Steelers receiver Hines Ward has been an outspoken critic of playing an 18-game season, but he has softened his tone recently and now suggests adding two games would be tolerable.
Ward now predicts the players will go for the idea if they get better post-career health benefits in return.
"If they do, we still have to go out there and play it," Ward told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "It depends on how they do the retirement plans. If you add two more games and talk about safety, you have to do something on the back end."
Ward hopes the league would enhance insurance programs after players' careers are over.
"If they don't do anything on the back end, a lot of guys question if they want to play 18, if they even can," Ward said. "If they do [play] 18, you won't see guys like myself and James Farrior playing this long. Only quarterbacks. The life span of running backs will definitely be shortened. If we have to play 18 games, along with that you have to take care of us on the back end, it'll be all right."