Cory's Corner: NFLPA Must Stand Firm On Schedule

The NFL owners aren’t going to back down. That is apparent.

They have been scratching and clawing for two years now on the merits of a 17-game schedule and it looks like they aren’t going to stop until they get their wish.

According to the Washington Post, National Football League Players Association reps spent eight hours on Friday mulling over the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, which includes a potential 17-game schedule.

And I still say that the NFLPA should continue to reject it. On the surface, it seems pretty mild. Because, many of you are probably asking yourselves, “What is another game anyway?”

The reason I hate it is because it forces the NFL to talk out of both sides of its mouth. The owners and commissioner’s office talk in endless circles about player safety, but how does adding a regular season game enhance player safety? It doesn’t. The only way that the NFLPA should even consider this is if the roster sizes are expanded to 57 players. That’s four more players to hide the stinging effects of painful injury.

Then there is the money side – the easiest argument for the owners to make. The FOX, CBS and NBC TV deals run through 2022, as does the Thursday Night Football package. The ESPN TV deal runs through 2021. The owners are likely thinking that they can squeeze even more out of the broadcast and/or digital partners if they can get one more game. FOX is paying $1.1 billion, CBS is doling out $1 billion and getting $950 million from NBC.

This is a numbers game. The suits in Manhattan know they can get more loose change out of the money sponge. But how much money does the NFL really need? Well, the NFL made $17 billion in revenue in 2018 with a goal of $25 billion by the next round of broadcast contracts.

I see no problem with striking while the iron is hot, because the NFL remains the hottest ticket in town. Super Bowl LIV drew an average of 99.9 million viewers.

However, being greedy about it isn’t the answer. That’s why there is a CBA, to let the owners and players talk about things. It was the players that got language changed in the CBA in terms of how much tackling and hitting can be done in practices and how many contact practices can be held in a week. It was the CBA in 1993 that allowed free agency for all players thanks to a class-action lawsuit in the name of one Reggie White.

NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith has taken preemptive measures. He has already sent a letter to agents telling them to save in the event of a player strike in 2021.

It would be a different story if the information about CTE and head trauma wasn’t readily available. However, it’s all out there and it’s also the reason why many players are hanging it up early. They have seen what has happened to veteran players like Jim McMahon and guys like Chris Borland or Rob Gronkowski don’t want to wake up one day and forget how to get the mail.

The future health of the game lies with the owners. They want even more money, but how much money are they willing to lose in order to gain one simple game?

 

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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 (17)

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Guam's picture

February 08, 2020 at 08:35 am

I couldn't agree more Cory. In fact I am such a dinosaur that I would like to see the schedule reduced to 14 games as the season is so long now and so many players are having post-career health issues.

Unfortunately we live in a society that always wants more. The NFLPA wants a larger pension and better health care for retired players, fans and owners want bigger, fancier stadiums to enhance the "game experience", television wants more games to fill up air time, players want higher salaries, etc. etc. None of that happens without more games and more revenue to work with. So we continue to sacrifice the health of young men by asking them to play longer and longer seasons.

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Sol's picture

February 08, 2020 at 09:08 am

For every action there is a reaction. The players need more bodies to compete with the expanded schedule for safety even if the current format in not changed they need more, after all it is a team sport. I like the idea of every starting player having a designated backup teammate and if they are injured they should automatically get a week off and not hurry back. The idea of getting a bonus just for playing on game-day seems very counter productive from an injury standpoint. I think a 60 man roster and a 50 day game-day roster sounds about right.

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Jonathan Spader's picture

February 08, 2020 at 09:09 am

How do people feel about expanding the roster to 60 players with 10 practice squad players? Why restrict teams to 53 players? Does it make things more competitive or does it weaken their product when players inevitably get injured?

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CAG123's picture

February 08, 2020 at 09:17 am

I don’t know what the hell they negotiated last CBA but this whole controlling a players career through the franchise tag crap has got to go. 1st round picks can’t be franchised after they pick up their 5th year option so it’s only available for players drafted in rounds 2-7 that’s gives franchises 5 years to figure out if you’re that guy. They gave owners way too much last time just for less padded practices.

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PatrickGB's picture

February 08, 2020 at 10:41 am

I like the idea of 57 players activated. But that means the cap must grow, and grow a lot. I don’t think the league is ready for that.

