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Richard: New NFL CBA ought to be altered

| Tuesday, February 25, 2020

On Thursday, the NFL owners reached their required three-fourths majority agreement for the terms of a new collective bargaining agreement. This negotiation comes in anticipation of the end of the 2020 season, at which point the current agreement will expire. Perhaps the most significant change proposed is an additional 17th regular season game, which would also include reducing the preseason from four to three games. Additionally, seven teams from each conference would make the postseason, with only the top seed in each conference earning a bye, generating two additional postseason games in total.

As expected, this motion was immediately met with resistance by NFL players, who feel they will not be adequately compensated neither for their performance nor the massive revenue generated from cable networks and other streaming services. Notably, following the release of conditions offered by owners, Texans defensive end JJ Watt tweeted, “Hard no on that proposed CBA”. 49ers cornerback and known player advocate Richard Sherman similarly voiced his displeasure Thursday afternoon. Under the proposition, players would receive an extra game check, though the amount would be capped at $250,000. For context, Von Miller, the NFL’s 24th highest paid player, made over a million dollars per game through his base salary alone during the 2019 season.

Simply put, the upper echelon of NFL players would not receive compensation that matches their market demand. In a sport as violent as professional football, players warrant such immense salaries in part because of the immense mental and physical health risks they endure throughout the course of an entire season. Adding a singular additional regular season game is an unnecessary risk to absorb for many players. Furthermore, most NFL starters hardly play (if it all) during the preseason, so the suggested one game reduction does not yield much benefit to more prominent players. Consequently, many believe the NFLPA will fail to meet their required two-thirds majority to proceed further in the process of ratifying a new collective bargaining agreement. 

Humbly, I propose an alteration to the current submission of NFL owners, one which I believe to be both feasible and more beneficial for both sides. 

It is hard to envision players voicing an objection to the proposed playoff alterations. The aforementioned institution would allow two more additional teams the opportunity to compete for the coveted Lombardi Trophy. Furthermore, only the second seed under the present construct would face an additional postseason game. In my opinion, it is not the postseason adjustment which is truly problematic for players.

Last season, the NFL wild card round of the playoffs generated an average television rating of 17.23. By comparison, week 13 of the 2019 NFL regular season generated an average television rating of 10.93. Simple math reveals even the wild card round of the playoffs generates roughly 58% higher viewership than an above-average regular season week, which in turn means the most introductory playoff round is vastly more profitable compared to a hypothetical 17th regular season game. Rather than surrender the new playoff format, the NFL should adjust the implementation of a 17th regular season game. Currently, the NFL Pro Bowl takes place in between conference championship weekend and the Super Bowl. In 2019, the Pro Bowl posted a measly 4.9 TV rating, even as the sole NFL program airing during that weekend.

I propose that the NFL move the Pro Bowl in between week 9 and 10 of the presumed new 18-week NFL regular season. This break would be two weeks, with one weekend of various skill competitions, and the following weekend of Pro Bowl play. Presently, referring to the Pro Bowl as even a scrimmage would be a compliment. Relative to other professional leagues, the Pro Bowl is consistently regarded as an absolute failure. Such a schedule would allow for essentially a two-week bye for NFL players, in addition to the regularly scheduled bye week in the midst of their regular season schedule. Players consistently rave about the immense benefits they receive even from a one week bye, therefore a two week bye would be severely favorable to players’ recovery at the halfway point of the season and perhaps would make the 17th regular season game worthwhile. Were this notion to become fully implemented, players would receive likely a drastic improvement to their well-being during the course of the season, while owners would simultaneously increase their revenue as desired.

Who knows how the negotiations will ultimately play out, but if anyone knows an NFL owner and/or NFLPA representative, feel free to send this their way.


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