Most knowledgeable folks in the NFL are already planning for the prospect of No Season next year. A new labor agreement needs to ideally be in place by March, when the old agreement expires. One of the owners’ proposals calls for expanding to an 18 game season, rather than the current 16; apparently, owners are OK with extending the concussion-and-injury festival we’re conducting now over two more weeks. My favorite proposal comes from ESPN’s Bill Simmons – keep it 16 games, add a second bye weekend. I suspect this idea will make far too much sense, as it errs on the side of player welfare over moneymoneymoney.
The head of the NFL’s negotiating team is a guy named Jeff Pash, and they’d be hard-pressed to find a more insincere, cliche-spouting snake-oil salesman than this guy, an obvious graduate of the Ralph Reed School of Public Relations.
“We have every incentive to get an agreement as soon as we can. We’ve said, we’ve told the union, it’s been public — if there is extended uncertainty, it’s costly for both sides. It’s costly for us, and it’s costly for the players. So there is every incentive to try to reach an agreement sooner rather than later, and that’s what our focus is.
“Pash declined to provide details on where the negotiations stand right now. He listed the most prominent issues as economics, the 18-game season, the rookie salary system and free-agency rules.
“It’s a season that would deliver more value to the fans. It would allow a lot of growth opportunities that don’t exist with the current structure, and those growth opportunities would be beneficial for the players as well as for the clubs,” Pash said. “There is a recognition that it is realistically an easier agreement to reach in the context of an 18-game regular season.”
“Ultimately, the only reason that we have a successful business and that we enjoy the public support that we have, and the economic success, and that the players can receive the kinds of salaries and benefits that they get, is because of the fans,” Pash said. “And if we don’t take advantage of the opportunity that the new collective bargaining agreement would offer to improve the game, to grow the game, to give fans and certainly clubs and players the benefits that would come with a new agreement, we are not just missing an opportunity, we’re failing … to honor the commitment that our fans make to us.”
Yeah, “economics,” that’ll be a tough one. And remember, the 18-game season is a “context,” within which everything else will be gravy. What a putz.