If Sean Gilbert’s plan for becoming the next executive director of the NFLPA arises from selling the idea of scrapping the current CBA, he could be overlooking one key fact.
Maybe the players don’t want to scrap the current CBA.
Sure, the fact that the owners aren’t complaining about the new labor deal creates the impression that they’re doing very, very, very well (especially since they were endlessly balking about the last CBA). But maybe the two sides have achieved a real win-win, especially now that the salary cap has begun what could be an annual process of jumping by $10 million or more.
“I imagine if you go ask a bunch of players today if they wanted to get out of a salary cap that’s tied to soaring league revenues, they would say no,” new NFLPA president Eric Winston told Robert Klemko of TheMMQB.com. “We’re creeping into some pretty obscene numbers. We’re already there in my opinion.
“Plus, the guys that went through that fight understand how much more the CBA is than just the cap. The owners were asking for two more games, to take away our benefit plan and several other points. We fought that war on a lot of different points. In battle, the enemy has a vote too. You’re never going to get everything. We got some things we wanted, they got some long-term stability they were craving. It’s easy to say, ‘We’re going to scrap this deal and I’m going to get you more money!’ Well, how? You think the owners are going to roll over for you and say, ‘You’re so much better than the last guy—here’s everything you want!’ I’m not interested in playing two more games for those extra benefits, and I don’t see a lot of players going for it.”
Winston’s point is a valid one. What would scrapping the current CBA accomplish? It would merely set the stage for a strike or a lockout. With Gilbert — who once sat out a full season to get the contract he wanted — running the union, the thing the players clearly didn’t want in 2011 would be far more likely to happen if the current CBA ends early.
Football is premised on winning and losing. Maybe that’s why so many believe that, in everything remotely related to football, there always must be a winner and a loser. From trades to player contracts to CBA negotiations, a mutual victory feels like a tie. And everybody hates a tie.
Maybe the current CBA is, when all things are considered, a win-win. Maybe, by avoiding the loss of regular season games in 2011 and creating a formula premised on a 50-50 sharing of revenues and dramatically limiting contact in practices, the players have benefited along with the owners.
Regardless, there’s one way for everyone to lose. That happens if the CBA evaporates, a new one can’t be negotiated, and both sides dig in for weeks or months or maybe a full year without football.
In the end, that’s always the “or else” or either side of the NFL’s labor deal. As the game continues to grow and grow, it’s an “or else” that no one should ever want.