Cory's Corner: NFL Owners Don't Respect Safety

The fact that NFL owners are even hinting at an 18-game schedule is a joke. 

There are many changes that need to happen to the NFL schedule, but expanding is definitely not one of them. 

On the one hand, the owners can preach and preach about player safety, but then they turn the other cheek and whisper things like an 18-game schedule, annual trips to London and the abomination that is the preseason. 

The savvy phrase that has been trending in the sports lexicon has been load management. All that means is giving your stars ample rest and recovery time. Load management is something that the NFL has been impervious to, but what about another two games? Players have sat Week 17 in the past, but that was only if their team could not be reached in terms of playoff seeding. 

Would Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady or Patrick Mahomes sit a game or two just to preserve health? Just imagine someone driving over 18 hours from Montana just to catch a glimpse of Rodgers, his favorite player. However, when he got to Lambeau Field, he was stunned to silence to see that the Packers opted to sit Rodgers just to keep him healthy.

The NFL is good because it magnifies every week. Games are played from Thursday to Monday and from Tuesday to Wednesday, we opine about who’s good, who’s not and the state of the game. 

But what happens when the stars don’t want to play every week. They know the risks associated with football. That’s why the Collective Bargaining Agreement barely allows hitting at practice and it’s also why the CBA barely allows practice. Players know that that 16 games is a tremendous toll on their bodies and two more games will put even more guys on the disabled list. 

The current CBA will expire following the 2020 season. Commissioner Roger Goodell has said that he wants a new deal before the start of this season. He knows that the longer this goes on, the players will have more leverage. 

However, if the owners keep proposing such silly and ridiculous demands, the players association will only get stronger. The only way that the CBA gets ironed out before this season is if the owners come to the bargaining table with plenty of concessions. 

If not, it’s going to be a long fight and obviously, the last thing the owners want to do is hurt their brand by inserting replacement players during a strike.

 

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Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Comments (38)

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Nick Perry's picture

July 16, 2019 at 06:53 am

I watched a movie last night on HBO called "Wall Steet "Money Never Sleeps" It was the spinoff of the 1990's movie hit with Michael Douglass and Charlie Sheen.

In THIS version Sheila Lebuff asks Josh Brolin what is your number? Meaning what is the number, the amount of MONEY you're striving to hit.

Brolins response..."MORE"

I think that response sums up the NFL owners perfectly when it comes to this 18 game schedule nonsense. It's clear and obvious player's safety is FAR, FAR down the list from the most important thing to the owners...MONEY...MORE MONEY

I suppose when your that wealthy it's always about "More". Or just plain ole fashioned GREED! It's just ALWAYS about money when it comes right down to it.

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jannes bjornson's picture

July 16, 2019 at 12:45 pm

Remember the Law of Diminishing Returns. At some point these greed heads will become moot.

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Turophile's picture

July 17, 2019 at 12:52 pm

With some tweaks I think it could work.

For example, to counterbalance an 18 game season, have two less preseason games, plus one extra bye week, plus all players on a roster can play on game day. Maybe you can think of other tweaks ?

I really do think it is do-able...........but is it WISE to do it ?

The wisdom of doing it is tricky, how much do you want to mess with something that is successful ? 16 games is a short season compared with many sports, but few sports are as demanding on the body. Then there is the added burden of one or more extra games for teams that qualify for postseason. I like the idea of an 18 game regular season and two less preseason games, but I am not blind to the difficulties that come with it.

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RCPackerFan's picture

July 16, 2019 at 06:53 am

This whole 18 game schedule talk is just that. Talk. Its a combination of trying to get some talk going while its still a little bit of a dead period, and its the start of a negotiation to get what they really want. Throwing out something a bit outrageous, and try to find the middle ground.

My guess is they really want to go to a 17 game schedule. Having 8 games home and away and having 1 neutral site game for every team. Most likely that neutral site game would be outside of the country. With them trying to expand globally more it makes sense.
By going to a 17 game schedule they would likely remove 1 preseason game.

I could see the NFLPA maybe going for something like that but proposing adding 1 extra bye week. It would make sense with the whole player safety stuff.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

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Lare's picture

July 16, 2019 at 07:34 am

I don't have a problem with less pre-season games and going to a 17-game season. If they have neutral site games they should do them in the US so there isn't as much travel. They should also have a standard bye week in the middle of the season for all teams at the same time similar to MLB.

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RCPackerFan's picture

July 16, 2019 at 10:51 am

I do think teams want to have 3 preseason games. Or 2 preseason games and a scrimmage. While its not great for the league and for fans, the preseason games are meaningful for the coaches, pro personnel, and the players trying to earn roster spots.

