MDS posted earlier this morning an item regarding the recent comments from Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who told the Boston Globe that he’s doing everything in his power to achieve labor peace by the end of the year.
Though Kraft is smart enough to figure out on his own the things that he should be doing, here’s what we think he could be — and maybe should be — doing to make it happen.
1. Build consensus among owners.
It’s great that Kraft feels a sense of urgency to get a deal done. He now needs to spread that vibe to at least 23 other owners, given that 24 of 32 must vote in favor of a new labor contract. And that means working the phones and sending e-mails and text messages and otherwise wearing other owners down until they agree that the time has come to make it happen.
With time of the essence, Kraft needs to proceed in pyramid fashion, recruiting other influential owners as captains for the cause, who then would call other owners until all 32 have been pushed toward getting a deal done.
2. Accept the union’s offer for a lock-in.
On Friday’s edition of The Dan Patrick Show, NFLPA spokesman George Atallah committed the union to a multi-week effort to meet in December in the hopes of getting a deal done before the end of the year. In response, the NFL has been far less unequivocal.
Kraft needs to get Commissioner Roger Goodell on the horn right now and urge him to accept Atallah’s offer, and to immediately block out two or three weeks between now and Christmas in, say, Philadelphia — a neutral midpoint (sort of) between NFL headquarters in New York and NFLPA headquarters in Washington.
Why a neutral site? It’s important that all parties be away from home during this period of intense bargaining, since it will supply not only the ability to focus on the situation but also the motivation to get a deal done so that they can embark on the process of meeting a man who lives in Tennessee, he was headin’ for Pennsylvania and some homemade pumpkin pie.
3. Encourage both parties to drop the rhetoric.
Both sides should immediately agree to quit the juvenile — and, at times, infantile — efforts to score points with the public and with the politicians. No one cares, and the rhetoric only creates roadblocks when the time comes to talk turkey at the table.
Even in the wake of a reportedly productive Monday meeting regarding the 18-game season, the two sides spent much of the past week sniping at each other.
It needs to end, or meaningful progress never will begin.
And how about this idea for a mutual gesture? Both sides should shut immediately down their labor propaganda sites, NFLLabor.com and NFLLockout.com, and the league and the union should agree to strip all talk of labor strife from their primary websites.
4. Come up with an acceptable revenue sharing plan.
The one issue that continues to threaten to throw a wrench into the talks is the manner in which owners will share, or not share, unshared revenues. Some think that the league’s goal is to take enough from the players so that revenue sharing no longer presents a problem. But it shouldn’t be that way. If the owners can put the good of the game above their desire to maximize profits and/or protect their turf, less money will need to be taken back from the players.
For both sides, one question remains: How much is enough? When they already have a lot more than the rest of us, Kraft is accurate when he says that the failure to fix this situation would be criminal. Indeed, the owners and players alike will believe that they’ve been victimized by Bernie Madoff once the Golden Goose starts shooting blanks.