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Ten things to know, right now, about the labor situation

GoodellSmithCongress AP

Several weeks have passed since our last 19-item look at the labor dispute.  Since there’s exactly a month to go until the draft and no significant developments expected over the next 10 days, we decided that it made sense to provide a fresh snapshot of the most important issues and takes relating to the mess that threatens to mar the rest of the offseason, and beyond.

1.  April 6 looms large.

On March 11, the NFLPA decertified, and the NFL responded by locking out the players.    Decertification included a lawsuit aimed at blocking the lockout, specifically with a request that the court lift the lockout now, while the lawsuit unfolds.

The hearing will happen on April 6, in a Minnesota federal court.  At some point after the hearing ends, Judge Susan Nelson will issue a ruling.  The party that loses will file an emergency appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, and possibly to the U.S. Supreme Court.

At some point, likely before June 1, the process will be finalized.  If the players win, the lockout will end.  If the league wins, the lockout will continue.

Though it’s in the fans’ interests for the players’ position to prevail, a far better outcome would be a negotiated compromise that lays the foundation for a return to long-term labor peace.

2.  League apparently doesn’t want to negotiate.

After the players decertified and sued, the NFL seemed to be ready to keep talking, and the players seemed to be dragging their feet.  Then, after the NFL filed its 49-page written response to the motion to lift the lockout, the players seemed to be ready to talk, and the league seemed to be dragging its feet.

At this point, the NFL is hiding behind semantics.  The league wants to continue “collective bargaining,” and the players want to engage in settlement talks regarding their lawsuit.

The reality?  It’s the same thing.  Although, as NFL general counsel Jeff Pash recently told Judy Battista of the New York Times, the league doesn’t want to negotiate a settlement agreement because ensuing CBA would be subject to court oversight indefinitely, the parties could agree as part of their negotiations that it wouldn’t be.

In the end, then, it’s a distinction without a difference.  In our view, the league doesn’t want to talk because the league believes it will defeat the motion to lift the lockout.

The league has every right to let it ride.  But, please, spare us this nonsense about being ready to immediately return to negotiations when, in reality, you’ve decided that you think you’ll win in court.

3.  The core of the problem.

The parties disagree primarily regarding revenue.  The heart of the revenue debate arises from the fact that the players have been receiving roughly 50 cents of every dollar that goes through the cash register — and that the owners have decided that, as the dollars reach ten billion annually, the rent is too damn high.

Recently, we offered some suggestions for bridging the gap.  Regardless of whether the parties use one or more (or none) of our ideas, the goal will be to find a way to make both sides happy.

Or, at a minimum, equally unhappy.

4.  The role of NFL Alumni.

An unfortunate collateral issue has arisen regarding the interactions of the group known as NFL Alumni with the NFLPA*.  Funded in large part (if not exclusively) by the league, NFL Alumni has generated significant suspicion within the NFLPA*.  That suspicion apparently boiled over last week, when NFL Alumni executive director George Martin had a heated meeting with the NFLPA*.

The dispute has low direct relevance to the labor dispute.  For now.  But if the fight morphs into a perception that the current players don’t respect the former players, fans could turn on the current players.  That’s why it’s important — as to both the current players and the league (which eventually will want the fans to accept the current players again) — for the current players to find a way to make sure the media and the public understand that NFL Alumni is, essentially, a Trojan horse.

If it indeed is.

5.  The lawyers take over.

From Robert Kraft to Mike Vrabel to Fran Tarkenton, a strong sense has emerged that the lawyers need to take a back seat to the business people.

Unfortunately, it could be too late.

Once the union decertified and filed an antritrust lawsuit, the lawyers took the wheel.  And with David Boies running the show for the league, the attorneys are playing a game of chicken that, in the end, only they may win.

Regardless of the damage done to the owners, the players, the fans, and/or the sport, the lawyers will get paid.  And the longer this lasts, the more money they’ll make.

6.  The Brady case could change the game dramatically.

The players generally believe that the antitrust lawsuit filed with men like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Drew Brees serving as named plaintiffs has one primary goal — to end the lockout.  And they’re right.

But.

The allegations in the lawsuit also attack time-honored tools for ensuring competitive balance, like the salary cap, the franchise tag, and even the draft.

Let’s assume, then, that the lawyers continue to drive this bus toward the cliff, earning hundreds of dollars per hour along the way.  If the players’ lawyers prevail, the end result will be an NFL with no rules of any kind that apply to the 32 teams.

No draft.  No limits on free agency.  No limits on compensation.

That comes with a risk.  With no union to protect their rights — and no mandatory minimum salaries — certain players will be paid peanuts.  Long snappers will be lucky to get six figures.  Punters, kickers, and plenty of second-stringers will see their total dollars go down.

Stars, on the other hand, will make even more.  Eventually, five percent of the players could be making 95 percent of the money as teams budget to pay their big-ticket players and make up the difference by squeeze the vast majority of lunchpail guys who have benefited from collective bargaining.

Thus, if the players win the battle on April 6, the players and the fans will benefit.  If the players win the war, however, everyone will lose.  Except for the star players, and their agents.

And the lawyers.

7.  “Family” will take on new importance for the rookies.

Two weeks ago, a report emerged that the NFLPA* wants incoming rookies to “boycott” the draft.  The NFLPA* insists that no “boycott” is planned.

Still, the NFLPA* and several high-profile players have made their feelings known.  Rookies shouldn’t support an event conducted by the entity that’s locking out the rookies and every other player.

It’s unfortunate, given that several veteran players haven’t batted an eye when it comes to getting some lockout face time on the league-owned broadcast operation.  But the incoming players seem to be taking heed of the not-so-subtle admonition, which could morph into a full-blown problem once they join their teammates in the locker room, and their foes on the field.

