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Union says no to 18 games

DeMaurice Smith

DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association, removes his hat as he arrives for negotiations with the NFL involving a federal mediator in Washington, Wednesday, March 9, 2011 (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)


Though it’s unclear whether the NFLPA continues to posture on the issue in the hopes of getting the best financial deal possible, the union’s position on an expanded season is getting more and more clear.

In late January, NFLPA president Kevin Mawae said he “can’t sell” an 18-game season to his constituents. At a time when a feeling had emerged that the union would acknowledge the pie-growing benefits of two more regular-season games, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith says that expanding the season from 16 to 18 games won’t happen.

Speaking at the union’s Washington offices during an event arranged jointly with 106.7 the Fan, Smith was “categorical” that the union won’t agree to the change, according to Jim Trotter of

“First of all, the league has never presented a formal proposal for 18 games,” Smith said. “But more importantly, it’s something that our players don’t want. Eighteen games is not in the best interest of our players’ safety, so we’re not doing it.”

Even if Smith is merely posturing, it will now be difficult for him to backtrack at a later date. It will be just as difficult for Commissioner Roger Goodell to stick with a four-game preseason after trashing consistently the quality of the games and expressing a strong desire to cut the full-price exhibition season in half.

Of course, after the union decertifies, the league will be able to play as many games as it wants to play. Barring a major reversal, decertification and litigation is where we’re headed.