The other day I wrote an article about how the rookie contracts in the NFL, as well as for the Raiders, are getting to be out of control. You can see that article here. Today I’d like to expand on one of the topics I covered in said article. In the previous article, I wrote:
“In my opinion, the NFL owners shouldn’t even have to come to terms with the NFLPA regarding rookie salaries. It’s obvious to me that the NFLPA only cares about what percentage of a rookie’s pay is going to union fees, rather than protecting its veteran players from getting shafted on their contracts in favor of the new guy.”Then yesterday afternoon, I read an article in Sporting News magazine’s Pro Football 2010 issue called, “The NFL’s brewing storm.”
In the article, written by Pete Williams, the possible 2011 looming lockout of the NFL is discussed in heavy detail. Williams reports that a particular question was asked of new NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith; you know the guy who took over for Raiders legend Gene Upshaw. The question was posed by Chad Ochocinco at the Super Bowl earlier this year. Chad asked Smith what he thought the odds were of a lockout actually showing its ugly head in the 2011 season. Smith’s answer is priceless, “On a scale of one to 10, it’s a 14.”
Now, let me give folks who don’t know a little bit of history in regarding the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). In the 1987 season, the NFL players went on strike. The end result of this strike led to litigation between the NFLPA and the NFL owners which led to the first ever CBA in the early 1990’s. This agreement has been extended several times over the past couple of decades because of a clause that allowed for a final year in the agreement in which there would be an un-capped season. In the past, an agreement has always been reached well ahead of time due to the fact that both parties were warned by former NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw that a salary cap would never return once the un-capped season is played. Thus an NFL team like the MLB’s New York Yankees may be born. For those who do not know, the Yankees have won nearly 25 percent of all the MLB World Series’.
Upon Upshaw’s death in 2008, the search for his successor stalled the new CBA negotiating process. When no agreement was reached in by March 5th of this year, the un-capped season went into effect. If no agreement can be reached by March 5th, 2011 the NFL, America’s top sport, would enter a lockout; their first since 1987.
So what is the major malfunction; why can’t an agreement be reached this time?
Well, under the previous agreement, negotiated by Upshaw in 2006, the players receive 59.5 percent of the NFL revenue as the benchmark of the salary cap. That amount was deemed too costly by the NFL owners, and they opted out of the previous agreement early. Smith and NFLPA president Kevin Mawae, insist that the owners are asking the players to take that 59.5 percent figure down to only 41 percent.
Perhaps this answers the question of why nobody is signing eight-time Pro Bowl center Kevin Mawae right now…
Anyhow, Jeff Pash, the NFL’s chief labor negotiator says the leagues proposal would not drastically reduce the player’s salaries like the NFLPA says. According to Pash, the NFL owners receive a $1 billion credit in the CBA and are asking for another $1 billion to be added onto that credit for the purpose of creating more revenue, thus giving the players an amount similar to the 59.5 percent they receive now by way of having a “bigger pie” to split.
“If we can create the right economic system, we can grow the game,” says NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. “If we can encourage the investment and the innovation, all the opportunities continue to expand. By doing that, you grow the pie, you grow the pool, and everyone benefits from that.”
Smith, like Upshaw before him, contends that it will be disastrous for the league to play the upcoming un-capped year. Smith is frustrated because NFL owners refuse to share their complete financial information and will only share the revenue information. At the Super Bowl, Smith compared the NFL not opening their complete books to the NFLPA to being like someone buying stock in a company with limited information about said company.
“My guess is nobody in the room would make that investment,” said Smith. “You know what? Neither would I.”
“What’s important is that we shared with them that the basic economic information isn’t working,” says Goodell. “The costs have raised dramatically; not only the player costs but also outside of that the economics really aren’t working. And I think we’ve been very open with them.”
It seems as though both sides are entrenched and ready to do battle over the issue. New England Patriots owner, Robert Kraft, said, “I don’t think we’ve ever been so united.”
This is not good. This is not good for fans and it’s not good for the NFL. With these upstart leagues that keep popping up like the Arena Football League and the United Football League, someone is bound to take advantage of the fall football season in 2011 if the NFL keeps shooting itself in the foot on the subject. The league could take a nosedive and tailspin out of control with little or no revenue in 2011 with the current economy.
The NFL players should be happy they even have a job, let alone make millions of dollars per year. Taking nearly 60 percent of the league’s money is just ridiculous. If nothing else, it should at least be split 50-50. I don’t see any players paying out of their pockets for stadium upkeep costs. No, if the team wants a new stadium, they ask for more out of the fans in terms of personal seating licenses and higher ticket prices. Or they up the price of T-Shirts, hats, jerseys, etc.
I really think the NFLPA needs to bite the bullet and take the pay-cut on this one. This economic crisis is very troubling. They need to get a grip and realize that the unemployment rate in this country is currently out of control. I know they don’t think about such petty things in their glorious and wonderful servant-fed lives, but the unemployment rate in some states is currently nearing double digits. In the words of Earl “DMX” Simmons, “Y’all been eating long enough now, stop being greedy.”
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