So look for plenty of players to choose to spend the day with family, in lieu of going to New York and finding themselves in the middle of a tug-o-war between the draft and whatever competing event the NFLPA* may be contemplating.  It’s the safest approach under the circumstances and, in the end, there’s a chance that only a handful of players will show up.

8.  Why the players deserve blame.

Some fans blame the players for the mess we’re all currently in.  Some fans blame the owners.  Others blame both.

Put us down for both.

The players pulled the plug on negotiations and opted for litigation even though the owners put on the table an offer that provided a reasonable starting point for further talks.  Though it wasn’t “fair” in the sense that the players should have accepted it, we think the offer provided a “fair” framework for further talks.

That’s why NFLPA* executive director DeMaurice Smith repeatedly has called the offer “the worst deal in the history of sports.”  He and the players needed to justify the decision to short-circuit the bargaining process and to initiate the litigation option.  The best way to do so was to call the offer a horribly, and historically, bad one.

It wasn’t.  The NFL made multiple key concessions on non-economic terms.  Though the revenue side of the deal needed work, the players could have kept working.  Instead, they apparently had already decided to decertify and sue.

As to the lawsuit, and as mentioned above, it could dramatically change the sport as we know it.  The paperwork filed by the players pushes for an end to the draft and a scuttling of all restrictions on free agency.  Though the players may have included those allegations for leverage only at this point, the claims can take on a life of their own.  In time, if the players have some success, they could push for an NFL in which there are no rules from team to team, which potentially will strip from the sport the sense that, in any given year, any given team can win it all.

And that could diminish the overall interest in the league.  Which could decrease the popularity of the sport, along with the revenue it generates.

All because the players decided not to keep talking.

9.  Why the owners deserve blame.

Of course, the players decided not to keep talking in large part because they believed that the owners were disrespecting them at the bargaining table and beyond.  From the antics of the two Jerrys — Richardson and Jones — to the long stretches of thumb twiddling that, amazingly, mediator George Cohen didn’t notice and/or didn’t explain and/or didn’t try to remedy to the “lockout insurance” case, the owners accomplished their goal of frustrating the players too well.

It never should have been that way.  The owners should have treated the players like men, giving them the face time with the key decision makers that they wanted, and at all times treating them with dignity and respect.

The owners also shouldn’t have allowed themselves five years ago to be bullied into doing what turned out to be a bad deal.  But with teams pressed tightly at the time against the salary cap as the onerous rules of the last capped year were approaching and with the late Gene Upshaw proclaiming that, if in 2007 the salary cap went away it would never return, the league blinked, buying time via a bad deal that, as legend has it, former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue wanted to do so that he could retire.

But it’s not fair to blame Tagliabue.  In the end, 30 owners agreed with the former Commissioner, whose successor was in the thick of the last CBA, but who somehow has avoided any blame for the bad deal the NFL did.

Bizarrely, the league instead seems to be angry at the players for getting a good deal for themselves, and some owners appear to be hell bent on tilting the scales sharply in the owners’ direction.  Though the league claims that it merely wants to do a deal with which everyone can be happy over the long haul, we get the feeling that the league also wants to determine for the players the terms of their happiness.

“Trust us” simply doesn’t fly in any sophisticated, high-stakes relationship.  The league claims its not as profitable as it would like to be.  Fine, then open the books.  It’s that simple.

No one believes that anyone who has a spoon in the $9.3 billion stew is hurting in any way financially.  If the owners want the players to believe it, the owners have to prove it.

Instead, the owners believe they can shut down the sport until the players don’t care about the owners’ finances.  Come September, the players will be sufficiently worried about their own.

And that’s really what the league is up to here.  The players get paid too much and their careers are too short to skip a year entirely.  So the NFL wants to twist their arms until they cry, “Uncle.”  Moving forward, it won’t be a matter of the players being “happy” with the deal.  It’ll be a matter of the players realizing that they’re making good money, and that the consequence of taking a stand means they’ll be making none.

10.  The fans are being taken for granted by both sides.

Both sides desperately want the fans to be on their side.  Thus, both sides will say how much they care about the fans.

Previously, we’ve said that they don’t care about us.  We need to revise that a bit.  They do care; how can they have no affection for a group that gives them so much money?

The better description is that they’re taking us all for granted.

They, the owners and the players, quietly assume that, when it’s all over, we’ll be back.  Some may even assume based on record ratings that absence will make the heart grow even fonder.

Either way, the parties currently have no fear that the fans will abandon the game.  And they’re probably right.  But that doesn’t make it OK for the two parties to presume that we’ll be here waiting with our cold, wet noses pressed against the window, periodically wagging our tails at signs that our master could be home soon — and periodically yelping at the fact that he hasn’t arrived yet.

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67 Responses to “Ten things to know, right now, about the labor situation”
  1. lonespeed says: Mar 28, 2011 9:24 AM

    “The better description is that they’re taking us all for granted.”

    And hopefully the fans will make them realize just how great of a mistake they’ve made. No one thinks the fans will walk away. No one thought VCU and Butler would be playing in the Final Four either.

    Fans have more collective power than they think. Just because it’s difficult to do doesn’t mean the fans shouldn’t do it.

  2. molehillsmountains says: Mar 28, 2011 9:25 AM

    I don’t think is it so clearly in the fans interest for the players to prevail. Ticket costs keep rising in part because player salaries keep rising. I would gladly give up football for one season in exchange for seeing ticket/merchandise costs rise at a more subdued pace. It does seam to be in the media’s interest for the players to prevail, though…

  3. shiftyshellshocked says: Mar 28, 2011 9:26 AM

    c’mon man i’m sick of this.

