Posted on: June 17, 2010 6:42 pm
OK, I’ve had a chance to read the entire Mark Murphy transcript from Wednesday. Murphy, as you know, is the Packers president, and he’s the one who got the NFL universe buzzing about the expanded schedule, where the NFL would erase two preseason games and give you two extra regular-season games in return. He’s also an eight-year NFL veteran who made a Pro Bowl as a DB.
“I think the real roots of it are that as you look across the NFL and everything that we offer, we really try to provide top-quality value to our fans, whether it’s the regular season, postseason, the draft or the combine,” Murphy said in the conference call. “To me, the one that stands out as being different is the preseason. There just isn’t the same value there. I know from my position with the Packers, I get a lot of complaints (about the preseason). We actually just had focus groups with a number of our season-ticket holders and club-seat holders and had a lot of complaints about the preseason games. It just isn’t the same value there that you have in the regular season. I think there is a real issue there that we need to address.”
OK, but don’t you have to give the players more money if they’re going to play two more real games?
“Under the relationship that we have with the players, they get close to 60 percent of the revenue. If we grow the revenue, they are going to get more. They are currently playing 20 games, and we’re not increasing that. That would be the way that we would approach it. This is an opportunity for us to work together to grow revenue and improve the game.”
Sounds great for the fans who don’t have to pay regular-season prices to watch exhibition games, right? Yes. Sounds great for the scribes who don’t have to report on exhibition games, right? A double yes. But what about the players? Does it sound great for them?
Um, not quite as much. After the Bengals finished their final workout of the offseason today, I spoke to OT Andrew Whitworth, Cincinnati’s NFLPA player rep.
The transcript from my interview:
CBSSports.com: Lots of talk today and yesterday about the 18-game schedule. What are your thoughts?
Andrew Whitworth: We want to do anything to make the game better for the fans. If an 18-game schedule will do that, that would be great. But there’s also some things player-wise and health-wise that might be an issue. We feel like if we’re going to have to do that, there has to be some things that change as far as the offseason and training camp.
CBS: Are you talking about just the offseason stuff, or are you also talking about increased health care?
AW: You have to do one of two things; you have to improve the situation now with improving the OTAs or during the season where there’s less contact or you’ve got to attack the health-care issue and give the guys better health care when they’re done. Right now, with most players, even if they play 15 years, they only have – at the most – five year of health care. That’s kind of ridiculous what guys go through.
CBS: Do you think the 18-game schedule will happen?
AW: I think the owners definitely want it. I know they’ve prepared for it in their future schedules from what I’ve seen. It’s something they’ll go forward with. But there has to be other things that improve for that to happen.
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Posted on: June 15, 2010 2:32 pm
The great debate looming for fans in all these labor negotiations is the possibility of an 18-game regular season. Good idea or bad idea? Be prepared to choose a side at some point.
Jason La Canfora writes that Wednesday’s labor negotiations between the NFLPA and NFL will likely touch on this subject. Owners generally like the idea of an extended regular season; players don’t. This issue could impact roster sizes, salaries and, of course, television schedules. You’ll hear more and more about it over the next year.
P.S. It’s worth noting that in La Canfora’s article, the regular season extension is referred to as “regular season enhancement”. Could this be because La Canfora works for NFL.com, and Roger Goodell is in favor of an 18-game schedule?
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Posted on: June 15, 2010 8:45 am
Yesterday we mentioned that whispers about collusion against restricted free agents could be rising to the surface. Pro Football Talk originally raised the issue after noticing that a number of different teams wrote letters to unsigned restricted free agents warning them about the June 15 deadline (RFAs who didn’t sign their tender by midnight last night ran the risk of having their offer reduced).
The letters teams sent out were suspiciously similar in tone and timing, leaving one to wonder if teams might all be operating under a set of unofficial guidelines. Speculation is that teams could also be under pressure not to aggressively pursue RFA’s, due to the ongoing labor negotiations.
The NFLPA is said to be seriously looking into this matter. Collusion would likely be hard to prove, but you have to figure some form of it is going on, and not just in regards to RFA’s. Look at Kevin Mawae, for example. Though still one of the best centers in the league, the veteran unrestricted free agent’s phone has not rang this offseason. Mawae has even said he’d be willing to accept a backup role. Still, no calls. Could it have something to do with Mawae being the president of the NFLPA?