The prospect of the NFL extending its schedule on this period clearly presents shaky optics. The league’s perspective towards participant security continues to be a part of the mainstream sports activities dialogue. However a mutually useful alternative exists right here.
With house owners wanting more and more dedicated to convincing the NFL Gamers Affiliation to just accept a proposal for a 17-game season, the union has a bargaining chip it didn’t possess throughout the 2011 labor talks. Requested to comply with the primary NFL schedule improve since 1978, the NFLPA can put key points on the desk when collective bargaining settlement discussions resume.
If sufficient concessions are made, the rumored proposal the NFL is finalizing makes extra sense than earlier concepts. The league rightfully scrapped the 18-game idea, which as soon as featured the goofy setup that may have introduced an 18-game season with a 16-game restrict per participant. The 17-game idea may enhance the league and improve income for its labor drive.
Because the present CBA was finalized in July 2011, the NFL appears vastly totally different. The gamers’ deal was scrutinized, however they made key working-conditions strides with much less leverage than they’ve now. Two-a-day practices -– as soon as synonymous with soccer -– are lengthy gone. Gamers now spend much less time at low season exercises, and the variety of in-season padded practices is now capped at 14. Non-CBA adjustments have additionally helped the sport this decade. Concussion protocol is imperfect, however the not too long ago applied course of represents an enchancment from how this central NFL concern was beforehand managed. Guidelines designed to curtail helmet-to-helmet contact have helped shield gamers.
Extra progress may quickly be made if the NFLPA performs its playing cards proper. The 16-game schedule has existed far longer than the 12- or 14-game slates –- neither of which lasted 20 years. The NFL has stored its 16-game construction for 42 seasons. Whereas the league’s prosperity over that point would help preserving the established order in place, the reported 17-game proposal has pluses.
Chief amongst them: the new-look schedule. This proposal, in response to CBS Sports activities’ Jason La Canfora, will name for a 19-week common season, reinstituting the double-bye format solely utilized in 1993. In a decade by which the house owners’ greed manifested itself through the “Thursday Night time Soccer” bundle, the league ought to have already introduced this again. Its inclusion could be important.
Including two weeks to the common season would push it into mid-January, the playoffs into February and slot Tremendous Bowl Sunday in late February. This could prolong the NFL’s footprint by way of one other month. For a league that includes video games in lower than 5 months of the 12 months, in comparison with seven for MLB and almost eight for the NBA, that may be vital. The prospect of quite a few further time slots, together with elevated playing income, will certainly result in file TV offers and certain larger annual wage cap spikes. Which may be a enough trade-off for the NFLPA to approve the additional recreation. So may the rumored two-game preseason.
Every workforce’s 17th recreation would reportedly happen at a impartial web site, both in a unique U.S. market or abroad. Shifting past London and Mexico Metropolis could be intriguing for the game globally. None of this issues if the NFL can’t design the brand new schedule correctly.
It will be ludicrous for the league to not work the double-bye format together with groups’ Thursday-night necessities. Scheduling one in every of a workforce’s two byes prematurely of its Thursday task needs to be obligatory. The Thursday video games have justifiably elevated the gamers’ mistrust of the league, and if the NFL prefers to proceed its quick-turnover Thursday setup beneath a 17-game schedule, the NFLPA ought to view it as a non-starter.
To entice the NFLPA, the NFL will bend on points like marijuana and Roger Goodell’s investigatory energy, in response to a number of studies. The union will suppose larger. The present collective bargaining settlement requires the gamers to earn no less than 47% of the income however not more than 48.5% — down roughly 4% from the earlier CBA. This was a degree of competition throughout this summer time’s negotiations. The gamers must leverage the house owners’ want for extra video games.
This could imply pushing for the next wage ground than the present requirement of groups needing to spend 89% of their cap area over a four-year interval. Elevating the league-minimum wage needs to be achievable, as ought to additional lowering padded practices and low season commitments. The NFL has already proven amenability to expanded roster sizes -– thus creating extra jobs for fringe gamers -– and decreasing the variety of accrued seasons obligatory for gamers to qualify for pensions. The elimination of the fifth-year choice –- a 2011 CBA creation –- or lowering rookie contracts from 4 years to a few needs to be speaking factors contemplating what the league will suggest.
One key non-safety disadvantage: an expanded postseason. The 14-team playoff bracket connected to this proposal would push the NFL into NBA-NHL territory. Whereas a league with 17 video games gained’t run into the difficulty its friends have relating to the regular-season relevance, 14 of 32 groups making the playoffs does devalue it. Moreover, giving just one workforce a bye per convention opens the door to a workforce benefiting from a neater schedule – see: the 2010s Patriots – and possessing the numerous benefit of needing one fewer postseason win to succeed in the Tremendous Bowl. No workforce with no bye has certified for a Tremendous Bowl since 2012.
If the events green-light this new actuality, mainstream media detractors will take purpose at a league already labeled as callous for its previous dealings with concussions. Whereas the NFL’s 2010s product has been undeniably its most secure, many media members will zero in on the safety-related issues a 17-game schedule presents. However potential participant advantages may make the one-week work improve worthwhile.
How a lot the gamers can extract from the house owners en path to this new period will decide how this would-be seminal change needs to be perceived. If the gamers obtain sufficient in return, the brand new format could be a game-changer for the NFL long run and widen the recognition hole between it and the opposite main American sports activities leagues.