  4. xxwhodatxx says: Mar 28, 2011 9:27 AM

    I only want to know one thing about the lockout…when it’s over

  5. ukdude7 says: Mar 28, 2011 9:30 AM

    One thing I want to know is why the whole of the media has decided to nickname it Brady vs the NFL/The Brady Case?

    Is there a real reason for this or is it just another example of the media’s darling Peyton and how the media couldn’t possibly risk sullying the Manning name in case some mud sticks to the first family of football in the history books?

  6. vadog says: Mar 28, 2011 9:33 AM

    You are absolutely right…both sides are taking the fans for granted. Well, this is one fan who is not going to wait around for April 6 or June 1st for a resolution. If the two sides don’t return to the negotiating table by Wednesday of this week, I’m walking away and I am NOT coming back!!!!

  7. jutts says: Mar 28, 2011 9:36 AM

    This whole thing is getting rediculous. If the owners don’t open their books this thing will never be over.

  8. tecmobowl34 says: Mar 28, 2011 9:40 AM

    so sick of fans acting like abused puppies in this. not one game has been missed. there’s a ridiculous amount of money to be divided and both sides are arguing their cause. it’s complicated.

    fans need to stop acting like they wouldn’t be stubborn if they were either a player or an owner. oh, if you had $50M, you wouldn’t argue for $10M more…

    yeah, you would. and if you wouldn’t, you’re stupid.

  9. savocabol1 says: Mar 28, 2011 9:43 AM

    I really want to understand why you keep mentioning the fans and whose side they should be on. Last I checked the fans have no say whatsoever in these negotiations. It doesn’t matter who the fans agree/disagree with. Our say does not matter.

  10. grpatriot says: Mar 28, 2011 9:46 AM

    Interesting that the players decided to litigate and then say, “Let’s have a face to face!”
    I thought the only option now was to settle?
    Lawyers are and will be involved now, there’s just no way around it..

  11. duanethomas says: Mar 28, 2011 9:48 AM

    I don’t think is it so clearly in the fans interest for the owners to prevail. Tickets prices keep rising in part because owners want shiny new stadiums. I would gladly give up football for a season in exchange for seeing ticket/merchadise cost rise at a subdued pace. It does seam (seam..lol) to be in the media’s interest for the owners to prevail, though….

  12. midniterambler7 says: Mar 28, 2011 9:48 AM

    I want to say i’m fed up. I want to say I’m sick of reading about this stuff. I want to say I am becoming more and more disinterested. I want to think that I am not one of those waiting with my nose pressed against the window… However, hear I am, reading another deatiled labor dispute article, posting a comment.

  13. chapnastier says: Mar 28, 2011 9:49 AM

    “The league has every right to let it ride. But, please, spare us this nonsense about being ready to immediately return to negotiations when, in reality, you’ve decided that you think you’ll win in court.”

    When the league states that they want to negotiate, someone would have to be a complete moron to think that they would do it before this suit is either dropped or won by the league. The players walked away from a fair proposal and filed this suit. What is lost in all of this rhetoric is that the owners have given in to nearly every demand with the exception of the 10 years of intrusive and irrelevant finances. You can type of some good paragraphs and opinions to spin it any way you want but the truth is still the truth.

    The players walked away from the table, probably behind Drew Brees as he flipped the owners the finger and as a result took this route. Now the owners are letting it play out the way the players want it to. While the owners share some of the blame they certainly done far more than the players in terms of coming to an agreement. Just look at the PR effort by the players. It is all slanderous lies. The owners PR effort consists of professionally thought out and reasoned arguments and at no time do they defame the players.

    Wake up.

  14. paul82461 says: Mar 28, 2011 9:49 AM

    99% of all jobs give you a salary, if you dont like it you leave. Now is the time to get rid of the Union. The players have agents for a reason, to negotiate their OWN contracts. Owners are there to make money, thats the point of owning a bussiness. If you dont like it go to the Arena league and make 100 times less.

  15. hendawg21 says: Mar 28, 2011 9:51 AM

    Ok several reasons we are where we are…

    1. There are lawyers involved
    2. Greedy Billionaires
    3. Greedy Millionaires
    4. Ignorance on all listed on 1-3

    It’s quite evident that neither cares about it’s public image and or the repercussions that may follow once they’ve settled their dispute.

    As a fan who held his season tickets for over 13 years and listening to all the bs rhetoric from both sides I figured enough was enough, didn’t renew and could care less either way anymore.

  16. realitypolice says: Mar 28, 2011 9:56 AM

    molehillsmountains says:
    Mar 28, 2011 9:25 AM
    I don’t think is it so clearly in the fans interest for the players to prevail. Ticket costs keep rising in part because player salaries keep rising. I would gladly give up football for one season in exchange for seeing ticket/merchandise costs rise at a more subdued pace. It does seam to be in the media’s interest for the players to prevail, though…
    =============================

    How many times does this have to be explained to you before you understand it?

    Player salaries are tied to revenue. When revenue goes up, player salaries go up. When revenue goes down, player salaries go down.

    Neither side disputes this.

    Thus, the players’ salaries rise AFTER ticket prices rise, BECAUSE Ticket prices rise. Not the other way around.

    Ticket prices rise because you continue to buy tickets. Simple supply and demand. If you stopped going, ticket revenue would go down, player salaries would go down, and eventually owners would have to lower ticket prices.

    That’s how things work in a free market economy.

    YOU set ticket prices, and merchandise prices. YOU control the size of the pie the two sides split.

