NFL Players' Strike Inevitable if 17-game Regular Season Goes Ahead, Says ESPN Analyst

ESPN analyst Emmanuel Acho believes the NFL's plans to add an extra game to the regular season will result in players going on strike.

Last week, the 32 franchise owners voted in favor of approving a new 10-year collective bargaining agreement (CBA), which will see the league add one game to the current 16-game regular season.

While the extra game will not be introduced before 2021, from this year the NFL playoffs will expand from the current 12 teams to 14, with an extra wild-card game in each conference.

A day later, however, the executive council of the NFL Players Association voted 6-5 in favor of not recommending the proposed CBA to its members.

"I think there's going to be a strike [...] If I can be blatantly honest with you, there is going to be a strike because of the 17-game season," Acho told ESPN's Golic and Wingo show on Tuesday morning.

"The 17-game season is huge for management, is huge for the NFL," he said. "When you think about TV [revenue], we are talking billions of dollars that will come in [the NFL's coffers] with that 17th game."

“I think there’s going to be a strike... If I can be blatantly honest with you because of the 17 game season.”

- @thEMANacho on the new NFL CBA negotiations

— Golic and Wingo (@GolicAndWingo) February 25, 2020

The former NFL linebacker suggested the players' opposition to the deal stemmed from financial reasons and the league had a major political issue on its hands now the players had "started to wise up".

Houston Texas defensive end J.J. Watt was among the players against the proposal and made his feelings clear on Twitter last week.

Hard no on that proposed CBA.

— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) February 21, 2020

Under the proposal, players with existing contracts that stretch into a 17-game season would receive a one-game check based on their negotiated per-game salary rate.

That amount, however, would not exceed $250,000.

The figure, Acho suggested, could prove a difficult obstacle for the NFL, with players unlikely to relent on their demands given the league is set to generate billion of dollars from having one extra game on the schedule.

Owners and the NFLPA will meet in Indianapolis on Tuesday in a bid to iron out some of the differences over the proposed deal.

The players union said last week that following the meeting with the owners, it planned to hold a vote featuring all of its 32 players' representatives—one for each team.

Team owners have been largely tight-lipped on the issue, but Packers president Mark Murphy is optimistic, according to ESPN.

"I'm looking forward to it," he was quoted as saying by the broadcaster. "I remain optimistic. I think it should be a good discussion."

As part of the new CBA, the league has also proposed to increase the share of revenue from players to 48.5 percent from the current 47 percent.

Players would also receive a share of the gambling revenue generated by the league, while minimum salaries for rookies would rise by $100,000 in 2020 and by $90,000 for other players on minimum salaries.

Additionally, players would no longer be subject to suspensions for testing positive to marijuana and the testing window for the substance would be shortened from four months to two weeks.

The proposed agreement also includes significant changes to training camps, with a limit of 16 days of practice with pads and joint practices would be limited to four sessions in a three-game scenario in preseason.

"Following more than ten months of intensive and thorough negotiations the NFL Players and clubs have jointly developed a comprehensive set of new and revised terms that will transform the future of the game, provide for players—past, present, and future—both on and off the field, and ensure that the NFL's second century is even better and more exciting for the fans," the NFL said in a statement.

The current CBA expires in March 2021.

NFL, football
Detailed view of official game balls on the field before the game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on December 29, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty