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DeMaurice Smith won’t say 18-game season is off the table

NFL Lockout Looms As Negotiations Reach Final Day

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 09: National Football League Players’ Association (NFLPA) executive director DeMaurice Smith talks with the media following meetings at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service building for extended labor negotiations March 9, 2011 in Washington, DC. Representatives from the National Football League (NFL) and National Football League Players’ Association (NFLPA) continue to negotiate a labor dispute during a 7 day extension of talks. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

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NFLPA* chief DeMaurice Smith was asked a very simple question at least six times during his appearance on WFAN Thursday.

Is the 18-game season off the table, as Kevin Mawae indicated? Is it non-negotiable?

“So far the NFL hasn’t put an 18-game proposal on the table that takes into consideration the health and safety of our players,” Smith said.

Francesa smartly pushed the issue, and couldn’t get a direct answer.

“It’s non-negotiable when someone says they don’t care about making the game safer,” Smith said. “Let’s just cut to it: Their 18-game proposal included a roster increase of one.”

So basically there could be conditions where it would be negotiable. So it’s negotiable, and extra roster spots would help. The NFL’s latest proposal was willing to put off an 18-game season at least two years and require NFLPA* approval for any 18-game season.

As Florio points out over Instant Messenger (we’re like 15-year-old girls sometimes), it helps the union to make a deal and defer the 18-game issue. If the players ever agree to an “enhanced” season later, they’ll get a major concession in return.

In the end, it sounds like the 18-game game season isn’t off the table yet.

It’s just pushed to the side for now.