Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

11 Jan 2011

50 Days Away, Lockout Looms Larger Than Ever

This was a quick Yahoo! blog post on an NFLPA conference call I participated in today. Wanted to share it with the folks here because there are some new and interesting things about a potential lockout, and what the ramifications may be.

Posted by: Doug Farrar on 11 Jan 2011

125 comments, Last at 18 Jan 2011, 7:38am by Mr Shush

Comments

1
by tuluse :: Tue, 01/11/2011 - 6:58pm

Nice link article.

I have to say the negotiations for the new CBA seems like a money grab by the owners who are already raking in the cash.

I don't see why the NFLPA would be against a rookie wage scale.

I'm totally against an 18 game schedule, and almost no one I talk to wants one either. I think the owners and Godell are really misjudging this move.

4
by 0tarin :: Tue, 01/11/2011 - 7:10pm

Regarding the rookie wage scale, the best I can think of (after polling several friends as well) is simply that the players don't want to prevent kids from getting their money in as best they can. At this point, it wouldn't strike me as strange if the players have a particularly strong "us vs. them" mentality with regards to the owners, and anything they can do to ensure that they continue sticking it to "them" is a good thing. Furthermore, I doubt the NFLPA believes in any way that constraining the wages of rookies would seriously translate into inflated salaries for vets. They probably believe (and, I would suspect, rightfully so) that any reduction in rookie wages would come with a corresponding reduction of the overall cap, therefore resulting in no gain for players and all gain for owners.

As for the 18 game schedule, I (and everyone I know) agrees that it's a bad idea for the league. That said, I don't think they're misjudging things at all; I may disagree with the concept, but I absolutely guarantee that no one will refuse to watch the extra two games. In fact, if they truly replace two preseason games with "real" ones, that's two more I'll actually pay attention to. They're judging matters perfectly, when you take overall viewership, profit potential, etc. into things.

5
by turbohappy (not verified) :: Tue, 01/11/2011 - 7:14pm

I agree that if the rookie wage scale reduces the overall cap then that is definitely bad for the NFLPA, but if not then it definitely seems good.

8
by 0tarin :: Tue, 01/11/2011 - 8:18pm

Yes, but I'm pretty sure that's exactly the sticking point (or at least one of them): the owners want a wage scale so that they aren't paying such premiums to untested players. Consequently, from the owners' perspective, they shouldn't have to dedicate as much overall to players' salaries. From the PA side, however, they want a more favorable distribution towards vets; I imagine that they have no problem limiting rookies so long as there's a guarantee that the money saved is transferred to existing players instead.

Long story short, one side wants to do the same with less, whereas the opposing side wants more with the same.

15
by Ryan D (not verified) :: Tue, 01/11/2011 - 9:28pm

Before the owners opted out of the current CBA, there was a salary cap and a salary floor. Both numbers were derived as a certain percentage of the total NFL shared revenue that each team received.

Basically, any CBA that puts a rookie wage scale in place and re-establishes the salary cap and salary floor will guarantee that any money not spent on rookies will have to be spent elsewhere, at least up to the salary floor.

This seems like a win-win proposal for everyone. Proven players (aka veteran players) get paid, and owners aren't forced into paying exorbitant sums for unproven top draft picks like Jamarcus Russel. The only people losing out are the only people that aren't at the bargaining table to begin with, the college players.

7
by zlionsfan :: Tue, 01/11/2011 - 8:06pm

Yeah, that's the problem. There are certain aspects of everything the owners are proposing AFAIK that seem to make sense to me ... and the average fan may not get even that much detail.

And I guess from another perspective, that's how these guys typically work, right? If they're businessmen, they're CEOs, not managers or peons. They're accustomed to sizing things up, possibly running stuff by the board or whoever, and then taking action. Don't like it? Fine, go work elsewhere. They're not necessarily accustomed to compromise or balance or whatever. (That is, I think, also why some owners, like Mr. Ford for example, completely fail in sports: they think they can apply the same logic in this industry as they did in their non-sports career(s) and succeed, and it doesn't work that way.)

I think that Goodell and most owners probably misjudge how fans will react during a lockout. At some point, even the average fan will be angry because there's no football. It won't matter why. (I also believe that a lot of average fans will simply do something else on Sundays. There are always other forms of entertainment ... ask the NHL about that.) Unfortunately, once the issues are resolved and the players are allowed back in camp, most fans will have forgiven the owners, and it'll be business as usual.

10
by 0tarin :: Tue, 01/11/2011 - 8:22pm

I think both sides underestimate the short- and long-term consequences of a lockout. The MLB made the same mistake and I'd be willing to bet that in retrospect, it's quite evident that fan support had a massive decline during and for the years following the strike; I daresay it's only starting to recover to its original levels in the last few years.

The league's problem is simply that looking at the numbers generated by the NFL, it's far too easy to say "we're too huge for that to happen to us." Consequently, I won't be shocked at all if the lockout comes to pass.

All that said, I certainly agree that most fans will return; the time that takes, however, could vary depending on how long the strike lasts.

16
by RickD :: Tue, 01/11/2011 - 10:33pm

Hubris is great.

23
by 3.14159265 (not verified) :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 12:53am

I wonder if there is any link to the NFL becoming huge while MLB called off the World Series.

34
by The Powers That Be :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 9:29am

"The MLB made the same mistake and I'd be willing to bet that in retrospect, it's quite evident that fan support had a massive decline during and for the years following the strike; I daresay it's only starting to recover to its original levels in the last few years."

It took all of 2 years for MLB attendance to return to pre-strike levels. That's not the only measure, but fan support clearly returned long before "the last few years".

39
by Spielman :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 12:05pm

What numbers are you looking at? According to the attendance figures at Baseball Reference, you're way off.

1993 was the last pre-strike season. Total attendance was 70,257,938, or 2,509,212 per team. The next two seasons were shortened by the strike. In 1996, total attendance was down to 60,097,381, with an average per team of 2,146,335. In 1997 that rose to 63,168,689 for 2,256,025 per team.

In 1998, total attendance rose to 70,601,147, which is higher than the 1993 total, but is due to the addition of two more teams. The per team figure was 2,353,372. The per team average didn't clear the 2.5 million mark until 2006, and has actually been shrinking again since 2008.

91
by sundown (not verified) :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 8:26pm

MLB attendance didn't return to pre-strike levels until the Mark McGuire-Sammy Sosa homerun saga. That was over 10 years after the 1994 strike.

97
by Eddo :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 8:56pm

McGwire and Sosa broke Maris's record in 1998.

118
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Thu, 01/13/2011 - 7:12pm

Is it right to compare the MLB lockout of 1994 to a NFL one in 2012?

