CBA Talks Break Down, NFLPA Decertifies

I don't have anything insightful to say here, just wanted to provide FO readers a place to talk about the CBA silliness. I think both sides have really bargained at times in bad faith. The owners basically twiddled their thumbs until this week and Roger Goodell's "We only want to go to 18 games because the fans demand it" is a transparent bunch of crap. On the other hand, this decertification nonsense is a pretty clear end run around the law. The players will still be associating. To me, that counts as a players association. Alas, on to the courts we go.

UPDATE: OK, now the NFL Network says never mind, there may be another delay. Make up your minds, people.

UPDATE AGAIN: As of 5pm EST, the NFLPA did indeed decide to decertify. Just super.

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Comments

166 comments, Last at 27 Mar 2011, 4:48pm

1 Re: CBA Talks Break Down, NFLPA Will Decertify

Smart move for the players. On the one hand, they lose the "greedy owners are locking us out" PR move, but on the other hand Judge Doty is in their back pocket, so they have a huge advantage in the courts.

2 Why I'm NOT Optimistic

Even the public expects the owners to be greedy -- they're in business to make money, after all.

A delay does nothing but give the owners more time to try and find a way to avoid having to prove that franchises are losing money, as they claim, becuase any competent audit would show that is not the case. Anything that makes the union look like they're the ones walking away is perfect for the owners, which is why Smith and the NFLPA are in a bad spot. The union is damned whether things break down or continue, becuase extensions take their club of decertification away.

8 Re: Why I'm NOT Optimistic

Again, noone has ever claimed that the owners are losing money. Only that they want more of it in reserve to provide for growth and protection against risk of future losses.

3 urgh

i thought there was a gag-order to the participants to the bargaining sessions, why are there so many on-the-record comments still being made? just read another story about how statements are being made as people come and go from the facility where the sessions are being made... I either want to hear about the entire thing in public, or none of it... the "he said she said" comments are just too much high school gossip...

However, this will make a great movie someday... vote now for the actors to represent key roles.
Tom Hanks - Roger Goodell
Denzel Washington - DeMaurice Smith
Amy Adams - Hot Reporter
...
???

6 Re: urgh

In reply to by rengewnad (not verified)

I don't think Tom Hanks' head is big enough to portray Roger Goodell. Shame Phil Hartman is dead. You need an actor with a really Cro-Magnon noggin for Goodell.

9 Re: urgh

In reply to by Aaron Brooks' … (not verified)

after i recommended Tom Hanks I saw some more pictures of Goodell and I would offer Liam Neeson as an alternative.

29 Re: urgh

In reply to by rengewnad (not verified)

Actor Jerry Lambert, best known for his fake VP Kevin Butler of Sony commercials. If you need a big name, Russell Crowe proved he could look pasty-faced and doughy in "The Insider."

115 Re: urgh

In reply to by rengewnad (not verified)

I think Aaron Eckhart looks like Goodell.

158 Re: urgh

In reply to by rengewnad (not verified)

Joe Pesci could play Roger Goodell for all I care, as long as Amy Adams is the reporter.

4 Too long title.

I like the chain and padlock logo.

5 Geckonomics

Owners: We'd like another billion per year.

Players: Show us why.

Owners: No.

10 Re: Geckonomics

In reply to by Karl Cuba

Still, wanting 10 years of financial data is a little extreme and simplistic. Five years should be enough for a competent accountant to determine financial health and future earnings giving the economic conditions. Then, both sides could argue what's relevant or not, what's GAAP or non-GAAP, and get to the heart of what constitutes the billion dollar gap.

That being said, both sides seemed intent on getting into a fight. Because of that both sides won't negotiate in earnest until it hurts, but by then it will be 2012. Hard to screw up a good thing, but way to go.

17 Re: Geckonomics

In reply to by speedegg

I would agree, except for one detail: the current CBA is 5 years old. In order to see how the current CBA situation affects the owners bottom lines it would be necessary to look back further than 5 years.

23 Re: Geckonomics

In reply to by Karl Cuba

Owners: We'd like another billion per year.

Players: Show us why or we walk.

Owners: We already did, and here are further financial statements.

Players: (nervous sound of shuffling papers) Um....right.....Now we want records for the past 10 years or we walk.

Owners: Thought you wanted to settle.....

25 Re: Geckonomics

In reply to by brasilbear (not verified)

That's BS. They asked for specific complete financial statements two years ago. Bringing in anything but complete financial statements is called 'not showing'. I'm sorry you are so easily bamboozled. It must be rough trying to get through life letting everyone you have contact with rip you off.

33 Re: Geckonomics

In reply to by morganja

@Morganja

While I am somewhat sympathetic to the player's stance, the reality is that there are complete financial statements available for one (highly successful) team that indicate a substantial decrease in operating profit that has occurred during the current CBA - the publically owned Packers (see http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/28/sports/football/28packers.html and http://www.packers.com/news-and-events/article-1/Finances-Show-Profit-But-Troubling-Trends-Remain/131dac2e-ce57-4798-aade-384c565d01fb).

Obviously we do not know what has been offered as part of these negotiations, but to the extent that the NFL has provided aggregated audited league wide data, in my mind this, combined with more detailed data from at least one team, should be sufficient for the player's to judge the fairness of the deal. Why do they need the detail from each individual team which would undoubtably be used against the team's interests by the union, players, and/or agents in subsequent negotiations? The NFL's $800MM number seems to be a pretty strightforward calculation: if we use the Packers as the example, their operating profits have declined by $25MM per year over the past 3 years, so $25MM per year x 32 teams = $800MM - which interestingly (and probably not coincidentally) is exactly what the owners are asking for.

Any sympathy that I might have for the owner's is tempered by the fact that we are in this position because they agreed to a bad deal in the last agreement. How they agreed to a fixed $1B allotment for expenses is beyond me. At a minimum they should have indexed it to inflation or some other correlate for the increasing expense ratios they were bound to incur as they took on running a network and trying to grow the game overseas. Now they are just asking for additional fixed costs rather than trying to create a robust revenue / profit sharing structure that will be sustainable for more than a couple of years.

