Smith: NFL hasn’t proposed expanding season, playoffs to union
Editor’s note: This story is revised from the print edition.
The NFL has not made any proposals to the NFL Players Association on either expanding the regular season to 18 games or expanding the playoffs, NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith said.
Both issues would change the working conditions for NFL players and, as such, would have to be negotiated and agreed to by the league and the union, Smith said in an interview late last month.
“If they want to make a proposal about changing the players’ terms of working conditions, they know how to make a proposal,” Smith said. “There has been no proposal from the league about increasing the number of games or expanding the current game structure. There has been no proposal about the playoffs either.”
The league’s desire to expand the NFL regular season from 16 games to 18 games was a major issue in the negotiations that led to the current NFL collective-bargaining agreement in 2011. Since then there have been reports that the league could push to expand the regular season and would talk to the union about it.
But, Smith said, “We haven’t had a substantive conversation about the 18 games since the CBA negotiations.”
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said, “We are not focused on the regular season at this time.”
On the issue of expanding the playoffs, Aiello said in an email that the earliest the NFL could expand the playoffs is after the 2015 NFL season.
“We are continuing to analyze it,” Aiello said. “No decision has been made. The union is aware of it. Dialogue with the union will continue at the appropriate time.”
Smith said he has conversations with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell regularly on a number of issues. But, he said, “We don’t have casual conversations about issues that affect our players.”
Smith said he goes to great lengths not to discuss his conversations with Goodell, but said he could speak about proposals.
“Right now there has been no major proposals on either side,” Smith said. “The only outstanding proposal is the comprehensive drug policy and that remains unsigned because the league does not want to agree to neutral arbitration.”
The NFL and the NFLPA have agreed to all issues involving human growth hormone testing for players except for discipline in the case of a player in which there is evidence that he used HGH but no positive drug test. The players want those cases to go to a neutral arbitrator, and the league wants those cases decided by Goodell.
Smith spoke to SportsBusiness Journal after he addressed newly drafted players at the annual NFLPA Rookie Premiere in Los Angeles. Smith said he talked to the players about “the business of football,” including health and safety issues, as well as worker compensation issues.
This year was the 20th anniversary of the Rookie Premiere, which was started as a way for trading card companies to get photos of newly drafted players in their NFL uniforms.
This year, a record 43 players attended, including Texans defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, the first selection; Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles, the No. 3 pick; and Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel.
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