It kept getting overlooked.

While the league’s plan to extend the NFL’s regular season to 18 games was the hottest CBA-related topic of 2010, it was sort of pushed to the backburner as the negotiations wore on over the last few weeks. Maybe it was because most assumed the extended season to be a done deal.

Or maybe we were just distracted by the dollar signs that represented that major gap between the owners and the players. Because today, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith told Sports Illustrated’s Jim Trotter that the 18-game season is off the negotiating table:

“First of all, the league has never presented a formal proposal for 18 games,” he told SI.com. “But more importantly, it’s something that our players don’t want. Eighteen games is not in the best interest of our players’ safety, so we’re not doing it.”

Wow. It’s obviously impossible to know if this is Smith playing head games through the media, but it’s not a positive sign regardless.

And yet it has put a smile on my face, mainly because the official GLS stance on the 18-game season is that it’s a joke.

Trotter’s report is fresh out of the oven, so we’ll take some time to review the information that is bound to trickle out in relation to Smith’s comments. As always, we’ll have more as the situation progresses.

In the meantime, here are some additional notes on the status of the bargaining sessions taking place in Washington, DC:

  • The deadline is now only about 44 hours away, and the union continues to claim that it is not being offered the financial transparency it has repeatedly requested. Said Smith: “How much financial information would you want before you write a $5 billion check?”
  • “The financial disclosure issue was not discussed further across the table,” said NFL executive VP Jeff Pash. “The union knows what we’ve proposed to do, what we’ve proposed to make available.  We understand their position and so we’re on to other subjects.” But something will have to give on this between now and Friday evening, because the way we see it, litigation won’t help the owners keep those books closed. SI’s Peter King King tweets that the owners have to decide if “shielding audited financials” is “worth the risk of losing a court battle.”
  • As I wrote earlier today, the players have the owners exactly where they want them. And Drew Rosenhaus knows it. Unfortunately, it appears as though the union is using its power for evil, not good. There’s no reason they need full audited financial statements, and they legally have no right to that information. They’re pushing for too much and tensions are growing. “Given the current mood of the parties,” wrote ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio, “we can’t imagine an acceptable deal on financial disclosure ever being worked out.  The best move would be to do the best deal possible without financial information.”
  • The full labor committee will be present to represent the owners on Thursday, according to King.