Ten things to know, right now, about the labor situation


Last month, we slapped together a snapshot of 10 things to know, as of the day on last month when we slapped it together, about the labor situation.

Much has happened since January 12, so it’s time to look as 10 things to know right now, now that we’ve slapped together 10 things to know.

And, yes, there’s some repetition.  But most of it is new.  And all of it is stuff that you need to know right now.

Starting . . . . now.

1.  A lockout is virtually certain at this point.

Last time around, we explained that a lockout would happen long before September.  It’s now clear, given the comments of NFL lawyer Bob Batterman and subsequent remarks from Commissioner Roger Goodell, that a lockout will begin on March 4.

Goodell says that 490 players due to become free agents on March 4 won’t become free agents absent a new deal.  Though Goodell has been reluctant to admit that free agents won’t become free agents only if the league implements a lockout, the message is clear.

Without an agreement, a lockout is coming on March 4.

There’s another reason to expect a lockout.  ESPN’s Chris Mortensen pointed out during a Friday appearance on Mike & Mike in the Morning that the league wants, as we’ve surmised, to escape the jurisdiction of Judge David Doty.  It will happen if the current agreement expires.  And if the current agreement expires, the league will implement a lockout, pending the negotiation of a new deal that wouldn’t fall under Doty’s umbrella if it’s finalized after the current agreement expires.

Of course, the union could agree before the current deal expires to an extension that would fall beyond Doty’s jurisdiction, but at this point we can’t imagine either side agreeing to anything without getting something in return.

2.  The union still has the ability to try to block a lockout.

During the 2010 regular season, the NFLPA embarked on a series of meetings with players from every team.  Systematically, the union obtained advance approval to decertify in the face of a lockout.

Derided by the NFL as a decision to “go out of business,” decertification would prevent the league from locking out the players by converting the NFLPA from a legally-recognized union into a collection of individual, non-union workers.  Some think that the NFL would challenge the maneuver as a sham, but such an approach would entail P.R. risks, since the NFL would be using litigation in order to force a lockout on the players.  Given that the NFL has repeatedly criticized the union for using litigation in place of negotiation, it would be a challenging exercise in double-talk for the league to resort to litigation against the union.

It remains to be seen whether the union will decertify.  If the union fails to decertify, it will prove that the effort was a ruse aimed only at making the NFL think that decertification could occur.

If decertfication happens, the league then would be compelled to craft across-the-board rules regarding free agency, the draft, and player salaries.  The union would likely respond by filing an antitrust lawsuit, arguing that the league consists of 32 separate businesses that cannot work together to place common limits on its workers.  (This is why the American Needle case was viewed as being critical to the labor situation, even though the facts center on marketing deals.  If the league had secured a ruling from the Supreme Court that it is one business, an antitrust claim based on labor rules may have been doomed from the start.)

We’ve heard that the union possibly won’t decertify because the union is concerned that the rules implemented by the league for a non-union work force would have a much better shot at withstanding an antritrust lawsuit than the rules employed after the failed strike of 1987.  If the union decertifies, files an antitrust lawsuit, and then loses the case, the players will be in a much worse position than they are right now.

3.  The owners still have an alternative to a lockout.

Just as the union may be bluffing about decertification, there’s still a chance that the owners are bluffing about a lockout.

It’s a remote chance, but it’s still a chance.

If a new agreement isn’t reached by March 4, the owners aren’t required to lock out the players.  The owners can declare an impasse and then implement the last, best offer as the new set of rules, pending a formal agreement.

In an appearance last month on PFT Live, NFL lawyer Bob Batterman made it clear that, absent a new deal by March 4, the alternatives will be imposition of a lockout or declaration of an impasse.

If the league declares impasse and imposes the last, best offer, the union then would have to decide whether to work under those rules, or whether to strike.  With the union repeatedly insisting that it won’t strike, some nifty P.R. moves would be required in the event the union decides to walk out in the face of a decision by the league to “let them play” under the terms of the NFL’s final offer.

Some think that the league prefers a lockout because the players at some point would agree to the terms of that last offer for several years beyond 2011, presumably after they miss one or more game checks.  By implementing the last, best offer, however, the league would be getting what it wants, at least in the short term.

Likewise, the league would be able to claim the moral high ground in the event of a work stoppage.  No longer would the owners be locking out the players; if football goes away for all or part of the 2011 season, the players would be the ones to make that happen.

Still, the players could strike at any time, like at the outset of the postseason or two days before the Super Bowl.

4.  The league is counting on a free agent uprising.

It’s widely believed that, once the players start missing game checks in September, they’ll fold the tents and cry “uncle” to their NFL sugar daddies.

The league has been trying, in hardly subtle fashion, to remind the 490 players due to become free agents that, for them, they’ll start missing checks in March.

Fueling the effort was Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who’d like to parlay his solid season into a signing bonus that will help feed the many mouths relying on him.  Cromartie’s strong comments brought into focus the fact that nearly a third of the league’s players will see their potential bonus checks delayed.  If, ultimately, the labor situation is resolved in August or September, few if any players will receive big-money deals in 2011.

Thus, if enough of the 490 realize that they’ll be hurt by an offseason lockout like all players will be hurt by an in-season lockout and if enough of them speak out, the union could end up facing a ton of pressure to get a deal done before the end of March.

5.  The player-acquisition process will be bass-ackwards.

In a normal year, teams have the opportunity to acquire veteran players via free agency or trades in March, weeks before the draft.

This year, an offseason lockout would make the draft the first, and perhaps the only, tool for adding new players.

