The league and officials from the NFLPA met on Wednesday for further CBA discussions. The big issue that the league brought up at that time was the idea of expanding the regular season by two games, and cutting down the pre-season to just two games.
Their basic argument is that the pre-season games are an inferior product (they are), and that by making the regular season two games longer it would increase revenue for the league and make a better experience for the fans. Reactions are mixed of course, but I think this is a good thing.
The league's proposal includes a 12.5% increase in salary, an extra bye week to rest up, and increased roster sizes (though right now they're saying only 55 players would be needed. I think it would need to go to 60). I think all of those things are good for players.
The other idea the league is considering is a developmental league, similar to what NFL Europe used to be. Packers president Mark Murphy is chairing the committee that's investigating those options.
Goodell's comments to the press and the union's response after the jump.
Why are you pushing the concept of additional regular season games?
One of the things when we discussed this a year ago and as recently as yesterday is what we need to do to make the game better. How do we improve the game, not only through rules and equipment, but also with offseason training? Should we do things differently? I think we have to. We have been making a lot of those changes but we have to continue to evolve the game in that way. And the players are a big part of that process.
On 18 games and changes to training camp/offseason activities:
We do have to make changes. We've been very open about that from day one. We have to do that regardless. I think there are a lot of changes that need to be made about the way we prepare our teams and prepare our players. The game is changing, and we have to change with it.
What are other changes you are referring to?
You specifically mentioned training camp and offseason. There could be anything from roster sizes to injured reserve rules to something that focuses on the offseason and training camp. It's clear the fans don't want four preseason games. It's clear the players don't want four preseason games. They tell me that all the time. If you ask them that question, they'll tell you. And we really don't need it to make the game better. So we have to evolve just as we did a couple of decades ago when we went from six preseason games to four and went from 14 regular season games to 16. This concept has been done before as the game evolves and it helps improve the game.
On developmental league and possible role UFL could play:
We know how to do football leagues. We've had developmental leagues in the past. We recently had NFL Europe as an example. I think our concept here is to have a league here in the states and to do it specifically to develop football players and football coaches and officials and football personnel so they get the chance to play the game. That's how players develop and get better. Our focus would be on allowing them to play the game.
The union responds:
"I've taken part in several postseason runs where we have played 20 games," Brady said, according to the NFLPA. "The long-term impact this game has on our bodies is well documented. Look no further than the players that came before we did. Each player today has to play three years in order to earn five years of post-career health care."
"If fans want to show their love, they should let everyone know that we are not machines. I know our fans may not like preseason games and I don't like all of them, but swapping two preseason games for two end-of-season games -- when players already play hurt -- comes at a huge cost for the player and the team."
In my view this is a good thing for the union. They want to get a bigger piece of the NFL pie. The league really wants to expand to 18 regular-season games. They also really want to test for HGH. Between those two things there is quite a bit of room to work with in getting the union what it wants.