I have seen/heard that they are wanting more games around the world. With that, I could see them negotiating an extra game so all teams have a neutral site game and don't have to give up a home game. Perhaps not all games would be in other countries. But I would guess the majority of them would be.

Adding a 2nd bye would really be a nice thing, especially if they would have games around the world.

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TheVOR's picture

July 16, 2019 at 10:15 am

Ya, it doesn't mean they respect or have no respect for safety. This is 100% foreplay leading up to the 2020 negotiations for the new NFLPA players contract with the NFL.

The Players are clearly going to be asking for the flipping moon, and preseason revenue simply "isn't". Fans don't want to pay big money to watch preseason games, and the players will have huge demands in this upcoming negotiation.

Final word on safety - Super dangerous sport, everybody knows it. It's like smoking cigarettes, you weigh the toll or possible end results of playing the game, and simply play it, or quit! There are no secrets about safety in the NFL, it's a dangerous game know to cause brain damage, period. In fact if I was the NFL at this point, I'd be making every player sign a waiver telling them they understand the risks, and there is no liability to the NFL.

In the end, when has this ever "Not Been About Money". Do the math, they're going to probably a 17 game season. They need to figure out how to evaluate draft picks in a shorter play cycle. This entire CBA is going to look completely different!

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ricky's picture

July 16, 2019 at 11:42 am

No, the fans don't want to pay to see exhibition games. But, if you're a season ticket holder, those games are included in the price of your season ticket. So, whether you want to see them or not, you have to pay for them. Add in revenue from parking, concessions and seating licenses, and the average fan gets gouged big time.

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Packer Fan's picture

July 16, 2019 at 11:45 am

I like the idea of going to a 17 game season with 2 bye weeks and dump two preseason games. Also increase to 56 man squad and 9 on the practice squad.

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dblbogey's picture

July 16, 2019 at 12:42 pm

Also dump the Thursday games, which will happen the same day Congress passes term limits on themselves. In other words, never.

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Since'61's picture

July 16, 2019 at 07:11 am

The 18 game schedule is a non-starter for the players given the current state of equipment and safety in the league. The players are not going to expose themselves to the additional injury risks.

Also rosters will need to be expanded to cover the attrition which would result from 2 extra games even with the proposed 2 bye weeks.

The league's quality of play will decline even further especially early in the season. It takes 2-4 regular season games now for teams to reach a solid level of play. Imagine what it will be like with 2 less preseason games.

It's another money grab by the league and to get it they will need to make some major concessions for the players which I don't see the owners making. Thanks, Since '61

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flackcatcher's picture

July 16, 2019 at 03:11 pm

Totally agree '61. It is the most likely and depressing outcome in the future negotiations between the owners and players. If the NFL wants to see their future, all they have to do is look at NASCAR. Stupid fools......

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Since'61's picture

July 16, 2019 at 04:27 pm

flack - this upcoming CBA could cause a very long work stoppage or even bring down the league as we know it.
There are a few big issues including the revenue split between the players and the owners, player safety, number of games both regular and preseason, number of wild cards, long term health care for players post- retirement, player pensions and much more.
Many owners are unhappy with the longer term big dollar contracts so they may want to standardize the length of time a contract can last and/or put caps on guaranteed money.
These are some of the issues that I am hearing from consulting colleagues, some work with the NFLPA and some for the league. I think that it's wise for Goodell to try to get something done sooner than later but I'm not expecting the players to take the first deal offered. I'm expecting protracted negotiations so the sooner both sides get started the better. Thanks, Since '61

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Coldworld's picture

July 16, 2019 at 05:36 pm

Agree on the preseason completely. I would split the games and have 2 entirely for players not starting in the prior year only as a compromise. I’d cut the roster by about 25 at that point. Players need playing time but not the same amount. I’d really like to see a spring league affiliated to teams, akin to European soccer or baseball.

As to 18 games, I think that’s over blown. Rugby players play far more and live to tell the tale. As far as a bye goes, having a two weekend break in the season for all teams would do far more for general recuperation than two one week breaks. That said, 16 to 18 is something of a non difference that has become portrayed as significant for other reasons.

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stockholder's picture

July 16, 2019 at 07:20 am

The more players, like Bell and Gordon sit out. The more the greed will show. Players are greedy. They'll use anything at their disposal to stay on the field now. The owners want more. The pressure is on them. And looking at the figures the Packers post. The money is drying up. I Remember the world football league. Even Canadian Football. We only have to turn to college football. The more both sides try to control each other. The more people won't care and won't attend. The costs are out of our control. And so is the greed.

