The aspect of not having football in 2011 is truly depressing. I love the sport and for me it serves as a much needed deviation away from the stresses of daily life. For the most part I’ve refrained from “taking sides” and have held a relatively optimistic outlook that a new CBA would be reached before the draft in April. While that still could happen, the NFLPA union decertification and subsequent lock-out of the players by the owners has put that in doubt. The NFLPA has filed an injunction to circumvent the lock-out. If a judge grants the injunction, it would possibly end the lock-out and allow the league year to commence. This would include free agency and trades, etc. Here is a nice little nugget of information from Peter King at SI further explaining this possibility.
At this point though, I have to say I’m starting to side with the owners a little bit here. If reports are true about what their last offer was, I’m not sure why the union just walked away from it. As you can read here, it seems they were pretty close on the core issues. At the very least, the owners’ last offer was certainly good enough to continue negotiations but instead the NFLPA simply refused and filed the paper work for decertification. I’m not saying the owners don’t have any blame here but from the view of someone who is not on the inside, it seems the NFLPA left a decent deal on the table.
From everything I’ve read, the entire hold up for the players union is the fact that the owners are refusing to disclose the last 10 years of their financial records. The premise is this: The owners are saying they need more money to “grow the game” and cover expenses such as stadium financing and maintenance. The union’s stance is: ok, show us your books to prove to us that you “need” more money and if that’s the case, we’ll give it to you. My question is this: What employer would ever show its employees their financial records? If the NFLPA has some kind of “right” to see them, nobody has ever stated as much.
Ultimately the players are “employees” of a business. They are represented by a union and partake in what could be considered a profit sharing program in the form of the league revenue shares (which is what they’re currently bickering about). When large corporations or companies have to make cutbacks or reductions that impact salaries to employees, they are not required to show every employee their financial documents. The owners “own” their business and are entitled to run it as they see fit as long as they obey labor laws. If they wanted to, they could just shut down and leave all of the players unemployed. Of course that would be ridiculous but technically it is an option.
Personally, I get livid whenever I hear an employer that has the mind set of “hey, just be glad you have a job” when it comes in response to a complaint about money or benefits. But as mad as I get, there is nothing I can do about it. For the most part, employers hold most of the cards. NFL owners could certainly take that stance if they chose but they haven’t. The players are critical to the NFL’s success as are the front line employees of any corporation. However, the players get far more respect in the form of financial compensation than does the average American worker. What I mean by that is, you don’t generally see corporations out there splitting revenue with its employees to the tune of 60% for the employees and 40% for the owners.
Maybe the players should “just be glad they have a job” (that still makes them A LOT of money). As time goes by and more information is made public, my opinion may shift towards the players side. Honestly, I want to remain as neutral as possible because in the end I just want to have football in 2011. Git-r-done people!