So if a team enters the offseason needing a quarterback, the team may have to reach for one in the draft because there may be no opportunity to otherwise get one.  That said, the possible absence of team-managed offseason workouts and minicamps will make it even more important to find rookies who could walk right in and be ready to play in September — and who can be trusted to work out on their own without team supervision, until the lockout is resolved.

Either way, teams routinely use the draft as a way to address any lingering immediate needs after free agency and to build for the future.  In 2011, those immediate needs will be even greater in April.

6.  Fans need to wake up regarding the lack of an offseason.

We’ve heard plenty of folks in the media contend that fans don’t care and won’t care about a lockout until September, when regular-season games are missed.  On this point, those folks in the media just don’t get it.

The NFL currently has the most robust and intriguing offseason of any sport.  With the arrival of the current free-agency system in 1993, the NFL has made baseball’s hot stove league look like a used match in a bucket of rain water.

An offseason lockout would wipe it all out.  No free agency, no trades, no OTAs, no minicamps, no training camps, no preseason.  Nothing, with the exception of the three-day April oasis known as the draft.

So when August rolls around and it’s time to start putting together that fantasy draft board and you have no idea how to prioritize the players because there was no free agency and no trades and no offseason workouts and no buzz about who’s looking good and who isn’t, you can blame yourself for not making it clear to the league and the union that, for the fans, the process of disconnecting emotionally and financially from the game begins far earlier than the moment the first regular-season game is missed.

7.  The union arguably has nothing to lose by waiting.

When the NFL and the union issued a joint statement on Saturday, February 5 suggesting the that two sides were committed to doing a deal by March 4, we were encouraged.  For months, we’d been saying that a deal can’t be done until the two sides agree to the moment on which the clock strikes 12.  It previously was believed that the league considered that deadline to come in early March, and that the players were targeting a much later date.

For the league, there are plenty of reasons to do a deal before March 4.  Apart from the disruption to the normal offseason activities, it’s much easier to sell tickets and do deals with sponsors if the doors haven’t been padlocked shut.

For the union, there’s no real reason to do a deal now.  Sure, the money lost during an offseason lockout is money from which the union won’t take its cut, but that’s a shared burden, and it shouldn’t squeeze the union into doing a bad deal.

That’s the sense that’s currently emerging.  The NFL clearly wants to a deal.  But the NFL wants to do a deal on its terms.

Although the league claims that the goal remains to negotiate an agreement that the players will regard as a fair deal over the long haul, it could be that the league wants the players to swallow a so-so deal and simply to think it’s a good deal about which the players won’t complain for a generation or longer.  Thus, if the NFL wants to do a deal so badly, the only real leverage at this point that the players have is to wait.

Though the league has threatened that the deal will get worse once March 4 comes and goes, threats like that are made all the time.  The question becomes can the union do a better overall deal later than it can now.

In many respects, we simply won’t know until time passes.  As mentioned below, public opinion could be tilting toward the players.  Also, perhaps some of the pending legal claims will be resolved in the players’ favor.

Either way, the union gains nothing by doing a deal now, but for avoiding the potential outcry from the 490 looming free agents.  If those men can be placated, the union will be able to dig in.

And why shouldn’t they?  The current deal was deemed to be a good one by 30 owners five years ago.  Since then, the league has become more popular and more profitable.  In the end, it’s possible that management doesn’t think the league is making enough money.  It’s possible that management merely thinks the players are making too much.

8.  Revenue sharing continues to lurk.

When the current labor deal was negotiated in 2006, the owners squabbled over the issue of revenue sharing.  Basically, the NFL decided long ago to share core revenues like box-office receipts and TV money.  Over time, many teams have discovered  and exploited new forms of revenue that aren’t shared, like luxury suites.

Last time around, a debate raged over the impact that a player-compensation model based on total football revenues would have on the teams that generate relatively low amounts of total football revenue.  Bengals owner Mike Brown argued at the time that the new system could eat into his profit margin by raising his overall labor costs, since the salary cap and salary floor would be determined by the revenues generated not only by the Bengals but by high earners like the Cowboys, Patriots, and Eagles.

Former NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw insisted that the last labor deal include an agreement among the owners regarding supplemental revenue sharing, even though such an accord arguably was irrelevant to the union.  In the end, the owners did the deal, in large part because the teams found themselves squeezed by restrictive rules of the last year with a salary cap, which was set to launch if a new labor deal hadn’t been reached.

Today, the owners want to squeeze back, and they’ve done a great job of keeping under wraps the lingering disagreements regarding supplemental revenue sharing.  But multiple league sources have told us that a major potential fight among the owners regarding revenue sharing lurks just beneath the surface.

So how do the owners avoid that fight among themselves?  Ravens cornerback Dominique Foxworth nailed the owners’ strategy:  “Let’s take it from them.”  Mike Brown doesn’t care if Jerry Jones is making too much money; Brown wants only to be making what he deems to be enough for himself.  So by giving the players a smaller slice of the pie, Brown’s team will receive enough cash each year to offset the effect of high-revenue teams on labor costs.

With the union searching for viable pressure points aimed at getting a new deal done, the best strategy would be to expose the notion that the owners are simply hoping to give the players less money in order to permanently solve the problem of supplemental revenue sharing.  To the amazement of some owners, the union has yet to make that argument, and possibly won’t.

The union should.  We’re told that the owners hope to continue to keep their internal disputes under wraps, and then to work out a long-term solution to revenue sharing after getting the best deal possible from the players.

9.  It takes only nine owners to kill a deal.

It’s widely believed that a group of hard-line owners want to push the union to the breaking point and beyond, even if it means losing an entire season.

Though the number of owners who potentially feel that way isn’t known, it only takes nine owners to block any proposed deal.

