Things seemed to be progressing in talks between the NFL and its' player union, with an extension of talks to this Friday and the possibility of another extension once that deadline neared. The sun shone brightly, the beer flowed like water and life was beautiful once more.
But unfortunately, all that good karma might be erased in the heels of NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith's announcement Wednesday that the union will not consider an 18 game season under any circumstances. O, free agency! We were so close.
More after the jump.
Those of you who have been hanging around this off-season probably are familiar with my feelings on the labor negotiations. I am in favor of some sort of rookie wage scale—and the two sides have hammered out some sort of outline of an agreement there, per Yahoo! Sports—but I'm against an 18 game season and I generally don't think the owners need to be pulling down a whole lot more revenue.
Smith emphasized the player safety component in his speech:
"First of all, the league has never presented a formal proposal for 18 games," he told SI.com. "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."
Frankly, I understand that. The NFL has not proven itself to be ahead of the curve when it comes to keeping its players protected in an extremely dangerous sport, focusing on fines for blatant hits ahead of developing better helmets. It takes time to get there, of course, but until they do I think an 18 game season is just going to put the NFLPA's hackles up. I have some fundamental problems with an 18 game season that offset my desire to see two more games of football, but that's a bigger discussion for another day.
For our immediate purposes, this makes an agreement in the next week or two much less likely. The owners have been rumored to desire an 18 game season for a while now, and if that's even close to reality, things are going to get nasty before they get finished. That's a huge bummer for NFL fans everywhere.
Weigh in on the news.