Goodell fears an NFL without a draft, free agency rules

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We’ve mentioned a time or two (or more) the potential end result of the current antitrust Tom Brady litigation filed by the players against the NFL.

Under lawyer Jeffrey Kessler’s view of reality, a non-union NFL should have no rules of any kind among the 32 teams.  That means no salary cap, no restrictions on free agency, no franchise tags, and no draft.

Kessler shrugs at the potential consequences, believing that a truly open market for player services would be good for everyone.

Commissioner Roger Goodell disagrees.  In a Wednesday conference call with Giants season-ticket holders, Goodell addressed the issue directly.

“That’s something that’s troubling to me a little bit because in the [April 6] hearing, some of the lawyers for the players association talk about their vision of what would happen with the NFL and the types of things they would be challenging in court – everything from the draft to free agency rules,” Goodell said.  “I think it would have a tremendously negative impact on the game of football and what everybody loves the game of football for and what has made us successful.

“I get concerned when I hear how the lawyers want to approach this and how they want to change the game for the players association,” Goodell added.  “I think we have a great game that’s competitive.  I think that the balance we have amongst teams is all part of our system. Aspects of those systems are always modified and changed and I’m willing to engage in that.  But I think eliminating some of those aspects that I think have made our game — and frankly other sports, they are all part of other sports. The NFL has got an incredibly competitive and attractive game.  We’ve got to make sure that we continue to make modifications.  We’ve got to make it stronger, not weaken it.”

He’s right.  The presence of a salary cap and the placement of restrictions on free agency and the use of a draft not only help ensure competitive balance among the teams, but they ensure that money will be available for the kind of “mid tier” players who reportedly are hoping to intervene in the Tom Brady antitrust litigation.

Without a franchise tag, Peyton Manning could squeeze the Colts into paying him $40 million or more per year.  With or without a salary cap, that’s less money that would be available for the other guys on the team not named Peyton Manning.

With no union to negotiate minimum salaries or a mandatory per-team spending floor, non-superstars could end up making much less than they do now.  The market for long snappers, for example, would be a lot lower than the mandatory minimums that the union had negotiated for all players based on years of experience.

With no draft, young superstars would bypass college (or leave after one or two years) and flock to the league, chewing up even more of the money — and nudging mid-level veterans out of jobs.

In the end, and as we’ve previously said, five percent of the players would be making 95 percent of the money.  And the other 95 percent of the league’s players would have to choose between fighting for the scraps in order to play the game they love or finding real jobs.

That’s why it makes sense for other players, and perhaps other lawyers, to get involved.  If Kessler gets his way, the NFL could be changed dramatically and permanently for the worse.

Of course, there’s a chance that no rules would have no ultimate impact on competitiveness, given that the concept of “team” takes on significant importance when there are 11 moving parts on the field per side (or more, if Brad Childress gets another head-coaching job).  But it will affect the manner in which players are paid, and the majority of the 1,900 men who play in the NFL need protection against being paid less, not the unlimited ability to be paid more.

Given some of the names attached to the Tom Brady antitrust lawsuit, it’s safe to say that the interests of the majority of the 1,900 men who play in the NFL aren’t truly being protected and/or advanced.

95 responses to “Goodell fears an NFL without a draft, free agency rules

  1. At this point I assume you just have Jeff Pash write your lockout columns directly. Your an NFL owners tool.

  2. Well, now you see the leverage the players have. You either strike a deal, or change the rules.

    MAD from the cold war: Mutually Assured Destruction. Don’t want to strike a deal, they go nuclear.

    Without the Union, it IS a free for all. Destroy the UNION and this is what is going to happen. Go CAPITALISM!!! WOOOOOOOOO!!!!

    Ain’t it grand? No? Didn’t think so.

  3. “In the end, and as we’ve previously said,…”

    So it seems you always point out how you said something when someone makes a point that agrees with it. Funny, I don’t recall seeing “ we’ve said but never should have” comments when following up the many of ridiculous statements that appear on this site every week. All I’m asking is if you’re gonna continuously point out where you’ve said something that’s possibly legit, be sure to address the more likely instances of being wrong.

  4. For once Goodell is trying to do something to better the game. As opposed to the usual dumbing it down and sending it overseas. As the players continue to crumble the owners are playing it right.

  5. Even baseball which has pushed things the furthest towards Kessler’s view of no cap, no restrictions has a draft. There is an issue of signability in that there is no rookie wage scale in baseball and if you draft one of Scott Boras’ clients he may not sign and re-enter the draft the following year.

    But there are all kinds of restrictions on player movement in baseball once you sign with a team. I think you need 6 years even though you become arbitration eligible after 3 or 4.

    Football is different because there is general interest in literally any football game between any two teams. I will tune in to watch 49ers vs. Falcons or Raiders vs. Chiefs even though none of those four teams is my home team. But there is no way I would tune in to Padres vs. Marlins.

    I want the owners to win now more than ever. The alternative is to see football damaged to the point that I will lose interest. Why would I want to follow a sport dominated by the major market teams? Blowouts every week? Small market teams would probably go bankrupt within 5 years.

  6. One of the reasons I like football so much is because unlike baseball it has a draft. It gives every team a chance to be competitive with one another. Take that and the Cap away and you might as well remove the slogan “on any given sunday” because you know guys like Jerry Jones and Dan Snyder will build teams with the best players outbidding everyone else.

  7. Both parties should fear these 2 things…even the fans.

    This could ruin a good thing.