52 Re: Geckonomics

In reply to by Druceratops (not verified)

The Packers, being a publicly owned non-profit, are unlikely to be representative. Peter King, in this piece, says "Over the past few days, I've had union officials (more than one) give me examples of how money is wasted by teams, and how some expenses that clubs claim as football expense should be personal expenses." Absent more open books, these claims are credible as the owners'.

79 Re: Geckonomics

In reply to by Jerry

Um, they were non-profit before. So the dive in profits is not related to the non-profit status.

93 Re: Geckonomics

In reply to by ChicagoRaider

My point is that the nature of the Packers organization is so different than the other 31 franchises that it doesn't really represent the typical NFL team. A Packer shareholder, who expects no return on his investment, is very different than any other NFL shareholder.

125 Re: Geckonomics

In reply to by Jerry

Clearly the Packer shareholders are, by definition, different than the typical ownership group. However, I remain to be convinced that the fact that the shareholders do not have the option to disburse operating profits to themselves (rather they must be reinvested in the team) has any signficant impact on the overall financial picture of the team relative to the other teams. What specific aspects of the Packers ownership structure do you think makes them a poor representative of the other teams?

My assertion is that given the intrinsic inter-franchise similarities driven by the shared revenue structure, the salary cap (until 2010), the salary floor and the general expenses associated with running a franchise, despite their unique ownership structure the Packers are likely to be a reasonable representative of the other franchises. The audited league wide aggregate data would confirm if this is true or not, and if so would provide a very good indication of whether the scope of the owners claimed revenue problems is true.

38 Re: Geckonomics

In reply to by morganja

no need to make it personal. Try to be civil.

60 Re: Geckonomics

In reply to by morganja

I understand why the players would want full financial disclosure (they get a % of the profits and if teams are run poorly, or even with the bad intent of lowering the "profit" in the books, it affects their cut). I also understand why the owners wouldn't want to do that ("It's my business! And now I have to let my employees audit me and tell me how to run it?").

In the end the players should have taken book "corruption" as the price of doing business and made a deal that accounted for that. Think about it: if the players truly believe that the owners can clobber the books at will, then why would the owners want to redo the CBA? Why not just write themselves a new 10m check for services rendered and take it from the players cut under the current CBA? Make that a 100m check for that matter. The obvious answer is, because they can't. They want to redo the deal because they felt they gave too much the last time.

On the players side, why give up what you have already gained? Especially if you have strong tools to fight with. They feel they have a strong position with their antitrust suit and won't budge unless the owners make them, owners-be-damned-and-see-if-I-shed-a-tear-over-your-being-a-few-million-short-you-rich-bastards-oh-wait.

My conclusion is that all the "owners won't disclose their finances" posture is a load of bull. They didn't need it to make a deal, which means that from the fans point of view, that is, a purely moral point of view (and not legal or pragmatical), this mess is more of the players' fault.

Please let me know if you think my argument is faulty.

63 Re: Geckonomics

In reply to by Noahrk

Noah, I believe it is a revenue share, not a profit share, which is why the owners aren't giving all the financial info. They told the players, we need more of the revenue; players said - why?; owners said, because we don't make enough profit; players said, yes you do, just cut your wife and mistress and worthless son from the payroll and you have a good profit. Owners said, get out of my books, its not relevant, I just want more money.

In the end, I think the owners are right on this one. The hell with the financial info. Maybe I am good at business, maybe not, but if I have my worthless wife, mistress and son on the payroll, so what, I just want more money. That is a fair position. Let them stop arguing about getting financial info, which will be lies anyway - owners want some money back, players don't want to give it to them. Let's spend three months in the courts, and then see you back here in the summer for some final negotiations before training camps are set to open. Nothing except lawyers are really going to happen until then.

68 Re: Geckonomics

In reply to by jds (not verified)

Well the owners didn't just claim they wanted more money. They said they needed it to grow the league which should grow the money the players get. The players don't trust them.

81 Re: Geckonomics

In reply to by tuluse

given their actions leading up to the expiration of the current deal, I wouldn't be inclined to trust them, either

69 Re: Geckonomics

In reply to by Noahrk

The reason the players want financial disclosure is that the only justification that the owners have given them for opting out of the CBA is that the current agreement does not allow all clubs to be competitive because of the escalating salary cap and player salaries.

The NFLPA's studies based on the Packers' books suggest otherwise. However, Roger Goodell claims that "There is a lot of fiction" in the players' information and that the players know the league's finances "practically down to the penny" due to information disclosed for calculating the salary cap. As far as I have seen, the players are not suggesting that the NFL is "cooking the books," so to speak--they're saying that what the NFL is giving them suggests a different conclusion than what the NFL is claiming.

The NFL is correct, from what I can tell, that it does not have a duty to produce its financial information, because it is not claiming an inability to pay. However, I don't see how it's logically possible to disagree with the NFLPA's response that if some clubs are currently noncompetitive because of player salaries, they need to be able to see what these small market teams are actually bringing in.

I'm not sure that a fan can really say that either side is "more" at fault without having the financial information being argued about. What it really comes down to is whether small market teams can in fact be competitive financially and what the information the NFLPA does have would suggest, and we don't really know about either of those right now.

70 Re: Geckonomics

In reply to by Shattenjager

Maybe you're right. Both sides want the money and are willing to fight for it, and that's all that matters.

28 Re: Geckonomics

In reply to by Karl Cuba

Players: We'd like to hold on to that extra billion

Owners: Why?

Players: Because

41 Re: Geckonomics

In reply to by Noahrk

The owners are trying to suggest that they are losing money. The union has the right to know whether or not that includes salaries and benefits being handed out to owners and their families which are not being declared as profit. After the judgement against the NFL in the lockout insurance case I wouldn't trust the owners to be honest.

I don't see how the owners could have expected to get a deal without full disclosure, won't they have to disclose everything before the court anyway?

On a side note, I dislike the way the NFL is saying they met the players halfway with their concessions on retiree benefit and practice time while still asking for the $750 million. I reckon you could buy a pretty comprehensive medical plan and pension for that kind of money.

