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Mark Murphy On 18 Game Schedule

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Mark Murphy On 18 Game Schedule

Thanks to the NFL for passing along the transcript of Murphy's appearance on NFL Network last night. I was so buried getting ready for Transplants that I didn't get a chance to post it.

Below is the full exchange between Murphy and Rich Eisen.

Eisen: Mark, we appreciate you taking some time to explain to us and the fans watching this show the ramifications of what would be a monumental shift in the way the National Football League games are played in the regular season. 2012 is the first order of business for you guys if you can get this thing through?

“Yes, 2012 would be the earliest. It’s really something we’ve talked about for well over a year as owners. If you look across the whole spectrum of everything the NFL does, everything is of great value. We do first-quality work. If you look at our regular season games, postseason, the Draft, the Combine; one thing that really stands out as being different is the preseason. Fans don’t like the games. There really isn’t a lot of value in the games and I think a lot of us look at it and say, ‘Our players and our teams don’t need four games to get ready for the regular season.’ So what we’re really looking at is how we might be able to change it. We’ve looked at three (preseason) and 17 (regular season) games and I think the real focus now, and I think that it’s gained quite a bit of momentum among the owners, is to move to two (preseason) and 18 (regular season) games. And quite honestly, I think we see it as possibly a way to reach an agreement with the players.

We’re working together with (the players) to grow the game and find ways to generate additional revenue.”

Eisen: Let’s sink our teeth into what this would look like. I’m sure when coaches hear two extra games, they’re thinking extra players, they need extra players. How would that be addressed?

“We’ve talked to the union about it, that we’re willing to look at the whole offseason, what we do with the players, what we ask of them and also looking at things such as the number of players on the practice squad and players on the active roster. We would also look at the injured-reserve rules. It used to be that a player could go on IR, then come back after a set period of time; I think it was six weeks. So maybe reinstituting a rule such as that would give teams a little more flexibility because they’re going to need that.

We want to work with the players to identify what things we can do to make the game as safe as possible.”

Eisen: That brings up the issue of player safety. With the Green Bay Packers, 31 players in the last three seasons have gone on injured-reserved. Last year, two major players for you, Al Harris and Aaron Kampman, went on IR in weeks 12 and 13 (respectively) late in the season. A lot of fans and players are thinking the weeks 17 and 18 with games is too long. How does that jive with the Commissioner’s drive to make sure that player safety is at the top of the list?

“This is an area where we have the same interests as the players. We want to do everything we can to make the game as safe as possible. The reality in football is that you’re going to have injuries, but you want to try to minimize it. You mentioned two of our players (Aaron Kampman and Al Harris). Those were two non-contact injuries. They both blew out their knees and neither one of them was hit on the play. So you wonder if it’s not only just the wear and tear of the season, but over the whole offseason, are we asking too much of our players throughout the offseason? What can we do to make sure that they’re staying healthy throughout the entire season?

On the other side of it, coaches look at it and say, ‘We need to develop young players. We need to get young players in a position to where they can develop as players and become solid NFL talent. One of the things we talked about today and have discussed in the past is the possibility of a developmental league. I think a lot of us looked at NFL Europe and a real benefit of that league is that we found that it was a great way to develop young players. I think a real concern is particularly young quarterbacks. They really need the game experience. So I think quarterbacks and offensive linemen, as well as all players, are the focus. So if we could have a developmental league to develop younger players and quite honestly, also to develop coaches and officials, it would really be positive for the league with the possibility of having a developmental league with games not only in the spring, but in the fall.”

Eisen: You’ve mentioned a couple times in our interview what the league and management is asking from the players in the offseason. Do you mean fewer OTAs or do you mean also addressing the culture that seems to prevail now that even though something is quote-unquote “voluntary,” it really is in the eyes of management and the coaching staff mandatory that a player be there?

“I think we need to look at both of those things. We do ask a lot of the players in the offseason and I worry not only about wear and tear on their bodies, but what the players are doing on their own. They’re working out and training and we need to really do a good job of looking at everything they do.

From a longer-term perspective, I want to make sure that the players have enough time in the offseason to finish their degree, get their degree, start getting experience in another job, doing some things to get themselves ready to make the transition into life after football. I think that would be very beneficial for all of our players to start to think about things other than football to help them make that transition.”

Eisen: What about the money aspect of it? So many players I’ve spoken to have said it’s more than just taking what they’re already earning and slicing it up between an 18-game check as opposed to a 16-game check. They want to see more money. How have you addressed the compensation issue on this front with the enhanced season?

“This is something that we’ll address at the bargaining table and we have a system in place with our players now. We’re partners with them. We share revenue and we think there is a pretty substantial amount of additional revenue in a move from our current setup from four and 16 to two and 18. Players will share in that additional revenue and that’s really the concept. Right now we’re playing 20 games. We’re just packaging them differently. We’re enhancing it with two and 18 and that allows us to generate additional revenue and the players will get a percentage of that.”