    The MLB and NBA are pulling for this to happen since it would pull the NFL back into their ‘house’ of medocrity.

  8. The nothing union is doing is good for the players or the NFL. The players are being lead off a cliff. and a cliff that they will never be able to recover from…..Not just nfl players.

  9. I agree, Mike, that Kessler’s vision is no good. How, though, is it to be stopped if the players gave up the right to challenge the outcome when they decertified? Will there be any current players who complain they were misled into agreeing to decertify? Maybe with promises that it would only be temporary, and that the union would return when the deal is over?

  10. Spot on article about the ramifications of no salary cap/floor. 5% of the players make 95% of the money.

    Then again, that’s just like the rest of our economy…

  11. If the is no cap, no draft, everybody a free agent, no floor, etc…….That would make all players 1099 independent contractors and that would kill the union. No 401K, no pension, no health benefits, I think its all posturing. No player or owner would want that system, it would be chaotic and the have’s and have not’s. Not going to happen and I wish the players and owners would quit with the doomsday predictions and work towards a fair settlement.

  12. Tom Brady is the antichrist. He’s trying to ruin football and should be hung.

    In all honesty though, they should add an adendum to the antitrust laws that excludes sporting franchises from the laws of regular businesses. Lets be honest, sports are completely different and should be governed by a different set of laws than a company that sells paper.

  13. Considering that pro football is first and foremost ENTERTAINMENT Kessler is just pointing out the obvious results of a free market in the entertainment biz.

    Tom Cruise makes 90% of the acting budget in any of his movies while the rest of the folks divide the rest. The same for a TV show like “House”.

    Brady or Manning would be the equivalent in the world of football for their teams. It makes sense to me. It gives a new meaning to the phrase “my supporting cast”.

    The point Kessler was making is that it is in the NFL’s best interest to make a fair deal with the players since they ARE what makes the league a success. Don’t believe me? When was the last time you saw a fan wearing a Redskins jersey with the number #1 with the name “SNYDER” embossed on it?

  14. Usually these super rich weasels worship the free market like it’s their one true god.

  15. I think it’s interesting that the free market would be of such concern to mid-level players. Peyton Manning cannot throw it to awful players and be successful. A successful Peyton Manning is worth 80 million dollars to a franchise. Without a salary cap common sense would dictate investing in quality parts as it would increase the value of the team in both the short and the long-term. All you need to do is see the drop in franchise worth when LeBron left Cleveland to know that it behooves Isray to invest to not only keep Peyton, but surround him with good players to keep him competitive.
    The real comparison should be to Premier League soccer. There’s no draft or cap, therefore the bigger market team or the ones with wealthier owners, have huge advantages. The NFL generates more revenue from TV and would probably have a higher average salary than the 2 million dollars Premiere level players make. Take out transfer fees and it would be even higher. Smart teams will pay mid-level players because you need them to win.
    The real concern is that only 3 teams have won Premiere’s championship in 15 years. There is less parity. It seems at least correlated to the lack of a cap and a draft. In the end this focus on 5% making 95% of the money isn’t borne out by fair comparisons, the idea of dynasties due to resources available to the owners is.

  16. Hmmm…. They must not see the decline in team revenues for the NBA & how fans….. Oh ya, fans don’t watch that crap they call basketball. It is why they are trying to restructure the league.

    The NFL must really stand for “Not For Long”. They won’t have a 9 billion profit if they rid themselves of the draft, FA, & all the other things that actually gains fan interests. The offseason is what makes the NFL the dominant sport it is. The offseason is where fans continue to generate their season long interest. MLB doesn’t have that because nobody cares about the next stupid signing by the next ARod. Not to mention, nobody has a clue as to one name in any draft. The NBA has 2 rounds, most people can pretty much telegraph their draft, with crap like what Lebron pulled & teams stacking the deck, nobody has an interest in the NBA anymore. College basketball & football are great, but nobody sits in front of the net or the tube to see where 3/4 of these incoming signees are going. They can see it on the ESPN ticker, say woooo, then go on about their business.
    The NFL has the Senior Bowl, the Combine, FA, the Draft, the offseason workouts, the Preseason, the season. One interesting session leads into the next & keeps the fans eyes peeled. When you close the fans eyes for merely a second, you f**ked up. If they lose interest for months, then they really could give two sh!ts when the season comes around. I like baseball…… Once March Madness is over with & until football starts. Once football starts, I stop watching baseball. I don’t pick up on college basketball until football is done. But, if they lose my season long interest, it will become just like any of the other sports. A seasonal interest & one that I can really go without.

  17. No issue will turn the fanbase anti-players more than this.

    As one of the player’s strongest supporters during this lockout, if they even think about promoting a MLB-esque system with no salary cap, I will immediately turn pro-owner.

  18. The players are the real tools. Kessler and D Smith are doing what predatory lawyers do, use clients to pick a legal fight, then suck up every dollar they can along the way. They are like a virus.

  19. How the heck has this nerd like Kessler grabbed so much power? How are so many players ignorant to how great this game is and how much it will be ruined if they eliminate the cap, draft, the floor etc? On the flip side, the owners could eliminate all of this and smimply extend the old agreement. Add a clause which allows the cap to be adjusted in EITHER direction up or down based on gross revenue and profit. The players in return can agree to give the owners an extra 250,000,000 to the owners for 15 years to cover stadium bills and the players can agree to adding ONE extra game per year. Eliminate one pre-season game. This is simple. But stupid egos, lawyers, and a tool box named Kessler who was beaten up on the playground want to ruin this game.

