After the players’ union decertified and sued and the league locked them out, most if not all NFL teams sent letters to fans and/or season-ticket holders regarding the situation. It was, by all appearances, a coordinated effort — indeed, it may have been too coordinated.
The second wave has begun.
So far, we’ve seen letters sent via e-mail from the Eagles to all fans and a letter from the Falcons posted at the team’s website.
Both letters continue the criticism of the players for walking away from the bargaining table after a “fair” offer was made by the NFL on March 11.
“We want to assure you that we want this resolved,” Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie and president Joe Banner wrote to season-ticket holders. “We believe we offered a fair proposal that would pay the players an estimated $19-20 billion over the next four years, 2 billion more than they made over the previous four. There would be no pay-cut for players, only a slowing in the growth rate of their compensation. The proposal included a wide range of other improvements for both current and retired players. Contrary to what you may have read, we offered to provide to a third-party accounting firm the 2005-2009 club-by-club operating profits, along with audited financial statements, so that the union would know the league’s profitability in those years and the number of clubs that have experienced declines in profits.”
Falcons owner Arthur Blank’s letter contains an eerily similar paragraph.
“During the last day of our mediated discussions on March 11, the NFL clubs put a balanced and fair proposal on the table in a good-faith effort to resolve our differences,” Blank wrote. “The proposal included payments to players of approximately $19-20 billion over the next four years, including a 14 percent increase from 2011-2014. In addition, there would be no pay-cut for our players – only a slowing in the growth rate of their compensation. The proposal also included a wide range of other improvements for both current and retired players. Further, we offered to share financial information that goes far beyond the requirements of federal labor law.”
Look for that same (or at least eerily similar) paragraph to show up in letters or e-mails or other types of communication from other teams in the coming days, as the league tries to strike a delicate balance between getting the fans on the owners’ side without making the fans too upset with the players, whom the fans ultimately will be expected to re-embrace once this all ends.
If it ever ends.