NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith told reporters in Indianapolis that he believes the players will approve a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA), which would add a 17th game to the regular season.
When the proposal was announced, some of the game's biggest stars, including Aaron Rodgers, Richard Sherman, and Russell Wilson, spoke out against the deal.
Rodgers explained his reason in a lengthy post on Twitter. He said that he does not support the extra game because of the added risks of injuries.
"16 games to me, was never something to be negotiated. The owners made it clear that the 17th game is about paying for the 'added' benefits, and had nothing to do with the positive feedback received about any extra risks involved with the added regular-season game," Rodgers wrote. "There were also many issues raised about the workplace, the workload, and the offseason program. Some have been addressed, while others have not,"
Richard Sherman agreed and retweeted Rodger's statement adding, "Health and Wellness of our men is always the most important aspect."
"Health and Wellness of our men is always the most important aspect. There is no price you can put on that and that is why I Voted No. I respect the Men that have been part of this discussion and stood up for their locker rooms."
Smith told reporters that he understands that not every player is happy with the deal. Speaking with Fansided reporter Matt Verderame during the NFL scouting combine, Smith said he is fine with players speaking out and voicing their opinions.
"I understand Aaron is passionate and expressed his opinion, other players have passionately expressed their opinion, and it's fine," Smith said. "I would much prefer that than for anybody to think they didn't have a voice, that they didn't have a vote, that they were stopped from being able to express their thoughts on this deal."
Smith explained that he understands players' concerns over playing an additional game, but said that it was a sticking point with the NFL.
“I think no player would want to play an extra game, and that’s why it’s been such a long, tortured process of talking about it,” Smith explained. “That’s a conversation I had with every team, that the league was conditioning an early deal on the 17th game. And that was a part of the package for an early deal. Remember, all of this conversation is about an early deal and a deal that gets done before expiration, and that was a critical term for the players. And for the players who don’t want to do 17 under any reason, those players will vote their conscience.”
Despite the negative comments from some players, he said that he is confident the deal will get done and the new CBA will be approved before the current one expires.
Photo: Getty Images