National Football League Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith said he would like to get closer to eliminating the preseason altogether and reiterated NFL players opposition to going to an 18-game regular season schedule during an interview on 106.7 The Fan Thursday.
"Let me answer it this way, I would rather be closer to no preseason games," Smith told The Junkies.
"To me, what the fans are voting for with both their feet and their money and their attendance is they don't like the preseason product," Smith said. "It seems to me if they don't like the preseason product (and) coaches have an interest in developing younger players and getting players their reps, what's the fix for enabling the coach to develop younger players and the fix for not forcing fans to buy a preseason package that nobody wants to go to?
"So, I look at those things as the polar opposites. The question is how do we get to a point where we serve both?"
After Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay's strategy of not playing any starters during preseason games was mentioned, Smith was quick to respond, "And, why would you?"
Later, when asked if the players are in favor of cutting out preseason games but adding two regular season games, Smith answered flatly, "No."
Smith's counter to that proposal is that it would increase exposure to injury, "We don't want everybody to get hurt more. Or more people get hurt."
"If you were talking to a group of coal miners and you said, 'You could pull more coal out of the mine by spending more time in the hole, it might expose you to black lung more, but you're gonna get paid more money.' My guess is at some point you're gonna get a group of coal miners that are gonna say, 'I make enough money that I don't want to risk eternal health problems,'" Smith told 106.7 The Fan.
"It's not a question about just the fact that people get hurt," he continued. "I'd rather fewer people get hurt. I'd rather guys play longer. I'd rather that the game be a better quality because you've got guys that are at the height of their health playing the game against other people who are at the same place."
Smith says he would like to reduce the overall work and stress put on the player throughout the year.
"You look at not only as games but as work. And it's the totality of that work," the NFLPA leader said. "It's the work in the offseason, it's the work in the team rooms, it's the team meetings, it's the work off the field, it's the practice on the field, it's the games, it's dealing with the injuries during the offseason. We look at that as the totality of work. Games are a significant part of that work, but the idea seems to me, is I want to reduce the overall work."
Smith adds that "if we can do that and make the economics right for the players and incentivize the owners investing in the business of football in the way that we want, then we'll probably get something done."
And while the NFLPA's leader said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and him have had their dustups in the past, Smith said Goodell has "done a great job on this."
When asked if their relationship is getting better, Smith said, "Yeah."
"I think the extent to which he and I can continue to work together is gonna play a major role," he said.