Unlike the union, which can push a new agreement through via a simple majority vote, 75 percent of the owners must agree to the move.  With 32 owners, 24 votes are needed to approve an agreement.

And that means (abacus engaged) nine votes can keep the league from agreeing to terms with the players.

10.  The NFL is starting to bungle the P.R. war.

During the February 11 ProFootballTalk Live, a portion of the monologue was devoted to the question of whether the league could be starting to lose the P.R. battle with the players.

Here’s the condensed version.

For months, both the league and the union have tried to win the hearts and minds of the fans and the media via various public relations strategies.  And all of them have failed.

Folks who get it won’t be falling for the notion that the Commissioner is cutting his pay to $1, or for the efforts of the union to align with real unions that represent people who make far less money than pro athletes.  But with the news that the league stormed out of the room after the union reportedly made a reasonable opening proposal to collect 50 cents of every dollar that passes through the cash register, the pendulum finally has swung toward the players — even if it happened without the players trying to make it happen.

Coupled with the Super Bowl ticket fiasco, folks seem to be starting to turn on the owners, making everyone more willing to scrutinize everything the NFL is saying and doing in an effort to abandon a deal that, as of five year ago, the league happily embraced.

88 responses to “Ten things to know, right now, about the labor situation

  1. “Though the number of owners who potentially feel that way isn’t known, it only takes nine owners to block any proposed deal.”

    Need help starting the list?

    1. Jerry Jones

  2. Gee…..50/50…..Equal sharing?!? That isn’t fair!!

    The biggest problem is that the OWNERS can’t agree amongst themselves what they want regarding shared revenue. I am sure the big market teams (NFC East, Jets and Patriots) want a bigger slice of their own revenue. Why would those owner want to send THEIR money to Cincinatti, Buffalo or Jacksonville?

    Until the owners clean up thier side, negotiations will stay on hold. Once the owners KNOW what they are fighting for, then they can sit down and talk.

  3. tell the owners to hire scabs, see how many people are going to watch! do the owners real think the tv’s are going give 4 billion to show SCABS on tv!!!!!

  4. The league did not “happily embrace” the deal they made 5 years ago. They meant it as a sort of band-aid to let them figure out how to go about the next round of negotiations (that are going on right now). If you remember correctly, the owners didn’t .want this deal back then either, that’s why they added the opt out clause, which they then used. Everyone knew from day one that the owners would be opting out of the deal as soon as they were able. The current deal was only meant to be in place for a few years until they could figure out how to go about a new one. They time has arrived for a new deal, and no one still has a clue what in the hell they’re doing. Does the league even know what they want? They didn’t make a counter offer, just walked out.

  5. “Though the number of owners who potentially feel that way isn’t known, it only takes nine owners to block any proposed deal.”

    Need help starting the list?

    1. Jerry Jones


    If there’s a lockout some owners will likely still prosper by converting their football field into a dog track.

    Need a list of who those owners are?

    1. Dan Rooney

    …that is all…

  6. tell the owners to hire scabs, see how many people are going to watch! do the owners real think the tv’s are going give 4 billion to show SCABS on tv!!!!!
    People root for and watch the teams..

    There might be a small drop.. but not a huge drop.

  7. Is there any chance Tagliabue gets invited to help sort this junk out? I’m not one of those fans that thinks Goodell is crap just because its en vogue, but I do think Tags could be of benefit here.

    The only thing I’m qualified to evaluate Roger Goodell on is effort, and I certainly see that from him. So I’ll give Goodell the benefit of doubt untill I see reason not to. He is pro 18, and I am very, very much pro 18 as well. If there is anything I disagree about, its the games/talk of a team in London. that’s just silly.

    So lay of Roger fellow fans, he’s got plenty on his plate to deal with. More than our plates anyway, which is mainly logging on to websites to bitch and moan.

  8. SteelTown6 says:
    Feb 11, 2011 3:37 PM
    “Though the number of owners who potentially feel that way isn’t known, it only takes nine owners to block any proposed deal.”

    Need help starting the list?

    1. Jerry Jones
    2. Jerry Richardson

  9. You waffle back and forth so much it’s pathetic. This was a line from one of your columns yesterday:
    “Thus, an offer to take 50 cents of every dollar represents no concession at all.”

    Today you say:

    “….people who make far less money than pro athletes. But with the news that the league stormed out of the room after the union reportedly made a reasonable opening proposal to collect 50 cents of every dollar that passes through the cash register.”

    Your contradiction shows how much you hate the owners in this.

  10. “It takes only nine owners to kill a deal.”

    That is the problem 9 angry billionaires can destroy the game if they want to. 9 egotistical billionaires that want to make the players kneel can hurt everyone to satisfy their own ego. 9 pampered billionaires that don’t want to share revenue with the small market teams can make us all suffer. 9 self righteous billionaires can bring the entire league to a halt. 9 somewhat insane billionaires that need to feel like they control the NFL can do great damage to the NFL.

    Take your pick for whatever reason these 9 want to to disrupt the game they can. It seems like to much power to destroy the game in the hands of to few. They really should consider a more democratic process for approving labor agreements so the league is not held hostage by a few crazy owners.

  11. SteelTown6 says:
    Feb 11, 2011 3:37 PM
    “Though the number of owners who potentially feel that way isn’t known, it only takes nine owners to block any proposed deal.”

    Need help starting the list?

    1. Jerry Jones

    REALLY? Jerry Jones who spends wildly on FA. Who gives huge contracts to players on his team. He is the one who wants to block the deal? Jerry, the guy with the new stadium payents? He wants to block it? haha! ok, I guess that’s why you’re a Steelers fan… Go drink some Iron City and cry into your piss colored towel.

