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NFLPA president on 17-game season: “I never say never”

Eric Winston


In recent years, not much has been said about expanding the NFL regular season. However, as the NFL continues to make commitments to play more and more games in other countries, at some point the league will need a greater inventory of exportable games, unless teams like the Cowboys, Steelers, and Patriots become willing to give up home games. (And they won’t.)

Enter the 17-game solution. PFT recently explained that it could happen, eventually. Possibly, it would be part of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The potential configuration would go like this: (1) 17 regular-season games instead of 16; (2) two preseason games instead of four; (3) a second bye week, which would push the Super Bowl to Presidents’ Day weekend, giving plenty of fans who have been clamoring for the ability to imbibe on a Sunday night the freedom to not show up for work the next day with bloodshot eyes and/or a disdain for loud noises.

The end result also would be 16 extra neutral-site games that could be played anywhere -- from London to Mexico City to China to Australia to the University of Michigan’s gigantic stadium to wherever the NFL wants to stage the games.

Current NFL Players Association president and Bengals tackle Eric Winston recently addressed the possibility of a one-game expansion to the regular season during a visit to The Drive with Jody, MJ & Bauer on FOX Sports 910 Phoenix.

“As far as expanding regular season games, I just don’t see what the use is at this point,” Winston said. “We’ve got a great game. 16 games is plenty. . . . I don’t think there’s a lot of guys around the league that are interested in playing more games. I don’t know how it makes sense.”

But then Winston nudged the door open: “I never say never about anything. . . . To me if just doesn’t seem to make sense, but you never know what comes down in the future.”

That’s a far cry from Winston’s position on the issue from March of last year, when he essentially did say “never” on the subject of expanding the season by two games.

“I can tell you 16 to 18’s dead in the water,” Winston said. “I won’t let it happen. I don’t think any of these other guys are going to let it happen. It’s a safety issue.”

The safety issue isn’t the same when expanding by only one regular-season game, especially if the trade off is two fewer preseason games and an extra week off during the season. Besides, the money issue could be gigantic, with two extra weekends of regular-season games and the Super Bowl landing on a weekend in which it will generate even more excitement and anticipation, if that’s even possible.

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