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Three CBA problems, three proposed solutions

Goodell_Smith AP

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.

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24 Responses to “Three CBA problems, three proposed solutions”
  1. clawledge says: Feb 16, 2011 11:48 PM

    How about we stick with 16 games and add a Tuesday night game?

  2. egls7 says: Feb 17, 2011 12:02 AM

    Why can’t you be involved in all of this?? Sigh….

  3. anthonyfromstatenisland says: Feb 17, 2011 12:08 AM

    The major virtue of a 17-game regular-season schedule is that there is only one possible type of game the 17th game can be: An inter-conference game matching up teams that had the same division finish the prior year (first vs. first, second vs. second, etc.), between the divisions that faced each other in their entirety two years before (and will meet again two years after). Example: If this is done in 2011, the Eagles would acquire a game against the Chiefs, with the Chargers playing the Giants, the Cowboys playing the Raiders, and the Redskins playing the Broncos, because the NFC East and AFC West played each other in 2009 (and will do so again in 2013).

    The AFC would get all of the “17th games” at home one year, with the NFC getting them all at home the following year; that way, all teams in direct competition with one another for division titles, playoff spots and seeding positions will have played the same number of home games.

    And by the way, the NFL has played an odd number of games in the past: From 1937 through 1942, and again in 1946 (also having done so in the strike-shortened seasons of 1982 and 1987).

  4. alohamahalo1975 says: Feb 17, 2011 12:23 AM

    In broad strokes I think this is a good idea but let me offer up a few more points.

    The players union should ask

    While the profit and loss statements are very useful, the players association should be asking to see integrated historical and projected profit and loss statements, cash flow statements, balance sheets and the notes to the financial statements. The historical financial statements should be audited.

    The best way that I can see this working is if a select group of the players association members (to be determined by mutual consent) should be allowed to see the financials. They should also be allowed to have a consultant help them analyze the financial statements. Everyone involved from the players side should be required to sign confidentiality agreements preventing them from disclosing what information they had been allowed to see expect for the express purpose of negotiating the revenue split.

    The reason why I think they need to see all three financial statements (and the footnotes to the financials) is because the NFL has put forth a position that they have had to invest in things besides just ongoing operations (i.e. new ventures and capital outlays for things such as new stadiums) which would show up in the cash flow statements (and not the profit and loss statements). Also, the balance sheets and cash flows would be needed to see what sort of cash dividends have been paid out to ownership.

    Those are just my quick thoughts.

  5. aasukisuki says: Feb 17, 2011 12:34 AM

    I hate the idea of a 17 game season. With that proposal 1/2 of the teams already have an unfair advantage each year by having 1 extra home game and 1 less road game. For teams like Kansas City or Seattle, that’s HUGE. The only way to fix that would be to have 16 neutral site games (London, Mexico City, Toronto, etc) but those would have to be cross conference, non-rival games. The logistics would be nuts.

    I say leave it at 16 games, and cut the pre-season down to 2. If the league wants 18 games, they are going to have compensate the players for it and make a genuine effort to reduce player injuries (via technology & science, not rule changes which arguably cause more injuries)

  6. jaggedmark says: Feb 17, 2011 12:54 AM

    There is no solution.

    It’s Pigskingeddon

  7. cappa662 says: Feb 17, 2011 1:03 AM

    Good stuff. Only thing I disagree with is expanding the regular season. 16 games is already alot. After about 14 games, I’m ready to tune out the NFL. I know who the good teams are, and who the bad ones are. The good teams are going to rest their guys after week 14. The bad ones are going to put a bunch of inexperienced players on the field… and hope to get a high draft pick.

  8. arzcardinals says: Feb 17, 2011 1:06 AM

    3 preseason games doesn’t work for season ticket holders. You’d have to pay for 2 pre games while others pay for one. Forget that!
    I for one am pissed I have to pay full ticket value for two games at full price when I’m not given the full product.

    Next time you go to eat see if you are cool when you order the steak dinner and they only give you the sides and get to smell where the steak was on the plate.

    Don’t have season ticket holders paying full prices for inferior products.

  9. freedomispopular says: Feb 17, 2011 1:11 AM

    “…the major issues in [insert anything here] could be resolved quickly, if the two sides could find a way to focus on the problems.”

  10. paulnoga says: Feb 17, 2011 1:22 AM

    you do not get the main point of the Owners stalling until the CBA expires; the owners want Federal Judge Doty out of any happenings. In two more weeks he will be a non-factor.
    Then the owners will talk, but he will never again be involved in anything. he has been such a thorn in the Owners side, that nothing will be discussed until Doty is OUT.

  11. hobartbaker says: Feb 17, 2011 1:32 AM

    Good on you for cutting the “point” system down to a more managable number, Mike. We aren’t here because we have great attention spans. Feed us quick little snacks like this. No more of those 10 kilogram turkeys and pot roasts.

  12. johnn916 says: Feb 17, 2011 1:56 AM

    These solutions all lean in NFLPA favor.
    Here are some ideas:
    1. Re: books, the simple reality is that it’s a non-starter to demand them. It’s not happening. Not required by law. The mis-conception I see as a talking point by players is that owners are saying they are losing money. They are not. They want to increase profits for all through growing the pie by stadium upgrades and expanding market. The reality is that in this economy, financing such has been difficult and the league wants to solve this with more assistance to teams seeking new stadiums. Thus the solution is to increase the understanding of the players how this will increase revenues, ie. win-win.
    2. 18 game schedule means 2 more pay-checks for the players and increased total revenue, for which they get sixty percent of. The dirty little secret is that players will take this change.
    3. Rookie pay-scale is not too far apart and your proposal is actually further away than what is on table already by NFLP
    A. They can find middle ground here, it would take all of a few hours to nail down.

