Matt Birk’s argument is hardly brand new. It’s just not a fix to the current NFL labor unrest that seems to be discussed very much. It probably should be.
One of the seemingly many sticking points during the negotiations — or currently non-negotiations — is the owners’ desire for an 18-game season and the players’ arguments against it based on health concerns, amongst others. Baltimore Ravens center and players union rep Matt Birk argues, instead, that the NFL could add two playoff teams.
Adding a pair of postseason teams would force the top two seeds to go without a bye in the playoffs, but would present the opportunity for two more televised games and, therefore, more revenue. Maybe it’s not the end-all, be-all of fixes, but adding more playoffs while taking away meaningless preseason games sounds pretty good to me.
Matt Birk joined KFAN in Minneapolis with Dan Barreiro to discuss whether he believes there will be a season next year, fans who are arguing against the “whiny players,” if the owners are more prepared than players for a prolonged stoppage and where the players might be willing to compromise.
Will there be a season next year?:
“Yeah, I would think that there would be a season with $9 billion at stake. As the reality comes near that games might be missed and millions of dollars would be lost forever, I would think that cooler heads would prevail. It’s late February and there’s this big March 3 deadline, which is somewhat comical because I checked the schedule and there’s no games scheduled for March or April or May or June.”
His argument to the fans that share the sentiment against “whiny players:”
“I would just say that America and football, it’s a free market system. The money, it is what it is and that’s the way it is. Obviously people love football. That’s why the owners make a lot of money and the players make a lot of money. … I can see animosity toward both parties. It’s unfortunate that our dirty laundry gets aired out in the public, but it’s a necessary evil to the game right now.”
Whether the owners have the ability to stay the course on this a little easier because there are players that haven’t prepared well for the possibility of a work stoppage:
“I guess we might see that if there is a prolonged stoppage and this thing gets dragged out into the late summer or, I hate to even think, but if it does go into the fall. … Money is at the center of it, but I think at the end of the day players and owners alike feel pretty fortunate to be in the situations they’re in and I don’t think they’re going to do something that’s going to wreck the game.”
Where are the players willing to compromise?:
“The owners say that it’s not working out for them, but at the same time they’re not willing to open up their books. I get that, we work for them, there’s nothing that says they have to do that. But, OK so, they came at us with an 18-game season and an 18 percent pay cut and that’s really not acceptable in our view. I don’t know if 18 games is for the good of the game. … I would say maybe like something like a 16-game season and [eliminate two preseason games] and maybe expand the playoffs by two teams and eliminate the first-round bye for the one and two seeds. That would give you two more playoff games on TV that you could televise.”
Listen to Matt Birk on KFAN in Minneapolis here (Interview begins at 27:45)