NFL owners have been throwing around the concept of an 18-game schedule for years now, but the NFL Player’s Union always shoots it down.
The owners want the extra two games as an opportunity to make more revenue, with some people saying the NFL could make a billion dollars a year.
The players are worried about safety, however, so the NFLPA has been unable to come up with a satisfactory compromise. The more games the players play, the more exposure they have to injuries.
According to Andrew Beaton of the Wall Street Journal, the owners floated another plan for an 18-game schedule, but with a catch. This edition of the 18-game proposal comes with a 16-game per player cap.
There is an obvious criticism that has already been fully fleshed out on the internet. Fans won’t want to pay for a ticket to the game only to find out that they went to one of two games where their favorite player is out.
“For example, this year the Browns play at Arizona in Week 15; it’s Cleveland’s once-per-eight-years trip to the desert.” said Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio. “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.”
But it also feels like the owners put minimal effort into their proposal. It almost feels like they wanted to put that clause in there so that when the NFLPA objected, the owners could blame them for being unreasonable.
This week 18 game proposal isn’t about helping players stay healthy with the imposed rest weeks. It’s a money grab. If they cared about player safety, there wouldn’t be Thursday night football.— Ted Nguyen (@FB_FilmAnalysis) July 12, 2019
In reality, there is no good way to have a safe, 18-game season. According to Beaton, the NFLPA estimates that an 18-game season would knock the average NFL career span from 3.3 years to 2.8 years. Because players become eligible for post-playing health insurance and pensions after three years in the league, this is something the NFLPA is going to combat tooth and nail.
With talks about the new collective bargaining agreement underway, given that the current CBA will expire in 2021, discussions like this are something that will keep coming up. The 18-game season, however, is clearly one-sided.
“No players are banging down my door asking me to think about [an 18-game schedule],” said NFPA President Eric Winston, via WSJ.
The players are more worried about things like guaranteed contracts and post-retirement health care. It doesn’t matter to them how much more the NFL owners can make.
At best, the owners can use this as a bargaining chip. Perhaps the only way for the players to get the health care they want is to concede to an 18-game schedule.
But the only thing we know for certain is that the owners are prioritizing money over their player’s safety. The 18-game season proves it, and the 16-game cap shows that they don’t care about fans or the quality of the game on the field.