I'm not a MLB fan but I'd imagine a lot of fan frustration was about seeing their investment (financially and more importantly emotionally) in that 1994 season going to nothing. That the owners didn't care about that.

Whereas if the NFL lockouts its players before anything has happened there's no real investment* from the fans. I think fans will just be left wanting action and having to wait over until 2013. Absence makes the heart grow fonder ...

* I think they should be very careful about how they deal with season tickets. If people buy their tickets in the offseason then they're making that investment, even knowing that games may not go ahead.

14
by tuluse :: Tue, 01/11/2011 - 9:09pm

Interesting point about the owners. It also seems to me like the old "football family" owners (McCaskeys, Rooneys, Maras) are lot more reasonable towards the players and things like revenue sharing than the new crop of self made billionaire owners (Jerry Jones, Dan Snyder).

9
by tuluse :: Tue, 01/11/2011 - 8:20pm

People will watch the extra 2 games as long as they are NFL quality. The way injuries pile up they may not be, and even worse they could hurt the quality of the product in the playoffs. Who enjoyed Peyton Manning trying to force the ball into Blair White or Drew Brees handing off to Julius Jones?

The NFL is diluting their product by lengthening the schedule, and it's already a product stretched thin in my opinion, with several terrible teams that stood no chance outside of extreme amounts of luck.

It could not matter, as the NFL is still the best football available so people will watch it even if it's worse than it once was.

12
by 0tarin :: Tue, 01/11/2011 - 8:44pm

People will watch, regardless. Admittedly, if Peyton goes down, fewer may tune in to the late-season games, but people still watch when Curtis Painter is lobbing up the ball. Simple fact is that more games means more viewers. People say that no one watches preseason games as well, but I have to admit that, while I care less about catching them, I'll still tune in if I can.

For what it's worth, I agree with your points; I think one of the valuable aspects of the current setup is that it concentrates my fanaticism into a small window--something that would be diminished with the change. Your attempt to tie "enjoyment" with the business argument throws me though; truth be told, the owners don't care if we're enjoying it, so long as we're watching. And we will.

13
by tuluse :: Tue, 01/11/2011 - 9:06pm

The NFL is an entertainment business, if people aren't enjoying it, they'll stop consuming it. Sure there is plenty of momentum to overcome, people will probably keep watching for years hoping it will become enjoyable again (I mean the Bills are still selling out, and the Lions kept doing so for how long into the Millen era?). In the end it boils down to the same rules as any TV show though, and if you don't give the people what they want, they'll find someone who will.

18
by Sander :: Tue, 01/11/2011 - 10:48pm

While the players would benefit from a rookie wage scale, this is a hot-button issue that is at the top of the owners' priority lists (somewhat foolishly, I might add). Because the owners want it so much, the players realize they can barter the rookie wage scale for gains in other areas.

56
by Eli (not verified) :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 2:01pm

I don't really understand the point of the rookie wage scale. If you don't want to pay Sam Bradford $50 million guaranteed, don't offer him $50 million guaranteed.

85
by Rocco :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 5:48pm

The problem is that if a team doesn't offer him that kind of money, he goes back into the draft and someone else will offer him that money. Owners want a rookie cap to protect them from themselves.

88
by Eli (not verified) :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 6:33pm

Either the expected value of that guy is >$50 million or <$50 million. If he's worth less you should be happy that someone else is wasting money. If he's worth more than you're getting a good deal.

92
by sundown (not verified) :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 8:30pm

Sure, if you stick to your guns it works that way. But let's imagine your local team losing their first round pick 3 years straight because he won't sign for what's offered...or your team trading down every year to avoid that possibility. How would the fans react to that?

100
by Eli (not verified) :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 9:51pm

If you spend big bucks on free agents and high draft picks and the team sucks, fans will be upset; if you go cheap and the team is winning the fans will be happy. Teams have exclusive negotiating rights for one year with their draft picks and that is obviously a valuable asset. If rookies were freely able to negotiate with multiple teams, the top guy would be making more than $50 million guaranteed (or whatever).

94
by herm :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 8:46pm

Somewhat of a nitpick, but "50 million guaranteed" is fake. It is guaranteed... assuming he meets certain playing time requirements. See: http://footballoutsiders.com/under-cap/2010/under-cap-top-10-draft-picks

17
by battlered59 (not verified) :: Tue, 01/11/2011 - 10:46pm

The word on the rookie pay scale is that the agents have a lot of pull with the PA and they obviously love the high wages for rookies. I think they have been fed the argument that escalating contracts for rookies leads to higher contracts for vets over time. That seems like a reasonable argument to me but surely the better idea from a business perspective is to limit salaries on unproven players and spend that savings on known commodities.

25
by IAmJoe (not verified) :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 1:20am

That doesn't seem to pass the sniff test - higher wages for rookies only impacts veterans getting new contracts who are among the best at their position. If Sam Bradford gets $50M, then the next franchise QB to get an extension gets a raise. However, the majority of players are not the best at their position, nor play "glamour" highly paid positions. This means that the majority of agents do not benefit from those contracts that are raised. Especially when you consider that the same small handful of groups (Lee Steinberg, etc.) represent most of the top of the 1st round, the big cash really is funnelled into a specific couple of pots.

The owners want to get a rookie wage scale, and then take that money they were giving the rookies and put it in their pocket. The NFLPA (I believe Kevin Mawae has said exactly this before) wants a rookie wage scale, and then take that money they were giving the rookies and disperse it amongst veteran players and/or healthcare.

Whereas the current system of rookie contracts increases the values of contracts for players already at the top of their positions, a new system that distributes rookie savings to veterans would push up contracts across the board. This would help out the bulk of the NFLPA (most of the NFLPA was not drafted in the first half of the first round), and would then help the bulk of agents too. In this scenario, the top agent groups would lose their giant first round pick money, but gain back a lot of that through veterans making more money. They would probably end up a bit shorter than where they are, but it certainly wouldn't be catastrophic to them. Other agents who never got a piece of that first round pie in the first place would end up getting more themselves, as their veterans would also be making more money.

32
by Mr Shush :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 4:28am

I think the feeling was that for some time, the NFLPA opposed a rookie wage scale because Upshaw was unduly influenced by the super-agents. This really does seem to be an issue where their position has shifted (to the one you outline) with the appointment of Smith.

59
by Dean :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 2:21pm

While I believe a rookie wage scale would be good for the game, I don’t believe it has a place in the CBA. As long as the players are guaranteed a percentage of the gross (and nobody's suggesting they woudln't in a new deal), all you have to do as players is unilaterally implement the wage scale and by mathematical fiat the veterans salaries increase because the rookies salaries decrease and the owners are required to pay the same.