    If a new CBA came out that lowered player salaries by 50%, that would not necessarily mean lower ticket prices. Only unsold tickets can accomplish that. If you are willing to keep paying $100, why would the owners charge $99?

    This lockout could last five years and it would have no effect on the rate of escalation of ticket and merchandise prices regardless of who wins the case- UNLESS YOU STOP BUYING THE PRODUCT.

  17. thompgk says: Mar 28, 2011 9:56 AM

    The only fans that are losing right now are losers that play fantasy football and do mock drafts.

    Until football is missed the fans are just fine and probably going to watch some baseball and basketball this year.

    Also, can we end the NFLPA*. It was fine when you first mentioned it, now its just annoying. If the word union was in the name, then the * makes sense.

  18. oldbyrd says: Mar 28, 2011 10:06 AM

    Last week a guy named ( i think it was ) Lerner, who was once a big shot in the Union stated ” The Unions are on their way out” I hope he’s right.

  19. dchuwo says: Mar 28, 2011 10:13 AM

    Hey everyone, you know who has the strongest position of all? The fans. If we didn’t watch on TV, pay ridiculous PSL’s (think about how ridiculous that is, paying a fee to have tickets), ticket prices, stadium concession prices, merchandise prices, etc., the owners and players lose what they are battling over, 9.3 billion dollars. We cannot keep pointing at the owners and players as the problem when we, the fans, are the real problem. Of course, the owners and players rightfully know the fans will keep feeding the beast so don’t expect them to change when we don’t change. Remember this the next time you pay that PSL, pay for your season tickets, buy that overpriced jersey, etc.

  20. mick730 says: Mar 28, 2011 10:14 AM

    ” If the two sides don’t return to the negotiating table by Wednesday of this week, I’m walking away and I am NOT coming back!!!!”

    I’d say you have an exaggerted sense of your own importance. Nobody cares what you do.

  21. wtfru2 says: Mar 28, 2011 10:37 AM

    As Fran the man says get the lawyers out of it.

    Have you heard that a bus load of attorneys went over a cliff? There was good news and bad news,

    The good news is 40 of em died.

    The bad news was there were 5 empty seats.

  22. gtfan says: Mar 28, 2011 10:41 AM

    It’s called Brady vs. NFL because Brady was first in the list of named plaintiffs when the players filed suit, i.e., it was the players (well, their attorneys), not the media, who named it Brady vs. NFL.

    ukdude7 says: Mar 28, 2011 9:30 AM

    One thing I want to know is why the whole of the media has decided to nickname it Brady vs the NFL/The Brady Case?

    Is there a real reason for this or is it just another example of the media’s darling Peyton and how the media couldn’t possibly risk sullying the Manning name in case some mud sticks to the first family of football in the history books?

  23. bfieldlion says: Mar 28, 2011 10:43 AM

    The players probably should’ve extended negotiations for another week to see if any progress could’ve been made on the financial front. My guess is that the league made concessions on the non-economical front so they could say “See, see! We gave and we gave. How dare they walk away!” knowing full well this was the avenue they were headed. But I’m sure gittin’ rid of dem unions will not only solve the current labor impasse but also weave a stronger fabric to aid in the resurgence of America. Right?

  24. whags334 says: Mar 28, 2011 10:43 AM

    I have an idea. If there is a good lawyer reading this article, please file a class action lawsuit against the NFL on behalf of the NFL Season Ticket Holders for I don’t know, say 9,000,000,000 dollars. That breaks down to about 5k for each season ticket holder. We are the ones that have built the NFL up to the current state it is in, without us there would be no NFL.

    This matter is killing many teams that were on the brink of turning their team into playoff contenders. Now, regardless of what happens, none of these teams will be able to plug any of the holes in their team through free agency. So, for the fans of those teams, it is already a lost season!

  25. benh999 says: Mar 28, 2011 10:44 AM

    The players don’t really win. Even if they get the lockout lifted, they will get unrestricted free agency for anyone not under contract, no salary cap, no franchise tag, no draft, etc.

    The result will be a game that will be less competitive, the Cowboys will win the Super Bowl every year, and the pie that the players wanted a bigger piece of will shrink over time anyway.

  26. cletusvandam says: Mar 28, 2011 10:44 AM

    Honestly, bring on the replacement players. Let anyone that is interested tryout reality tv style. Look how popular crap like American Idol is, an NFL version would set rating records.
    Plus no overpaid, spoiled, me-first, ignorant athletes that have had everything in life handed to them because the can run fast to deal with. Until they come crawling back that it.

  27. fltharley says: Mar 28, 2011 10:45 AM

    i hope the fans walk away and leave the owners high and dry . would be nice if they couldnt split 9.2 billion dollars and , that the next split would be 4 billion id love it, im done with football. there is to much greed for this to keep growning. and i dont want roger goodell football the owners want to turn it into a track meet and make season longer so they can get more money, i think both sides should look at the reality. the economy sucks how can they think they can squeeze more out of fans.

  28. moggy6actual says: Mar 28, 2011 10:48 AM

    In item #1 you state: “Though it’s in the fans’ interests for the players’ position to prevail”

    Response: It’s in the fans’ short-term interest for the players’ position to prevail. It goes against the fans’ long term interests for the players to prevail exactly because of what you state in #8 “And that could diminish the overall interest in the league. Which could decrease the popularity of the sport, along with the revenue it generates.”

    Response to #2 – In the end, the owners can outlast the players in regards to paying the legal bills.

