When more than one person witness the same incident, chances are that more than one version of what was witnessed will emerge.
When the audience is in the hundreds, there’s a good chance that the perceptions will span the entire spectrum.
The perceptions developed by the folks attending Friday’s mandatory agent meeting in Indianapolis with NFLPA officials have diverged in some respects. The first word out of the room implied strongly that NFLPA executive director De Smith had given the assembled agents a dire forecast of the labor negotiations. As time passed, however, the opinions considerably softened.
Complicating matters was the perception by at least one agent that the meeting was “chaotic.” The agent in question, who like every other agent who has discussed the substance of the meeting requested anonymity, told Gregg Rosenthal that a “significant element of desperation” existed among the agents.
The desperation makes sense. As Alex Marvez of FOXSports.com explains it, the agents are facing the possibility of significant changes to their business, in the event of the application of a rookie wage scale that would render agent assistance unnecessary when negotiating the first contract.
Though that would directly impact the balance sheets of agencies like CAA, which routinely has the largest crop of highly-paid first-round rookies, an across-the-board rookie wage scale would devastate smaller agents who would have no incentive to front a player’s big-ticket pre-draft training expenses if the first opportunity to generate a fee doesn’t arise until the player signs his second NFL contract. Since the money will still be spent in a system with a hard salary cap and a hard salary floor, the agencies that are big enough to invest the money in young players and wait for the second-contract payoff will survive — and arguably thrive as other agents are forced out of the business via a possible seismic shift in the economics.
As to whether Smith said anything about progress on a rookie wage scale or any other issue, another agent told PFT by text that Smith “was careful not to discuss mediation, but it was clear to see the owners haven’t budged.”
The agent to whom Rosenthal spoke explained that whether any progress was made during seven days of mediation remained in the eye of the beholder. “It’s up to perception if they are close or not,” the agent said. “I think they are getting closer on the revenue split. I don’t think they are closer on the 18-game proposal.”
In the end, nothing that occurred on Friday alters the perceptions of the man who has presided over a full week of mediated labor talks. George Cohen said Thursday that “very strong differences” remain on the core issues. The question is whether the two sides can make enough progress by Thursday to result in an extension of the expiration of the current labor deal so that they can eventually make enough progress to bridge the various gaps before the implementation of a lockout.