By the same token, revenue sharing between owners isn’t something the players need to have a say in.

As a fan, those issues aren’t the ones that concern me. I would much rather see the owners fighting for tougher standards of player conduct, strict PED policies, player medical/retirement benefits and things like that.

The money issues are millionaires fighting with billionaires. I always find it fascinating how many people say “the billionaires are greedy, but the millionaires aren’t” or vice versa. Why should either party not try to maximize their revenue? Greed has nothing to do with it. Greed is just name calling by people who are to ignorant to understand the issues, or are simply blind partisans for labor/management.

69
by tuluse :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 3:19pm

I never used the word greed. Both parties are guilty of that sin.

I said it was a money grab by a group of people who are already raking it in. As for millionaires vs billionaires, yes it is hard to feel too sorry for the players, but they are the ones who will be unable to walk in 40 years, and they are the ones who provide the entertainment, so if I'm forced to pick a side it's them.

71
by Dean :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 3:43pm

Sorry. "Greed" was part of a generalization, not directed specifically in response to your post.

I guess I just don't see a need to "pick a side."

The NFL wouldn't exist without players, sure. But it also wouldn't exist without owners.

75
by jtduffin :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 3:52pm

Well sure, but to be a bit devil's advocatey... owners, like running backs, are pretty fungible. :-)

79
by Dean :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 4:08pm

Nice!

90
by dmb :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 7:34pm

Funny comment, but as a Redskins' fan, I can tell you in no uncertain terms that all owners are NOT equal.

107
by jtduffin :: Thu, 01/13/2011 - 1:01pm

Heh, as I live in the Washington area myself, I am familiar with that phenomenon.

The comment is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but the point (such as it is) isn't really that all owners are *equal* so much as that they are all *replaceable*. What's completely fungible is their money, which is really the only crucial qualification for being an owner. The other skills that benefit a team may vary from owner to owner, but all you really need is a lot of money and someone willing to sell to you.

108
by dmb :: Thu, 01/13/2011 - 1:19pm

Yeah, I know what you were getting at; I just thought it was worth noting that different owners could have an effect on the fan experience. I understand your point that there are more than 32 people or groups with sufficient assets to acquire a team.

109
by Noah of Arkadia :: Thu, 01/13/2011 - 1:46pm

On the fan experience and on the quality of the team. See the Bengals, Raiders, Cowboys, and now the Dolphins.

No, they definitely aren't fungible.

93
by sundown (not verified) :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 8:35pm

Everything I've read points to the players being willing to go with a rookie cap. It's a pretty pain free position for them to take, given nobody voting is impacted by the move. (If anything, they come out ahead if the money is distributed more to veterans.)

104
by Dean :: Thu, 01/13/2011 - 10:11am

I agree with all your points, except that everything I've read indicates that the players, for whatever reason, DON'T want the rookie cap. It seems childish to me - it would help them, but it would also help the owners, so they don't seem to want it.

106
by Sander :: Thu, 01/13/2011 - 11:18am

This directly contradicts what I keep hearing. The NFLPA wants a rookie cap and has actually proposed one, too. But if they're going to allow a rookie cap, they want to make sure that money is spent on veteran players and not on, say, stadiums.

115
by Dean :: Thu, 01/13/2011 - 4:33pm

Given that I support the idea of a rookie wage scale (if it is in conjunction with a guaranteed percentage of the gross to the players), I'd rather you be right than me.

2
by Nathan :: Tue, 01/11/2011 - 6:59pm

No matter how many times people claim a lockout is a possibility I just cannot believe that anyone would be dumb enough to kill the goose that's laying the golden eggs.

Then again, they did reveal Laura Palmer's killer at the beginning of the second season of Twin Peaks, so who knows what people are capable of doing.

6
by Marko :: Tue, 01/11/2011 - 7:41pm

Laura Palmer is dead?!? Dammit, she owes me money!

72
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 3:44pm

It was Bob Golic who did it ...

22
by JFP (not verified) :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 12:23am

Nathan, I salute you for somehow making a Laura Palmer Twin Peaks reference in a post about NFL labor issues.

3
by Fan in Exile :: Tue, 01/11/2011 - 7:07pm

I've got to say that the new league is a total bluff. There's too much expense to risk with a new league, and what guy is going to risk his health with a start up league when the new season could start any day.

11
by MJK :: Tue, 01/11/2011 - 8:42pm

New league may be a bluff, but maybe the UFL wouldn't be? The UFL could see the NFL lockout as a great chance to grab power in a vacuum. All they have to do is change their schedule to start about when (or maybe even before) the normal NFL schedule is set to start, and then sign a handful of big names to their various teams, and negotiate a modest TV deal with some medium-sized network or major network currently missing the NFL (ESPN? NBC? WB?) and a huge chunk of the normal NFL fans will flock to watching the UFL.

Seriously, if the NFL was locked out, I would probably tune in to watch two UFL teams with Joe Flacco throwing to Roddy White and a bunch of people I'd never heard of, versus Tony Romo handing off to Arian Foster and a bunch of other no-names.

33
by Kayle (not verified) :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 5:26am

ESPN and NBC already have NFL (Monday Night and Sunday Night Football, respectively). ABC doesn't, though ESPN and ABC are both owned by Disney (which is why MNF moved from ABC to ESPN). The WB hasn't been broadcasting since 2006--it (along with UPN) was replaced by The CW (co-owned by CBS and Time-Warner). Now, the CW does have some possibilities as a broadcast network for non-NFL football, but TW also has TBS and TNT available as sports outlets. Currently the UFL is shown on Versus, HDnet (Mark Cuban's channel), and NESN (New England Sports Network--primarily owned by the Red Sox).

35
by RichC (not verified) :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 9:36am

NESN isn't owned by the Red Sox.

New England Sports Ventures owns both NESN and the Red Sox. In fact, its probably closer to reality to say that NESN owns the Red Sox than the other way around.

That being said, I don't see why any of the major networks would have a problem showing UFL games while the NFL was denying them product.

37
by tuluse :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 10:31am

If they piss the NFL off they could very well cut them out of the next deal

40
by RichC (not verified) :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 12:08pm

Do you really think the NFL would chose one network (with a smaller deal) than another (larger deal) because of some slight during a lockout?

I for one think whoever is offering the most money is getting the contract.