  12. Brett Favre is the puppet master behind the strings! Replacement players is the only way he will get another starting job and Super Bowl appearance!

  13. In the event of an impasse, and the players continue working, is a “work to rule” situation possible.

    Essentially, players would “attend” camps, but not play to win.

    Every game would become the Pro Bowl, with players not tackling, essentially.

    The “product”, as some owners refer to the NFL, would become sub standard.

  14. As crazy as it may sound to you and I, I don’t think the owners realize that without the players, the fans don’t care about the product. The fans buy ridiculously expensive PSL’s and season tickets as well as exhorbitant concessions to watch their favorite players play. Giving the players (who are the reason your league brings in $9B of revenue a year) at LEAST half of the earnings is fair. I think they should get more. I don’t see many fans walking around my neck of the woods with Robert Kraft and Al Davis jerseys on. Its all Black and Gold here.

  15. Must be nice to be a NFL player. Play the game you love. Get paid millions. (or league low 435,000/Annually). A lot more than most of the people that help pay that salary. Oh yeah and on top of that you get 59 cents of every dollar generated. I asked my company, can I get a cut of 50% of all revenue throughout the nation and you still need to pay my salary. Are you kidding me? I would give my ACL to get paid like they do and play what they play.

  16. How is 50/50 fair? How much money have the players invested in the league? And don’t tell me they invest their health. EVERY worker does that to some degree at every job. How many businesses run with a 50+% labor cost?

  17. Upshaw and Tags aren’t the end all be all here. They both knew when the last CBA was agreed upon, it would never live to see it’s final day.

    Herein lies another part of the problem, this is the first CBA for Goodell and DeSmith. Neither one wants to look like ‘the loser’ in the deal.

    DeSmith’s ego really concerns me, and his Napoleon complex.

  18. The bottom line here is regardless of posturing by the union the owners hold all the aces and will at the end of the day get what they want. The really sad thing is the people who are responsible for all the success of the NFL and the huge profits that can be made are the fans who support each and every one of the 32 teams and simply put they have no voice whatsover. In essense everyone who reads or contributes to this website and indeed all the others are being bent over the table and there is not a damn thing they can do about it.

  19. I agree the fans ne to wake up. Its are money their fighting over. Our teams are going to suffer for this.

  20. MLB killed it’s own hotstove by not having real revenue sharing a cap and a fair playing field.

    When 5 of the top 7 FA’s end up in Boston or New York why should 99% of the fans care or get excited?

    It’s gotten old and predictable. The best part of FA is when a guy goes exactly opposite of where you thought. Reggie White to GB for example.

    Sure,the Brewers got Greinke but if he were a FA open to any team do you think he would have come to Milwaukee for 8 mil a year? No..he’d be a RedSox for 17 mil a year.

    The Packers only lose FA’s because they don’t WANT to pay XYZ a year. The Brewers have no control over Prince. He is a Boras puppet no matter what Mil offers.

    The Packers and Steelers may not WANT FA’s but they have the financial ability to compete for them if they want to.

    Brewers and Pirates do not.

    As a Packer fan it’s playoffs-draft-camp. No reports of Mankins or Asomugha having dinner w/ Ted and Mike for Packer fans but I guess that’s ok. Winning titles makes up for a very long boring winter/spring.

  21. Screw Tags, bring back Zombie Pete Rozelle – he’ll fix this overnight……or starting eating their brains. Either way, it will work itself out.

  22. I forgot to add I don’t think the NFL hotstove is that great. Teams are so good at keeping their own that most of what ends up free is guys on the downside or players who were a pain in the ass to their former teams.

    I think we got spoiled the first 3 or 4 years but lately there are rarely more than 2 compelling events all off-season. Maybe one surprise trade during the draft.

    You will never see a 28 year old Adrian Peterson off a 1500 season a UFA.

    You will never see a MVP Tom Brady making 9 visits and hopping on private jets to visit facilities.

  23. Excellent job of putting the labor situation in layman’s terms.

    I think you’re getting over zealous with number 6 though. The offseason’s as of late have been quite boring. Besides Haynesworth, McNabb, and the many travels of T.O. what blockbuster moves have there been?

    You seem rather distraught over “no OTAs, no minicamps, no training camps, no preseason.” but besides some season ending injuries, that stuff is hardly a formidable filler for the real action.

  24. SteelTown6 says: Feb 11, 2011 4:10 PM

    jc1958cool says: Feb 11, 2011 3:45 PM

    “bring bach tagliabue, goodell (a.k.a.) pinnocio is the problem!”

    ..and Gene Upshaw.

    Obviously a squealer nimrod!!
    Gene’s DEAD!!! What are we gonna roll his casket to the F’n bargaining table?!?!??!?!?

  25. Oh pooh … guess we’re not allowed to put links to youtube in our posts anymore. We used to be allowed to put links to youtube in our posts. Sigh … maybe you guys should just post the list of rules of what we’re not allowed to do on PFT … if you have enough bandwidth to accommodate the list of all the things we’re not allowed to do … which I doubt.

    That was a funny clip. I don’t actually use that language, but I’d be willing to bet most of the guys posting hear have seen The Untouchables. I think they’d survive a 30-second clip of Robert DeNiro that included a couple of curse words. And of course, it would be their choice whether or not to click the link. I’m surprised they allow you guys out of the monastery to moderate a Web site.

    The NFL isn’t starting to lose the PR battle, Mike. Goodell lost that battle long ago with hardcore football fans.

