Curtis M. Egan
The head of the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) DeMaurice Smith, has been quoted as saying the NFL and the NFLPA are at war. I believe this to be an accurate statement, a slightly civil war, in which apparently, based on recent rulings has the NFL playing the part of the industrialized north, and the NFLPA playing the part of the willing but ill-equipped south.
The Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is set to expire on March 4th of this year. With it years of labor peace go out the window. The NFLPA publicly has been combative in the past, but recently has toned down the attacking verbiage. This may be in the wake of back to back ruling against the NFLPA, and the fact that the players themselves have publicly stated they want to continue to play.
The first ruling was concerning the television contracts that would pay the NFL even if there were no games played in 2011. The NFLPA fought this, accusing the NFL of structuring television contracts to provide lockout insurance. The union argued this violated an agreement between the sides that says the NFL must make good-faith efforts to maximize revenue for players.
While the NFLPA was awarded damages of approximately $7 million, the union was unsuccessful in locking up $4 billion in television revenues for the players against games lost in 2011. While that motion did fail, the NFLPA is assured to appeal the ruling.
Another loss was recent ruling stating that the NFL will not have to pay the players health insurance costs in the event that the CBA expires in one month.
These ruling and comments by players such as Antonio Cromartie, who stated that the players are not aware of what the issues are and called for an immediate deal to be brokered has made the union look weak, and fractured.
The NFL ownership has clearly ‘industrialized’, by preparing for a lockout and finding ways to maintain cash flow in the event of one. While the NFLPA is serious to, they do not appear to have the positioning, or cohesiveness to make a prolonged successful stand. In the event of the CBA expiring, the NFLPA will most likely be decertified, leaving the fight to individual players. North vs. the South.
So what are all these rich folk squabbling over anyways? I mean face it; the NFL earns approximately $8.5 billion dollars a year off of advertising, ticket sales and television revenues alone. That is not enough to cut up to make all sides happy? Really, do these fat cats realize we are in the midst of an economic depression? Each side wants a bigger cut of the pie… so they fight.
However there are other issues that highlight the biggest problem, which is a lack of trust and open communication between the sides.
1) Cost of business cutting profits to single digit figures.
2) The NFL under the current CBA can fine players for off the field behavior.
3) There has been federal review of labor deals since 1993. The owners feel that is no longer required.
4) There are monies that are not accounted to the collective Total Revenue ‘pool’. Owners keep the first 1 billion dollars that go into the pool for league operating costs. The owners want the number increased to 18% or 3.63 billion.
5) The owners want league wide HGH testing for all players. Currently there are no tests for Human Growth Hormones.
6) The owners want a rookie wage scale to protect them from spending millions of dollars on players who never develop in the NFL. The NFL owners have suggested moving to a system much like the NBA uses that has a slotted value, so each pick would know how much money they would receive.
7) Wants to eliminate 2 preseason games, and increase the regular season to 18 games. The owners have maid claims that this could solve some of the base economic issues facing the league.
8) Owners want player conduct tied to signing bonuses. The signing bonuses are guaranteed. When the league tries to recoup bonuses form players like Plaxico Burress and Mike Vick, the U.S. courts ruled in favor of the players' union. The owners want signing bonuses to be returned if players commit crimes, violate the contract, or quit the team.
1) The players do not trust the owners figures, and want the financials audited.
2) The players feel the commissioner has too much power under the current CBA, and question why the league can fine them for issues that do not impact the league directly.
3) The players want to maintain federal review, as a means of settling disputes.
4) The players want to keep the current revenue sharing model.
5) The players are concerned that there are no reliable tests for HGH and false positives will affect a player’s career and image.
6) The Union has changes stance recently from “not only no, but HELL NO!” to being amenable to the idea. However, in return they want a maximum duration limit on rookie salaries to be 3 years.
7) The players are concerned with more injuries, in an era where concussions have driven new rules, and hits are fined more readily, they are concerned that the extended season will have a negative impact on the players as a whole.
8) The NFL is the only major American professional sports league that does not fully guarantee the players contracts. The players are concerned that if the league gets the wording for returning bonuses (or the guaranteed portion of a contract) those teams could cut a player and not have to pay any of the guaranteed money.
There are other issues, such a disability and healthcare for retired players etc. However the biggest issues seem to be a lack of trust and open communication between the two sides.
Perhaps the NFL and the NFLPA should start figuring out how to explain to the public, who are suffering through a economic depression why we should give a flying squirrel whether or not one side or the other gets a bigger cut of this billion dollar industry.
Their feuding and fighting will not drive down the cost of the seeing the games. Their negotiations will not lift the archaic blackout rule, so nothing changes for us. To be frank, the NFL and the NFLPA do not care about the ‘us’ so long as there are enough businesses and affluent people paying for luxury boxes, personal seat licenses and Super Bowl tickets. The league is no longer for the average man. This feud between Billionaires and millionaires makes that even clearer.
Will there be a draft?
This indicates there will be a draft regardless of if there is a season, or a CBA.
How long will teams retain rights to drafted players:
1 to 3 years
That indicates one year, where does the 3 years come from?
The CBA has language extending the period if the player signs or is employed by another professional football team, not in the NFL…
It should be pointed out that this is the case providing there is a union. If the union were to decertify, it can no longer represent the players, and the lawyers get involved and who knows what would happen then.
At this point I would say there is a 70% chance that a lockout would happen. This is slightly better odd than DeMaurice gave before the last Super Bowl when he said on a scale of 1 to 10, the chances of a lockout were... 14... But it is still a bleak picture of the haves wanting more.