107 Re: Geckonomics

In reply to by Karl Cuba

For the thousandth time, the owners are NOT trying to suggest that they are losing money.

116 Re: Geckonomics

In reply to by Dean

They're saying that they're not making as much money as they should based on the value of their franchises, which is simultaneously determined and inflated by the amount that they paid for their franchises.

117 Re: Geckonomics

In reply to by Karl Cuba

Which is a big difference from the absurd idea that they're losing money. The only once who are claiming that are fans who are - either accidentally or deliberately - spreading ignorance.

40 Re: Geckonomics

In reply to by Noahrk

Players: Because we're the ones who actually go out there, risk our lives and bring in the money.

42 Re: Geckonomics

In reply to by X_the_Owl (not verified)

Owners: Because we're the ones who invest hundreds of millions to billions of $ building stadiums, marketing, paying for equipment, travel, and organizing media contracts that actually bring in the money.

It takes two to tango, its not just the players, or the owners. Each side puts something on the line to produce a form of entertainment. Both are equally deserving of profit.

If the players do it all, why don't they just go out and play, sign their own media contracts, and hire their own coaches? They don't need the owners or NFL, right?

44 Re: Geckonomics

Taxpayers -- hey, we pony up a lot of that cash to build stadiums too. The only other significant investment an owner makes is buying it in the first place or paying players.

48 Re: Geckonomics

Agreed (tee-hee, I just said "greed"), although you are minimizing the initial purchase and annual payroll risks. The owners DO take huge financial risks like anyone buying a business, but the newer stadia are generally largely paid for by us. Even Paul "Former Second Richest Guy On Earth" Allen's Qwest Field was about half paid for by new taxes in WA. (IIRC, public funding was shot down in one general election, so he paid $10M to run a special election with only this issue on the ballot, and barely won. Talk about a good investment!)

Of course, teams are not necessarily great annual after-debt cash flow generators, but when you sell in the future.... I suspect the appreciation is crazy high. You just have to float the operation until you find an acceptable buyer. And if you are a life-long owner, with little other business and no intention of cashing out with a sale, you may find yourself up shit creek--taking on more debt is the only way to realize appreciation windfalls.

But really, looked at as an investment on both a cash flow and exit strategy basis, it would be very hard to lose money as an NFL owner. Sure, you could always hire Matt Millen as your GM, but who is dumb enough to do that?

59 Re: Geckonomics

Owners and players: Taxpayers? Once you've paid your PSL fees, you can drop dead.

47 Re: Geckonomics

In reply to by Scott C

They don't. It's entirely possible (but probably unfeasible) that the players could bring in new owners, lease some stadiums, and have the Pro Football League next winter with a Super-Duper Bowl title and the same league setup as they have now. They'd take big paycheck cuts but the networks would sign them to media deals right quick and then the owners would be shit out of luck. The best the owners could do is try to blackball anyone who played in the PFL, but that's collusion and the owners have zero anti-trust protection. The only chance they have to win is if the players break ranks due to their loss in income.

58 Re: Geckonomics

In reply to by Scott C

"If the players do it all, why don't they just go out and play, sign their own media contracts, and hire their own coaches? They don't need the owners or NFL, right?"

I reckon the players could find someome to fill the team president, GM and head coach jobs for a lot less than 50% of the total revenue that the owners currently take.

The players are the game, a couple of thousand superb athletes who cannot be replaced. The owners are 32 men among the thousands that are wealthy enough to do their job, they have no unique qualities of value to the game. They are parasites.

64 Re: Geckonomics

In reply to by Karl Cuba

And if the players were really smart, they would have a big wide-open contest to pick 32 top fantasy football players from 32 cities and and then have them draft the new teams on the ultimate fantasy football t.v. special. What do you think the ratings would be?

65 Re: Geckonomics

In reply to by Karl Cuba

Agreed.

I find myself asking the question of which product I'd rather watch - the PFL with the highest quality players or the NLF with 2nd rate talent.

When it comes down to it, in my opinion, the higher quality product wins out over the history of the NFL, so I have to side with the players on this.

75 Re: Geckonomics

In reply to by heetz (not verified)

Especially since once the NFL failed you'd be able to purchase the rights to the NFL history, so in the long run you wouldn't even be losing the official trappings of the league.

If the union has any type of warchest and can keep it's members together, the owners are basically fucked beyond recognition. It really makes me wonder what the hell they were thinking.

84 Re: Geckonomics

In reply to by Anonymooses (not verified)

I think you are underestimating the difficulties in establishing a sports league and the clout the NFL owners have with the big TV networks.

88 Re: Geckonomics

In reply to by tuluse

I think that if you could get ALL the players then with the number of quality stadiums in the US the union would get enough TV money. The difficult bit is that the NFL owners wouldn't go away without a fight and inevitably there'd be a hell of a lot of confusion and bidding wars between the two leagues. It'd be like the AFL-NFL Rivalry mixed in with the insanity of the USFL and the UFL, with extra helpings of lawyers.

91 Re: Geckonomics

In reply to by Karl Cuba

The players are the game, a couple of thousand superb athletes who cannot be replaced

Totally agree, the owners basically just collect money from the fans and give some to the players, I have no sympathy for them and any financial strife they are feeling. I'd prefer a packers type ownership model for the rest of the league, shutting the owners out.

97 Re: Geckonomics

In reply to by DaveRichters

I think it is unfair to portray the owners as money hungry middle-men who "just collect money from the fans and give some to the players".

Past and present owners have used their capital to build the NFL into what it is today. Without them, there would be no league as we know it. There would be no Superbowl. And the players would not likely be compensated in the way that they are currently.

By paying previous owners money for their teams, the current owners bought the right to be compensated for the what the previous owners accomplished.

Yes, the players are the ones that entertain us on the field. But the owners are the ones that have provided the capital to ensure that we get to see it happen. The owners and players are equally important parts to the NFL's equation and both deserve to be fairly compensated.

