NFL may move forward on new TV deals without labor peace

Getty Images

If the players who currently are voting on a new CBA ultimately vote no, some believe that the league will wait to finalize new TV contracts until the situation is resolved, whether later this year (if the league is bluffing), early next year (if the league isn’t bluffing), later next year (if there’s a lockout), or at some point after that. The truth may be that the league will still negotiate new TV deals, taking less money than the league could get with a decade of labor peace in its hip pocket.

“There isn’t anything that prevents the league from going forward and getting TV contracts without a Collective Bargaining Agreement,” NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith told #PFTPM on Thursday. “I think if they have to go and get those TV deals without long-term labor peace, it is commonsense that those TV deals will be less than if they were negotiated with 10 years of labor peace. And if those contracts are indeed less, that’s a smaller pie. And if the league has to take a smaller pie, why wouldn’t they come back to the players next year and say, ‘There is a smaller pie available, therefore we won’t agree to a larger slice of a smaller pie’?”

And that approach could be the most likely, given that the networks currently seem to be ready to secure long-term contracts with the NFL, with or without the promise of labor peace. With rumors rampant that one or more networks that, if the CBA passes, one or more networks will finalize long-term deals promptly (a massive ESPN/ABC deal gets mentioned most frequently, given that the Monday Night Football deal expires after 2021, not 2022), Smith was asked this specific question: “Do you know whether or not the league is ready to move on one or more of these deals? That basically they’ve got one or more networks lined up, ready to make the investment, ready to commit to some gigantic checks, and they just want to get this deal done so they can close those TV deals?”

“The league doesn’t exactly invite me into those meetings, I’m sure that comes as a shock to you,” Smith initially said, creating the impression that he knows as much as the rest of this. And then he added this: “But it also shouldn’t come as a shock to anybody that I’ve met with all the networks over the last two years, so why don’t I just leave it at that?”

This gets back to the broader point regarding the CBA. Smith wants to maximize both the slice of the pie and the size of the pie. He’s uniquely positioned to understand all facts and circumstances relevant to the situation, from the negotiations with the league to the negotiations with the networks and beyond. Smith has made his judgment, the judgment he was hired to make.

A “yes” vote accepts the judgment of the man who was hired to make it. A “no” vote rejects that judgment. Whatever any player chooses to do, he needs to realize this implication, and every player needs to ask himself the core question of whether he’s willing to defer to the man who rolled up his sleeves and put in the effort aimed at combining slice of pie and size of pie in order to get the most pie possible for his constituents.

Every player is entitled to reject that judgment, if he so chooses. Still, it seems as if plenty of the players who sounding off on social media think they’re sticking it to the owners when in reality they’re sticking it to the man who has been responsible for protecting and advancing the rights and interests of all players for the last 11 years.

3 responses to “NFL may move forward on new TV deals without labor peace

  1. This makes sense.

    Many of the players who oppose the deal aren’t looking at the big picture and believe the mythical (unicorn) deal is around the corner. It’s not.

    This also isn’t the opening offer that some players are trying to make it sound like it is. There has been give and take on this deal for a year. This is the result of long term negotiations, not just something the owners threw out to start negotiations.

  2. REALLY, WHY? What a foolish move on the NFL’s part! Why would any network want to bid before the new CBA is in place knowing there might be a work stoppage? And if they do put it up for bids now does anyone think that these networks won’t take that into consideration and bid accordingly, a lot lower bids? When they don’t know what the future holds they’ll be leary of paying top dollar, I know I wouldn’t if I were bidding!

    BTW I don’t believe the next NFL TV contract is going to be nearly as lucrative as the media and the NFL believe its going to be!

    OH and the gambling dollars won’t be nearly as much as they thought either, by the end of the season they’ve already started to find that out!

  3. For every 10-12 good/very-good/great players on a roster, there are 40+ average/just-made-the-cut players who will greatly benefit from the CBA proposal as written. The outspoken superstars don’t seem to take those lesser-skilled guys into consideration when they say “vote no!”

    It will be tight, but I think it will pass. The networks and streamers will then wave blank checks at Park Avenue.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.