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Union preparing to call the league’s bluff?

Last week, Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch told the class of incoming NFL players that there’s a “100 percent chance” of a lockout.

This week, a voice with much greater authority as far as the players’ position goes is saying the same thing.

NFLPA Executive Director De Smith is bracing for an ownership-imposed work stoppage.

“I am absolutely convinced that the default plan is to lock us out in 2011,” Smith told the union’s player representatives earlier this week. “If I’m right and we’re not ready, they will test you. They believe this is the year to break the union.”

So, basically, if the owners are bluffing about a lockout (and we still sort of think they are), the union seems to be willing to call their bluff.

Unless that, too, is a bluff.

But here’s the reality, in our view.  The league will drive an ultra-hard bargain if the league perceives that the union isn’t prepared to take a lockout.  So the union needs to project a confident state of readiness, in the hopes that the owners will refrain from the proverbial nuclear option.

Part of the union’s plan to prepare for a lockout is to institute a “25/25 Campaign,” pursuant to which all players save 25 percent of their net income for the next two seasons.

“It is absolutely doable,” Texans player rep Chester Pitts said.  “The minimum salary for the NFL puts you in the top one percentile of salary and wages of the United States.  So yes, it can be done.  It is just going to take guys like me going to the four or five guys on the team that could be at risk, sitting down with them and making sure they understand the importance of putting this amount of money away.”

The fact that, as Pitts explains it, players making the minimum are within the top earning percentile in the country serves only to highlight the reality that neither management nor labor will be scoring sympathy points with the general public if a lockout occurs.  Everyone is making plenty of money, and the only way that either side will make less of it is if they allow their greed to jeopardize the immense popularity the NFL currently enjoys.

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14 Responses to “Union preparing to call the league’s bluff?”
  1. penguininbondage says: Jul 9, 2009 6:43 PM

    They’ll save money right after thay stop getting arrested and fathering kids out of wedlock

  2. DFWTMILLAW says: Jul 9, 2009 6:46 PM

    Chester— May I recommed that you recommend that your team’s players invest in a tax credit scheme on the recommendation of your team’s long snapper?

  3. VegasBronco says: Jul 9, 2009 6:49 PM

    The union making 60% of the revenue is the problem. It has been proven that the union needs the league MORE than the league needs the union.
    Equitable 50% seems to make sence to the fan.
    “It is a privilage to play in the NFL, NOT a right”.
    Come on union do not mess this up. Get a CBA done before March.

  4. kazkal says: Jul 9, 2009 6:54 PM

    I bet more players don’t agree with a lockout since ow many of them only have 1-2 years left in their career? How about Guys who make the vet minimum are they willing to sacrifice the little momey they’ll make in their career?Rookies from 2010 & 2011 will probably be against it since ore likely a payscale system will be put in place so they wanna start working on their fatty contract asap.

  5. Stormin says: Jul 9, 2009 7:19 PM

    The NFL Players already have a pension plan and a 2 for 1 401K plan.
    Why does this need to be in the CBA as well?
    A player’s agent should already be handling his money.
    This whole CBA dispute can be solved by getting rid of the cap and the floor, and not mandating teams spend anything more than the minimum salary on each player.
    Then cash conscious teams can turn a profit and cash heavy teams can spend 100′s of millions on stars.

  6. TMI says: Jul 9, 2009 8:20 PM

    Here’s a novel idea for both sides:
    Since the absolute worst players in the league make more than 99% of Americans in a given year, & the owners make 25-50 times that amount…….maybe (gonna sound crazy) they should all consider taking a little less, so the 75% of Americans who make less than 50K a year can actually watch A (ONE) game live & afford to buy a jersey.
    Today, a single ticket to a game or a jersey costs the average fan a FULL DAY’S pay (& he rarely goes alone).