102 Re: Geckonomics

In reply to by Karl Cuba

The players don't have the capital. The owners do. They would need to obtain the capital to finance a business as big as the NFL, which means giving up a piece of the pie to someone else, be it other owners, or a bank via a huge loan -- meaning they would take a pay cut.

The players need the owners in order to have contracts like they do. Otherwise they would have uncertain pay in a profit sharing scheme and fight amongst themselves for shares in that profit.

The owners are playing a key role in this, financing all sorts of critical stuff that the players simply can NOT do alone. Again, because they don't have the capital. The richest ones have some capital, but not nearly enough. Most don't have any valuable capital. Combine that with the league and teams outliving the players and it is not a simple proposition.

Please explain how the players could do it on their own. Where would they get the capital? How would they organize to happily accept a share of the pie?

I'm not defending the owners here on all fronts -- they have swindled a lot of public money. But they are just as deserving of profit as the players are and are not 'leeches'. The whole thing crumbles without players. The whole thing crumbles without capital investment. The players can't front the money to run it, and would need some from elsewhere, and wherever that comes from, those outsiders become owners or the equivalent, and aren't players.

103 Re: Geckonomics

In reply to by Scott C

Self-comment: I'm not saying there aren't any worthless leeching owners, or payroll nepotism, etc. I am saying that the role in the system that finances operations and acts as a center of competitive drive for a given team is critical, and that the players don't have the capital to launch a business valued at 30 to 50 billion dollars.

104 Re: Geckonomics

In reply to by Scott C

To play devils advocate, the players could probably raise a lot of capital using the Green Bay model of selling shares that are basically worthless.

Also, they don't need to launch a 30 billion dollar business. They don't need to own stadiums or get all the advertising contracts in a single year. NBA teams are valued at about half what an NFL franchise is (give or take), which brings you down to about 15 billion, and when you are first starting the league you could simply rent stadiums from colleges. The players wouldn't absolutely need to make the same kind of money they have been making either. If they could take a pay cut for a few years while waiting for TV contracts to get back to levels they're used to and advertisers to sign on.

Just thinking out loud (on page?) here.

108 Re: Geckonomics

So if your model involves the players taking a pay cut, they'd be better off just agreeing to the owners proposal.

124 Re: Geckonomics

It would be a temporary pay cut, so as with all things in life, it's not that simple.

114 Re: Geckonomics

In reply to by Scott C

If the players were to borrow money to set up their league then they'd probably be able to borrow the money as a group and probably for less than the owners currently get.

You don't need to currently have the capital to be able to set up a business, otherwise very few new businesses would be created. I think what people here are proposing as a hypothetical is a cooperative structure such as the John Lewis group in the UK. Even if the players, as a group, would experience a loss in short term revenue as a result of loan repayments, they could expect to be rewarded in the longer term though access to a share of future profits without the owners taking a cut. I would have thought they could arrange a bridging loan based on the return from a TV contract with a non NFL broadcaster like CBS and through sponsorships. They don't need their own stadiums, they could rent from colleges. They could keep the start-up costs quite low.

I think that this move would be made a little easier by the NFL lockout. If they have no intention of playing then they could find it hard to prevent players under contract from playing in a rival league.

PFT ran a guest article (It might have been by David Cornwell the ex-ex-NFLPA lawyer) suggesting a similar system of profit sharing but with the owners still in place.

N.B. I don't want any of this to happen, I'm a 49ers fan, not a North California team fan. I love the history and the mystique of NFL, but I do think that if the players had the mind to do so then they could form their own league. Overall I just wish they'd get on with it.

126 Re: Geckonomics

In reply to by Karl Cuba

Except the idea that this would actually happen is completely absurd. You'd have to get players to take short term pay cuts when most careers are short term. You'd have to get a large disparate group of people to agree on all sorts of business decisions they didn't have to before. Most of all you're asking a bunch of fairly young men, many of whom are not particularly well educated and have little business experience to forgo guaranteed return now for uncertain return later (that is unlikely to generate the same share of the pie for a long time losing the NFL's mystique and history would hugely dent their share). And you are asking them to get together and split up the profit share. You don't see a recipe for disastor?

7 It's not about the money

Tiki Barber says he's coming back and everyone has decided not to play until he goes away.

11 Sounds Fishy

So I just read the NFL.com article here

It claims "The NFL, meanwhile, said the union was offered unprecedented financial data, including some the league doesn't share with its teams." I find this very unlikely. Do the owners of the teams not know all their financial data? Or do they just mean information they don't tell coaches and players (well until now)?

14 Re: Sounds Fishy

In reply to by tuluse

I've always interpreted that to mean intra-team information the teams don't share with each other.

Things like Al Davis's annual resurrection fees, or the exact number of worthless family members on Mike Brown's payroll.

22 Re: Sounds Fishy

In reply to by Aaron Brooks' … (not verified)

And that's exactly why they need to the financial information that they are demanding. Mike Brown could point to a bottom line, but if that bottom line includes as costs $100 million in salaries to members of his family then it is an inaccurate statement that understates the team's income by $100 million. There are a thousand ways to hide income.

15 Re: Sounds Fishy

In reply to by tuluse

Depends, not sure of the League's management structure. Teams would be responsible for their team and region. The League is responsible for all teams, TV contracts, league wide endorsements, league wide marketing, overseas expansion, online expansion, NFL Films, NFL Match-up, NFL Network, etc, etc.

There are probably more "think tank" market analysts at the League level than at the team level. The NFL might have more accurate financial projections for the long term. So, the League might tell the Buffalo Bills they need to move to a larger market (like LA) to keep their debt level acceptable, but Ralph Wilson would say a turnaround is around the corner and the Bills can stay put.

16 Re: Sounds Fishy

In reply to by tuluse

Individual teams absolutely do not regularly share their individual team financial info with other teams. Dan Snyder doesn't know how much Jerry Jones makes, Jones doesn't know how much Bob Kraft makes, Kraft doesn't know how much Mike Brown makes, etc.

12 Re: BREAKING NEWS: CBA Talks Break Down,

I don't think the owners will ever willingly show all their data.

