The NFL and the NFLPA have less than a month, officially, to end their labor discord and ratify a new CBA. You know it, I know, the players know it, and the owners know it. Everyone knows it. But the only two parties involved that can do anything about it, won’t. That’s right, they won’t, and so, we here more and more talk of a lockout.
The NFLPA through new grandstand master De’Maurice Smith, who really has done nothing but thump his chest and talk big talk, has informed all player agents that if a team approaches them about using the NFL’s “franchise tag” that they are to call them. Why? Because they say that the tag can not be used this year and the NFL publicly told teams that they could. In other words, some more pot pissing.
Players have been told that a lock-out is imminent and that they should have been socking money away for the last year and half. This approach apparently was the preferred method over say, I don’t know, “hey guys we will do what it takes to get this worked out.” The shame that would have been. Right?
The Players union has also stated that they are ready to officially decertify in an attempt to block the NFL owners from locking them out. How will that work you ask? Well, law prohibits an employer (the NFL) from locking out non-union employees. So the NFLPA would no longer exist and the players would file a lawsuit against the owners if they try.
But it’s not all the players fault.The owners have had the better part of 6 years to work on a new revenue sharing program within the ownership model. They have failed because owners like Jerry Jones, Robert Kraft, and Daniel Snyder, don’t want to share their dough with owners like Bud Adams, Ralph Wilson, or anyone else that isn’t sitting atop the money pile of team property. In other words, the top market teams don’t want to give some of their money to the low market teams and want more from themselves.
So how can they realistically negotiate a new CBA labor deal when they can’t agree on how to share the wealth amongst themselves?
In addition, the owners want the players to pay for some of the stadium upkeep and renovations. To this I laugh and say why? If my employer came to me and said they were going to take a couple 1,000 bucks out of my salary each year in order to put in new carpet in the office or paint the outside of the building I would be calling my lawyer, the state labor board, and every newspaper in America. If they told me they were also going to reduce salaries in that office overall by 18%, I would be arrested on battery charges.
The NFLPA doesn’t want a reduction of 18% and they shouldn’t expect to. They should take some reduction and the NFL owners are willing to take that money and put into retirement funds for ex-players. The NFLPA wants it up front. The owners are done wasting money on first round draft busts and want a rookie cap structure in place, the NFLPA knows they need one but squabble over where the money will go. So why not decrease the overall spending on rookies by 20%, institute a yearly cap structure with a low end escalation of 2% of the previous year for inflation (I’m seriously laughing here) and throw out the 18% demand reduction of current players? Or drop it to a 10% reduction with 8% of that going to the retirement funds?
The NFL came out last week and said that the league will suffer by a work stoppage, the players will suffer, and the fans will suffer. Now, NFLPA player rep Kevin Mawae is saying that he fears any work stoppage could potentially lose fans. He said it’s all about the fans right before saying without the players there would be no football. No, there would be football, just not as competitive. It would also likely be cheaper to go see a game with lesser talented players (but wouldn’t that be even for every team?), and it fans would adjust or simply start watching college. We also wouldn’t have to deal with the mega-million contracts and incessant whining about not making enough money.
While the fans will ultimately pay the price in this disaster they call “labor negotiations” real damage will also be done to the hundreds of players who simply can’t afford not to be playing. No, I’m not talking about the Peyton Mannings’ and Tom Brady’s, I’m talking about those fringe players who make league minimum or gave up decent jobs to follow a dream to play pro-football. The guys on the practice squad and the 53 man roster bubble. Those players that will make nothing and had nothing to put away.
Suddenly they are back bagging groceries and driving UPS trucks for a living. The NFLPA says that they represent all players and while that may be true technically, they sure are not taking them into consideration as a whole in terms of hammering out a deal to get this done.
The reality is, and the NFL and NFLPA can say anything they want publicly or privately, this could be over with in a day. They simply need to get it into their heads that they will do it. Sit down, give a little and take a little and work towards the common goal of making the NFL better than what it is already. This is not some difficult thing to do. But the grandstanding and the posturing is simply going nowhere and the fans don’t buy it anymore.
The NBA, the NHL, and MLB all had strikes, lockouts, and labor turmoil and their ratings and fan support suffered for years following their labor issues. The NFL and the NFLPA obviously haven’t learned anything from that.
Which is a shame because they may just find out that fans may not want to come back so quickly.
And Mr. Mawae, don’t ever think for a minute that there is no product without the players, there will always be people willing to play for a quarter of what NFL’ers make these days. Without the fans you have no product. Not on the NFL level, not on the college level, not on any level. That is the one thing you can take to the bank.