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Start worrying and learn to love/accept the 18-game NFL season

St. Louis Rams fans ought to be used to watching street free agents fill the Sunday starting lineups, having watched the team rely on last minute pickups in the wake of such memorable drafts as 2006. An 18-season could mean even more of that. 

In part seven of his excellent series on the CBA situation, NFP's Andrew Brandt says that the NFLPA and NFL owners are about $500 million apart in negotiations right now. What could close that gap and save the 2011 season is an agreement on an 18-game season. Here's what Brandt said:

Of course, this is a negotiation and the NFL has already moved off their opening number. My sense is that the two sides are about $500 million apart and that the gap can be closed significantly with acceptance by the union of the 18-game schedule.

The 18-game season would give owners two extra weeks to make money (regular season money, not preseason money), hence it's place at the negotiating table. Essentially, it means that owners will keep less money in the pool that gets divided if the players agree to an 18-game season. 

Two more regular season games would probably mean bigger game day rosters, if not bigger rosters period, and a few more slots on the practice squad. The two additional games would take the place of two preseason games. 

Learning to love the expanded season won't be that hard in and of itself. My biggest concern is the increased risk for injuries. I have little interest in watching week 18 games with a cast of backups. Another question, when would those extra two games happen? In August? Tacked onto the end of the season? And when would it start? The 2012 season?

The takeaway here is that you'd better make peace with the 18-game NFL season.