95
by sundown (not verified) :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 8:46pm

Pissing off the league would mean you'd need to pay CONSIDERABLY more to even have a shot at a future contract--and as lucrative as the NFL is, you could easily get into a situation where you'd be bidding more than you'd realize in profits. And check out how scared the networks are now of pissing off the NFL--you won't see anything even the slightest bit critical of the NFL on any network that broadcasts games. Years back the league even got ESPN to cancel Playmakers and that didn't even deal with real teams or players.

19
by erniecohen :: Tue, 01/11/2011 - 11:27pm

I don't understand where there is a problem in the players just ignoring the owners for the year. Suppose the players simply decide that they will remain in the same teams (changing names if necessary, but keeping their city affiliations), come up with some way to handle their revenue for the year (i.e., take money in proportion to their existing contracts), and play the games? Wouldn't the networks want to broadcast the games? Wouldn't fans still pay to see the games? Where is the problem, other than what to do about the rookies?

21
by dbt :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 12:03am

You don't have coaches, venues (most are team owned), practice facilities, businesses to negotiate contracts... it would take an incredible amount of effort to get a league off the ground in 6 months. The UFL took 2 years and that was without the existing labor strife in the background and many fewer teams.

117
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Thu, 01/13/2011 - 7:07pm

I believe the players tried to set up their own all-star games back in 1982 during the strike. They failed miserably to get attendance. Times do change perhaps it would get somewhere now ...

123
by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Fri, 01/14/2011 - 9:08pm

A lot of players didn't want to play in those games because of concern over injuries. Otherwise I'm pretty sure it would have worked.

20
by morganja :: Tue, 01/11/2011 - 11:52pm

From an economic point of view the owners are being idiots even in the long view. They are immensely profitable now. Let's just say they get everything they want and become even more immensely profitable. That profit is going to be too tempting for a group of people to not try to set up another league.

If the players aren't making as much money, the price of games keeps going up and the owners are making gobs of profits, there is a lot of room for some people to come in and offer a better product from a cost-benefit point of view, or any product that competes with the NFL.

If the NFL ends up having to share the market for pro football, they are going to be making less money than if they just left good enough alone.

96
by sundown (not verified) :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 8:52pm

Greed absolutely blinds people. Even those who should know better. It's a calculated risk on the NFL's part that there won't be another pro football league that can even be considered competition to them...and I think they're probably right about that, at least at this juncture. But the PR disaster that a lockout would be would cause incalcuable damage. You can negotiate hard and still know that jumping off the cliff isn't an option. But I don't think either side gets that. Instead they're daring the other side to jump forgetting that they're basically tied together.

102
by Jerry :: Thu, 01/13/2011 - 4:21am

What we've seen in the last forty years is that it's really hard to succeed at competition with an established league. Even the AFL's success was merging into the NFL, while the WHA and ABA were able to get four franchises each into the established leagues. Everyone else was roadkill.

Aside from Los Angeles, where there are stadium problems, there aren't a lot of obvious markets for a new football league. See Aaron's Extra Point about the UFL, where they're leaving Orlando because the stadium is "too big". And finding suitable facilities in NFL cities will be hard, since NFL teams now control their own venues, even if they were built with public funds. If television were sufficient to make a league go, the XFL would have lasted for more than a year. It's extremely difficult to get traction with a new league, even when there seems to be demand.

24
by Staubach12 :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 1:02am

I find Cornwell's arguments that there won't be a lockout pretty persuasive.

  • http://www.huffingtonpost.com/wm-david-cornwell-sr/there-will-not-be-a-l...
  • But maybe I'm just engaging in wishful thinking.

    26
    by morganja :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 1:23am

    I seriously doubt it will take the courts 5 years to decide that absent a player's union the draft is illegal. That has already been established. But it any case, after the court challenges work the way through, the players are in command. There will be no incentive at all for them to agree to a salary cap, or a draft, or free agency restrictions. The owners can attempt to collude, but that is a dangerous strategy even without the likes of Dan Snyder and Jerry Jones.

    Slightly greater profits over 5 years seems like a bad trade-off for the owners.

    28
    by c0rrections (not verified) :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 1:27am

    That ignores the fact that players need a union just as much as the owners. For most players a union provides benefits and a CBA helps the league to function well.

    As far as the draft its settled precedent in the DC circuit but the reasoning is pretty daft and therefore could be overturned (were it to wind its way to the Supreme Court). Yet again though they will compromise and the union will recertify.

    27
    by c0rrections (not verified) :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 1:25am

    I don't find them that persuasive. You forget the owners ripped up the current CBA. They don't like what the current CBA gives them and therefore substantially similar conditions wouldn't help that much. The players will probably be ecstatic if that's what happens. And the decertification was pulled off only once successfully (its how the NFL got free agency) but still its always tough to get players to vote for it and see the full ramifications. It requires strong leadership to hold it together. It failed in the NBA when the stars and agents tried to do it in 1999 (the agents basically wanted to run the league) because the rank and file saw that they would get totally screwed if the agents and top players had their way. Antitrust is a powerful weapon though so if that happens the owners will fold quick.

    So I still think a lockout seems likely.

    29
    by Staubach12 :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 1:31am

    I think you are misinterpreting the "substantially similar" provision.

    The imposed conditions do not have to be substantially similar to the current expiring CBA, they only have to be substantially similar to the final "good faith" offer made by the owners. So, in March, the owners will make their most reasonable proposal that gives them what they want. If the proposal is rejected by the union, then the NFL can impose those desired conditions unilaterally and force the NFLPA to do one of three things: 1) accept the new terms, 2) strike, or 3) decertify and try to sue the NFL.

    30
    by Staubach12 :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 1:36am

    Here's Gregg Rosenthal's post agreeing with Cornwell's legal reasoning:

  • http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2010/03/26/union-still-believes-loc...
  • "Once an impasse is reached through good-faith negotiation between the parties, the employer may impose unilaterally the last, best offer that was made. In other words, the NFL will be able to say to the players, 'We can’t reach an agreement, so our last offer will be the new rules. If you don’t like it, go on strike.'"

    36
    by The Powers That Be :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 10:11am

    The key here is "good-faith negotiation". The MLB owners tried exactly this strategy in 1995, but they decided not to bother with the good-faith part. Judge Sotomayor finally shot them down and prevented them from imposing their last offer.

    42
    by Staubach12 :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 12:19pm

    Yes, but the NFL is being much more careful about making sure the "good faith" part is satisfied. MLB tried to get rid of free agency and salary arbitration. That's a far cry from what the NFL wants to do.

    Also, the NFL successfully employed the "good faith final offer" strategy in 1987.

