With the folks who currently are running the NFLPA* (whoever they may be) showing no inclination to continue negotiations and with the NFL very anxious to continue negotiations, Commissioner Roger Goodell has taken his case directly to the rank and file.
Goodell has sent a letter to every player (and the league office has sent a copy to every agent) explaining the terms of the league’s most recent proposal. We’ve obtained a copy of it.
“We want you to understand the offer that we made to the NFLPA,” Goodell wrote. “The proposal was made to avoid a work stoppage. Each passing day puts our game and our shared economics further at risk. We believe the offer presented a strong and fair basis for continuing negotiations, allowing the new league year and free agency to begin, and growing our game in the years to come.”
Goodell then summarizes the key elements of the proposal: maximum salary and benefits per team of $141 million per club in 2011, with maximum salary and benefits per team of $161 million in 2014; free agency for players with four or more accrued season; reduced draft-choice compensation for restricted free agents; extensive changes in offseason workouts; reduction of preseason and regular-season padded practices; increased days off; retention of the 16-game season through 2012 with no change to 18 games without the players’ agreement; expanded injury guarantees, with up to $1 million in the year after an injury occurs; continuing medical coverage for life; immediate increases in pension for pre-1993 players; a new rookie wage scale that would make $300 million per draft class available for veteran pay and player benefits; abd external arbitration of all drug and steroids appeals.
“Working together, players and clubs have made the game great,” Goodell added. “Our fans want us to find common ground, settle our differences, and come to a fair agreement. I have met with many of you since becoming Commissioner. You know of my respect and admiration for you as men and players. We need to come together, and soon.
“In that spirit, we are prepared to negotiate a full agreement that would incorporate these features and other progressive changes that would benefits players, clubs, and fans. Only through collective bargaining will we reach that kind of agreement. Our goal is to make our league even better than it is today, with the benefits shared by all of us,” Goodell said.
And here’s the bottom line — literally and figuratively: “I hope you will encourage your Union to return to the bargaining table and conclude a new collective bargaining agreement.”
We hope they will, too.
Though there’s a chance Goodell’s letter will anger NFLPA* leadership, if it gets enough of the players to insist on the NFLPA* to return to the bargaining table, it’s worth the risk.