In theory, the players should have no leverage at this point in the practice. Each lost week of the preseason results in a shared forfeiture of roughly $200 million. Under the proposed labor deal, that’s roughly $96 million for the players, and roughly $104 million for the owners.
In practice, it doesn’t matter because the owners care much more about the preseason revenue than the players do. For many players, their compensation for 2011 already is fixed; it doesn’t matter if the pot that funds the salary cap adds another $96 million or $192 million or $288 million or $384 million. For the owners, $104 million in lost revenue per week roughly equates (setting aside for these purposes revenue disparities) to $3.25 million per team, per week. Which increases to $13 million per team if the full preseason is lost.
What’s $13 million per team? For some, that’s most if not all of the profit margin for the entire year.
That said, the absence of preseason games would also result in reduced expenses for the owners. But with game checks not paid until the regular season, the expenses are a lot less during the preseason.
Then there’s the fact that, if a full preseason is played, some veterans (including possibly members of the Executive Committee and/or board of player representatives) could end up making zero percent of their 2011 salaries, if the full preseason gives a younger player enough time to persuade the coach that it’s time to cut the veteran. So why not skip a couple of weeks of preseason revenue and increase dramatically the chances of getting 17 weeks of regular-season pay?