If all were as they say, why would they not? Ergo it must not be as they say. Further, I would hazard a guess that showing all their books would seriously jeopardize them ever getting another stadium built with public funds.

18 Re: BREAKING NEWS: CBA Talks Break Down,

The NFL looked at the NBA where the owners opened their books and it did nothing for negotiations. It's a double-edged sword, you can open books and all some people look at are revenue, not profits (revenue minus cost), accounts payable, or debt loads.

From a players' point of view, I wouldn't care about costs 5 years from now as long as I got more money for my 3 year career. That's not all players, but some players.

The owners negotiated in bad faith, but when dealing with future multi-million dollar debt loads some want more flexibility to pay for it/get more money.

13 Re: NFLPA Decertifies

"Player's Assocation" doesn't mean players can't talk (or "associate." In fact, since many of them will be acting as co-plaintiffs in an antitrust litigation, they are allowed to "associate" about their case all they want. They just won't be a union any more that can collectively bargain with the NFL.

But, way to not let your ignorance of the law get in the way of your objective reporting. /sarcasm

19 Re: NFLPA Decertifies

In reply to by Vikes_Mike (not verified)

Sure you don't want to give the article another read? Because I'm pretty sure that's not what was written, nor what was implied. Or are you just out to be a troll today?

24 Re: NFLPA Decertifies

In reply to by Vikes_Mike (not verified)

Actually, Mike, the NFLPA remains an association; it is simply revoking its status as a certified union so that it can pursue a legal strategy rather than negotiating. The association will still be representing the players' interests and has not really changed functionally after decertification.

21 Choose Your Words Wisely

"They have chosen to choose another strategy, and that is their choice," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said.

A better explanation I have not found

49 Re: Choose Your Words Wisely

That's Monty Pythonesque. Probably written by the adman who penned "Choosy mom's choose Jif." I guess Goodell firmly believes in free will and not predestination.

26 No Union

So without a union here are some of the things that are illegal:

The draft;
salary caps or floors;
restricted free agency;

In short, the very things that have made the NFL competitive and fun to watch. Absent collusion I fail to see how the players aren't going to end up getting a much larger share of decreasing revenue. The way I see it, the players have all the advantages now and the owners have deliberately walked themselves into an unmitigated disaster.

30 Re: No Union

In reply to by morganja

Unless they simply follow the new rules in order to prove the point that the players had it better before.

Which would surely damage the hell out of them too, of course...

But I guess you acknowledged that in the "absent collusion" part. I wonder, though, if the behavior of a few teams that might go all Steinbrenner on the league might mean there isn't a collusion case. (I don't know the laws about that.)

31 CBA

Any good reason for the 32 franchises not to work as 32 competing eterprises? No draft, no cap no floor, no minimum salaries, etc, etc. While it might not do nuch for competitive balance, as a franchise owner you could make a decent living in a free market. For a while at least...

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

80 Re: CBA

In reply to by James-London

Well, I think in this wild-wild-west scenario, top players do very well, and bottom players will make salaries like ours, instead of the present league minimum supplemented by playing-time extras. Half a roster can probably be sent to the streets at any given time.

83 Re: CBA

In reply to by James-London

A good reason? They make more money using the current scheme. The NFL has grown way faster than the MLB or NBA which are the 2nd and 3rd biggest sports leagues in the US, both of which are more of a free market system though not nearly to the degree you are suggesting.

96 Re: CBA

In reply to by James-London

Because it's extremely helpful for overall revenue (via the TV money) and fan-base to have all 32 franchises be healthy and competitive. If they were all competing as individual businesses, they'd essentially be trying to put each other out of business (to some extent anyway - you have to have someone to play against). Most likely you'd see a few top teams evolve based on the amount of money they have to spend and the size of their market, and everyone else would be left with the scraps.

That's where baseball was (is?) headed, that's where the EPL is, and that's what the NFL has been trying to avoid. For instance, since you're in London, what would it take for Crystal Palace to compete near the top of the premiership? A couple of billion dollars and a few years to buy players. That's about it, and that's what the NFL wants to avoid.

100 Re: CBA

In reply to by dbostedo

That is all true, but whilst you may not like it, the EPL model hasn't prevented it from becoming incredibly popular all over the world. Now you can certainly argue about the long term health of a league with such wealth disparity between the top clubs and the rest, but then again the EPL isn't about to be cancelled for a whole season either.......

32 Nice breakdown of possible scenarios

Courtesy of Mike McCann:

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/michael_mccann/03/11/whatnext/index.html

34 Re: Nice breakdown of possible scenarios

According to that article, the union will decertify in order to file an antitrust lawsuit, then immediately reverse decertification in order to play and get paychecks while the lawsuit proceeds.

The modern legal system is so messed up. It's practically a sport in itself.

37 Re: Nice breakdown of possible scenarios

doesn't it say judge doty will ask them to withdraw the decertification papers while he decides whether or not to allow the owners to lockout the players? then if he rules the lockout illegal, the players will choose NOT to decertify, and the league will operate under the expired CBA, and the season will go on while the two sides continue negotiations.

otherwise, if the lockout goes through, the NFLPA will go through with the decertification process, and there won't be a season unless the owners choose to end the lockout, in which case the season would play out under the expired CBA while the class action lawsuit plays out

50 Re: Nice breakdown of possible scenarios

The way you put it, it's much more elegant than saying I'll sue you for not shoveling your icy steps, causing me to slip and fall while I was robbing your house.

It really is messed up. And reminds me why I botched nearly every biz law case we studied in grad school. Silly me, using common sense instead of the law....

36 Greedy undertalented owners

Seems to me that if the rate of return is too low in the owners' opinion, then they shouldn't have bought the team in the first place for the price that they did (or built that ludicrously expensive stadium with overpriced and undersold PSL's that effectively cut out 99% of their consumers). If they think profit margins are too low they should sell and get into another business.

But it is ridiculous to ask players to take a pay cut while playing more games when it is the unique abilities of the players -- not the owners -- that make the league what it is.

39 Re: CBA Talks Break Down, NFLPA Decertifies

On the other hand, this decertification nonsense is a pretty clear end run around the law. The players will still be associating. To me, that counts as a players association.