  20. So….Basically..Kessler wants to turn the NFL into the NBA, which by the way, is a totally unwatchable product….Brilliant

  21. So is essence the player’s position is this: “We’re not going to negotiate, we’re going to lawyer up and ruin the game as everyone knows it.”

    At what point did they ever consider the possibility that nobody wins when their lawyer gets his way? They didn’t because they lack the knowledge and business sense to evaluate the position and their leadership cares nothing for the well being of the game.

    If Kessler and DeSmith led them like sheep to a 1000-foot cliff and told them that $1 billion layed at the bottom, they’d all jump.

  22. If there are no rules, it will become like baseball where the rich teams just buy their way to a superbowl. At that point, the NFL will lose many of its current fans.

  23. If there’s no draft or salary cap, say hello to the MLB Football League, where every year four or five teams will have a legitimate shot at winning while the rest try to sell “hope.” The only advantage would be there’d only be 9 or 10 games to suffer through after your team is out of it as opposed to 120.

  24. Nothing the union is doing is good for professional sports. And in fact would destroy sports as a whole in this country.
    Their would literally be 3 teams every year that would play for the championship.
    Half of the league would fold almost immediately.
    those of you who want to see players get real job, they will, because their wont be a team to play on.

  25. I know exactly what it would look like, european soccer. The same 3 teams be pushing for championships every year and it would be boring as hell.

    Legally speaking, I don’t know how the league would ever win an antitrust lawsuit, they are 32 separate businesses any time they act as one is an antitrust issue. So maybe the owners should ease off on screwing the players because the owners made a bad deal on the last CBA, they may lose out in the long run.

  26. Do the players’ representatives have any idea what they’re doing? First a sham desertification that they have undermined with their own boneheaded comments, now they’re neglecting a huge portion of the client base to the point that they are turning them against themselves.

    Sure the owners, want an additional $1B that the players do not want to give up. Fight for your money while keeping the successful structure of the game in place. Why turn the whole system upside down when the game and it’s profitability is at an all time high?

  27. It’s really a shame, but I don’t think the players get the fact the only ones who will see a system like that benefit them are the ultra productive players who are seen as game changers like Tom Brady and Peyton! I almost get the impression most of the players were left in the dark as to what the executive committee had planned and how this could affect them. I saw an article on PFT not too long ago saying some of the players were getting there lockout news from the site! WTF…………..nice Union guesses the communication is pretty good between the members and the leadership!

    The special teams guys, kickers, punters, return specialists, and long snappers, all the guys on a practice squad guess what guys your are gona make $40K a year welcome to the same recession we are all living in. I would think even most of the mid tier players like fullbacks and slot receivers will take a significant pay cut under that system. This reminds me of the Obama way of doing things, lie and tell the people what they want to hear……………then do whatever you want!

    Now, is it me or does these lawsuits seem very self serving almost like they are throwing the rest of the league, players, and fans under the bus! The named plaintiffs most of them all stand to gain financially significantly! Von Miller, Tom Brady, Peyton, Drew Brees! I mean these are the guys who would make 40 million a year.

    No draft ………….if that happens guess what the fans will revolt against the players hands down! If you want to argue about money fans will say ok that’s your business………….if you take away the draft I have a hard time believing any real fan would ever side with the players!

    What have Unions become in this country?

  28. @shamburg – you are right that exceptions should be made for sports leagues, within reason of course. The NFL is a group of 32 independent businesses that require the existence of the others to be successful. In the real business world, competitors want to put each other out of business. In the NFL, competitors want to defeat each other on the field but they need each other to be successful of the field. Eliminating things that affect player movement (the draft, free agency rules, etc.) have the potential to have a tremendous negative impact on the league as a whole because it could shift the competitive balance that has been created.

  29. This is going to end very badly. I believe they are going to go the same route that Baseball went and the small market teams are going to suffer the most……well second after the fans. If Kessler gets his way and there is no salary cap or any rules for player movement the small teams will no longer be on T.V. which means that I will not be watching much football as I am a fan of a small market team. Unless you live in that city or buy the football package your team will not be on T.V. because lets face it outside of those cities how wants to watch two teams that can’t afford top end talent play a game. Ask Pirates fans from baseball how it’s going for them. A salary cap and both minimum and maximum spending limits are what make this game so interesting, you never know day to day who will win. Everyone truly has a chance, take that away and you will have the same type of product that Baseball has, and personally I will not be interested in that and will start paying MUCH MORE attention to College football, until they totally screw that up too.

  30. It’s people like Jeffrey Kessler, a far left-winger, who only after making sure that his pockets are “stuffed” first, who are willing to indescrimately unleash chaos on society. Much like Donald Fehr, former MLB players union rep, who, by “stonewalling” the testing for PED’s, helped seriously stain the game of baseball by facilitating their use. This directly contributed to the number of players who became “frauds” ( McGwire, Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, Palmeiro etc. ) and thereby tarnishing the game by falsely allowing certain players’ records to be “broken” ( Roger Maris and Hank Aaron ) – though not in my eyes.

    A civilization is supposed to be governed by rules and laws or there would be no civilized society. IMO this holds true for our pro sports. I consider myself a moderate – who is for right over wrong and for good over evil. When “extremists” get their way, BOTH right and left ( like Jeffrey Kessler ), chaos will be sure to follow. Jeffrey Kesslers’ involvement in this matter is absolutely as damaging or worse than De Smith’s.