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stockholder's picture

February 08, 2020 at 11:19 am

I wouldn't change a thing. Free Agency is going to change football, just like it did to baseball. Players know the Risks. To Everything they Do! And were seeing added rest. We knew the risks when we were kids. But To much of anything, can only wreck the thirst for it. .

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Bear's picture

February 08, 2020 at 03:39 pm

Average career per NFLPA is 3.5 years for a NFL player. Like other non sports dangerous jobs they all know the risk. They get paid ridiculous salaries for taking these risks. There was a good article how players felt about the various player tags. The feeling was that the tags affected only the top stars where the majority of the players could care less about it!

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ILPackerBacker's picture

February 08, 2020 at 04:25 pm

Is there any correlation to injury and the 15th game? or 16th game? Or is the extra 4 players totally unrelated to fact and/or reality and just a number you threw out?

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

February 09, 2020 at 06:30 am

The easiest thing to do would be to have disabled lists for shorter periods of time. The PUP and IR rules are stupid.

The next easiest thing is to allow Thursday games only after a bye. Players won't like that since they will get several days less free time.

Another easy thing would be to have two bye (which should be separated by a substantial amount of games). That would mean an 18 week season or a 19 week season if a 17th were added to the schedule.

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Qoojo's picture

February 09, 2020 at 11:31 pm

Well, if they don't do stupid rules, then you will have teams exploiting it. Just look at this past year with teams doing delay, delay, false start, in the 4th quarter to run time off the clock.

So they are forced to limit the number of players and/or the extend length players spend on these lists.

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4zone's picture

February 09, 2020 at 08:19 am

Greed will be the death of the NFL. Cut the preseason to two games then add your 17th game. Most players are beat to death by year's end already. Could turn the SB into a contest of second teams

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Thegravedigger's picture

February 09, 2020 at 10:27 am

Its up to the players now to stand strong and not fold cus the owners take marijuana off of the drug test panel.

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Ferrari-Driver's picture

February 09, 2020 at 02:57 pm

I feel 16 is enough and if anything could change, I would like to see them cancel all the preseason games that they use as money makers with no one trying to win. Replace them with two workout sessions with other teams; one at Lambeau and one as a visitor at another team's stadium.

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malta1099's picture

February 09, 2020 at 03:16 pm

I remember when it was 6 preseason games and 14 regular season games. The preseason never ended. I'm glad they dialed those back, but now the regular season seems interminable. The injury justification for not extending the season is weak. If you use that logic, then cut the season back to 14...or 12...or 10. The players are big boys making big money and they know the risks they take. I don't think we need to nanny them. The bigger issue, as fans, is whether we want yet another meaningless game (and have no doubt that 18 is the eventual goal) , or do we want to get on with the playoffs after a reasonable season of games. The product is pretty darn good, I would rather they don't tinker with it.

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Qoojo's picture

February 09, 2020 at 04:03 pm

They definitely don't need the 4th preseason game for sure. I leave it up to the players to decide if their bodies can take an additional game. I wouldn't begrudge them if they said no, and had a strike over it. The game shortens their lives as it is.

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flackcatcher's picture

February 09, 2020 at 04:28 pm

Both sides know the NFL is a mess. Question is do both sides want to fix their product for the long term (heck, even for the season). I have very little hope that both sides will even try. In Football, like all other team sports, the player is the product. And as we have too often seen, neither side cares much for the long term health of their product. Everyone suggestions on this thread are good ones, go back if you haven't and reread them. They are all simple common sense actions that will protect players and teams over the course of a season. Yes, we all know under Rodger Goodell common sense has 'left the building.' That is an owner problem that can be no longer hidden. As all who watch has seen the damage Goodell has done via game rules and on field overruling of game officials over the past three years. Not to mention the wholesale overhaul of pass interference rules mid season two years ago. One fix that will vastly improve the quality of the game is simply more practice time for the teams. While the veteran players might not like it. (who am I kidding... ) The reality is pro football is crap for the first 4-6 weeks of the season. For all their talk, their bodies are not 'football ready', and it shows. As the Packers have shown, without longer OTA and training camp, any system a coach puts in will not be successful if the players do not have the time to get use to the scheme. What's sad is if both sides met halfway, 2/3 of the NFL existing problems would be solved. I am doubtful of that happening....

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CHESSEHEaADDALLAS's picture

February 10, 2020 at 05:06 am

Instead of the owners worrying about how much money their making make it more affordable for the common
man to able to go to a game.

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