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fastmoving's picture

July 16, 2019 at 08:50 am

"And looking at the figures the Packers post. The money is drying up." thats ridiculous.
And whats out of controll the costs or money witch is made with the NFL?

Yeah and because so many people wont attend the NFL, the draft here has more viewers than the finals from the next polular sport. The NFL can go down 30 years and would still be the most popular sport.

And of course here is more greed than anywhere else in society. Thats must be the reason why we got this dumb conman, who is as greedy as hell.
Im sure you are not a bit greedy at all. You just sound that way. I made the expierience that the most envious people are the most greedy as well. If they get the chance…….

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stockholder's picture

July 16, 2019 at 10:34 am

Which\\ not witch. Costs= the team reported a net income of $8.4 million but just $724,000 in profit this past year. The draft is about Younger players and Hope. They come from colleges. Not other countries. They are locked into a salary structure for a reason. /// Fiscal responsibilities are the main focus for any popular sport. //// The owners have to over-pay and can't get away with out sourcing in the NFL. You only have to look at TT trading away Brett Favre to know that anyone can be replaced. The owners must keep their ability to make the business decisions. If you are the owner of something, You protect it. It cost you. Some players coming into the NFL should have chosen another profession. ( They knew the risks.) It's a life changing chance for better. They did go to college. Duh.

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Coldworld's picture

July 16, 2019 at 05:44 pm

Football in Europe died when the NFL took a lot of money from satellite in its early years, removing it from terrestrial TV when few had access to satellite. It lingered in Germany because that was something of an exception. One of the worst moves ever made. Football was getting national coverage and audiences. Teams were springing up to play amateur football. Two years later it was known only to satellite viewers and the teams folded one by one. Snatched defeat from the jaws of success in spectacular fashion.

As to money drying up for the packers, look a little deeper. Two coaching staffs, concussion settlement, large up front player payments and then some lag from all the non football investment that has yet to bear fruit.

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PeteK's picture

July 16, 2019 at 08:20 am

One just has to look at the draft to see how popular the NFL is. However, an 18 game season could cause a downturn because the added injuries could water down the talent. Bell is an interesting study because he did leave about 12 mill on the table when he sat out. I would call that a gamble .

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sonomaca's picture

July 16, 2019 at 09:02 am

That’s a good point. You could see a situation where starting players are held out, either when games are meaningless or when the opponent is much stronger or weaker.

I’m guessing you’d also see more questionable injuries, as players look for off days. The whole thing becomes a giant game of cat-and-mouse, with players trying to prolong careers.

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Bear's picture

July 16, 2019 at 03:30 pm

When they went from 12 to 16 games in a season they said the same thing.

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Since'61's picture

July 16, 2019 at 04:34 pm

They went from 12 to 14 games in 1961 and then from 14 to 16 in 1978. Thanks, Since '61

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Tundraboy's picture

July 16, 2019 at 08:50 am

More practice & training, fewer pre season games.

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dobber's picture

July 16, 2019 at 11:03 am

Practice, maybe, but the vast majority of these guys are trained to the nines.

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Coldworld's picture

July 16, 2019 at 05:46 pm

Gym type training and on the field training are not the same. Competitive training intros squad or not is essential. The shorts stuff doesn’t count. It’s true for skills but also physical game fitness.

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PatrickGB's picture

July 16, 2019 at 10:06 am

It’s human nature to want more. More games, more money for the community, the owner, the owners, the fans, the advertisers and of course the players. Let the market decide. If one portion of this tug of war is overwhelmed then the whole entity changes. It’s always a balance and subject to negotiation. Capitalism is never pretty but it works.

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Lare's picture

July 16, 2019 at 10:34 am

You mention the community, I wonder if local businesses like hotels, bars & restaurants make less money for pre-season games than they do for regular season games. I wouldn't think so for a city like Green Bay where the stadium is always full, but that may not be the case in other cities.

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sbransbottom's picture

July 16, 2019 at 10:19 am

I don't believe the owners are actually pushing for an 18 game season. They know that there isn't any chance the players go for it. Its a bargaining chip. There are other things that the owners want. When the players say no to these other things, the owners then say, "ok, we will give up the 18 game season if you will give us this". See how it works? Its the exact same thing the players did when the union said "prepare financially to go on strike for a year". It showed the owners that the players were prepared and financially able to strike. Its all about concessions. The owners needed to have something to put on the table to give up in order to get other things.