You're making a mistake not unlike to the "theory" mistake in discussions of evolution. There's a huge difference between a player's association as a defined, legal entity and players associating with each other. Essentially, the original set-up - NFLPA negotiating with the NFL - was a way to avoid antitrust lawsuits in the first place. As soon as that original legal dodge is revoked, the option to sue immediately reappears.

51 Re: CBA Talks Break Down, NFLPA Decertifies

It means they can have annual conventions and trade shows... like CES. I can't wait to pay $20 to park, and $15 to get in to see Tiki Barber at his booth, selling his wares. A big sign over his head: Will run for money.

It would be an interesting trade show (Kevin Williams eating contests--$1,000 to the stomach that can best him! The Mannings eating Oreos, Brady and Polamalu giving out free shampoo samples, a sozzled Joe Namath necking with a Sozy Kolber mannequin), and as usual, the biggest crowds will be around the Madden gaming booth showing off its newest version.

Hell, it beats standing in line for George Takei's autograph at yet another Trek convention.

54 Re: CBA Talks Break Down, NFLPA Decertifies

I have considerable sympathy for the players and little for the owners, especially in these seemingly union-busting times. However, it does disgust me that billionaires and millionaires couldn't figure out how to divide a trillion dollars fairly, so there's definitely a pox-on-both-your-houses vibe that will only worsen the longer this drags on.

Sadly, it now comes down to whether those billionaires are more prepared to lose hundreds of millions of dollars than those millionaires are prepared to lose millions of dollars. Assuming the courts don't put a finger on these particular scales, the players are likely to lose big-time, since fundamentally they need the league to eat, while the owners need the league for pride.

The combination of the recent news about concussions and brain injuries, and becoming a parent, had already led me to question whether football fandom was something I wanted to pass on to my son; a lengthy shutdown is going to make that a pretty easy call. (During the last baseball strike, I basically stopped paying attention to MLB for years until I made a good friend who helped re-kindle my interest, and I have way-way-way less time than I did then ...)

The only way this ends "well" if if the courts/government grant the lockout injunction and thus re-impose the last CBA.

55 Re: CBA Talks Break Down, NFLPA Decertifies

Uh, they're arguing about dividing 9 billion dollars, which is 991 billion less than 1 trillion.

I also think you're underplaying the hand the union holds, without their billions in TV fees the owners aren't going to be as well stocked as they expected, which is a big part of why they didn't just go straight for a lockout.

74 Re: CBA Talks Break Down, NFLPA Decertifies

Uh, they're arguing about dividing 9 billion dollars, which is 991 billion less than 1 trillion.

I think he was just exaggerating for effect. Regardless, spreading $9 billion between a few thousand people so that they're all reasonably happy should not require shutting down the business for an entire year. If that's what it comes down to, I'll have little sympathy for the players, and none for the owners.

This is just absurd. They're trying to divide a vast fortune between a group of very wealthy people and a group of obscenely wealthy people, and they can't come up with something both sides can agree on without holding everyone's fun for ransom. And we're supposed to have sympathy for them?!?

128 Re: CBA Talks Break Down, NFLPA Decertifies

Partly for effect, but mostly talking about franchise values and the value of the "business" overall. The NFL does rake in billions per year, but if, say, the Puppeteers were to "purchase" the NFL, it would undoubtedly cost more than a trillion dollars (one way or another) to do so.

As I read more of the comments here, it does seem like the players want to treat the owners more like high-tech venture capitalists (i.e. give us the money, reap your profits and let us get on with our business) while the owners want to be, well, owners (i.e. you work for me, and without me you won't work).

165 Re: CBA Talks Break Down, NFLPA Decertifies

You're radically underestimating just how large of a number a trillion is- which isn't at all surprising, since the human mind has difficulty fully conceptualizing any number bigger than ten or so. I went back to the most recent Forbes valuations of the franchises and added them all together, and according to that, the entire league is worth $32.7 billion- which is still $967.3 billion shy of a trillion. A trillion dollars would buy the entire NFL 30 times over. With a trillion dollars, you could buy Microsoft, Apple, and Google, and still have $300 billion dollars left burning a hole in your pocket.

129 Re: CBA Talks Break Down, NFLPA Decertifies

You're right in that the withholding of $4B is going to increase pressure on the owners. But the thing of it is, at the end of the day the owners, for the most part, can walk away from football and continue their lives more-or-less as usual. What they have to lose is some amount of pride/self-worth/intangible, and an amount of money that, while staggering, is not necessary for their lives.

The players have their livelihood to lose; as others point out, for the most part the players are not set for life. I would guess most of them aren't set for months, for that matter. Put another way, for the most part the owners have "disposable" income at stake, while the players have everything.

The owners losses will be enormous - far more than the players - but they'll make it all back and more as soon as the players cave. The players simply can't afford to wait as long as the owners can.

What I fear is that if the owners simply draw out the litigation for, say, four months, the players will be driven back to the bargaining table because the journeyman players who theoretically make up a majority of the union are going to start having trouble with rent and food.

71 Re: CBA Talks Break Down, NFLPA Decertifies

The only issue I have with your statement is that I wouldn't characterize the players as "millionaires". Certainly the best known ones are. But the majority of the players in the league make a few hundred thousand, to perhaps 2 M a year (before taxes, and fines for celebrating or for not being able to detach their head seconds before making a tackle). Granted, that's still a pretty healthy salary, but it looks a lot less healthy when you consider that the majority of players only play for 3-5 years, and even playing that long can permanently destroy their long-term health.

For every Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, there's ten backup offensive linemen and unknown special teamers, that likely will have just as bad (or worse) health problems for the rest of their life, and who only get compensated with perhaps 5-6 M dollars total (if they're lucky), before taxes...all so that the owners and the big-name players can make lots of money and so that we can enjoy watching the game we love.

And the union represents all these players as well. In fact, I don't know how union voting works for the NFLPA, but I'm guessing each member gets one vote, and not a number of votes scaled by the size of their contract. So in theory, the union should be representing the interests of the journeymen and the backup players more than the superstars, simply because there are more of them.