    Response to #4 – NFL Alumni are probably carrying water for the league, but players should realize they will sooner or later (in most cases, sooner) be part of NFL Alumni and at least show them respect. After all, isn’t “respect” what the current players say is lacking from the owners? If you want respect, be willing to give some too.

    Response to #5 – Agree. A game of chicken where the outcome could be that everyone (fans, players, owners) loses. Except the lawyers.

    Response to #6 – Agree. I wonder why the bulk of the NFLPA* membership doesn’t realize this? I also wonder why owners of small-market teams don’t seem to get this either. After all, their value will plummet if this happens.

    Response to #7 – Completely classless on the part of the NFLPA*. Let the incoming guys have their day in the sun.

    in item #9 – You state “Fine, then open the books. It’s that simple.”

    Response: Are you that naive? Do you believe the players will accept a cut even if the books truly show the league isn’t as profitable? Come on! You know the players only want to use the books as a hammer to pound the owners.

    Response to #10 – What’s new? When has either side really cared about the fans other than “how much we squeeze out of them?”

  29. dobolina says: Mar 28, 2011 10:59 AM

    Even though both are to blame, based on the following comments of a lot of your stories, it sure seems like the owners are doing a better PR job than the players.

  30. savocabol1 says: Mar 28, 2011 11:01 AM

    realitypolice says:
    Mar 28, 2011 9:56 AM

    Ticket prices rise because you continue to buy tickets. Simple supply and demand. If you stopped going, ticket revenue would go down, player salaries would go down, and eventually owners would have to lower ticket prices.

    _________________________________

    For the most part you are correct with your philosophy. However this is not always the case. The Browns consistently sell out every game, even with how crappy they turn out each and every year. Yet they are lowering ticket prices for this year. Supply and demand does not apply in their case. Ticket prices are on a case by case basis.

  31. Grulks says: Mar 28, 2011 11:05 AM

    “Either way, the parties currently have no fear that the fans will abandon the game. And they’re probably right. ”

    Tell that to the Baseball and Hockey leagues. Both suffered significant ratings AND fan attendance problems immediately following their strikes. Granted, NFL isn’t at a strike yet, but if they don’t get their act together and fix this lockout, there isn’t much difference

  32. realitypolice says: Mar 28, 2011 11:09 AM

    whags334 says:
    Mar 28, 2011 10:43 AM
    I have an idea. If there is a good lawyer reading this article, please file a class action lawsuit against the NFL on behalf of the NFL Season Ticket Holders for I don’t know, say 9,000,000,000 dollars.
    ===================================

    What would the lawsuit be based upon? What are your damages? Have I been missing all of the NFL game played in March?

    And even if games are cancelled, you’ll get your money back. What are your damages then?

    Your feelings are hurt? The NFL forced you to find something else to do on Sunday?

    No one has a right to anything unless they paid for it. You haven’t paid for any football games in March, you don’t pay to read about free agency or mini camps, and if games are cancelled, you won’t pay for those either.

    Stop acting like spoiled, whiny little girls. Seriously.

    Acting irrationally only makes you easier to ignore.

  33. kbrebner says: Mar 28, 2011 11:12 AM

    Nice post. There is so much information coming out about this, it’s nice to have it consolidated and broken down in a concise form.

  34. packerrube13 says: Mar 28, 2011 11:17 AM

    I would love to say I am going to boycott football and make a statement with my fellow fans. But we all know 99% of us here will jump right back into Fantasy Drafts and be ready to go that first week of games.

    I’d have my snacks, beer, etc and you all will too. It’s unfortunate that both sides are right in assuming we all come back. I know I will, almost without a doubt.

  35. irchs1963 says: Mar 28, 2011 11:21 AM

    The “Fans” are forgotten !! Bottom line…. Owner & Player – “Greed” !!

  36. realitypolice says: Mar 28, 2011 11:23 AM

    Grulks says:
    Mar 28, 2011 11:05 AM
    “Either way, the parties currently have no fear that the fans will abandon the game. And they’re probably right. ”

    Tell that to the Baseball and Hockey leagues. Both suffered significant ratings AND fan attendance problems immediately following their strikes. Granted, NFL isn’t at a strike yet, but if they don’t get their act together and fix this lockout, there isn’t much difference
    =====================

    Yeah- that’s why it says “currently” have no fear.

    The NHL lost a whole season and MLB players struck in the middle of the season and the World Series was cancelled.

    The NFL is a long way away from that, and is much larger now than either of those leagues ever were.

  37. breezenev says: Mar 28, 2011 11:24 AM

    I for one will never contribute a dollar or a minute of my time to the NFL if this isn’t resolved before the season starts. I used to be a big baseball fan, but haven’t been to a game or watched one on TV since the last players strike. Yes both sides are taking us for granted, but come on, it’s a game, 99 percent of the players couldn’t earn minimum wage if they had to work for a living like the rest of us and the owners are in it mostly for the celebrity, they don’t really need all the money they are already getting.

    A POX on both their houses, you can consider me gone. PS I have already cancelled NFL Sunday ticket and filtered out the NFL channel.

  38. scudbot says: Mar 28, 2011 11:37 AM

    moggy6actual: Dead on. The antitrust exemptions allow the league’s teams to be far more balanced/competitive because the owners can share revenue to whatever level they think necessary. It does put a damper on how much top players can make, which is the only reason this is now in court. Mid-level and grunt players will suffer if Brady et al prevail and football will never be as compelling to fans in flyover country again. Think Pittsburgh Pirates.