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wildbill's picture

July 16, 2019 at 11:31 am

I like watching the preseason games. It’s fun to see the bubble people bust ass to make the team and fulfill their dreams. The big issue is the preseason games are full price. Drop the ticket prices 75%, feature $1.00 brats and fill the stadium with fans who are happy for the season to start.

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Coldworld's picture

July 16, 2019 at 05:48 pm

Yes, love watching, not for the score but for the players. Totally different approach to watching but I enjoy it.

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ILPackerBacker's picture

July 16, 2019 at 11:51 am

Jordy Nelson would tell you injuries can happen in game one, and Eddie Lee would agree.

If you believe that adding a game or 2 adds significant risk of injury why aren't you trying to remove playoff games from teams that can't win a division?

If you are really "ABOUT" the risk of injury why are you a fan at all? football is a dangerous activity. Period. Instead of trendy and stylish nonsense about injury educate yourself.

The CBA stops MEANINGLESS hitting.

How you write stars don't want pre season hitting means they want less money and less real game time is just disjointed.

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Samson's picture

July 16, 2019 at 01:19 pm

It's all about money .... safety has little to do with the equation --- owners side or players side.
The NFL is just a microcosm of how the entire world functions. ---- So, don't worry, be happy. (hey, that could be a song).

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Lare's picture

July 16, 2019 at 02:05 pm

With less time for practice and a lack of fundamentals the game of football suffers. And while the owners & players make millions the fans pay more and get less quality product for their money.

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Coldworld's picture

July 16, 2019 at 05:52 pm

I also wonder from player’s perspective. Take Gordon, a running back, he is already close to the past his sell by date at the end of year 5. Yes it’s wear and tear in part but also suddenness if youth. If I were him, I would welcome 18 games with proportionate pay each year. More money in less seasons likely means more money actually earned in a career for the great majority of players.

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PatrickGB's picture

July 16, 2019 at 02:35 pm

When the product suffers from lack of interest, then change will happen. To succeed means it much change with the times. As long as demand remains high then we cannot expect significant change. Home games are always sold out and the waiting list goes on for decades. If the team wanted it could charge even more than it does and still sell out. And when league wide interest wanes so then will any real changes happen. Personally I wish some things would change yet know that I am just a consumer in this market. GPG

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Since'61's picture

July 16, 2019 at 05:02 pm

Keep in mind that no matter how this plays out neither the owners or the players care about the fans. Why?
Because the owners know that they can sell out their games regardless of the prices charged or the quality of the product. Again Why? Because corporate America is buying the seats and they buy more and more every season. Boston, NY, Philly, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Washington, Carolina, Florida, New Orleans, Dallas, Houston, Denver, LA, Vegas, San Francisco, Chicago, Detroit, Seattle are all big corporate hubs where tickets for every sport and major concert are bought up either directly by corporations or by ticket brokers who service their corporate clients.

The average fan is being squeezed out in these large markets. No one cares because the seats are sold whether people show up or not.

In markets like Green Bay, Indy, Phoenix, Buffalo, Memphis, Kansas City, Cincy, Cleveland and Minny they know they can survive off the league's revenue sharing. And of course the Packers are sold out forever anyway.

Worst case scenario the owners know that their teams are worth several multiples above their purchase price so they have their way out of necessary, except the Packers can't be sold unless the league revoked their charter as a non-profit organization. If that day ever comes and it could given the greed of the owners I'm out. For now I'll be happy to get through the next CBA without a work stoppage. Thanks, Since '61

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Holecrap's picture

July 16, 2019 at 07:05 pm

The big picture here not talked about is exposure. Baseball - april to late oct, hockey - oct to june, nascar feb through oct with a 10 race finale. What a joke.
This is all about carrying the season two or three more weeks to be in the news. Feb - Aug is dead time other then the draft.
They want people talking football not nascar, hockey, etc.

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Since'61's picture

July 17, 2019 at 08:53 am

The NFL would like to reach the point where the Super Bowl is played over the President's Day holiday weekend. That would give them maximum exposure and create a holiday atmosphere for the game itself since most people would not need to be going to work the following Monday.

This would give the NFL exposure through February, then in March they have the FA period followed by the draft in April with OTAs in May and June followed by the opening of TC in July. It's not perfect but it is pretty close to a year round cycle.

They have discussed this along with the 18 game schedule for a long time now. The question is how hard will the owners hold out for it versus how long the players refuse to accept it. Along with the other issues I mentioned in my earlier post above I'm concerned that we're in for a long, protracted negotiating period. I just hope it get's done without impacting the 2021 season and beyond. Thanks, Since '61

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