87 Re: CBA Talks Break Down, NFLPA Decertifies

A number that gets thrown around a lot as the mean career length for an NFL player is 3.5 years.

However, that probably includes a lot of players who were drafted and washed out within a year. I really doubt being on the practice squad for a few months has a huge impact on long term health.

140 Re: CBA Talks Break Down, NFLPA Decertifies

It's not the 3 years in the NFL that ruins them. It is the 4 years of high school, 3-4 years of college, and then 3 years in the NFL. That's 10-11 years of increasing levels of seriously physical punishment. It's probably not as bad for your 6'0, 210# CB/ ST gunner, but that 6'5, 300# lineman who is a split second too slow is going to have serious problems sooner rather than later and isn't going to be sitting on seven digits in savings after spending years bouncing between the active roster and the practice squad.

85 Re: CBA Talks Break Down, NFLPA Decertifies

I find your characterization of 3 years in the NFL "permanently destroy[ing] their long-term health" inaccurate. Especially as a player who only lasts that long probably wasn't playing that much in the first place. I think the health risks of playing in the NFL are serious enough that hyperbole is not needed or even useful.

Also, if a player gets (I believe) 4 accredited seasons they get a pension and health benefits from the NFL for life.

86 Re: CBA Talks Break Down, NFLPA Decertifies

The health effects for the players are tangible too. Joe Montana did an interview recently and he said that his annual health insurance premiums were over $100,000 and that did not cover football injuries. Now Joe was handsomely rewarded as one of the best players of his era so I think he's going to be OK but that kind of figure suggests that a former player who hopes to live for 50 years after his retirement could need $5 million in the bank just to fund his health insurance. With a minimum salary of about $750,000 that could leave quite a few back-up players with very little to show for their career after taking care of their heath costs.

113 Re: CBA Talks Break Down, NFLPA Decertifies

That wouldn't quite solve his problem. Firstly, he would need more money to cover the costs of his football related injuries, which were not covered by his policy. Secondly, bond yields aren't perfect and have to be viewed after the effects of inflation, which could be a major issue for many developed nations after the levels of debt incurred during the financial crisis.

All I was trying to point out is that many players will have severe personal costs following their NFL careers, the kind of costs that would bankrupt the average person. Additionally, that was merely an assessment of the potential financial costs, it doesn't even touch on the potential loss of quality of life due to the effects of playing pro football.

And there is no need to be so dismissive, you may well be more well informed on financial affairs than me but please don't be a jerk about it.

61 Re: CBA Talks Break Down, NFLPA Decertifies

I don't really have much to add to the discourse as I feel like I don't know enough about any of it.

I do wonder if there will be a madden this year, if the players will be in it or if it will be only numbers like NCAA football, and if a deal is done to have all the players in the game through the NFLPA, could that be used by the owners to say that the players are still operating under a union even if it is decertified?

I know Bill Belichick is the only head coach not in the game because EA decided not to pursue him since he is not part of the coaching union, and the just have NE coach in his stead.

Any thoughts?

62 Re: CBA Talks Break Down, NFLPA Decertifies

I had the same question.

The other law students I talked to about it all thought that, since the license with the NFL is a mult-year license negotiated years in advance, the NFLPA license probably is as well and it would therefore still cover the players whom the NFLPA had previously represented. This honestly seems quite odd to me. However, if that's accurate, I do wonder if that means we'll see something strange like that the rookies this season will not be present because they will never have been represented by the union.

From what I can tell from doing just a couple hours of research on this, there's also nothing to stop a "trade association" as the NFLPA now apparently is from negotiating a license like this, so they would still be able to do that.

As to whether the NFL could use it to say that the disclaimer of interest is a sham, truthfully the NFL shouldn't need any more evidence than they have. The NFLPA also disclaimed interest in 1989 (when it was suggested in a dissent in a lawsuit they had filed against the NFL and lost), only to resume union duties in 1993. From what little I've been able to find about the NFL's situation specifically, it seems that many lawyers think that fact alone, without even considering the factors that make Aaron think it's a sham, would win the case for the NFL. Throw in everything that's gone on recently and it sounds like it's a pretty sure case.

66 Re: CBA Talks Break Down, NFLPA Decertifies

is it weird that i don't even care? maybe it's naive but i'm assuming they'll work it out and there will be football and it seems to be cutting down the trash that normally constitutes media ontent in the offseason.

73 Re: CBA Talks Break Down, NFLPA Decertifies

My position is based on my belief in the free market. I support the free market for a great number of reasons. The NFL is an anti-free market cartel. It's odd to see people who claim that they support the free market contort themselves into impossible positions to support the owners.

78 Re: CBA Talks Break Down, NFLPA Decertifies

Because "free-market" usually means "what i support without looking into all of the rent seeking behavior that actually goes on in the marketplace that perverts it as much or more than regulation does."

It's rare to find a truly free-market adherent, and they're pretty wildly radical when you do get them going to the point that they sound half bolshevik when talking about regulatory capture and the like.

82 Re: CBA Talks Break Down, NFLPA Decertifies

I kind of feel like a lot of the coverage is missing out on the core objectives of each group:

Owners: Insulate themselves vs changing business expenses and sources of primary NFL profitability; get themselves away from the jurisdiction of the Minneapolis federal judge they know is player friendly.

Players: Free themselves from recieving the lion's share of a declining source or profit (eg 60% of gate, etc) by reducing their percentage but including new and emerging sources of income (eg NFL network, other income presently outside the CBA).

89 Re: CBA Talks Break Down, NFLPA Decertifies

This question should be read as stemming from ignorance, not bias.

I've seen posted on other sites an acceptably broad list of what the owners have offered to either surrender to the union, or lowered their demands to be closer to those of the union.

What I haven't seen is a list of what the union has offered to give up, or where they've budged on their initial demands. Does anybody have such a list, along with where I can see it broken down? I'd like to compare who is offering what before I lay down my sympathies.

