Richard Sherman accused the NFL and team owners of putting a “price tag” on player safety in pushing for a 17-game regular season.
Plans to expand the fixture schedule have proved an obstacle in ongoing negotiations over a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA).
The existing deal expires at the end of next season and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has insisted player welfare continues to be a priority amid “incredibly productive dialogue” with the NFL Players Association (NFLPA).
Sherman, an NFLPA vice-president, remains unconvinced, believing talks will drag on unless the league backs down.
“I don’t think it’s something the players are interested in, honestly,” the San Francisco 49ers cornerback said ahead of Sunday’s Super Bowl against the Kansas City Chiefs.
“If that’s the point they’re negotiating on, I think these negotiations are going to go a lot longer than anticipated.
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) January 29, 2020
“It’s odd to me, and it’s always odd, when you hear player safety is their biggest concern. And they’re really standing up for player safety, player safety, player safety, but it seems like player safety has a price tag.
“Player safety up to the point of hey, 17 games makes us this much money so we really don’t care how safe they are, if you’re going to pay us this much money to play another game.
“That’s the part that’s really concerning for us as a union and us as players. They think that players have a price tag on their health and I don’t think we’re in the same ball park in that regard. Players have been more aware of player safety and longevity and life after football.”
Sherman believes the NFL intends to use the extended season as a bridge to an even longer 18-game schedule, forcing players to “risk their bodies”.
“That’s what’s so ridiculous about it, and nobody calls them out, nobody calls out the hypocrisy,” he continued.
“I’m hoping that one day people will be brave enough to call out the hypocrisy of saying hey, we really care about player safety, but hey we always want you to play an extra game and put your body on the line and risk your career.”