Eisen: You’re talking about a potential D-League, changes to IR rules and an expansion of the roster, not only practice, but also active. How has the Players Association received all this from your estimation?

“You’ll have to talk to them. I don’t want to speak for De(Maurice Smith) and the others, but as I’ve said before, they have a lot of the same concerns that we do. What’s the impact on player safety and injuries and that’s where we want to work with them to minimize the impact this change may have on injuries.”

Eisen: Where are we with you and DeMaurice Smith and the union. You were at a conference at St. Norbert College in late May and you were quoted by the McClatchy-Tribune Regional News Service saying, ‘I see no chance of a strike. If there is a work-stoppage, it would not be a strike.’ What did you mean by that?

“First of all, we still have nine months until the end of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and I’m hopeful that we can reach an agreement. I really think the more we can focus on issues like this where we’re working together, trying to grow the game, grow the interest in the game, we’re going to have a better chance to reach an agreement.

I don’t think there’s any discussion on the players’ side about a strike. From our side, our first priority is to get a deal done with the players and we’re going to do everything we can to make sure we get that done by the expiration of the contract.”

Eisen: From a personal aspect, do you ever sit there on the side of the Management Council and look across at the players’ union that you used to be a part of and think, ‘I can’t believe I’ve been on both sides of this table?’

“It’s made for some interesting sessions. There was one session last summer in Washington, D.C.  We were in the Ed Garvey conference room and before we started we had a little bit of free time, so I was looking around and they had pictures up and they were of the NFLPA through the decades. There was a picture of a bargaining session in 1982 and it was a picture of me sitting right there on the side of the players and it did strike me a little bit. But at the end of the day, we all want the same thing. We want what’s best for the league and for the players and the owners. I think we all know that the NFL is a phenomenal sports league and we want it to continue to be. I think having someone such as myself who has played and has worked with the Players Association in the role that I’m in now is beneficial. I do think that I can see things from the perspective of a player and hopefully that will be helpful to us as we move towards the expiration of the contract and we’re able to reach an agreement before the contract expires.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (20) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

CHHQ's picture

It's an interesting debate... I'm inclined to be against the idea of adding an extra two games to the season. Even if they took those games out of preseason, it wouldn't make a difference because the starters barely play those games, and the chance for injury definitely increases. Either way, preseason should be reduced to two games. Four games is simply unnecessary.

dgtalmn's picture

I think the 17/3 option is better. Odd number of games eliminates ties.

But it seems to me that when we hear from either the Commish or DeMaurice on the subject of CBA it just does not sound positive. The comments just seem canned, no real progress, just waiting for the agreemnt to end so they all can go into panic mode. Seen this too many times.

BTW, I'd love to see a development league!

Doug In Sandpoint's picture

Hey Dgtalmn, how does 17 games eliminate ties? Two teams at 13-4 are still tied. Tie breakers would still be used.

dgtalmn's picture

Yeah after I wrote it a bell went off in my head....dummy. ;)

Jayme's picture

dgtalmn - Odd numbers of games don't eliminate ties. Two teams are just as capable of finishing 9-8 as they were of finishing 9-7. Perhaps ties will be reduced as there will be one more game to help separate the chaff from the wheat, but ties are still completely within the realm of possibilities.

CHHQ - I'm not concerned with injuries at all. I'm not sure where I read it but I've heard that there's a decent chance that another bye week would be added if they increase to 18 games. I think this would help reduce injuries in the long run since there would be a lower game to bye-week ratio, which would mean that players would be fresher later in the season. Even if they didn't grant another bye, players are paid to play. If a team can't overcome a couple of injuries, they don't deserve a deep playoff run anyway.

After all of that, I actually do agree with dgtalmn about preferring 17 games instead of 18, but for a different reason. I think there would be great synergy with a 17 game season and playing foreign games. Each team would have the exact same amount of home games, but there would be one more game for every team to play on neutral ground. This would greatly help the NFL expand it's presence into Mexico, Europe, and Asia and wouldn't screw teams the way their current efforts have in the past.

CHHQ's picture

Jayme: I completely agree about the one game in neutral territory thing. The main problem teams have usually had is the loss of a home game. However, it doesn't solve the problem of the extended amount of travel, which jet-lags players, giving them a disadvantage. I think it would only be fair if every team had to play one international game, so everybody would be on equal footing.

Go Pack Go!

bomdad's picture

Does the season extend earlier into middle of summer, or later into the middle of winter? I think it would get ridiculous to have the Superbowl pushed into late February. Not as bad as playing hockey in June though.

