New players union head: No 18-game season

New players union head: No 18-game season
March 21, 2014, 2:00 pm
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(Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY)

Are you ready for some more football? The players most definitely are not.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has been subtly -- or not so subtly, at times -- floating the idea of an 18-game regular season. But the players have been strongly against the idea, a fact reiterated this week by new players union president Eric Winston.

"I can tell you 16 to 18's dead in the water," Winston, an eight-year veteran offensive tackle, told USA Today. "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."

Goodell has long been an advocate of extending the regular season.

At the 2011 'State of the League' address, Goodell said, "The fans have clearly stated that they don’t like the preseason. We have a 20-game format, 16 regular season games and four preseason games, and the fans have repeatedly said the preseason games don’t meet NFL standards. And that is the basis on which we started this 18-game concept, taking two low-quality preseason games and turning them into two high-quality regular season games.”

Fans won't dispute the notion of poor-quality preseason games, especially when those games come with regular-season ticket prices or folded in as required purchases in season-ticket packages. But fan support for an 18-game season has been lukewarm at best.

An Associated Press survey that same year found that only 27 percent strongly or somewhat favored adding two regular-season games and dropping two preseason games.

Any movement to an 18-game regular season would need the backing of the players union. Goodell, however, does  have the power, without union approval, to cut the preseason in half. The thinking is that Goodell could use that as leverage to push for an expanded regular season, but based on Winston's comments, the players' stance against the idea hasn't budged.

[RELATED: Ravens coaching staff helped sway Smith]

Don't expect Goodell to quit on this issue, but judging by Winston's comments, don't expect the union to budge, either.

"This union has always been about fighting," Winston told USA Today. "It won't change."

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