  31. Hmmm… Did this tool of an attorney (or the tool Marvin Miller) bother notice what happened to baseball when they did this? If they didn’t, maybe they should. The Yankees, baseball’s most valuable franchise is just over one-billion in worth. The average baseball franchise is worth around $350 million.

    Not bad, until you consider the AVERAGE NFL franchise is worth more than the Yankees. And the lowest valued franchise, the Jaguars, are worth $750 million. Which would qualify the Jaguars for the #2 spot at a hefty 140 MILLION MORE than the #2 team, the Boston Red Sox…

    And considering, at one time, baseball franchises were worth MORE than football franchises…

    That alone tells us the NFL’s formula for success is right. And the laizze-faire bull-crap of the Union, Marvin Miller and the other tools who think unrestricted FA is a ‘good thing’ are just plain stupid.

    Bottom-line is NFL fans have hope because all it takes is a good GM, a good coach and a few good drafts to become an NFL power. Nobody can be outspent and buy success. It’s pure competition.

    Something that you don’t see in baseball. Where second-tier teams are relegated to the slum of mediocrity for decades upon decades and, except for the occasional fluke season, never get out of the cellar. Which why I, like so many others, gave up on baseball.

  32. Capitalism for a nation and capitalism for what would be essentially 3 franchises….are totally different things.
    If you do some homework, the united states is a brilliant creation. Do i really have to ask if you want to live in a world that closer to stalinism?
    The reason socialism works in sports? is because you need 32 franchise that all have the same playing field.
    The only people who lose are the players in kesslers view of sports. Bob kraft would turn that stadium into a nice series of hotels and not blink as would 28 other owners.

  33. those of you who think the owners will lose in the long run? PFFT!
    keep dreaming….and football is not baseball.
    LITERALLY the same teams would be in the superbowl every single year.
    this isnt my batter vs your pitcher.
    this is my 11 vs your 11.
    1 vs 11 doesnt work.

  34. this is what the player backers want. anything to get their favorite player in the world as rich as he can possibly get. who cares about the game of football. as long as your favorite player gets filthy rich. is he gonna share that $$with you? you think he wants the best for you? owner backers dont care if the owners get rich, we care that football stays the best sport in the world and the only way to do that is to have the owners make money and keep the players in check

  35. Seems like it’s the owners want pure, unbridled capitalism when it comes to revenue sharing with players and collective bargaining when it comes to salary levels and other features of the game.

    Can’t have it both ways, guys.

    Even if I don’t agree with Kessler, I think his argument will facilitate a compromise that resembles the game pre-lockout.

  36. This would make the NFL, like soccer in europe which is the most popular sport in the world so i don t see any problems with that

    also i am cowboys fans ans we would have the most money to spend on players.

  37. Airraid77, that seems like some tortured logic. One, Kraft would sell the team as it’s an asset and worth a considerable amount of money. Two, his team is hugely profitable and even more so when you consider he owns the stadium! So even when the patriots only make a 8% return on investment the Kraft Sports Group cleans up on stadium revenue.
    Really, the only people who lose are the players in Kesslers version? What about small market teams? What about fans? And to be fair I did my homework, I know what happens in sports right not socialism, where players own the franchise, but rather a cartel. In a cartel competing groups have a clear agreement governing their actions.
    I prefer a salary cap, revenue sharing, and some form of a draft. I think it makes for an exciting game where even fans of teams that have been terrible for 10 years have hope. Maybe you want an NFL like the one Kessler describes, but I don’t, and I’m pretty sure most fans agree with me.

  38. @playingtheponzi says:

    Spot on article about the ramifications of no salary cap/floor. 5% of the players make 95% of the money.

    Then again, that’s just like the rest of our economy…

    Football is for entertainment, the rest of our economy is not. There needs to be incentive in our economy for it to prosper and grow – everyone benefits. The NFL is only good because of level competition.

  39. Sounds like Kessler works for the Tea Party! Where 95% of the income goes to 5% of the people. And if your not in the top 5%, your useless and need to be run out of the Country.

  40. 5% of the players getting 95% of the wealth? Isn’t that how it is in the rest of the USA? 95% of this country’s wealth is held by 5% of the richest Americans so why not. The rest of us can bicker over who wears the shiniest chains.

  41. Bluepike, Kessler is an extreme Right winger, not left winger. See right wingers want no rules, its every man for himself, and if you can pocket all the money, then good for you. Goodell would be the extreme Left winger.

  42. Yes Manning is good, but father time is catching up with him. I honestly don’t think he is worth 40 mil , I mean why do players have to be so greedy. Why can’t there be a cap at certain positions, no matter how good you are you can’t surpass the cap. It would make the owners happy,the players less happy. In the long run, though if you really look at it. Athletes make more money than the average american worker. Those american workers are fans that support the athletes. Bottom line is a deal has to get done at somepoint so the sooner the better. Because alot of fans are counting on them!

  43. I find it very odd that European sports leagues are much more capitalistic in nature than the North American leagues – which are far more socialistic.

    That of course runs counter to the political systems.

    Often you will find people holding very strong capitalist beliefs supporting the owners in this fight. That doesn’t compute. If you believe in capitalism than you sure as hell won’t support a draft or sharing of revenue or a salary cap. I think those type of people really believe in a class system – owners are better people than players so I support them regardless of their argument.