    31
    by IAmJoe (not verified) :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 1:38am

    Work stoppages (strikes and lockouts) are the least desirable tactic in sports' labor disputes because, as Commissioner Goodell noted in his recent Super Bowl press conference, both sides lose. When NFL players went on strike in 1987 (the last work stoppage in the NFL), owners compromised the integrity of the game by playing with replacement players and, after three weeks, players ended their strike because they could not endure the economic impact of a strike -- no work means no paycheck. In the end, both sides lost. It does not matter which side initiates a work stoppage, each side ends up hurting itself as much as the other side. NFL owners will not lockout players in 2011 because there is a better option.

    That entire paragraph is wrong. A lockout doesn't hurt both sides, because (unless the lockout insurance case goes against the owners) the owners have insurance in the form of TV contracts that pay out regardless of work stoppage. Using the numbers mentioned later in the article, the owners have given 2.6B out of 3.6B under this CBA to the players, so that's what, 4 seasons that've been played, meaning that yearly average is the owners pay about 650M to players out of 900M, right? So the owners get 250M in shared revenues, plus whatever they're allowed to keep as non-shared revenues. The big question is, does:

    ([Lockout Insurance] + [not paying players in 2011] - [future lost money from fans scared off by work stoppage] + [future revenues gains by bringing NFLPA to their knees])
    outweigh
    (Status Quo of 250M/yr + non-shared revenues)

    Keeping in mind that the owners very likely consider [future lost money from fans scared off by work stoppage] to be an inconsequential amount, and that [future revenue gains by bringing NFLPA to their knees] is a very very big slice of the pie, I'd imagine that the first statement definitely outweighs the second. Even without lockout insurance, it might be true. If the lockout insurance issue doesn't go the NFLPA's way, then I have an extremely hard time imagining we're not seeing a lockout.

    98
    by sundown (not verified) :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 9:06pm

    If they consider the potential of pissing off the fans to be inconsequential, that's going to be a huge mistake. What happens if they end up with what baseball saw after their '94 strike and attendance drops 20% and TV numbers go in the toilet? They'd suddenly looking at TV contract negotiations bringing in bids far BELOW what they'd budgeted for and the value of teams would either flatline or decline. They've got a few teams right now griping that they don't earn enough even under the current deal.

    The NFL and every other league grows and declines on the whims of the "kinda" fans who are easily swayed one way or the other. If they see that the NFL game is the place to be, they'll pay through the nose; but the second something else looks hotter, they're onto that. It's why LA has been without a team for so long.

    38
    by morganja :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 11:15am

    You also have to account for the lost revenue from the season. Even if the 'lockout insurance' holds up, something that should never happen in a real court but give the NFL credit for having the foresight to own judges, there is still the lost ticket, concession and merchandise sales.

    The owners are obviously full of crap here. They are careful to qualify 'new' revenue. Right now, according to their numbers, they get $250 million/ 32 teams = $8 million a team from 'new' revenue.

    So they are going through all of this to get a bigger share of that money? Are they hoping to get all that money? That's $900 million/32 = $28 million. If so, the 'it's not a fair' division of the 'new' revenue is not a very good argument.
    Are they looking for a 50% split? That's $14 million/year.
    Maybe a little more? $16 million.
    That the owners are doing all this over an extra $6-8 million a year boggles the mind. That is a huge amount of risk and loss over an insignificant amount in the budgets of NFL teams.
    What is the relevance of 'new' revenue? They haven't bothered to explain. There is something else going on obviously. Something they are unable or afraid to explain to us.

    47
    by Insancipitory :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 1:27pm

    Projected growth. Look at what Apple and Google trade at. I think the NFL hasn't attempted to develop many sources of revenue just so they wouldn't have to share the largess. New labor agreement, bigger share, "OMG we just had all these wonderful ideas aren't you happy for all this extra money players!?"

    41
    by Dean :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 12:13pm

    I see all sorts of knee jerk reactions that the owners MUST somehow be greedy. Otherwise, blah blah blah, insert name-calling here.

    But I wonder why nobody's stopped to think about this. If the CBA was a good deal for the owners, why would they back away from it? The owners couldn't wait to get out of the current CBA. If they were making as much as everybody assumes, it would be stupid to back out and risk everything in hopes of making a (relatively) little more. The owners may be many things, but they're not fools.

    43
    by tbwhite :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 12:37pm

    "The owners may be many things, but they're not fools."

    Please explain Dan Snyder then....

    49
    by Dean :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 1:34pm

    One of the most financially successful owners in the NFL? One of the leading-edge owners when it comes to maximizing all possible revenue streams and generating new sources of income?

    He may have no clue on the personnel side, but it's HIS efforts (not the players efforts - or lack thereof in many cases) that have increased the value of the Washington Redskins franchise.

    45
    by morganja :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 1:04pm

    Simple. If the NFL owners are actually in trouble, open their books and show the players and the public. Otherwise every single shred of evidence shows that the NFL is making much greater than normal returns on investment.

    Jerry Richardson paid $203 million for the Panthers in 1993.
    It is now worth, according to Forbes: $1.037 billion.

    Here is Forbes take on the issue.

    http://blogs.forbes.com/sportsmoney/2011/01/10/numbers-show-nfls-economi...

    48
    by Dean :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 1:28pm

    Why should they have to show their books? They are PRIVATE companies. I certainly have no intention of disclosing my income just because someone asks for it.

    I'm not saying that they are or are not profitable. But I think it's absurd to suggest that profits are anything but down in the current economic state.

    BTW - way to cherry pick the Panthers.

    50
    by Eli (not verified) :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 1:47pm

    The St. Louis Rams were basically a train wreck and just sold for ~$900 million in a crummy economy. If the owners aren't happy in their current cartel there are plenty of billionaires who would happily take their place.

    51
    by Dean :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 1:50pm

    Sure. And Chad Hall just made $320,000 to sit on the bench for Philadelphia. If the laborers aren't happy with their current situation, there are plenty of other CFL guys - like Hall - who would happily take their place.

    53
    by Eli (not verified) :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 1:55pm

    And the Eagles are free to cut Hall and sign that guy. In fact, that happens all the time!

    55
    by Dean :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 2:00pm

    I suspect that most Eagles fans probably hope it happens here.

    52
    by morganja :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 1:51pm

    Are you serious? Really?

    Entity X claims that fact A is true and is the basis of their bargaining position with Y.

    Y says 'show me'

    You claim this is unreasonable?

    If they don't want to disclose their numbers than they don't have a valid position.

    The fact is that the evidence shows that they are making excellent profits. The claim that they are losing money is a PR move meant to limit the self-inflicted damage from this money-grab.

    54
    by Dean :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 2:00pm

    "You claim this is unreasonable?" Yes. "Open the books" is really just a cheap ploy by the players in attempt to win the PR battle, but it really has no productive use for the labor negotiations. Just like any other statistic, the numbers, as soon as they’re revealed, would promptly be abused by all parties in attempt to achieve not truth but agenda-advancement.

