As the NFL trumpets the offer that was made to the players on Friday, several hours before the NFLPA opted to decertify and pursue the litigation route, a high-level source with one NFL team expressed relief at the players’ decision not to accept the proposal.
“Part of me was glad they didn’t take it,” the source said. “I can’t believe they walked away from it.”
The summary of the offer indicates significant concessions regarding player safety, an agreement to defer the debate regarding whether the regular season should be expanded, and an offer to use third-party arbitration for appeals of violations of the substance abuse policy and the steroids policy.
The summary doesn’t provide many details regarding the revenue split, which highlights that money was the primary sticking point — and that the league didn’t feel particularly compelled to boast about the specifics of the offer.
Still, how big of a sticking point was the money? When De Smith says that the gap as to the extra $1 billion that the NFL wanted to take off the top had dropped to $650 million and that the league wanted to split the difference (presumably to $325 million), that number needs to be assessed while considering the fact that the union gets only 59.6 cents of every dollar. Thus, if the owners would have been taking another $325 million off the top, the players would have been giving up only $193.7 million.
That money would have been easily recaptured via any of multiple strategies for growing the pie, such as selling the Thursday night package on the open market, adding two playoff teams per conference, or committing to the relocation of one or two teams to Los Angeles.
But the players became convinced they could get a better deal via litigation. That’s their right. And their strategy, if successful, allows football to continue.
That said, it sure seems like the two sides were a lot closer to working something out, if both sides really wanted to work something out. We don’t think the players really wanted to.