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NFL Lockout: So Much For The 18 Game Season Being 'A Done Deal'

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Remember back in September of last year, when Colts executive overlord Bill Polian went on his weekly radio show and said that the NFL regular season extending from 16 regular season games to 18 was 'a done deal,' and that the 'the debate is over' regarding it?

Remember that?

Well, yesterday, Colts center and NFL Players Association representative Jeff Saturday and the NFLPA leadership essentially told Bill, and anyone else who thought an 18-game season was a 'fait accompli,' to stick it:

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, [NFLPA head DeMaurice] 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."

Now, I'm not reporting on this just to stick it to Bill Polian. This issue is bigger than him. It always was.

The 18 game issue is now a line in the sand for the players in these very critical labor negotiations, and it's one that seems as if they are unwilling to cross for reasons that, quite frankly, make a great deal of sense.

Look, as a fan, I have yet to meet who thinks an 18 game season is a good idea. Players like Dwight Freeney have railed against it. Jeff Saturday certainly doesn't like it. And even the great Peyton Manning falls in line with both his teammates on this issue... unless there is some kind of stipulation in the new CBA that states those two extra games for the Indianapolis Colts are guaranteed against the Jerry Richardson-owned Carolina Panthers.

All Manning, or anyone for that matter, has to do is go back and watch all THREE of Austin Collie's concussions last season in order for him to have a clear mind on the whole 18 game issue.

Fans don't want it either. Or, at least, all the fans I've talked to. 16 games is enough.

But, because the NFL owners are not even trying to pretend anymore that they are greedy, they keep talking about how the 'need' to extend the season to 18 games in order to make the game more profitable. They say this while the sport is generating $9 billion in annual revenue. They're also unwilling to be transparent in their accounting so they can prove to us that they are, indeed, suffering financially.

These are the same owners who tried to renegotiate their TV contracts with FOX, ESPN, and NBC, and CBS so that they would get paid $ billion dollars this season regardless of whether there was football or not. Thankfully, Minnesota federal Judge Doty put a halt to that.

I guess the positive here is the players aren't willing to gave to the owners' collective greed on this extended season thing. It's hypocritical one minute to preach about player safety, and then the next to say that the league must extend two regular season games.

Again, just to hit the point even more (no pun intended):

The negative here is this could be the straw that emboldens the moron owners to hold firm, thus triggering a lockout, union de-certification, and the death of NFL football as we know it. Hopefully, the more intelligent, less-greedy owners in the room (Jim Irsay? Clark Hunt? John Mara?) will finally take charge of this mess and start talking sense at these negotiations.

An 18-game season was always a bad idea.

The problem is, per the owners' rules, all it takes are nine owners to torpedo anything, no matter how reasonable. 75% of the owners must agree on a new CBA in order for it to be approved. If nine owners are steadfast about this silly 18 game season thing, we're in trouble.