  13. sudzy11 says: Feb 17, 2011 2:57 AM

    Since the salaries of the players are technically paid only for the regular season then playing 17 vs 16 games represents a per game pay cut. And the owners want them to take even less total money? Who would agree to that? The biggest problem in these negotiations isn’t between owners and players. It is the owners whose only goal is to get more money for themselves to feed their egos not improve their team. The owners have to get their own houses in order before they can reach an agreement with the players.

  14. ez4me55 says: Feb 17, 2011 6:22 AM

    Why does any union think they have the right to know what the company makes? Let’s look at all the facts. Salaries have sky rocketed to the level that a game is out of reach for most fans. If an owner of a business wants to make a return on their investment then they are entitled to a reasonable profit. I was a member of several larger unions and we were never privy to the exact ledgers used for calculating profit and losses. And yes guess what we as the members also were responsible for their profits. We also got injured and had to provide our own retirement. What a concept, huh? Why do the professional players think they are entitled to anything more than the average Joe? I know myself that if this continues then I will stop in all ways of supporting NFL as I did baseball back when they went on strike for more money. I think enough is enough. Let’s take the money and put in our infrastructure……

  15. vinnie8019 says: Feb 17, 2011 6:49 AM

    Here is the story that I am hearing…Manning came to the table and stated that he “didn’t want to break the bank!” Manning was holding out for better team mates and wants a new OC (one who can get the plays into him in a timely manner). He wanted Polian to go out on the Free Agent market and spend some money that he didn’t want. Polian told him to be a QB and not a coach and it pissed Peyton off!!! the negotiations then became heated…highly heated. Peyton then stated “OK…I will act like a player and demanded a trade!!!” Polian needs to check his ego at the door and get him signed! Peyton wants a stronger line and a new OC and will take less money…seems like those demands are not that hard!!! Get it done and don’t have the entire state of Indiana on you Polian!!!!! Franchise tag was the only way to cool both sides!

  16. nooittall says: Feb 17, 2011 6:51 AM

    Your suggestion of having the players go to the owners and asking to let them see the book first is like a guy going to some girls father and telling him, “I ain’t going to marry her unless you let me #@*! her first”. Not going to happen. Their not that type of daddy’s.

  17. hooterdawg says: Feb 17, 2011 7:17 AM

    ez4me55 is far out of touch with the sports/entertainment industry. There is a big difference between blue collar unions and celebrity unions.

  18. chapnastier says: Feb 17, 2011 7:18 AM

    @ez4me

    I tried posting this once but it got deleted. You are right on. Why anyone thinks the union has any right to see the books is beyond me. I cannot begin to understand the ignorance and stupidity of the claim that they should or have to open them. It is none of their business and there are absolutely no legal obligations for the owners to do so.

  19. dietrich43 says: Feb 17, 2011 9:00 AM

    The Players and the Owners need each other. Together, they can make a lot of money, without each other, they make nothing. Both sides are looking to maximize their share of the pie.

    Both sides are taking risks. Players are risking their health and body. Owners are risking their wallets (although, it’s probably more like risking some of their wallet and a lot of money from investors).

  20. bydabeach says: Feb 17, 2011 9:04 AM

    It’s amazing what happens when you use a little common sense.

  21. FoozieGrooler says: Feb 17, 2011 9:17 AM

    RE: Owners profits, they’re raking it in. This is why they’re refusing to open their books.
    They netted more than $1 billion in profit in 2009, which comes out to over $33 million a team.

    RE: the 18 game season.
    In short, a bluff by the owners. The owners are already divided on a number of issues, including but not limited to; revenue sharing and the salary cap. So in an uncreative, transparent way, they are presenting a united front to the players and the public with the 18 game schedule. On the surface, 18 games means more football, more revenue, everyone wins.
    Not really. The players want nothing to do with 18 games. Further, they know the owners are not united, and are not buying this bluff. Neither should you.

  22. anthonyfromstatenisland says: Feb 17, 2011 10:18 AM

    aasukisuki: As I pointed out, if all the AFC teams have nine home games and all the NFC teams have eight home games (with those roles flip-flopping every year), no one has an unfair advantage.

    But neutral-site games won’t work: The NHL tried them a while back, and they failed miserably.

    And if the union has no right to see the books, they sure as hell have no right to dictate how many games count in the standings and how many don’t. They never did before (in 1978) – so what makes them think they have that right now?

  23. contract says: Feb 17, 2011 11:22 AM

    Who came up with the lame brained idea that a pre-season game was equivalent to a regular season game? The guys that play 75% of the snaps in the pre-season are either little used backups, or not on NFL rosters at all once the regular season rolls around.

    There is little reduction in the amount of punishment absorbed by starting NFL players by subtracting 1 or 2 or 3 regular season games … and it sure as heck wouldn’t make up for the beating those players would absorb by playing an extra regular season game or two.

  24. ez4me55 says: Feb 17, 2011 5:32 PM

    Hmmmm how is it I am out of touch with reality? I still stand by my original comment. It is with the usual thinking that it has gotten to this point, well that and greed… AT least that’s how my untrained eyes see it.

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