NFL Owners Present Players Union With Proposal For 18-Game Season

DENVER - SEPTEMBER 26: Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts leads his teammates onto the field to face the Denver Broncos at INVESCO Field at Mile High on September 26 2010 in Denver Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Today, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and the owners of the 32 NFL teams presented a proposal to the Players Union. This proposal was for an 18-game regular season, reducing the pre-season from four games to two. Fanhouse has a few details:

The current labor deal between the NFL and its players' union contains a provision that allows the league to increase the regular season to 18 games. As the sides try to negotiate a new contract, they are talking again about the possibility of making such a switch.

"An 18-game regular season is not uncharted territory," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press on Wednesday, referring to the 2006 collective bargaining agreement and noting that the CFL and USFL have played schedules of that length.

If I get more details on this, I'll pass them along. However, one question I have about the opening sentence of Fanhouse's story breaking the news is that if 'the current labor deal' between the NFL and the players expires in March 2011 (which it does), how can the owners expand the season to 18 games without Player's Union approval?

As noted earlier today, when Colts president Bill Polian corrected his remarks made on Monday that the 18-game season was a 'done deal,' he said that the 18-game schedule did not need to be approved by the players. If that's so, why are the owners presenting this as a 'proposal?' Why not just vote on it and make it so?

The incomplete answer at this time is that in order for an 18-game season to happen, the owners and the players need to agree on it as part of the new collective bargaining agreement for 2011. Right now, there is no agreement, and no progress has been made in recent days to create one. This means that, on March 1, 2011 there will be no labor agreement between the owners and players, which means there will be no football season.

From NFLLabor.com:

Either the NFLPA or the Management Council may terminate both of the final two Capped Years (2010 and 2011) by giving written notice to the other on or before November 8, 2008. In that event, the 2010 League Year would be the Final League Year, and the Agreement would continue in full force and effect until the last day of that League Year...

The owners did opt out of the labor agreement prior to November 2008, and this league year (2010) is indeed the Final League Year for this agreement.

Bottom line here: An 18-game season isn't happening unless the players agree to it.

From everything I'm hearing on my end, it's a very real possibility that football will not happen in 2011. Yes, there is a lot of rhetoric from both sides, both the issues both sides are arguing over are deeply entrenched. Even if they do agree on a new CBA, it's possible on the the conditions the owners could demand is an 18-game season. Such a condition would not 'save the golden goose.' It would be chopping the goose in half, handing each side an equal portion, and calling it a day.

In the end, it's still a dead goose.

Personally, I hope the NFL does not expand to 18 games. But, one thing seems clear: It is most certainly not a 'done deal.'

If other have any details or additional info on this they'd like to share to help answer some of the questions posed, please comment. The NFL labor situation is a big deal, and the more we all know, the better.

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