  44. I LOVE THE FORMAT THE NFL IS IN RIGHT NOW. I am 100 pct owner.
    Kesslers version is death for 27-28 teams.

    in kesslers NFL
    small market teams are going away. Thats not wishful or even thinking. They wont survive.
    guys like jerry jones, and snyder would price the players so out of reach that most stadiums WILL BECOME HOTELS.
    The tv deals are now left to individuals. The dallas cowboys, jets, giants, bear, and los angeles. THATS IT! And their aint that many networks that will pony up.
    Because when its realized that the opponent will be pure folly, the ratings wont be their so you might get two teams with a network……ITS DEATH.
    kraft is profitable because of the current set up. But when fans realize they have ZERO SHOT TO Win anything. that profitability will vanish in the blink of an eye.

  45. Nice spin by Goodell. If he is really worried about this, why did he opt out of the current agreement? This would make him the worst commish in any sport ever.

    This is nothing more than spin to make the fans anti-player. Reading the posts, it’s working. The NFL has quite the machine against the players.

    The players would sign the current agreement for 20 plus years and everyone is making money.

    I’m so tiraed of spin.

  46. I have a hard time believing that the players are abused by a system of free agency and the draft that enables the league to maintain a competitive balance.

    In most industries, employees making antitrust claims have no leverage whatsoever, and the courts rule the company or companies collaborate to keep wages and benefits low. In the NFL, salaries are high, benefits are good, and there clearly is a balance between the leverage held by the owners and the leverage held by the players.

    Without its players, the NFL is nothing. Sure, you could probably replace 10 or 15 players on any team’s roster with players coming directly out of college or playing in the AFL, but the other players on the rosters are key to the quality of the play on the field. Without a quality product, the entire NFL suffers.

    The same “restrictions” that the Brady suit is fighting are the things that have made the NFL America’s favorite sport. Fans follow the draft, hope their teams draft certain players and then support those who are drafted by their teams. The draft enables a competitive balance that makes people want to watch games. The draft and restricted free agency enable fans to develop more loyalty to their teams and the players on their teams, which increases merchandising revenues for the NFL and its players.

    The NFL is a league, which means that all 32 teams collaborate with one another to ensure fairness. The same principles apply to the NFL, or to a bunch of players who show up at the park one day to play football. Two of the best players typically take turns choosing players for their teams — a draft. The same principles apply to NCAA basketball. Teams are allowed only so many scholarships to ensure a competitive balance. The same is the case with college football; teams only have so many scholarships. Every professional sport has a draft for this reason; otherwise the best players could all play for one team owned by a billionaire who is willing to pay the most for the best player at every position on the field.

    The difference between today’s NFLPA and the NFLPA that agreed to the expired CBA is that Gene Upshaw, a former player, understands that having 32 good teams is in the league’s best interests. It’s also in the league’s best interests to see all of its players paid well, not just the top 5% as the current leadership of the NFL envisions today. The players selected for this suit — some of the league’s highest paid — are slapping the face of the guys in the trenches and other players who aren’t “stars.”

    No wonder a group of non-starring players are wanting to join the mediation. Someone needs to speak for them, because the NFLPA certainly isn’t.

    I’m hoping that Judge Nelson rules that the NFL had every right to lock out players, realizing that to rule otherwise would give the players a competitive edge in the negotiations, instead of ensuring a field that is balanced for both parties. You can’t have your cake (decertifying the union with an expired CBA) and eat it too (get paid while negotiations continue).

  47. only a few of you get it. it’s all posturing by the players. it’s a threat of what can be, if they don’t strike a new/fair CBA.

  48. I’d be cool with this, I’m a fan of a large market team, and all I care about is how they fare… As a fan of a large market baseball team its great knowing u will competing for a title every year because u have more resources than 90% of the league


    This would really blow for the small market fans, u guys would be screwed… this would also dampen my interest in the league as a whole, I would still watch my team, but I would no longer watch all day Sunday and every single Monday night game without the competitive balance

  49. I get the feeling Kessler isn’t really serious about this. He’s being made the front as the bad cop on the player’s side.

    Goodell can step in at any time he’s not busy kissing up to the owners and get BOTH sides working together for the betterment of the game that he is the “commissioner” for.

    Missing games/seasons is great for a commissioner’s legacy. Just ask Bud Selig and Gary Bettman.

  50. Actually, I think there are a few owners who wouldn’t mind this outcome only because it would ultimately lead to the players reunionizing down the road and crawling back on their knees.

    If Kessler gets his way and these guys are all independent contractors then forget about pensions, medical benefits, – and the NFL spending much time or money into improving player safety. This free market would quickly create a have/have not system and the 95% – the have nots, would soon figure out that things were better before, especially when those medical bills start adding up.

    My guess, aside from Kessler this is an empty threat. When has a union ever sought to get rid of itself?

  51. Wait…you mean to tell me that the owners don’t want to let “market” forces prevail in the NFL. Isn’t that how they all made billions (besides inheriting it of course)?

    I love the way the NFL is today and don’t want it to change (except lose some of the lame rules about hard hitting, etc.), but I find it funny that the NFL is the only industry that wants to force the Union to be a Union and want to shield the industry from traditional market forces. Bunch of damn liberal hippy commies if you ask me!

  52. I think free market football would be good for most players. They would be able to make what they are actually worth instead of having the team that drafts them dictate terms for longer than they are expected to last.