  39. realitypolice says: Mar 28, 2011 11:37 AM

    savocabol1 says:
    Mar 28, 2011 11:01 AM

    For the most part you are correct with your philosophy. However this is not always the case. The Browns consistently sell out every game, even with how crappy they turn out each and every year. Yet they are lowering ticket prices for this year. Supply and demand does not apply in their case. Ticket prices are on a case by case basis.
    ================================

    There are exceptions, but I believe the Browns cutting ticket prices is an isolated example for a couple of reasons:

    - Cleveland as a city has been particularly hard hit lately and this is a gesture of good will, which I wouldn’t expect to be repeated very often

    - The labor situation and fan anger also provide a unique environment for ticket price reduction to be used to ease fan resentment so future revenues from these fans can be assured.

    If I turn out to be wrong I will be the first to admit it, but I would be shocked if within three years ticket prices in Cleveland are at least back to their 2010 levels, if not higher.

  40. whags334 says: Mar 28, 2011 11:41 AM

    Realitypolice,

    The damages would be the fact that I have sat through the last three putrid seasons while my team rebuilt and now when we are on the brink and need to plug a couple holes through FA, we can’t do anything. So, now I will have to sit through another mediocre season and as our core players are getting a little older, our window for success begins to close. Regardless of what happens after the hearing on the 6th, this season is pretty much lost for my team.

  41. goodjet says: Mar 28, 2011 11:42 AM

    Hey, I have already started my abandon the game process —- I now have zero respect for many of the players —- Less then Zero respect for the players union and no respect for the owners —- and I hate Roger Goodell (Hate Him) for doing almost nothing but horribly watering this game down since his arrival — So believe me, abandoning the game is getting easier and easier —- Neither side seems to realize how many entertainment options there are in today’s world and how many more are right on the horizon in this quickly changing world — So even when and if these megalomaniac players and owners get back to playing this new brand of watered down wussy ass football, much of the appeal has been lost already

  42. finsbooyah says: Mar 28, 2011 11:44 AM

    Personally, I don’t think the owners should open their books.

    No matter what the numbers say, the NFLPA* will be able to manipulate the information in order to serve their own interests. This happens all the time, and the NFL won’t be able to defend themselves against it.

    I’d rather see the NFL win in court. If the players get what the want and the salary cap and/or the draft is eliminated, the ability for every team to compete will be lost and the league won’t even resemble what it is today when interest is at the highest it’s ever been. Please don’t fix what’s not broken.

  43. hlmatty1 says: Mar 28, 2011 11:45 AM

    Another day, another pro-union piece…

    Why is the NFL to blame for no negotiations? The last time I checked, it was the NFL to have put the last offer on the table. If the players want to further negotiate, their attorneys could send a settlement proposal to the NFL lawyers. But they haven’t (surprise!). The truth is, the players do not want to negotiate and think that if they do offer something now, it is a sign of weakness. It will also buttress the NFL argument how the decertification is a sham because no matter how settlement negotiations are not admissible, judges read newspapers too!

    And why is it necessary for owner face time to get a deal? We hire lawyers and negotiators and agents for a reason; i.e., to get me the best deal. As someone above said, how much face time will there be now that there is a lawsuit and there are lawyers involved?

    As the NFL Alumni…you say players think that they are in the league pocket because they get money from the league. Well, why aren’t the players giving the Alumni any money? Frankly, that fact says it all: the players think only of themselves and not the fans, the game, or who got them there. That is why most fans favor the NFL — because they know at least they do something for others.

    Who are you also to say the last offer was not fair? Where is it also written that the NFL has to prove anything to the union? Since the players concede they got better of the last deal, why are they shocked (shocked!) that the NFL wants to renegotiate? So although the owners did sign the last deal, they also complied with it and took the out the players also agreed to permit. Why don’t you hold that agreement against the players as you do the owners agreement against them?

    Lastly, this is another reason why unions are failing in this country: it exists not for the average Joe but for the superstars. As you point out, only the top players would benefit from the union vision. Football will become like baseball — those who have a chance to win and those who do not even before the first whistle is blown. Do the players want a situation where one team have 70 players and the others 45? Or $100,000 reserve lineman and running back? What about covenants not to compete that will be inserted (if you think free agency rules now are bad, wait until the Cowboys put in such covenants where players would be required to sit out a year or two before they can play again. Plus, there will be no more of the perks and freebees they get. Plus, drug tests every day!

    Lastly, why would anyone think it would be better off that the players win the lockout motion. Who doesn’t think that if they do that it will embolden them to ask more and more and not concede anything to the owners? Their win would result in a long, long period of disagreement.

    In short, having read the NFL response to the motion, I would be shocked if the NFL lost the motion.

  44. jasnite says: Mar 28, 2011 11:47 AM

    The players are I D 10 T S !

  45. jasnite says: Mar 28, 2011 11:48 AM

    Just check the Blotter report.

  46. jasnite says: Mar 28, 2011 11:50 AM

    They can’t pass a wonderlic test but they want to discuss a partnership….please…..

  47. touchdownroddywhite says: Mar 28, 2011 11:53 AM

    “5% of the players could wind up making 95% of the money”

    And people wonder why Manning turned down a deal that was affected by the thought of a salary cap that may go away.

    Also, I love point #10. I was telling my friends that that is how I’ve been feeling about this.

    Supply and demand is being played with. Demand is at an all time high and supply is being threatened. What happens to gas prices when we hear about wars breaking out in the middle east? Yup. Goes WAY up(kinda like right now while I’m paying over 3.60 a gallon thanks to this Gadaffi/Rebel nonsense).

    It’s ok. The AFL game I went to see on Friday was pretty cool despite the smaller field. I’ll check out college next. They use 100 yard field and a good number of them are future NFL prospects anyway.