  26. @psucowboy …

    Yes, Jerry Jones … the guy who has been trying to destroy the NFL’s longstanding revenue-sharing agreement–the one that’s enabled small-market teams to exist–from the moment he bought the Cowboys. I guess that’s why you’re a Cowboys fan: You know absolutely nothing about the league or its history. The only thing you know is that your owner spends money on free agents for your team and you assume anything anyone says about your owner must be incorrect. Try doing your homework.

  27. Packer fans should be very pleased about one thing as regards this labor situation. Green Bay has been paying INTO that supplemental revenue sharing scheme, while Zygi and the Vikings have been RECEIVING the money every year. That system is flawed and unfair, and is hopefully about to end. While it is true that the Packers have about 22 million more in revenue than the Vikings, (which is the basis for deciding who contributes) they have only 4 million in profit, compared to the Vikes at approx. 47 million (according to Forbes)-

    The dollar amt. to Zygi and co. is estimated at about 15 to 20 million per year from SRS.

    One example of the irritating result…

    Remember that unilateral raise Wilf gave to Favre?

    The Packers helped pay for that… more specifically, the Packer FANS helped pay for it.

    The Vikes are going to have a reduced capacity to try and buy legitimacy with other people’s money in the future, and that is a very good thing, probably even for the Vikings and their fans.

  28. I don’t really know why everyone is siding with the players. Heck, the owners are the ones that have billions of dollars of their wealth tied up and invested in the NFL which by itself is a risk.

  29. The problem with the owners is that there are some like Jerry Jones who try to maximize their revenue, and others like Mike Brown who is content to generate less revenue and looks to maximize profit by running his team on the cheap side. Jones doesn’t want to spend extra resources in an attempt to increase revenue, and then have to share it with the less ambitious owners like Brown.

    The problem with the players is that they have a limited career in the league. They want to maximize their earnings, and they have no reason to invest in the league since they won’t benefit from it.

    I go on the theory that in an argument between billionaires and millionaires, blame the billionaires.

  30. The old school owners built the league up from nothing, into a multi billion dollar business. They did it through decades of brilliant marketing, and shrewd business deals. They promoted the game to the point where television networks and advertisers are now willing to pay billions of dollars for the right to air the games. They invested millions more into stadiums and training complexes.

    The new school owners, paid hundreds of millions for their franchises. They too built new stadiums, clubs, and suites, in order to generate greater revenue. They financially support NFL Films, and the NFL network, in order to promote the league and the game. Many of the more forward looking owners have also invested extensively in their own production studios to further promote their product.

    These players leave school early, make millions of dollars, and are gone a few years later. They just step off of the bus, and get paid more in a year, than most of us make in a lifetime. Few put in more than five or six years. Most blow almost all of the money that they made, and are broke within a few years. They had nothing to do with building the league into the hugely popular game that it has become. They profit off of the lifetime of work that the owners spent building their brand, and their franchise.

    If I were an owner, I too would cringe at the thought of giving half of the INCOME to the hired help who have no overhead. But the players don’t have debt service for the franchise, they don’t have debt service for the stadium, they don’t have to build and maintain a practice facility, they don’t have to hire a coaching staff, a scouting staff, and a front office staff. They don’t have to pay for team travel, or training camp food. All they do is play football for a few years.

    If they want half of the PROFITS, then maybe we could talk. But I damn sure wouldn’t want to give them half of all income BEFORE expenses. The owners are right in this. They are entitled to earn a profit on the money that they’ve invested, and on the business that they’ve built. Try going to your boss and telling him that the workers want half of everything that the company takes in, before he deducts his costs and overhead.

    Yes….I’m pro ownership in this thing. It will be better for us fans, if the owners have more money to operate the franchise with. That will translate into a better experience at the stadiums where we spend our time and our money.

    The players would only squander or get fleeced out of the money anyways. All the cash ends up with car dealers, con artists, and ex wives.

  31. Still, the players could strike at any time, like at the outset of the postseason or two days before the Super Bowl.
    Nothing and I mean nothing would turn fans against the players any faster then this jump off a skyscrapper stupid move.

  32. Why are they even bothering? These talks have been planned for over a year. Neither side wants a sollution, they want a lock out. That is obvious. Is anyone really supprised. If there is a lock out the Union gets paid. If the lawyers have there way, they would have a lock out, so they get paid. If the owners have a lock out, insurance pays out. Everyone wins! Oh, wait! never mind. The fans don’t have a say, and don’t count, RIGHT? Say good-bye to the NFL as long as everyone gets paid at least one big one, big deal.

  33. Mike,

    In order to declare an impasse, don’t the owners have to convince the National Labor Relations Board that negotiating has truly stopped?

    And won’t that be difficult to demonstrate when the owners have just walked out of a meeting in which the players have made a significant offer?

    I mean, like it or not, everybody has to concede that when the players offered a 50/50 split, that was an offer to negotiate.

    Curious to see your response.

  34. SteelTown6 says:
    Feb 11, 2011 3:37 PM
    “Though the number of owners who potentially feel that way isn’t known, it only takes nine owners to block any proposed deal.”

    Need help starting the list?

    1. Jerry Jones
    2. Jerry Richardson
    3. Jerry Garcia

  35. 40% labor expense was my business’ red line for 35 years. 50% is too close to the nut to be able to invest in facilities, retire debt and take home something as a reward for all the risks you entail in opening your doors.

    Maybe if the players would be willing to provide their own training/medical staff & facilities, laundry and locker room amenities etc. they could have a bigger cut.

    Do a rookie salary pool and cap and the veteran players and owners can settle on something they both can live with.

