NFLPA Not Considering 18-Game Schedule Now

The topic of an 18-game schedule remains on the fringes of the NFL news cycle, and Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes the league can’t realistically ask the NFLPA to expand in this safety-conscious climate. However, Florio writes a belief in league circles centers around the potential offering of concessions to the players — such as a greater slice of the financial pie, roster expansion and neutral arbitration — for the two-game bump.

NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith is not ready to go there, though.

I just can’t imagine a world where you add two more regular season games at the end of a brutal season that we have,” Smith told Florio on Friday’s PFT Live. “Certainly, there’s been no proposal from the owners about increasing roster sizes or doing anything else to make sure that players’ health and safety is first and foremost.

I mean look we are still in the middle of or the beginning of an investigation about how doctors handled the concussion protocol for the first game of the season and it seems to me that if you can’t successfully pull off a Hall of Fame game and you have what appears to be enough evidence to convince both parties to conduct an investigation of the concussion protocol, [it’s] probably not the right time to think about adding two regular-season games.”

Smith’s stance maintains the NFLPA’s previous player safety-based argument against this. He did not squash this notion entirely but clearly has other matters on his agenda before that discussion becomes serious. Considering how long the 18-game idea has been batted around, it’s not at this time realistic.

Last year, this topic resurfaced on the basis of international contests and reducing the preseason. It did not gain much steam, however, since reducing the exhibition slate and relocating games to foreign soil wouldn’t do much to squelch concerns about player safety.

The NFL has played 16-game regular seasons since 1978. The NFL played 14-game seasons from 1961-77 after moving from 12 previously.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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One comment on “NFLPA Not Considering 18-Game Schedule Now

  1. Tom Vivian

    I have always thought it silly that the NFL had so many pre-season games before it started the league contests. It was worse when I was young — back then teams would play a minimum of six and a maximum of seven pre-season games, then play a 14-game schedule. So about 1/3 of the team’s games were not league contests, and many teams were decimated by injuries prior to opening day. Today teams play four or five pre-season games and then a sixteen game schedule. That’s still 20% of their games that don’t count in the standings!
    Considering the fact that NFL players work very hard and conditioning and a lot of the physical contact and stress they endure does not even happen during an actual game, A starter on offense or defense, if they played every down their team was out on the field, would only be actually PLAYING for four or five minutes during each game!
    The biggest drawback to having only sixteen games is that there are so many great matchups that don’t occur, mostly inter-division rivalries within the same conference. Many of the great rivalries we remember from the late 1960’s and 1970’s were born this way: Teams would meet each other in the regular season and then again in the playoffs. Think about a lot of those: Pittsburgh vs Oakland in the 1970’s, Green Bay vs Los Angeles in the 1960’s, San Francisco vs Dallas from 1970 on for about 30 years. Any NFC or AFC team now only has a 50% chance of meeting any of the teams in their conference outside of their division (Six out of 12). The extra two games should also be conference games, meaning that most of these rivals can renew their grudges on an annual basis. I personally would be open to the idea of dropping each team’s inter-conference games to two or three, so that they would play each inter-conference team every six years instead of every four as they currently do. If they did that, we would be guaranteed to see most conference match-ups every year. I believe expanding the schedule in these ways would assure more great games, and also allow most “tie-breakers” to be resolved based on the head-to-head result as opposed to a more complex series of tie-breakers.

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