That 18-game season thing is lurking again. Good luck trying to get it to go away.
Yes, the NFL is still operating under its normal 16-game schedule and will do so until further notice. But don’t expect the push to expand to an 18-game season to dissipate. With the popularity of the league and the related financial explosion, creative businessmen rooted within and surrounding the NFL will brainstorm ways to make it happen. But they’ll certainly have to go through the wall that the NFL Players Association has erected to block such a move.
So just how strong is that wall? At a press conference Thursday in Indianapolis, DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the NFL Players Association was asked about resurfacing chatter about the 18-game schedule.
Smith’s response: “Like anything else, I think the lesson from the lockout and the labor fight was that it’s important to consider everything. There are issues that we obviously feel are tremendously important. And the health and safety of our players is something that early on we said was a non-negotiable issue. And that will remain so. So to the extent that we have future conversations on where games are going to be played, here or overseas, or whether there are issues with the prescription of painkilling medication, whether adding additional games [to the schedule], all of those issues are going to be considered in the paradigm of what’s in the best health and safety interest of the players. And that not only means for that current year. But it also means what we now know are the critical issues of wear, tear, physical debilitation and post-career pain and suffering. So there isn’t a day where this union is going to stop insisting on the zero sum nature of health and safety."
That would seem to be a pretty sturdy wall with Smith making it very clear that he will do everything within his power to protect the wellbeing of players. But we should also not overlook the first sentence of his response either: “It’s important to consider everything.”