    A contract would actually be a contract.

    The NFL does not have all that much parity in the first place, and what it does have is not due to the finacial regulations they have in place as much as it is the limits on roster size compared tot he amount of available talent. I can not see a scenario where one team spends 200M while another only spends 20 like in MLB as long as the owners continue to share the TV revenue evenly.

    However they decide to pay the players, 32 teams will have 53 players or so and any team will be able to beat any other team on any given week. Even before the draft and free agency, there was some competitve balance, there will be some without it, but there also have always been good teams and bad teams that do not change much year in and year out. Most fans know who the good teams are going to be before the off season moves are even made, and what teams will need to get lucky or make major roster improvements to contend. Last year KC and Tampa won 10 games while spending the least money, proving payroll alone does not make parity.

  53. Under the current system, when is the last time Cleveland, Detroit or Cincy won a playoff game?

    The NFL is great because they play pro football and football is football. It is not great because every team is equall, they are not.

    It is the TV revenue that will keep the small market teams from becoming much if any worse off than they are now. They get an even spit even if they do not appear on national TV.

  54. @tom35mt says:

    This would make the NFL, like soccer in europe which is the most popular sport in the world so i don t see any problems with that

    also i am cowboys fans ans we would have the most money to spend on players.


    I also noticed this parallel, and it would be absolutely devastating to the NFL. You would have only the 4 or 5 richest teams teams that could legitimately afford to be successful. Every other team would be irrelevant. There’s no way Jacksonville would be able to compete with teams like Dallas, Washington, NY, Houston, etc. (Yes, Houston would be a major player in that situation)

    Look at La Liga in Spain, where only Barca and Madrid can with that league. In the EPL, only the big 4 have a realistic chance at a league title. At least in those leagues the small teams have other things to play for. England has the Carling Cup, FA Cup, EUFA tourneys, and relegation to play for. In the NFL the small market teams would be the equivalent of MLB’s Pirates or Royals, irrelevant.

  55. The NFLPA has decertified. The NFL hasnt. 32 owners strong and dont want to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs,,,NFL fans. No draft? Free agency for all every yr except for players under contract. The owners will get togeather and decide on how much they will pay say a Payton Manning. If 32 owners stick togeather Mr Manning might not get 1mil a yr. Remember the NFLPA is decertified. NFL wont be suied for collusion because it there is no union. Must be a single player to sue and he wont last long in the NFL,,,no body will. The owners must stick togeather in order to be competitive, which will keep the fans. Competitive is the key, everyone wants to believe with a little luck their team is in the SB. Players, becareful what you ask for.

  56. djstat says: Apr 21, 2011 9:39 AM

    How the heck has this nerd like Kessler grabbed so much power? How are so many players ignorant to how great this game is and how much it will be ruined if they eliminate the cap, draft, the floor etc? On the flip side, the owners could eliminate all of this and smimply extend the old agreement. Add a clause which allows the cap to be adjusted in EITHER direction up or down based on gross revenue and profit. The players in return can agree to give the owners an extra 250,000,000 to the owners for 15 years to cover stadium bills and the players can agree to adding ONE extra game per year. Eliminate one pre-season game. This is simple. But stupid egos, lawyers, and a tool box named Kessler who was beaten up on the playground want to ruin this game.


    You are talking about some sore of compromise, but the NFLPA/NFLPA* is not interested.

    This whole mess is because D. Smith doesn’t want to negotiate because he knows that if he does negotiate, the NFLPA/NFLPA* will have to agree to lower player for the teams.

    S. Smith should have figured out what he could get in exchange for lower player cost. For example, he could have negotiated for shorter time frames for restricted players.

  57. If Goodell were smart, he would strike up a deal that would transfer ownership of the league to the players. The former owners, who effectively would become employees of the players, could then form a union of their own, decertify their new union, and sue the pants off the players for violating ant-trust laws.

    That’s what we like to call the double reverse blindside in legal speak.

  58. I don’t think it’s at all guaranteed that 95% of the money would go to 5% of the players.

    The idea that Peyton Manning could squeeze the Colts for $40 million in salaries is only related to the effectiveness that he could produce on the field and I don’t think Peyton Manning wins anything at all with a bunch of average to below-average players around him on the field.

    If Manning could pull off deep runs in the playoffs with a bunch of guys making about what he makes collectively between them then yes, the Colts would probably do that, however I don’t think there’s any evidence he could manage that.

    I think the more likely scenario is that Manning gets $40 million from the Jets or Giants (see ya Eli…) and that team then spends another $80+ million fleshing out the roster to give them the best chance to win for their investment in Peyton.

    This would be the Yankee/Red Sox scenario where big market teams suck up both the superstars and the best supporting players in an attempt to dominate in the sport. Obviously the Yankees and Red Sox have been no more successful in that endeavor than the current best NFL teams are in the capped environment.

  59. Would reducing the amount of revenue-sharing money that is passed between owners count as weakening the game?

    You can’t have it both ways. Either you want to share and share alike or you don’t.

  60. The owners want capitalism for the money coming in, and socialism for the money going out. All of these changes would hurt the product, but I understand the players challenging the fundamentally inequitable negotiating position of the league.
    Everyone involved is trying to get as much money as they can get, so I would be surprised if the NFLPA* did not explore this issue.