  7. fay says: Jul 9, 2009 8:57 PM

    hey vegasbronco:
    its not just 60%, its 60% of the GROSS revenues.
    Other things that will complicate this is increasing the # of regular season games and revenue sharing between large/small market clubs.
    No doubt in my mind there is a lockout

  8. zod says: Jul 9, 2009 8:58 PM

    Old news this was in the cards two years ago. They’re just trying to figure how to divvy up the golden goose without killing it. Hopefully, they’ve learned from MLB.

  9. Vicente Bastardo says: Jul 10, 2009 12:38 AM

    zod:
    Let’s hope so. If they haven’t learned from the MLB…or the reaction to Wall Street CEO salaries, the NFL will have a tough time coming back from that.

  10. Bob Nelson says: Jul 10, 2009 3:25 AM

    This problem is why Tagliabue, the worst commisioner in the history of the NFL, will never get into the hall of fame.

  11. SpartaChris says: Jul 10, 2009 12:18 PM

    TMI says:
    July 9, 2009 8:20 PM
    Here’s a novel idea for both sides:
    Since the absolute worst players in the league make more than 99% of Americans in a given year, & the owners make 25-50 times that amount…….maybe (gonna sound crazy) they should all consider taking a little less, so the 75% of Americans who make less than 50K a year can actually watch A (ONE) game live & afford to buy a jersey.
    Today, a single ticket to a game or a jersey costs the average fan a FULL DAY’S pay (& he rarely goes alone).

    Or that 99% can learn how to manage, save and invest their money. They can learn to take calculated risk and defer gratification. They can learn to work hard and persist and create and overcome challenges rather than to sit back watching reality tv and expecting other people to bail them out.
    Redistribution of wealth is more of a detriment to our nation than a benefit. It becomes a disincentive for people to achieve. Do you really think the wealthy are going to continue to create wealth only to have it taken away? Do you believe the not so wealthy are going to go out and find work knowing they really don’t need to since the government will provide for them?
    The answer to both of those is NO. The end result will be no one paying taxes because no one is working, and all those social services we’ve come to rely on will wind up being cancelled since the government won’t have the money to support them.

  12. r8rfaninokc says: Jul 10, 2009 2:23 PM

    SpartaChris: TMI did not say anything about redistributing wealth, the idea is to make a little less money by lowering the costs of a ticket and merchandise so fans don’t need to mortgage the house to go to a game or support their teams.
    In the long run more money will be available because of the increased sales of merchandise and tickets.

  13. SpartaChris says: Jul 10, 2009 3:34 PM

    @r8rfaninokc-
    I understand what you’re saying, but it’s still a redistribution of wealth. You’re still telling people to give up some of what they earned so other people can enjoy the same benefits. Granted this is supposed to be for folks to attend a football game, but the concept is the same- Take from people who earned it and give to people who haven’t.
    His example referred to a guy spending a full day’s pay to go to a game. My thought is if you can’t afford it, you shouldn’t do it. Wait until you can afford it and it doesn’t put such a strain on your budget.
    If you have to struggle to make ends meet, or as you put it, mortgage your house to attend a football game, you need to seriously reevaluate your priorities.
    As far as more money being available because of increased sales and merch tickets, I don’t know that to be true. Most teams (Not all, but most) aren’t having problems selling tickets to home games, so ticket sales aren’t suffering. Merch sales maybe, but again, most teams aren’t having problems selling merch. Sure, it would be nice if things were cheaper all around, but it wouldn’t have quite the benefit you make it out to have.
    Besides, the market will take care of those things if they’re found to be suffering. Simple supply and demand- If tickets and merch aren’t moving, prices will come down. Otherwise lowering prices won’t do much more than hurt the bottom line.

  14. MasterShake says: Jul 11, 2009 1:38 AM

    Union – full house
    League – four aces (biatch)
    We’ve already seen scrubs play (Leaf, Underwood, Romo -Ha) so who’s going to lose more? If the league wanted to set a serious example it will be a lockout, a long one. (that’s what she said) No matter how long the League goes into lockout mode, we’ll be back. We’ll be back.

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