Now that actual football is over, owners and players should be focusing 100% on reaching a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). The current deal is set to expire at 11:59pm March 3rd and at that point there could be a “lock-out”. That means all football related operations would cease. Players would not be allowed to go to their team facilities to work out, rehab, study game film, etc etc. Coaches would not be able to coach their players. There would be no free agency, trades, nor any new deals getting done. There would be no contact at all between players and teams. In a sense, we would enter a football abyss.
The possibility exists that the lock-out could last into the 2011 season and therefore deprive fans of an enitire year of football. But, I don’t even want to think about that. Lets just say that if football were beer, I’d be Norm from Cheers. Here s a quick list of the top 3 issues that the players union and owners need to hammer out:
- How to share the league’s total revenue. The current, soon to be former CBA, has the players receiving 60% of the pie. But, that 60% is after the owners take $1 Billion off the top. The owners are claiming that they need more of that money in order to “grow the game” and maintain a “viable business model” for the NFL. So therefore they want to take an additional $1 Billion off the top before the players get the 60%. The players are seeing that as a “pay cut” and before they agree to it they are asking that the owners “open their books” so they can see the numbers that justify them wanting or “needing” more money. This is considered to be the biggest issue in the negotiations.
- Changing from 16 regular season games to 18. The owners view it as giving the fans more of what they want because some view pre-season games as a waste. Obviously 2 more regular season games = more revenue. But, the players are more concerned with the effect of playing 2 additional games would have on their bodies, hence their careers could be shortened. They also view the situation being that the owners want to cut their pay but have them play more games (aka, work more for less money).
- Creating a rookie wage scale. The owners want it and actually many fans would like to see it too. It’s unclear as to what the players think about this but if it gets implemented, they would want some changes as to when a player would be eligible for free agency. Currently, draft picks in the 1st half of round 1 can be signed up to 6 years (most are signed for 5 years) and the 2nd half of round one up to 5 years. All of the rest are 4 year deals. What that means is that a rookie cannot be eligible for free agency until their contract expires. This is when many can “cash in”. If a rookie wage scale is implemented, the union will want shorter term contracts that will make rookies eligible for free agency sooner.
At this point I still maintain a semi-optimistic view on a deal getting done relatively soon despite the outward appearance of the 2 sides being far apart on an agreement. The good news is that the owners and union just agreed to have a mediator and will enter into 7 straight days of negotiations beginning today. This is a good sign but doesn’t mean they will come to an agreement within the next week. Hopefully they get a deal done at least before the draft (April 28th – 30th). At the end of the day I just don’t want to see this impact the regular season games, I would go crazy without football come September!