Yesterday ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported the NFLPA has sent a counter-proposal to the league regarding 18-game seasons. To agree to taking on two more weeks of work, players want:
- Fewer offseason workouts -- from 14 weeks to five. (ESPN says the NFL had offered a reduction to only 12.)
- "Significantly reduced" poppin' during training camp, with four shirts-and-shorts practices per week.
- An extra bye week during the season. (The NFL wanted the extra bye to come between preseason and the regular season.)
- Four more roster spots per team.
- Prorated salaries for players already under contract.
- A reduction in the number of games players must play to earn retirement benefits. (This would be the right thing for the NFL to do anyway.)
Sadly, the 18-game season is going to happen. Players almost universally disapprove -- here's the typical counterargument to the players' health concern, unsurprisingly from Bleackter rReporft: they're spoiled, or something.
Besides the fact that we're going to get to enjoy a March Super Bowl manned by third-stringers when all is said and done, say goodbye to the NFL record books having any charm or staying power. Who will care about a 2,000-yard season when it happens every three or four years?
But this is what we're working with. How will the Atlanta Falcons respond?
Compare the Birds to a team like the Washington Redskins or Dallas Cowboys. They're built around big names because their limousine-drivin' owners feel pressure every offseason to keep 1,000,000-seat stadiums full despite annual disappointment. Thus, they have no depth. Whereas the Falcons have drafted smart, avoided overwhelming long-term commitments, and stocked up on linemen since Comrade took over. Is there a position on our team you wouldn't feel comfortable about starting a backup at for a week? Well, besides the specter of losing Roddy White for a game KNOCK ON WOOD, PRAY TO ALL GODS, EAT VEGGIES, HAIL MARY, KNOCK ON WOOD?
Teams with organic roster development philosophies, like the Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, and the New England Patriots and their recent spinoffs, of which we are perhaps the most successful so far, are the best-equipped to deal with 18 games. Plus, if offseason workouts are significantly reduced, that will most hurt teams with especially high turnover and teams with especially complex schemes. The Falcons are neither of those.
What do you think about the NFLPA's 18-game proposal? Might it work in Atlanta's favor?