  48. ouillieb says: Mar 28, 2011 11:54 AM

    BLAH!
    make it simple. . . NOBODY is worth 24 Mil a year (or more)

    Salary cap at 12Mil

    contract:
    40% for owners
    40% for players
    20% for pensions
    then it would be easy to:
    1. reduce ticket prices so us fans could actually afford to see games
    2. give us all a break and stop the damn whining about you “poor slaves” and you “poor owners”.

    players, owners, and most sportwriters are FULL OF CRAP!!

  49. ouillieb says: Mar 28, 2011 11:55 AM

    AND OH, YEAH. . . spread the pay savings out across the team so that the guys who make it easy for the stars to be stars can make a good buck too!

  50. scytherius says: Mar 28, 2011 11:55 AM

    The reason the fans are being ignored and played for fools is that they wdo what consumers of everything do … they buy regardless. Oh people talk about the fans having power. There are the isolated boycotts here and there. But the fans will always buy tickets (or whatever product). They always have and they always will. Call ‘em useful idiots or lemmings, it’s all the same and it’s what fans (consumers) are.

  51. easyeddie says: Mar 28, 2011 12:01 PM

    Tom Brady, Drew Brees and DeMaurice Smith may have singlehandedly ruined the best professional sports league ever with their arrogance, greed and contempt for the game and its fans.
    I used to tell my son that Brees was one of those rare pro athletes worthy of admiration visa vi his character and leadership and the professional way he carried himself. Not any more.

    Also, someone earlier mentioned the adverse effects of the NHL lockout and cancelled season: Hopefully history won’t repeat itself. But maybe D-Smith will suffer the same professional fate that his hockey counterpart did after the league resumed — NHLPA Executive Director and General Counsel Bob Goodenow quit, seen by many as the biggest villain in the lockout because of his hardline stance against a salary cap, quit his position five days after the agreement was ratified amid criticism from many of his constituents.

  52. 3octaveFart says: Mar 28, 2011 12:02 PM

    “2. League apparently doesn’t want to negotiate.”

    They never intended to.
    Remember, their attempt at “lockout insurance” was just that – they intended to lockout the players from day one, while they continued to have cash rolling in, in the hopes of starving the players out, who would be without an income.

    They never even tried to negotiate until the very day after Judge Doty ruled against their shady plan.

    I really don’t see how the league can be complaining, since in the end, they got exactly what they wanted all along, a lockout.

  53. ericbutler7272 says: Mar 28, 2011 12:58 PM

    At this point, I do not care which side wins. I think both sides are losers. If and when football continues, I will watch games that I enjoy.

    I DAMN sure will not:
    1. Buy tickets to a game ever again.
    2. Puchase NFL network subscription, even if all the games moved to that.
    3. Buy officially licensed NFL gear (and instruct my family to stop buying that for me).
    4. I won’t buy any product that includes an nfl player or a nfl team logo or the NFL logo on it, period.

    Screw the Millionaires and Billionaires.

  54. knightringonow says: Mar 28, 2011 1:02 PM

    Why, how was the last deal a bad deal? You say this like it’s a fact; it not a fact and owners have offered no proof.

    To follow this logic, you could write that Apple’s profits weren’t high enough because they didn’t charge $1000 for an iPad.

    The NFL did just fine over the last contract. And now there’s no football. While this piece was well thought out and written, stop repeating this “bad deal” mantra. Only greed.

  55. rad312 says: Mar 28, 2011 1:28 PM

    In the end it’s the Millionaires and the Billionaires.

    There is blame to go on both sides however I lean towards supporting ownership on more of the issues than the players.

    Please spare us the rhetoric of your claims that it is in the best interests of us the fans if the players prevail in the Injunction ruling. The fans best interests are served short-term and long-term with an agreement which is fair to both sides (players and owners).

    Your reference to David Boies as the owner’s lead attorney is somewhat interesting…..as the owner’s despise for Jeffrey Kessler is well known, and Kessler has been involved with guiding the NFLPA since before De Smith look office and has been on the forefront of all discussions.

    The players pulled the proverbial ping in the grenade with the decertification preventing the ability of the players and owners talking directly. So despite your statements to the contrary it not as simple as the owners contacting Kessler and setting a meeting with the NFLPA* Board……as the reality is the conversations would be lawyer-to-lawyer with both the players and the owners in the background.

    I believe Bob Kraft had it right way back when he stated business men make business deals. The NFLPA should have elected a leader with strong business acumen to lead the union, the reality is good lawyers can always be retained in support ironing out an agreement. Instead they choose a lawyer but not any lawyer however one with a strong litigation background…..

    One’s decisions often gives insight into their true nature…..the NFLPA’s decision with De Smith speaks volumes!

  56. wvusteelers says: Mar 28, 2011 1:38 PM

    to oldwold:

    Ya, good thing we are getting rid of unions, who needs living wages, 40 hour work weeks and health care. Oh, wait, that’s right, unions protect the lazy and incompetent.
    Funny that view comes from Lehrner. If a player performed as successfully at his job as Lehrner did at his, he’d never make it out of training camp.

  57. keeley2 says: Mar 28, 2011 1:50 PM

    I am not renewing my Sunday Ticket subscription. First installment is due in August. Think if enough people do the same it will get their attention? Probably not.

  58. droksid says: Mar 28, 2011 2:35 PM

    The NFL is an addiction that we all suffer from. We crave it. We think about it when its not on. We want more of it.

    But the only way to break a habit is to prove to yourself you can live without it.

    That is exactly what a lockout will do. Sure hardcore fans and gamblers will be back with open arms like an ugly lover scorned, but the fans on the fray – namely women (a market the NFL is desperately trying to tap) and teens – will forget their allegiances once it becomes obvious that the effect the NFL and the superstars had over them was temporary.

