So many questions, and one answer.
It seemed like just a few hours ago that the revenue sharing gap between the league and union was down to just a meagre $700 million. Wait, it was, and now after that gap was stuck at $750 million for days, it’s dropped even further according to a tweet from Andrew Brandt of the National Football Post earlier this afternoon.
So a gap that started at $1 billion has now shrunk by $400 million, and will apparently and hopefully keep decreasing. As much as we’d like to stop talking about doom, gloom, Armageddon and the apocalypse all wrapped into one, there’s still a lot of ground to cover, and now less than 24 hours to do it. Any progress is encouraging, but we’re well past the point where baby steps should lead to smiles. We need a Usain Bolt world record-setting sprint.
But at least the issue of making progress on revenue sharing–no matter how small–is becoming a little clearer, whereas an issue that appeared to be nearing its conclusion yesterday is still murky. Union leader DeMaurice Smith told Sports Illustrated’s Jim Trotter that the league’s proposal of an 18-game season is off the negotiating table. While there’s no doubt the NFLPA is opposed to a longer schedule, it seems adding two more games hasn’t been formally removed from the equation quite yet.
Chucking the lengthened schedule into the trash can may indeed be a formality at this point, but–as the NFL Network’s Albert Breer clarified–Smith merely repeated the union’s strict opposition to an 18-game schedule, but didn’t say it’s no longer up for negotiation.
With careers already being derailed early due to injury and players being robbed of non-guaranteed money in their contracts, the extra field time presents further risk, and little reward. Rugged Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward was among the many players vehemently against the idea, but told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Wednesday that at the right price, the players would bend on their stance.
“It depends on how they do retirement plans. If you add two more games and talk about safety, you have to do something on the back end. We’d jeopardize our bodies for two more regular season games, so if they can do something special with health insurance I think the players will go for it.”
As with any major item in a labour negotiation, establishing an 18-game schedule requires a proper compromise. We’re seeing how painfully slow fast the two sides are moving on the issue of revenue sharing, so don’t hold your breath on those two extra games.