    I wonder if 32 seperate teams would be able to prevent number 33 from joining? Heck, we might have another 3-4 teams in New York alone…

  61. owners have been unable to buy superbowls before because they were unable to buy the best players because they were signed by the teams that DRAFTED them.

    and yes the players the product, but without the owners organizing and running the league the players would just be very talented burger flippers. judging by the financial decisions and moral compasses of these players i have a hard time believing many of them would even have a job without the owners of the NFL

  62. 5% of the players would make 95% of the money…isn’t that already true in the real world?

    Why should the NFL be so different?

  63. Kessler is a shiester lawyer who doesn’t have a clue if he gets his high priced fees while screwing the players. He is NOT in their best interest. I hope Judge Nelson realizes that and puts the lawsuit in the can as frivolous and a waste of everyones time.

  64. the player are not putting one dime into the franchise. they are hired labor working for a price.
    If you want equality. then player can put 50 pct of their salaries up for new stadiums and they can paying of all cost for all the ammenities the owner are currently providing. while they are at it, they can pay 50 pct of all salaries for their teammates salary….. and 50 pct of all season tickets bought……

    THats not…what you had in mind? I didnt think so.

  65. stewbar: “5% of the players would make 95% of the money…isn’t that already true in the real world?

    Why should the NFL be so different?”

    Good point. The owners like the free market economy that allows them to make more than 99% of the world, but they dislike the same free market if it costs them more money in payroll.

    If the owners truly aren’t making money, they should be happy to not have a draft as they will not have to pay first round picks. If the owners aren’t making money they should be happy to not have a salary floor, as they can spend as little on payroll as they like.
    The problem is that they ARE making money in stadiums, concessions, parking, clothing, TV and in appreciation on their franchises. The owners do not trust each other, and they know they will choose to spend more money to remain competitive.

  66. The top 5 percent will make 95 percent of the money… hmm… just like it is in the rest of our society? Actually the top 3 percent of Americans earn more then the other 97 percent, and Americans love it, and are electing Tea Baggers to make sure it gets even more lopsided… why is this a problem in the NFL? We want centralized, controlled, socialist organization for our sports? I don’t think so… When Trump and Palin are elected, they won’t stand for our national game being a socialist, centralized organization!
    Seriously, why is PFT promoting a socialist system?

  67. Taking the antitrust issue to the extreme:

    The NFL will not be able to set a schedule, each team will have to find their own competition.

    There will be no league-wide rules such as number of players, maximum and minimum salary, even rules of each game will have to be negotiated between teams. (think of a 200 player Cowboys against a 40 player Bengals team).

    The NFL could not negotiate a overall TV package, each team would have to do so. The total TV pie will shrink, especially for small market teams. The players in the small markets will play for 1960s money and they will be farm clubs for the big market teams.

    Each team will have to negotiate a CBA with the union just like Ford, GM., and Chrysler have to negotiate a contract with the UAW.

    And the biggest loss would be the end of playoffs and the SuperBowl. How can you have a playoffs and SuperBowl without collusion between owners to agreee to have some teams play more games than the rest? Of course, this affects players, retirees, and officials.

    The NFL will be down to 8 big market teams in 5 years under this formula.

  68. Something tells me there is more to this than meets the eye.

    What I find so ironic is that we the fans, have to look at what going on between the corporate owners of NFL and the union run players through the filter lense of the corporate run sports media. Whose side do you think you’re really rooting for?

  69. Without a franchise tag, Peyton Manning could squeeze the Colts into paying him $40 million or more per year. With or without a salary cap, that’s less money that would be available for the other guys on the team not named Peyton Manning.

    You keep saying that but its not true. That is what Unions are for to stop things like that from happening. I know right now there is no “union” but thats just to stop the lockout. They will come back together once all the legal stuff is worked out. If they happen to win the Brady case and the law deems it illegal to have a draft or salary cap that doesnt mean there cant be a minium salary created by the players. Thats what Unions do. They get all the workers that do a job in 1 field to band together to make sure they all get fair pay.

    For example if all the players got together and said none of us are going to play unless each player is guranteed atleast $1 million per season that would essentially make it a league minimum of $53 million per team per year. It would no longer be a league imposed thing it would be just something agreeded upon by the union if the owners ever wanted any of there members to play for their teams. Obviously they would work out a fair amount with the owners bc there not just going to give them anything they want but that’s the general idea .

    That’s how unions all over the country have worked for decades. Just because it would involve a sports league wouldnt change that. I have grew up around unions my whole life and no union would allow some of there members to get everything while the rest fight over scraps. That would defeat the whole purpose.

  70. macjacmccoy,
    Unions are why airlines are broke, detroit is dead, and california is bankrupt.
    UNions on the surface sound great, but they are buisness killers…even giants like the NFL.
    I am firmly convinced that smiths job is to destroy the nfl. And he can do that if the owners were to be forced to accept terms of being in buisness.
    Again, I would dare to tell me that you would want somebody to tell you how to run your checkbook? Which is what unions do to to buisness owners.
    If they, union, govt, can do it to the buisness owners, they can and eventually will do it to everybody.

  71. Friends, Fans, Owners, Players, and Everyone Else,

    It is time we stand together and say “NO!”

    NO, we do not care about your bickering!

    NO, we do not care about the “they said, we said”!

    NO, we do not want to hear reporters tell us your side!

    NO, we will not put up with a “lock-out” or “strike”!

    NO, we will not spend our hard earned money on you!