    "If they don't want to disclose their numbers than they don't have a valid position."

    Prove it. All I see here is empty rhetoric.

    "The fact is that the evidence shows that they are making excellent profits. "

    Define "excellent." Who are you to judge for the owners what "excellent" happens to be - ESPECIALLY when you don't actually know what the profits are?

    "The claim that they are losing money is a PR move meant to limit the self-inflicted damage from this money-grab."

    Except that they're not claiming they're losing money.

    On a side note, the value of the franchises (as discussed in the Forbes article) exists only on paper. It’s what’s referred to in the financial world as an “unrealized” gain. They don’t see a penny of that unless they sell. And just because it’s worth that much now doesn’t offer any guarantee that it will continue to be worth that amount.

    To me, the very fact that free agency spending decreased (as shown in the Forbes article) shows that the cap created an artificial UPWARD pressure on players salaries. They were being paid MORE than what the free market would bear. In other words – they’re overpaid.

    57
    by Eli (not verified) :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 2:08pm

    So sell! If they claim that they are only making $9 million a year and the franchises are valued at $1 billion or more they'd be crazy not to sell at a >100x earnings multiple.

    58
    by Dean :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 2:09pm

    That's a pretty foolish option when you can instead simply manage your company better and create a more profitable business model.

    60
    by Eli (not verified) :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 2:22pm

    NFL franchises aren't worth >$1 billion each because these guys are all incredible entrepreneurs -- they belong to a legal cartel that is protected from antitrust legislation. The more the owners and the NFL push the limits, at some point (I'd hope) they'd risk losing that protection and/or risk rival leagues looking to eat their lunch.

    61
    by Dean :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 2:31pm

    The league is as wildly popular as it is largely because of that antitrust exemption. The owners are smart enough to not kill the golden goose. The NFLPA is also smart enough not to kill the golden goose. But I can't say the same for Government. The best way to ruin the NFL would be for Big Government to step in and make a mess of everything.

    You may hope for that, but it seems to me that if you really stopped and thought about it, you'd fear it. If you want to see the players maximize their incomes (and it seems like that's what you want), you shouldn't want government involved at all.

    The only ones who would win if Government gets involved would be those who simply despise sports and/or entertainment and/or successful businesses and want to see both players and owners making less.

    64
    by Eli (not verified) :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 3:09pm

    I agree that seeing the government get involved would be a huge disaster, all the more reason to avoid that! It is ironic that the NFL and owners despise "Big Government" so much that they are currently demanding/begging for the Minnesota state legislature to subsidize a new stadium.

    67
    by Dean :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 3:13pm

    So if you agree that getting the government involved would be bad, why would you post that you want to see the NFLs anti-trust excemption be revoked?

    83
    by morganja :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 5:10pm

    An anti-trust exemption is a government intervention. Revoking the exemption would be the removal of government intervention. As much as some would like to confuse the issue government intervention is exactly that, special treatment or an exemption to a law. Applying the law that applies to everyone else is not 'government intervention' in the economy. It's enforcing the law.

    101
    by Noah of Arkadia :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 10:01pm

    Sorry, but that's faulty logic. How can the government saying "we will not intervene" be construed to be government intervention?

    110
    by dryheat :: Thu, 01/13/2011 - 2:12pm

    The government's not saying "we will not intervene" by an anti-trust exemption. They are saying "you have our permission to violate federal law."

    Frankly, the 18-game season is going to be the point of impasse. There's no way the PA can allow for more "real" games while being paid less of a percentage. If the owners are serious about it, we're already past the tipping point and headed to a very bad place.

    121
    by Mr Shush :: Fri, 01/14/2011 - 10:39am

    'The government's not saying "we will not intervene" by an anti-trust exemption. They are saying "you have our permission to violate federal law."'

    Surely they are saying both? Is federal law, and its enforcement, not a form of government intervention? Not that that's inherently a bad thing - I'm not an anarchist - but enforcing the law is not non-intervention.

    62
    by morganja :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 2:52pm

    You don't know much about economics or business do you? That's cool. That's exactly the audience the owners are looking to when they make these arguments.

    I'm not sure how to approach your comments except to laugh. Your statements are so absurd they defy comprehension. But let's just clarify to make sure:

    1) Producing evidence of positions is useless because " Just like any other statistic, the numbers, as soon as they’re revealed, would promptly be abused by all parties in attempt to achieve not truth but agenda-advancement."

    So your conclusion is that facts are irrelevant.

    2) This is good. Backing up statements with facts is 'empty rhetoric' while making a spurious statement without any reference to fact is presumably not 'empty rhetoric'?

    3) Define excellent: Easy. Above average ROI.

    4) 'Unrealized gain'. Well, let's skip over the 'not realize one penny' since they do realize operating profits. And note that the numbers don't reflect 'unrealized gain' but rather current net worth. So what? Almost all the wealth in the country is in the form of unrealized gains. They are in fact more marketable at present net worth than almost all other wealth in the country.

    5) What a strange world you must live in. On earth, cartels that restrict the ability of labor to bargain actually decrease the price of labor. This is what they teach in basic Earth economics. Salary caps limit the amount that can be spent on labor. How would a cap increase the amount spent on labor? Does a ceiling increase how high you can jump in your house in Beta Prime or wherever you are from?

    66
    by Dean :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 3:11pm

    "You don't know much about economics or business do you? "

    Somehow, I suspect I know more than you. But I simply have a different perspective, so to you I must be an idiot because anyone who disagrees can't actually be knowledgable. And the end of the day, you've decided that the millionaires are great and the billionaires are evil. Whatever.

    "Operating profits" and "franchise value" are two completely different things. If a franchise is worth a billion dollars, the owner does not HAVE a billion dollars. If the owner is The Collected Shareholders of the Green Bay Packers, they HAVE $9 million - which is less than half of what they had last year.

    "How would a cap increase the amount spent on labor?" A salary cap that also includes a salary floor can - and in this case did - increase the amount spent on labor. Of course, it's easier to just call people names, isn't it?

    Let me ask you a question. Big picture. Do you believe a successfully run business should have a limit on the amount of profit it is allowed to make?

    68
    by verifiable (not verified) :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 3:18pm

    And "Operating Profits" are not Cash which is what we value assets using. There is a big difference beteween mostly irrelevant operating profits and valuable cash flow, which is where seeing the books would eliminate some mystery.

