On Tuesday’s edition of PFT Live, Cardinals kicker Jay Feely said that the major issues in the labor dispute could be resolved quickly, if the two sides could find a way to focus on the problems.
On Wednesday’s edition of PFT Live, we devoted the opening segment to resolving the three biggest problems facing the league and the NFLPA.
First, the parties can’t work out a system for sharing revenue without the league giving the union more information about the profits that the teams are — or aren’t — earning. From the NFL’s perspective, the gesture becomes meaningless if the union will be inclined to second-guess the numbers provided, if the books were to be opened.
The bigger challenge comes from the disclosure of team-specific cost/profit information to the players, and to the other teams. The 31 franchises other than the Packers (who are publicly owned) don’t publish financial information, and they generally don’t want the fans, the media, and other teams to know how well — or not well — they’re doing and how wisely — or not wisely — they’re spending their money. Public disclosure of wasteful practices could make it much harder to squeeze more money out of the public coffers when the time comes to build and/or maintain stadiums.
But with the league wanting to roll back the amount of money the players make and with the players unwilling to do so without justification and with justification flowing only from the financial information and with the league refusing to provide the financial information, the two sides already are at impasse.
So why not get a little creative? The league and the union should agree on an independent accounting firm that would prepare verified profit reports for the past five-to-10 years, and the profit information would be shared with a very small handful of representatives from the two sides, who would be given the authority to negotiate a revenue-sharing arrangement based on the financial information. Such an approach not only would protect the confidentiality of the information but it also would strip away some of the personalities that currently are impeding the process.
As to the concept of the 18-game season, we’d add one regular-season game, one regular-season bye, and cut the preseason to three games. Starters would be prevented from playing in the third preseason game, and the week before Labor Day would be another off week for all players.
This would give the league what it apparently wants — two more weekends of regular-season football to be televised on Thursday night, Sunday afternoon, Sunday night, and Monday night. It also would provide 16 games per year that could be played in cities that don’t currently have NFL football, both inside the U.S. and beyond our borders. And while it would increase the players’ exposure to additional injury by one game, that’s half of what the league currently wants.
As to the rookie wage scale, we’ve recently made a full-blown proposal aimed at addressing the problem. The league’s proposal apparently goes too far, locking rookies up for too many years and also not giving players drafted beyond the top 10 a chance to cash in when they play well.
Regardless of whether our proposals gain any traction, the process of coming up with ideas shows how quickly the core issues can be addressed, once the parties commit to addressing them.
Now, if they’d only commit to addressing them, we can get on with free agency.