FITZCORE1252's picture

Neither. EXACT same time frame. Either way 20 games will be played. Just a matter of 4&16 or 2&18.

GBP 4 LIFE

PackerBacker's picture

I can see it from the business side. The 3rd and 4th preseason games don't make the kind of money the owners want out of them. The return on investment for those games is awful. At least with regular season games they would get games that meant something and make money also. Now it's just an extra scrimmage.

nypacker's picture

They want to eliminate 1-2 preseason games to ensure that the games have some form of value. However Some teams like to throw it in the can after weeks 15 or 16 because: A)they have no shot at making the playoffs or B)are in the playoffs and have nothing left to play for. In that regards we already have 2 meaningless games in the regular season as well. Add to the fact that if we do get 18 games, then that number jumps to 3 or 4, which is basically the games that you wanted to eliminate in the first place.

I suggest we modify the playoff structure instead. Teams with the highest records go to the playoffs as usual however we can have a subplayoff thing, like bowl games in college football where teams who just barely make the regular playoffs fight for some kind of title. I know that title is somewhat meaningless also, but it would allow fans to participate and garner more revenue than 3-4 meaningless games in a 18 game stretch.

bomdad's picture

thats a great point and reason to start the season earlier and expand the playoffs.

Its all about money for the owners, and if half the teams are not playing on a given week, there's a cut in income.

Its also amusing that the developemental leagues that they have benefitted from for free (college and HS), they dont make money off of so they need their own for-profit league on top of them.

Jayme's picture

I'd be curious to see how much profit the NBA or MLB make on their developmental leagues. Sure they might make something, but really, the crowds aren't very big so I can't see it being all that profitable.

The one nice thing, though, is that if you have a developmental league, teams know exactly what they have coming down the line a year or two in advance and can plan accordingly. In the NFL, however, if a couple draft picks don't work out, you can find yourself in a woeful situation at certain positions in a real hurry.

maxginsberg's picture

"From a longer-term perspective, I want to make sure that the players have enough time in the offseason to finish their degree, get their degree, start getting experience in another job, doing some things to get themselves ready to make the transition into life after football."

They're going to need the additional job training because an 18 game schedule is going to push them out of football even faster. Their bodies just can't hold up. Look at running backs: 30 years old and they're done. Will 28 or 27 be the new 30?

CHHQ's picture

NyPackfan: The games would not be meaningless because it would give the other teams more of a chance to get in the playoffs. Either way, we would still only have two "meaningless" weeks, regardless of whether there are one or two more games.

Go Pack Go!

Tarynfor12's picture

I think the whole idea of the 18 game season was and still is driven by the fact that teams that CLINCH play-off spots sit the stars.(I don't want to leave money out)
So if the NFL wants the fans to get what they pay for(games with all players) even if clinched,why not eliminate 2 pre-season games with the assurance that everyone must play(unless truly injured)which means he must sit the 1st round anyway.
These players get alot of money but,the fan pays alot from a more meager pay check.
As for bye weeks I agree to 2 also,but I would have the AFC off 1 week and the NFC off the next,hence making each of those weeks all CONFERENCE games.Take weeks 8&9 and reverse who gets the first each year.

CHHQ's picture

Tarynfor12: In a perfect world, if you were a fan to a, say, week 15 game and your team had already clinched, would you rather see your team's starters live or see that team make it through the playoffs and a Superbowl. I personally think these owners should put winning above money because, in the long run, winning will lead directly to money.

Go Pack Go!

CHHQ's picture

Sorry. After fan, it should say "with tickets"

Go Pack Go!

FITZCORE1252's picture

Get used to it, it's gonna happen and I think it's great. It will generate more revenue (which the players will get a piece of), It will eliminate two weeks of god awful football and get to the good stuff quicker.

With offseason conditioning programs,OTA's, mini camp AND training camp; there's no reason a team should need more than 2 'warm-up games' to get ready to start firing live rounds.

Sure they may need to address the # of players on a roster and revenue sharing. There a kinks to be worked out that is for sure. At the end of the day though, Players and Owners are in this 'business' to make $$$ and this will only increase both sides earning potential. Let's do this!

GBP 4 LIFE

dilligaff's picture

I can see reducing the number of preseason games, but then again those games are being played by players who probably won't make the team, or will get limited playing time during the season.

We want more games that are meaningful games. I say in stead of tie breakers at the end of the season you have additional games to decide those tie breakers. Kind of expanding the playoffs.

If you have 3 teams tied, use the tie breaker system to decide upon the top 2, then play the game to decide who goes to the playoffs.

Tarynfor12's picture

CHHQ,I was merely stating the way I would do it if needed to.I want the SB win and the world isn't perfect which is why the system will change. On a selfish note,"I WANT FOOTBALL ALL YEAR" but again,the world isn't perfect.

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