    70
    by Dean :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 3:41pm

    There is nothing to be gained for the owners by releasing them. If it seems counterintuitive to you that owners releasing earnings figures is bad simply because the players and their supporters are so desperate to see the figures. But what purpose does this serve the owners? They’re not interested in trying to win fan support. They’re not interested in winning the public relations battle. The fact of the matter is that public relations is a battle that management can almost never win, so it’s not worth attempting to fight it. Green Bay made $9 million last year. Is that enough? Too much? Not enough? Who are you or I to say? The number doesn’t even matter. No matter what that number happened to be, it would be spun and spun and spun again. If the profits were above average, that would simply be ammunition for the players that the owners dared make more than other businesses. If the numbers were below, it would still be ammunition – i.e. “these dumb owners can’t even run an NFL team successfully.” Or if you don’t like that spin, how about “these numbers can’t be honest – do you really expect me to believe this?” The owners have no tactical advantage by releasing the numbers, and only tactical disadvantage by releasing them. If it means the union howls, so be it. If it means the fans howl, well that matters even less. Yes, the fans could walk away. It might happen because of a prolonged work stoppage, but the fans aren’t going to walk away simply because the owners wouldn’t reveal their salaries. It’s an absurd notion.

    It doesn’t matter whether it’s the NFLPA, or the TWU or the UAW or whoever – when labor acts in its own self interest, its perceived as somehow inherently noble. When management acts in its self interest, it’s perceived as inherently evil. Neither is true.

    73
    by tuluse :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 3:49pm

    It might not be inherent, but a few thousand years of laborers getting shafted and bourgeoisie reaping the benefits leaves kind of a lasting impression.

    77
    by verifiable (not verified) :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 4:06pm

    It may not be to win fan support but one of their bargaining positions is that the prevoius CBA does not make economic sense for the owners. This is hard to judge with the publicly available data. The Packers are different in that they don't have a single owner and are a non-profit corporation (which is how all sports teams should be organized). So if they made $9m after all expenses and topping up reserves for future capital expenditures then yes they made enough money. For all other owners this number is irrelvant, cash flow matters. Fans may get angry if the team makes lots (not sure where that is) of money and the team sucks as they would interpert this as the owner caring more about money than winning. Just like they get angry at millionaire players who don't try because "they are only about the money".

    81
    by morganja :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 4:54pm

    Nope, as long as that profit is made in a free market. But the strange thing is that you are arguing the opposite, that players should be limited in the profits that they are allowed to make, due to anti-free market collusion.

    By the way the Packers don't 'have' $9 million. They have $9 million in profits this year plus a little thing called the Green Bay Packers.

    What name did I call you? I implied you lived in a different world in which basic economic laws apply the opposite they do here on my planet, but that's not really calling you a name is it?

    82
    by Dean :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 5:10pm

    When have I argued that the players should be limited in the profits that they are allowed to make, due to anti-free market collusion? Or for any other reason, for that matter?

    The fact of the matter is that the players are limited to the profits they're allowed to make (aside from marketing, but lets not cloud things). But collusion has nothing to do with it. They are limited because they collectively bargained for that limit. They wanted a percentage of the gross and collectively bargained the 60% figure. There's nothing collusional, illegal, or unethical about it.

    Except maybe on your planet. :)

    I also have no issue with the players wanting more (and "more" is not limited solely to money). If the owners are willing to give it to them, good for the players. That's why you negociate. All parties should work towards the best deal they can get for themselves. Neither should be forced to sell themselves short.

    The problem comes from perception. The players got an incredibly favorable deal 5 years ago. So favorable that the owners couldn't wait to rip it up and get away from it. But even then, perception was that the players were coming up short. Most people who takes a side in the argument will in the end feel like "their side" got the short end of things when the new deal is ultimately signed, as neither party will get everything they want.

    105
    by dbostedo :: Thu, 01/13/2011 - 10:38am

    I believe the previous poster to you Dean is taking the stance that the NFL cartel inherently limits the money the players make through the salary cap and the fact that it isn't a true free market. So if you don't want the anti-trust exemption lifted, and a "real" free market to exist then you're are FOR limiting the players income. (My apologies if I'm misinterpreting.)

    I think that may be true in the abstract, but in reality if you had some sort of really open free market loose organizational football, players would hardly make anything, because people wouldn't want to watch. The structure of the league and teams, and the resulting popularity, is what has driven revenue and players salaries so high.

    I have no idea what leagues would actually look like with that kind of structure and limit, but I'm guessing that the total revenue would drop a lot (or be spread amongst many more leagues, teams, and players) and thus the NFLPA players now would be making a lot less.

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    by Staubach12 :: Thu, 01/13/2011 - 4:02pm

    Really, all you need to do is look at college football. The colleges compete in an open market for recruits and are only loosely affiliated with one another through conferences and the NCAA. Those players make very little (just scholarships and room and board), but you can argue that the NFL's rules about who can enter the draft force players to play for college teams on the cheap. Overall, the NCAA draws less than half the audience of the NFL and the players make very little.

    In other words, I think you are probably right that the NFL's monopoly artificially inflates both player salaries and team profits.

    114
    by tuluse :: Thu, 01/13/2011 - 4:22pm

    Are you joking? It's hard to think of a market more limited than college football.

    116
    by morganja :: Thu, 01/13/2011 - 6:01pm

    College football is very close to the worse violation of free market principles in the US today.

    119
    by Staubach12 :: Thu, 01/13/2011 - 7:25pm

    Yes, it violates free market principles. I think college football is a tragedy and I'd love to see the entire system scrapped and replaced with something like a true minor league system. However, I think that college football demonstrates that you can put on entertaining football that will get TV ratings without having to use NFL caliber players. Also, they get thousands of students to play for cheap, and most of those students are not under the delusion that they will become NFL players.

    113
    by tuluse :: Thu, 01/13/2011 - 4:21pm

    Isn't this how soccer works? Seems like they're making plenty of money.

    120
    by Mr Shush :: Fri, 01/14/2011 - 10:37am

    Soccer - or at least UEFA, the European federation - is currently in the process of instituting a kind of quasi-cap whereby clubs are prohibited from running persistent operating losses excluding stadium and facility expenditure. Clubs within a league bargain collectively for TV rights, and there are some artificial restrictions on the movement of players below a certain age (23, I think), but essentially yes, at present there is, or at any rate from 1995 until very recently there was, something very close to a free market in European-born or naturalised players aged 23 or older, and clubs, both within a league and in other leagues, genuinely compete to sign them.

    122
    by Sander :: Fri, 01/14/2011 - 9:01pm

    That's not to say they're doing 'fine' though. A lot of clubs throughout European football are in financial trouble, and a few have actually collapsed (mostly in lower leagues). I wouldn't want to model my financial model after the current European football environment.

