DeMaurice Smith: 18-game schedule not in players’ best interest

Charean Williams

The NFL and its owners want an 18-game regular season. The players don’t.

NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith made that clear Friday night after confirming a report that the league broached the possibility of an 18-game season with a maximum per-player limit of 16 games.

“I don’t see an 18-game schedule — under any circumstance — being in the best interest of our players,” Smith told Cameron Wolfe of ESPN. “If somebody wants to make an 18-game proposal, we’ll look at it. I haven’t seen anything that makes me think that it would be good for the players.”

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The NFL long has wanted 18 games. The NFLPA long has opposed it.

To get to 18 games, the NFL needs the NFLPA’s approval. That likely means a financial offer the players can’t refuse.

Smith, though, sounds as if no amount of money will prompt a change of heart from the NFLPA.

“Fans and media discuss what would happen to ratings and revenue or whether [18 games] is a good idea or bad idea,” Smith told ESPN. “For us, it comes down to who players are as men and is it good for us. If a coal miner is willing to spend more time in the hole, does it likely result in more money? Yeah. Is that a good thing for him as a person? Probably not. That’s the question nobody confronts. It’s easy to say it’s more money. But is it good for us? The answer is no.”

The 18/16 proposal has left many questions, including roster sizes and how teams would competitively manage players.

“Why is it our job to figure out how to make 18 games work as players?” Smith said. “You tell someone you’re going to work longer and you figure out how to make it work? That doesn’t work. It’s not our job to put that square peg in the round hole.”

The NFL and NFLPA will continue their CBA negotiating sessions next weekend, Josina Anderson of ESPN reports. The current CBA expires after the 2020 season.

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