I was in the middle of writing a new mock draft post when I saw this article come across Twitterville. I was so surprised that I had to stop and react.
In a birthday interview with PPG’s Ed Bouchette, Hines Ward says that players could very well go for an 18 game schedule in the next CBA – as long as the players are taken care of. Rewind the clock a bit to anytime during the past two years, and you would recall that Ward was one of the more animate players being dead set against an extension of the regular season. If Ward has a possible change of heart now, does that mean most of the other players are ready to give in to the proposal? More after the jump.
Take these little green pill$
It definitely appears money is the cure-all to what ails ya. Why else would a player like Ward be so vocally against extending the season because of long-term health reasons and then say it could work? 1 billion dollars and two more paychecks. As I stated in a previous post, the players need to oppose vehemently this proposal. But Ward says:
“If they do[extend the season], we still have to go out there and play it. It depends on how they do retirement plans. If you add two more games and talk about safety, you have to do something on the back end.
“We’d jeopardize our bodies for two more regular season games so if they can do something special with health insurance I think the players will go for it.”
“If they do add 18, you won’t see guys like myself and and James Farrior playing this long. Only quarterbacks. The life span of running backs will definitely be shortened. If we have to play 18 games, along with that you have to take care of us on the back end, it’ll be all right.”
Back end? So a longer health care plan is all you want in order to agree to 18 games? So the idealogical difference here is NOT that you don’t want to have long term head trauma and phantom pains and real pains; it’s that you just want for someone else to be able to pay for the pills you need to pop to counteract those sensations?
What’s a football player worth?
Let’s also address the lifespan of players that Ward mentions. This could be in an article all on its own as there are many things to break down how shortened careers could effect the league over a long period of time. But let me just ask, are the players knowingly ready to shorten their own careers – which could then greatly impact their legacy as great players? As a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers I want to be able to cheer on and admire ‘the greats of the game’ for a long time. I don’t want to just see Mendy run like a beast for about 5-6 years then retire because he’s played almost an entire extra season by then (this is of course ignoring the possibility that in Week 18 or 19 he doesn’t receive a season or career ending injury that effects his playability during that time). Teams could end up looking like a carousel continually replacing players every few turns. This devalues the worth of a player in the eyes of the owners. How can the players ever come out and hold the league accountable for the overall safety and health of its players if they agree? And therefore, how will the owners ever value their players as much as their own money they make from those players?
I think the players need to seriously consider the long term effects going to 18 games has. They need to do this for the sake of their own health for the sake of their own legacy of potential Hall of Fame football players.