Still More on the Possibility of a Longer Season
The NFL Players Association likely would demand a salary increase for each player with an existing contract in return for giving its approval to any proposed lengthening of the sport's regular season, a person familiar with the union's position on the issue said today.
The league and the franchise owners appear intent upon increasing the regular season to 17 or 18 games per club, up from the current 16, within the next few years.
Such an increase would require an agreement with the union on additional compensation for players.
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft said in a telephone interview this week that he favors lengthening the regular season but only sees it happening as part of the current labor negotiations with the players' union. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell expressed similar sentiments in a radio interview.
Any lengthening of the regular season probably would be accompanied by a reduction of the preseason by a corresponding number of games.
Both Kraft and Goodell said an increase in the number of regular season games should be appealing to the players because the extra games would generate additional revenues for the sport, and the players receive 60 percent of league revenues under the salary cap system.
However, the person on the players' side said today that an increase in the salary cap would benefit only those players not already under contract when the new season length goes into effect. Those players could negotiate salaries based on a 17- or 18-game season. Players already under contract would not benefit. So the union would push for those players to receive salary increases, corresponding to the increase in the length of the season, as part of an agreement with the owners.
The person also said the current labor deal between the owners and players addresses the possibility of the regular season being lengthened. The labor agreement says that the owners must give the players 90 days notice before increasing the length of the season. The two sides then would have 30 days to negotiate additional compensation for the players. If they can't reach an agreement, the issue would be decided by an independent arbitrator. The labor deal says the owners cannot increase the length of the regular season to more than 18 games.
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