    Players, Owners and all the rest of you that are involved,

    Roughly 28 million of your fans are currently out of work in this country, yet you argue over money and greed. At a time when the NFL and football as a whole is at its greatest, you fight amongst each other and “warn” us that a season may not happen. While we sit patiently hoping to pay your salaries by purchasing game tickets, souvenirs, jerseys, hats, memorabilia, concessions, and whatever else we feel we need to properly show our support, you complain that you are not getting enough. A great line in the movie The Replacements reminds me of your greed: “Do you know how much it costs to insure a Ferrari…” Many of us wish we owned just one vehicle for our families. Many of us worry about food on the table. Many of us worry about rent. Most of us just want our one escape, pro football, to be here when we need it the most.

    Fans and non-fans,

    I am not a lawyer, judge, coach, reporter, owner, or any other person financially associated with the NFL I am a fan (Broncos!!) and nothing more. But here is how I see things: If I went to XYZ Corp and wanted to purchase a franchise, they would require some money and there would be some rules I had to follow. I would be free to hire any one that I wanted. I would be free to fire any one I wanted. I would be able to set wages and salaries. I could advertise as much as I wanted. I could pocket every bit of profit from my successful business operation. Now, if my employees came to me and said that they deserve a portion of my profit, I would be able to tell them to piss off, RIGHT? Well, lets look at the NF. The owners put money together and purchased a franchise. They hired office staff and coaches and players and stadium staff (just to name a few). They advertise. They sell merchandise. Now, the players (EMPLOYEES, by the way) decide that they deserve revenue sharing (profit sharing). I do not see coaches, office staff, stadium staff, or any of the rest of the organization’s employees getting a share. What makes the players think they should get it? Why can’t the owners get what they deserve? In fact, lets go one further and ask if profit sharing is an option, Where is my check???? How about reduce the price of tickets, jerseys, concessions, and all other football related expenses for the fans so that we can enjoy the game that much more? Hey players, got an idea for you, how about you take 9% of your salaries and giveit back to us? Buy the stadium out of tickets and stand at the local grocery stores handing them out for free to anyone and everyone that wants to come watch you play!! How about you say “Thank you” to each and every one of us as you do it. Take the time to sign autographs if people want them. You are a “superstar” because we have elevated you to that level. We give, we can take away!

    Do not forget that there was a time we watched replacements play the game. There was a time we watched ladies play baseball because our boys were at war protecting our freedoms. Look at what happened to hockey after the strike.


    You should be ashamed!

    You should be embarrassed!

    You should get your heads out of your posteriors!

    You are pompous!

    You are crybabies!

    You do not deserve more of the profits!

    You are not worth the time we fans dedicate!!!

    The Solution:


    Do your job! You are being paid to play a sport that you all claim to love. Get off your high horses or QUIT!!!


    If they won’t do it, get new employees! We will understand if all we get are permanent replacements! I am sure that there are a ton of us that would be willing to play football for you at the minimum base salary. I know I would. Train us! Teach us! Coach us!

    When is enough, ENOUGH!! We have top payed players wanting more. We have a 2011 future NFL player (employee) involved in the antitrust lawsuit. BTW, why doesn’t he just feel lucky that he will get to follow his dream and play football at all? And that goes for Tom Brady also. What nerve, what a jerk…complianing that he didn’t get drafted till the 6th round. Why can’t he be happy that he made it? Why can’t he have some pride that he made it into the league and then excelled?

    An answer to the lockout:

    The NFL sets rules that have to be followed on the field. The referee’s make sure (to the best of a blind mans ability) that the rules are enforced. With that in mind, I propose this:
    1)The NFL sets a rookie wage scale
    2)The NFL runs and controls the draft
    3)The NFL sets a percentage or straight monetary amount per team for veterans
    4)The NFL gets away from the owners profits (They bought the team, they hired the staff, they diserve the money)
    5)The Owners and the NFL and the owners combine to provide all these things.
    6)IGNORE the ability of a CBA (the players disbanded the union so they don’t have a foot to stand on. No union, No CBA)
    7)Owners, the NFL, and players – Play the game we love, play the schedule that has been released, and do it with smiles on your faces.
    8)And next year or the year after or the year after that when more games or more teams can be or want to be added, the NFL would control it, not a bunch of employees to the game, the team, and even us fans.

  72. AS Fans, let’s send a message, go Get your Manning Jerseys, Brady Jerseys and BURN THEM ALL, record it on youtube!
    Get a pic of Kessler and spit on it, record a commercial with an elder packer fan and some small market teams and present a “what if ” video that presents an NFL where it’s the same 3 teams in the superbowl, over and over and over, and all the small market teams are gone and dead….
    let’s have nfl fan marches and speak up!

  73. Who’da thunk the stands of the NFL were full of socialists who support wage caps, restricting who you can work for, and mandatorily sharing revenue with those not as fortunate? I’m shocked that Obama is so unpopular when he probably advocates these same things — as do Goodell and the Owners.

    And btw, the owners are “hoist on their own petard” in that they started this mess by voiding the CBA because they thought they could easily get their way.

    They are angry the peons are not doing as instructed.

  74. BTW, all you tools that constantly gripe about how the union has screwed this up for everyone should recall one pertinent fact: THERE IS NO UNION! You got your wish; the union is no more! But now you have the unintended consequence of getting rid of the bid, bad union: anarchy.

  75. And one final post: which owner is the first to break rank and start snapping up the now independent contractors/players? Jerry Jones, of course. Dallas is gonna be killa…

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