  36. I still refuse to believe there is going to be an extended lockout or strike, especially one that drags into the summer. There is just too much money. Both sides have so much tied up in it. It’s player salaries. It’s TV revenue. It’s NFL network. It’s merchandise. It’s all of that and more. We’re talking tens of billions of dollars. I just don’t believe either side is stupid enough to let that happen.

  37. Big-market owners would probably never go for it, but a nice solution for the fans would be a collective money pot from the league. You take 50% of the pot or whatever the two sides agree on, divide by 32, and distribute that amount to each team. That’s each team’s salary budget for the following year. Can’t be exceeded, and leftovers just go into next years pot, so there’s an incentive to hit the max. The other 50% gets distributed back to the owners based on the percentage their teams contributed (ticket sales & incentive bonus based on ratings for games teams played in).

  38. For the owners to impose the last, best offer doesn’t there have to be a last, best offer? I haven’t heard of one.

  39. I can’t agree with the owners, but in reality these players make too much as it is. The burdens of the team are on the ownership, not the players. Name any other job where the employees get 50% of the company’s intake either.

  40. Broncosfan, you have a great proposal, but your first premise is totally wrong. Big Market owners would leap to the idea of keeping 100% of their share of their team revenues minus a league dictated salary cap!!! The two most profitable teams in the NFL are the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Redskins (my team). At present, all jersey type stuff and TV REVENUES go into one big pot divided equally between the 32 teams . Your proposal gives the big teams their due revenue, not the revenue-sharing model of the Rooneys and Maras. While JJ and Danny are on their knees praying to the Baby Jesus for their good fortune, the owners of the Jags, Chiefs, Bills, Bucs and PACKERS are trying to sell their franchises.
    Revenue sharing built this league, its demise turns into another sport. It’s baseball with shoulder pads, guaranteed contracts and the loss of hope for small market team fans.

  41. Why would the NFL fight decertification of the union. Couldn’t the owners then set salaries at $100K per year or something like that ?

  42. This was necessary because he is cheap and that needs to be talked about more often.

    “Bengals owner Mike Brown argued at the time that the new system could eat into his profit margin by raising his overall labor costs”

    This was not necessary but it’s hilarious.

    “The NFL is starting to bungle the P.R. war.”

  43. The commenters who are slamming the players for wanting 50% of the revenues by claiming that no company can be profitable by spending 50% of revenue on “labor expenses” aren’t really grasping the situation (and I know nothing about economics).

    The players aren’t just labor, they are also the raw materials and the product.

  44. BTW, does anyone ever raise hell about how much Anjolina Jolie or Bard Pitt make for a movie? For that matter, Charlie Sheen is the highest paid guy on TV AND has the porn stars, drugs and alcohol. No one questions any of these folks’ salaries and yet they are not debilitated by the pursuit of their “art”. This is all about the money and the NFL is a huge part of the entertainment industry. Comparing yourself as a football player to Aaron Rogers is the same as you comparing yourself as a singer to Bono. PeeWee football/high school chorus vs. Pro football QB/ Rock Star
    But if you are an NFL player, your contract is not guaranteed as in other major sports and you have a good chance of walking with a limp or dying young unlike other sports.
    To paraphrase Babe Ruth – these guys need to get as much as they can from the owners while they can. Look it up…

  45. In the current deal, the owners are allowed to deduct $1B from total revenue (to cover expenses) before the 60/40 split, so the players 60% is based off of $8B, or $4.8B.

    The players counter offer of a 50/50 split of total gross revenue would be based off the total $9M, and would be $4.5B, which is not anywhere near what the owners are looking for.

    The owners should counter that and propose including player endorsement money (and any other money the players get based on the privilege of being an NFL player) against their $4.5B, then let’s see who walks out of the room.

  46. Folks,,PLEASE do not fall for the owners propaganda……it is simple math….the owners get the same amount from TV money…that is the cap….Now, ticket money, concessions, (omg beer) parking, etc etc are gravy….folks,,,they pay the players with TV money,,no more, its the cap…some are mismanaged,,,in Philly the tax payers foot the bill for the stadium,,,then Laury sells the namimg rights to LincolnFinacial for something like $600 million for 15 yrs,,,,where did that $$ go….not to the taxpayers,,,,IN HIS POCKET…..the owners have so many more avenues for revenue,,,everything is sponsored..luxary boxes……how much $$ do they think they are entitled to

  47. You can’t compare the risks you face in an ordinary job to the physical risks that an nfl player takes on. The average american career, I can assure you, is far more than 3-4 yrs, which is the nfl average. That being said, the nfl average salary far outweighs the average career, as it should. When’s the last time 90,000 ppl showed up to watch someone change oil or fill out tps reports?! If the players want an increase in profit sharing, here’s an idea: how about they invest some of their own money in their team or in the league in general? Then, no one could argue their right to more profit, and they would have a stable income long after their playing days are finished. Sure beats blowing money on gaudy mansions, cars, and a whole lotta illigitimate mouths to feed. Just sayin…

  48. Most of the stadiums have been built with taxpayer dollars and given incredible tax breaks compared to most other businesses. New Jersey is still paying off the first meadowlands stadium that is no longer in use. They make a pitance on the new stadium The owners love waving LA to extort their local governments into paying for these palaces that 99.99% of the local people can not afford to go to. I am on the players side but mainly I am on the taxpayers side. No more stadiums paid for with public moneys.

  49. I’ve been reading for a week now that the NFL is starting to lose/losing/lost the PR battle. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I do know that when Congress fights it out over the budget in the coming weeks, we’re going to hear a heckuva lot of talk about unfunded union pensions.

    Right or wrong, unions are going to be dragged through the mud, and doing the math like I’ve read in many posts above, the overwhelming majority of Americans aren’t unionized.

