. ... I see more and more players get injured every season," Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita said Tuesday on a media conference call arranged by the union.

"There are so many things now -- with player health and safety, and the future of us and our families -- that aren't even being considered. And for us, it's disappointing. It feels like a slap in the face."

During the 2010 regular season, 352 NFL players were placed on IR and missed an average of 9.5 games. The Bengals had numerous amounts of players placed on the IR this season including seven defensive backs. However, there are other reasons that players don't like the idea of having an 18-game regular season.

"With 16 games, every game is important and therefore the fans are very into it, the stadiums are packed because they know if their team loses, it pushes them further and further away from making the playoffs," Cincinnati quarterback Carson Palmer said. "I think if you go to 18, each game kind of loses a little bit of its significance."

If it were up to me, since I slide into a deep, dark depression when I can't watch football on Sunday's, I would ask the NFLPA to agree to a 51 week season so I can watch football all year long. I went with 51 weeks so the players could have a week off for the holidays. I guess we're lucky that it's not up to me because we'd definitely be heading for a lockout.

Right now there's a little hope that the owners and the NFLPA will come to an agreement before the fans miss out on America's favorite sport, but that hope is depleting quickly.

Asked if he believes a lockout is inevitable this time, Fujita replied: "It certainly looks that way to me."