    124
    by tuluse :: Fri, 01/14/2011 - 11:08pm

    Maybe not from an owner standpoint, but it looks like it's working fine for the players.

    125
    by Mr Shush :: Tue, 01/18/2011 - 7:38am

    Right. Also, when you have hundreds - even thousands - of professional clubs, instead of 32, obviously more of them will go bust. Look at the history of franchises in leagues which competed with the NFL. And with a promotion-relegation system, going bust tends not to mean outright cessation anyway, so much as just an extreme multiple-relegation event which can eventually be recovered from.

    74
    by jtduffin :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 3:51pm

    "To me, the very fact that free agency spending decreased (as shown in the Forbes article) shows that the cap created an artificial UPWARD pressure on players salaries. They were being paid MORE than what the free market would bear. In other words – they’re overpaid."

    But this analysis doesn't seem to really apply to the actual situation between the NFL and the NFLPA: the "market" for players's services wasn't a "free market" in 2010 any more than it was in 2009 or any other year. It was a market between 32 "competing" teams (that operate like one cartel, or "cooperative", or whatever else you want to call them, for other purposes) and the players represented by the NFLPA.

    In other words, if the owners had an agreement (or even an unspoken agreement or understanding or "all come to the same realization coincidentally") that they would not pay high FA prices in the uncapped year, these results could pretty easily occur without the players having *previously* been "overpaid" compared to "free market" pricing.

    There's at least one other confounding factor, of course, which was that in 2010 the free agency rules changed so that a number of players who would have, under the previous CBA, been unrestricted FAs were instead under some restrictions. (In some cases I think they didn't become FAs at all, in others they may have been restricted FAs?) That also would have tended to depress the market (restraints on trade, hmm?) for player salaries, since fewer high-priced players were able to extract their "usual" market prices than in previous comparable years...

    One more point: "Open the books to the public and publish them in the New York Times" would probably be unreasonable. "Open the books to the NFLPA at the negotiating table so that we are all working from the same facts" would probably be quite reasonable, and I think that is how business agreements are frequently done in the "regular" business world - it could be fraudulent to misrepresent (or even omit material facts about) one's actual business situation when negotiating deals with another business, I think.

    78
    by Dean :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 4:06pm

    So basically, you're insinuating collusion. Don't be afraid to say it. You might even be right. But good luck proving it.

    80
    by jtduffin :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 4:29pm

    I'm sure collusion is on the players' minds. I think the union may have said as much at some point. I'm not *sure* that there has been collusion by the owners, but I think it's possible, and that they would be pretty likely to do it if they thought they could get away with it.

    It's basic to economic theory that oligopolys (or perhaps it would be more accurate to view "the NFL" as a whole as a monopoly in its market) capture more of the value in their market than "free-" or "open-" market competing sellers do. Why the NFL would be any different from the rest of the business world in this way, I do not know. Likewise the union is intended to allow the players to capture more of the value in their market than they would if they each negotiated separately.

    It wouldn't require any collusion, of course, for the reduced number of "true free agent" players available in 2010 to have decreased the amount spent on free agent contracts in that year compared to preceding years. Does that affect your perspective at all about having written that "the cap created an artificial UPWARD pressure on players salaries"?

    89
    by Bright Blue Shorts :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 7:21pm

    Do you think owners like Al Davis, Jerry Jones and Dan Snyder are willing to collude with the others for the good of the cartel?

    Isn't that what they're being asked to do with revenue sharing and they're refusing to do it. My feeling is that those guys are win-at-all-costs even if they take the league down with them.

    99
    by sundown (not verified) :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 9:12pm

    I work for a private company and have a very good idea of what the books look like. Many (if not most) employees of larger private companies are the same. Opening the NFL's books is a bit of a strawman, however, because most of the experts' estimates are likely very close to reality regarding the league's revenue. The fight is over how the two sides interpret those numbers.

    44
    by GlennW :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 12:48pm

    My bet is that sooner or later (and not much later), the NFLPA caves or compromises (depending on one's interpretation), for many of the reasons that Cornwell gives. It just appears to me that the players have more to lose than the owners in the short term, given the financial protections that the owners have negotiated with the TV networks. The NFLPA members haven't delayed in returning to work in the past (instead taking matters to court), and I believe that presently they have a much better deal in place with more to lose than in the past. As with MLB, with the last CBA the pendulum swung in favor of the players, and they'll have to give something back even if it's not incredibly substantial (for the MLBPA the giveback was revenue-sharing and a payroll luxury tax, which arguably didn't hurt the players much whatsoever).

    46
    by are-tee :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 1:26pm

    I understand that people love making money, but let's face it - none of the 32 owners really needs the profits from their teams to put bread on the table or fund their kids' college educations. It's basically a hobby to them, one that also happens to provide a a very handsome return on their investment. The looming lockout is already messing with their normal planning (e.g. fear of hiring a new coach). It's in their interest to settle this thing as soon as possible and back off some of their demands.

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    by dryheat :: Thu, 01/13/2011 - 2:39pm

    I think the Cardinals are the Bidwill's sole source of income, but that really doesn't interfere with your point.

    63
    by verifiable (not verified) :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 2:54pm

    If there is a a lockout I hope the players can organize a new league and freeze out the current owners, 90% of who are idiots and add nothing to the sport. I would love if the teams in this new league were organized like the Green Bay Packers which seems to me to be the ideal sports ownership structure. VIVA la revolution

    65
    by Eli (not verified) :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 3:10pm

    I'd like to see Zombie Al Davis sell the Raiders and take over the UFL. Finish the fight he started in the '60s!

    84
    by morganja :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 5:16pm

    I would buy stock. I've gotten gradually more and more tired of the NFL and it's crap. It really belongs to a fading generation. I think some younger entrepreneurs could make it fun again. Of course, I loved the USFL. I thought that was a blast.

    76
    by Bright Blue Shorts :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 3:53pm

    Need to learn to read carefully ... thought title said "50 days away, locker rooms larger than ever" ...

    86
    by wr (not verified) :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 5:49pm

    I personally would love to see a fan strike after the Super Bowl - Refuse to renew season tickets (say you'll
    renew only when a CBA is signed), don't purchase NFL licensed merchandise, watch NFL network, etc., etc.

    The probability of this happening is aymptotically close to zero, but it would be awesome if it happened.

    87
    by wr (not verified) :: Wed, 01/12/2011 - 5:49pm

    asymptotically, that is.

    103
    by Jerry :: Thu, 01/13/2011 - 4:24am

    Why isn't this tagged as an NFL Extra Point?