With players publicly hesitant about even the idea of an 18-game regular season, one veteran took exception to Bill Polian’s remarks earlier this week that the expanded slate was a done deal for the NFL.
Hunter Hillenmeyer, the Chicago Bears linebacker who serves as his team’s representative to the NFLPA, questioned even the notion that it was a done deal.
“I would say that Bill Polian saying something like that when clearly that’s not the case would put him in a bit of a renegade status,” Hillenmeyer said. “He’s just kind of saying it. I respect his candor but that is certainly not the case because (DeMaurice Smith) does a very good job of communicating with the players the pulse of how negotiations are going and that is something that is certainly a CBA issue and could not just be arbitrarily agreed upon by the owners or a team president.”
As the NFP's Andrew Brandt has written repeatedly, the 18-game schedule is a major bargaining chip for the players and you can expect they will leverage it as much as possible. Hillenmeyer traveled to Washington on Tuesday and sat in on the latest negotiation between the players and owners. Because of the sensitive nature of the issue, he declined to say what happened in the meeting or describe the details of it.
He’s definitely not willing to accept Polian’s way of thinking, that the longer schedule is “a fait accompli” as the Indianapolis Colts' president said on his radio show.
“Obviously, the owners want to increase revenues,” Hillenmeyer said. “I just know that it is not something that has been agreed upon yet and I think that people saying things like that undermines the best faith of the negotiating process, even if he is someone who is not sitting at the negotiating table.”
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