    While the NFLPA isn’t on the hook for this sort of thing (other than not having a good pension plan), it won’t be hard for the spin doctors to channel some of the anger that’s coming towards the NFLPA. I wonder if De Smith has factored this into his strategy, because I guarantee that the NFL has.

  50. the only two owners to vote against the last CBA were Ralph wilson and Mike Brown – SMALL MARKET OWNERS. The guys at the top are good with the deal. I’ll guarantee the list starts with those two and includes at least 7 small teams – Minnesota, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Tennessee, and Tampa Bay would be my guess.

    I also was with the players until last week, when one of the union guys raved about how great they stuck it to the owners in the last deal. the union is losing any P.R. battles. I can’t stand Goodell, but DeMaurice Smith makes him look like a Mensa Grad.

  51. NFL teams should be owned by the cities as a public trust. The problem with the NFL is greedy, arrogant owners who think the game is about THEM.

    It’s NOT “The Jerry Jones Cowboys.” It’s the DALLAS Cowboys.

    As for cost, explain to my why teams have 30-50 high-paid executives. Some have up to 20 “directors,” each making probably $100,000 to $150,000 a year…to do what, exactly?

    The NFL has all kinds of tricks to make it’s “costs” look higher than they are…then blame the players for all the problems. Most of these kids have dedicated their lives to the sport, and are LUCKY if they get a 3 year career to go along with a mangled body. AND THEY ARE THE ONES WE PAY TO SEE.

    I do not have Big Head of Jerry Jones. I do not collect Jerry Jones trading cards.


  52. tonysiragusasbelt says: Feb 11, 2011 9:59 PM

    You can’t compare the risks you face in an ordinary job to the physical risks that an nfl player takes on. The average american career, I can assure you, is far more than 3-4 yrs, which is the nfl average.
    And anyone who thinks that it’s realistic to retire after even 10 years in the regular workforce at an average wage job unless they win the lottery is a moron. Point being, not a thing on earth prevents an NFL player from getting a job or starting a business, etc. when they can’t play anymore. Why should we have to feel sorry for them for “having a short career”?
    I have no problem with players taking the most money they can get in FA and what have you but I ain’t gonna cry for a dude who can make at worst 300K or something a year even for 4 years THEN still have another job for 30+ more years.

  53. @bluvayner

    “Yes….I’m pro ownership in this thing. It will be better for us fans, if the owners have more money to operate the franchise with. That will translate into a better experience at the stadiums where we spend our time and our money. ”

    I agreed with everything you said up until this. A lot of the money that those players piss away makes its way back into the owners pockets. Do you realize how much of the nations wealth these men already control? They don’t NEED more money. They will never go broke or hungry. They have more in liquid assets alone than anybody reading this will probably ever dream of making in 2 lifetimes.

    I’m not trying to insult anybody, but rather pointing to the fact that for these 32 men who own an NFL franchise, all they are doing is keeping score at this point. They don’t care about the players or the fans. They feel like they own them and us. Period. They think they can crush the union, and even if it means depriving us of a whole season of football, they’re going to try.

    I went anti-owner when I was made aware that they wouldn’t even consider opening the books to justify their position. The Jerry Joneses are afraid of what happens when people see just how HUGE some chunks of the pie are. Players would have all the leverage, and the fans would be stuck wondering why we pay so much for some things when there’s no doubt that most owners have always made more than enough money on their investment.

  54. The NFL’s problems have always been and probably will be this time is that their superstars are selfish. Look at the strikes in the other sports and you’ll find that the superstars put their weight behind the union and that put a lot of pressure on the owners to come to the table. All they’re doing now is what they did before and that’s wait for the Mannings and Cromarties to fold their tents and lead the other sheep back to the fold. If THEY hold out, the union can get a better deal but if they cross the lines like Danny White and Joe Montana then they have no chance of getting anything.

  55. Bob Batterman destroyed the NHL, in the short term, and severely damaged it for the foreseeable future.
    The ax is now on the neck of the golden goose!

    (anybody want to buy a whole wack of NFL memorabilia, stuff like hats, shirts, balls, you know.. stuff like that.. CHEAP!!)

  56. The players can cry me a river…. They are waaay overpaid now. I could care less that the average career is 3-4 yrs. Boo-fckn-hoo that they can get hurt. The backbone of this country, you know us working stiffs…. put our lives in danger everyday for what average nfl players spend on a weekend.

    Who wouldnt risk injury, and give their left nut to play just one play in the NFL…? Oh and you’ll make 3-400K for it…? please…!

    You dont see the NFL on the list of the 10 most dangerous jobs. You see, roofers, steel workers, coal miners, etc…. very few of these guys make even 100K/yr.

    Very few businesses could exist with a labor cost greater than 50% of revenue. Millions of us put on our belts everyday with greater risk than NFL players, & for pocket change compared to the average NFL player….

  57. Just like anywhere else big business and unions are the consumer looses!

    Say hello to even higher game and merchandise prices and more tax payer funded stadiums!

  58. Going to be a lockout. I will just walk away after a lockout. I still haven’t gone back to hockey, which I used to love, and even the baseball strike still bothers me a little. All over some money that the people on both sides don’t deserve. Especially the owners. (Maybe the league min guys deserve it, it is crazy effort and commitment) Not that they shouldn’t get it if they can and all but screw you, screw Patriot Place, screw the disgusting media outlets except PFT and its parent company NBC of course, who besides sports have no purpose beyong making people miserable, screw Goodell and his lady-partsing up everything like your typical effeminate suit, screw the extra games, there’s too many already for these bodies, and thinning it out will ruin it, not get more fans, though it will make more $ up front I think it’ll cost teams that arent NE DAL GB NYG PIT etc in the long run. Screw arguing over a billion dollars when you still don’t have systems set up to take care of guys who lose bodies and often minds to the game for 800k a year times 3 years minus half for taxes 15% for agents and crap, and the rest to gold diggers. Ugh. The Savage needs to go back to the reservation, or at least the lighthouse. Prolly a bar. Screw whoever read this too.