    The hardest part of success is sustaining it. Why give fans any excuse to forget their addiction?

    This lockout will hurt the game more than the owners or players think it will. Sure, in this scenario I’m the ugly lover, but my girlfriend will undoubtedly lose interest I worked very hard to spark.

    And this isn’t anti-owner sentiment either. The players have the most to lose because their time will run out much quicker than the owners will. So will their money.

    So let me ask you, NFL and Players, if you have your hand on our throats why would you let us gasp for air?

  59. slickzmoney says: Mar 28, 2011 2:52 PM

    Last year I attended 10 games (Redskins/Ravens). Next year I will not go to any – if there are games. Hopefully enough people will stay away to force both sides to recognize the fans as the backbone of the sport. I will still play fantasy football and watch on TV but my money stays in my pocket. (Sorry Dan)

  60. jiminauburn says: Mar 28, 2011 4:26 PM

    I fully support the owners. People are complaining that the owners are greedy. The owners OWN the companies. It is up to the to decide how much they want to pay their employees. Maybe if the employees were not taking 50% of all the money, the owners could afford to pay for their own stadiums and not hit the tax payer up for the money to build stadiums.

    “Ya, good thing we are getting rid of unions, who needs living wages, 40 hour work weeks and health care. Oh, wait, that’s right, unions protect the lazy and incompetent.”

    I imagine that the players would still get a living wage even without a union.

    I work for a company of almost 2000, I work 40 hours a week, make a living wage, and have very good health care. All without a union. Because I actually have skills that people want. There are no unions in our company and we are well paid with good benefits.

    Sure, we could form a union, screw the company even more, for even more money, more benefits, and then cause the company to go overseas or to go out of business. But I would rather stay where I am thank you.

  61. edgy says: Mar 28, 2011 5:02 PM

    jiminauburn,

    Of course, you wouldn’t have those benefits if there weren’t unions or do you think that you got them out of the goodness of their hearts?

    Do you know why companies want to get rid of unions? It’s because companies that are located near other businesses that have no unions have lower pay and little or no health benefits while those that are near union companies pay more and offer benefits rather than lose employees to union companies.

  62. Deb says: Mar 28, 2011 5:06 PM

    Another excellent overview, Mike–especially points 8, 9, and 10. Yes, the last proposal was a good starting point. But did the owners position it as a starting point or as a final proposal. I’ve heard said it should have been understood that proposal was a starting point. But since when do you assume unsaid things are understood in a tense labor negotiation? The players have said that proposal was a step backward from what was previously discussed and had a lot to do with them thinking the owners sought the extension under false pretenses when they didn’t intend to negotiate in good faith.

    Having said that, I agree that De Smith’s characterization of it as the worst offer in the history of offers is ridiculously over the top. That kind of hyperbole isn’t helpful.

    @rad312 …

    The owners’ long-ago decision to hire Bob Batterman–the attorney who ran the NHL’s lockout–as their team leader said even more about their intentions.

  63. fracas106 says: Mar 28, 2011 5:33 PM

    rad312 writes “The NFLPA should have elected a leader with strong business acumen to lead the union, the reality is good lawyers can always be retained in support ironing out an agreement. Instead they choose a lawyer but not any lawyer however one with a strong litigation background…..”
    Gee, the way I remember it–and I’m a gal with pretty good memories–is that when the NFLPA had a lawyer at the helm (Ed Garvey, I think) the NFL kept saying you guys need someone who really knows football, like a player. And that’s when Gene Upshaw took over. And the NFL then said that Upshaw didn’t know the legal side and that Kessler really was running things. Now there’s another lawyer and everyone says here he’s no good. Seems like there’s no solution.

  64. realfann says: Mar 28, 2011 6:53 PM

    #8 says the players are to blame for ending mediation.

    #2 says the players offered to negotiate on several occasions both formally and informally.

    That’s contradictory.

    Can’t blame the players for not wanting to talk when they are clearly willing to.

  65. PanchoHerreraFanClub says: Mar 28, 2011 7:52 PM

    #11 Frankly, I don’t give a damn

  66. whags334 says: Mar 29, 2011 9:56 AM

    ouillieb says: Mar 28, 2011 11:54 AM

    BLAH!
    make it simple. . . NOBODY is worth 24 Mil a year (or more)

    Salary cap at 12Mil

    contract:
    40% for owners
    40% for players
    20% for pensions
    then it would be easy to:
    1. reduce ticket prices so us fans could actually afford to see games
    2. give us all a break and stop the damn whining about you “poor slaves” and you “poor owners”.

    players, owners, and most sportwriters are FULL OF CRAP!!

    ===========================

    The only thing your missing is the 10% off the top the owners want to cover expenses…that is the crux of the argument.

  67. fanblackout says: Apr 1, 2011 10:59 AM

    In the final analysis you and I pay for the product. Owners and players are both taking the consumer for granted. They believe we will be back at the start of the next season whenever they decide that will be. They also assume that we are too diverse, separated by locality, and disfunctional to come together and make our voices heard in a serious way.

    So let’s call them on their assumptions. Let’s stage a first-game opening-day fan blackout. No fans in the stands on game one for any NFL game. No merchandise sold, no concession stand revenue, no cheering fans kissing the butt of folks who have lost touch with reality. Just an empty shell with the laughable figure of grown men playing grab ass to an empty house on TV.

    I’m dead serious. Let’s embarrass all of them. Interested to hear if it’s doable or not. It’s easy enough to make a website and drop the name on sports talk around the nation. If they don’t get the hint with ONE then we can do more.

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