  59. “Anti-owner”? “Players will have leverage”? How is it that people think that they have a right to decide how someone runs their business? I own a business, and if one of my employees told me to show them my P&L statements, etc… or they weren’t going to agree to work for what I was paying them…? Goodbye!
    There’s enough great athletes out there (many of them current players) that would be more than happy to work for the more than generous salaries being paid by the NFL owners.
    Please… union decertify! Owners should pay the players what they are worth, and what they are willing to pay them (within a salary cap) within their own business model. Since when is it illegal or even wrong to have a business that turns a nice profit?

  60. The owners lost their high ground when they walked out on the union opening negotiations at 50/50. They immediately were willing to take 8.5% off the table, and the owners proved they’re essentially not even willing to negotiate. At least that’s how I see it, as a regular fan.

  61. beastofeden says:
    Feb 11, 2011 4:44 PM

    I think you’re getting over zealous with number 6 though. The offseason’s as of late have been quite boring. Besides Haynesworth, McNabb, and the many travels of T.O. what blockbuster moves have there been?

    You seem rather distraught over “no OTAs, no minicamps, no training camps, no preseason.” but besides some season ending injuries, that stuff is hardly a formidable filler for the real action.

    I don’t think you understand football beastofeden
    Think about what happens to every team who has a new coaching staff that without a CBA and offseason camps and OTA’s can’t begin to install their new offenses and defenses.
    Think about your team not being able to sign or re-sign ANY FA or make a trade.
    It takes time to learn a new system, lets say this drags out until august how does anyone sign a FA that has a couple weeks to learn the playbook and somehow gel with new teammates.
    The blockbuster trade aren’t what make a team better, it’s the unsung signings, the players getting timing down, the new guys learning the playbooks etc.

  62. The GOOD NEWS about a Lockout is Roger GODdell will reduce his salary to $1 … The BAD NEWS about that is GODdell is still OVERPAID

  63. nickynick04 says:
    Feb 11, 2011 8:46 PM
    Folks,,PLEASE do not fall for the owners propaganda……it is simple math….the owners get the same amount from TV money…that is the cap….Now, ticket money, concessions, (omg beer) parking, etc etc are gravy….folks,,,they pay the players with TV money,,no more, its the cap…


    The cap is not set by the TV money, it is set by TOTAL LEAGUE REVENUES. They changed the formula in the last labor agreement.

    The problem is that the total league revenues formula means player costs, which are divided equally, can rise for all teams when a high revenue team finds new revenues, which it does not share. Dallas finds new revenue, and puts it in its pocket and does not share it, but as a result, Tampa’s player costs go up.

    The teams are sharing player costs equally, but not sharing revenues equally. That means a small market team can be bankrupted by large market teams who find new sources of revenue. It’s a horrible formula for small market teams.

  64. Owners gave the players a cushy deal last CBA. Recession hits. Owners need some back. Here’s the deal: 53% players, 47% owners of “all ‘football’ revenue. Let me in that room. I’ll square this away in 30 minutes. Just will need a little help with a few bodies is all. Volunteers?

  65. Why can’t they just “FRANCHISE TAG” the current CBA and buy us another year to figure it out and get the REAL DEAL down?

  66. @btownsf
    I too own a busines and I agree with most of what you say. I don’t agree with you that the labor pool is overflowing with available and equal talent though.

    Of course any owner of their business wants to maximize profits and there is nothing wrong with that. But the NFL as a business is not immune to the ups and downs of economics. They (NFL)remind me a lot of the real estate market that just ramped up almost out of control and,as we have seen currently, got chopped back down to reality.

    The NFL has been flying high for a very long time – it’s time for a reset. Jerry Jones paid 135M for the Panthers in 1995 – they are reported to be worth 1.1B. Almost every NFL team has experienced the same level of growth. Wow, thats out of control. Time for a reset

    The size of the reset will be directly proportional to the Owners greed + the Players greed.

  67. To the NFL player divas – you are about to kill the golden goose with your gross greed and stupidity. Your over inflated sense of your worth is astounding. If you think for a second that the fans care about you personally, you are more delusional than I thought. We will continue to buy tickets, merchandise, and cheer for our teams regardless of the players wearing the uniform. The owners will break the contracts and then hire scabs and stock the cupboards with college kids and the fans will forget about you in a few years.

    I tried to ask my boss for 50% revenue stake and he just laughed and said he could find 5000 people in an hour willing to take my job for less cash. Perhaps you should realize that you’re not all that special!

  68. Interestingly, not a single mention of the 18-game schedule (or the rookie wage scale) in this entire article.

    I’m so fed up with the union’s arrogant, whiny intransigence in general, and over “Proposition 18” in particular (when the NFL went from a 14-game regular-season, six-game exhibition format to 16 and four, respectively, in 1978, did the union even have any say at all in the matter?), that I’m in a good mind to throw a party on March 3rd – and five seconds before 9:00 PM (I live on the West Coast), I’ll count it down: “Five, four, three, two, one … HAPPY LOCKOUT!”

    Then I’ll break into a rendering of “Auld Lang Syne.”

  69. The agents and lawyers are the ones I’d like to hang from the goal posts . These guys are the real reason I can’t afford to go to games.

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