Right now I tend to be pro-owner and view the union as negotiating in bad faith, but I also lack much of the information that would counter such a view. If I'm going to be biased, I'd like to at least be informed and biased.

131 Re: CBA Talks Break Down, NFLPA Decertifies

This answer may also stem from ignorance and bias.

The issue that the union has with the ownership is basically one of trust. The owners were supposed to negotiate in good faith on behalf of the players to secure the biggest amount of revenue from television contracts. The ruling from Judge Doty exposed that they had in fact ignored possible increased revenues since the last TV contracts were re-negotiated. This is not only a poor negotiating position, it leaves the union with evidence (actual fiscal losses surrended to acheive a better position to lock that players out at a later date) that the NFL did not carry out its duty (required by law) to get the best deal it could for the league and henceforth the players as they recieve a proportion of total revenue - of which the network contracts form a large piece of the total pie.

Bear in mind that the reason that the league is locked out now (as opposed to a later date a year from now) is because the teams unanimously voted to opt out of the last CBA a year early. Having done this, obstentsibly as a result of critically low profitablity, they then asked for the players to take a 20-25% paycut. When asked to provide fiscal information that would evidence the need for this change two years ago the league refused and continued to refuse until a week ago. They then offered to provide limited information but not the information the unio has asked for. The union insists that the offer of fiscal information wasn't enough, as we only have 'he said, she said' information about this it is impossible to tell what actually happened. The fact remains tha the league has asked for a 20% reduction in pay and failed to satisfy the union that this was in fact neccessary. As a finance director I can easily see how simple profit and loss figures are way, way short of being convincing; a good accountant can make profits disappear for years at a time, certainly long enough to cover the two year lead up to a labour negotiation.

As to the league 'moving' on its demands this seems to me to be a clearly superficial negotiating ploy. The league has for that last few years been deliberately falling out with the union on everything they can find to fall out about (rookie salary scales, disciplinary fines, the final right of appeal for suspensions being the commisioner who imposed the punishments in the first place, even down to restrictions on practices to reduce head trauma). Then as the negotiations get to the magic hour the league carefully and methodically gives up on all the 'negotiating points' that they have carefully crafted other than the one that everyone really cares about, the money. It seems to me to be a finely crafted attempt to create and then surrender a legion of false sticking points in order to avoid looking like you hadn't tried to negotiate. To me it seems very transparent and deceitful, if an employer treated me like this I would look for a new job but this opportunity isn't available to NFL calibre players.

As far as I see it Doty exposed the league as having no clothes in as much as they hadn't been maximising revenue (to create lockout insurance) and yet were claiming that they couldn't afford the current CBA. If the Doty ruling hadn't happened the league wouldn't have budged an inch so far. As it is they have only surrendered their carefully contructed 'negotiating points' and they don't care a jot about a single one of them. The league has yet to provide the players with information about why they have to take a 20% pay cut (or a 10% pay cut).

I suspect that one of the problems with the current CBA is that low revenue teams don't think they can compete with higher revenue teams. This may actually mean that owning a low revenue team isn't the cash cow it once was. I supect that the real problem is that there is a very real difference amongst the ownership about the scale of revenue sharing needed to support the CBA. If there is genius in any of this it is in the NFL making the issue an owners vs players problem as opposed to a big market vs little market problem. I think this is at the crux of the problem that the owners have with the current CBA or why the owners want a new one. The ideal solution for the owners (big and small alike) is to reduce the level of player salaries to that which could be supported by the smaller markets and let the big boys keep the inordinately substantial change. However the league certainly used to support revenue sharing (because your team has to play somebody right?) and considering its financial success as a league wide venture it should for my mind continue these practices. The revenue sharing agreement in the last CBA was demented and was always going to cause problems. The owners seem to wish for the players alone to redress the balance.

If you haven't guessed I think the owners are bang out of order and are yet to even begin negotiating in good faith. If I were involved in the NFLPA leadership I think I would be convinced that the only way to get the owners to behave toward the union and each other in a proper manner would be through the courts.

133 Re: CBA Talks Break Down, NFLPA Decertifies

That's not what I meant, and I don't think that's what I asked.

In any kind of negotiations, both sides are expected to offer concessions. I've seen what the owners have offered up, but I haven't seen ANYTHING specific that the players have offered up. You might not think that what the owners have offered is central, you might think that they have artificially invented demands just to offer them up, but...they've offered them.

I've yet to see any evidence that the union has done anything other than say, "We're not going to budge until you give in to our demands, and we're going to take you to court rather than budge." If evidence to contradict that exists, I'd like to see it.

Also, concerning Judge Doty, he has an extensive pro-labor reputation. The union seems to be banking on that, heavily.

138 Re: CBA Talks Break Down, NFLPA Decertifies

The union didn't collapse the last CBA, it was the owners that voted it down. They say they need money back but haven't satisfied the union as to why. Just because you are in negotiations doesn't mean that you automatically have to make concessions harmful to your membership. Would it make you happier if the union had adopted an absurd starting position and asked for 90% of all revenues so that they could offer a lower number as a concession? It seems fairly clear to me that this is what the owners have done by asking for an extra $1bn a year more from the players and refused to give them any financial information for two years and then refused to give them information which would include data from before and during the last CBA.

Is there a rule that says you have to make concessions in negotiations with an unreasonable opponent?

144 Re: CBA Talks Break Down, NFLPA Decertifies

bargaining includes giving something up to get something back

This is really important to understand what is going on and why the players are not best pleased with the way the owners are behaving. The players aren't getting anything back. Not a sausage. The owners voted unanimously to rip up the collectively bargained agreement and have tried to impose a 20% pay reduction on the players. What exactly are the players getting in all of this? The one thing that they have asked for that the league won't let them have is information to prove to them that the pay cut really will benefit the game and not just sit in an owner's pocket. The last time the union did get to look at the owner's books they found stuff like a $7.5m salary paid to the owner of the Eagles (which would be a lot more in today's money given inflation) that had been accounted as an administrative expense instead of profit. So no the players can't just trust the league on this one the owners have way too much form in lying and trying to deceive the union. They tried to carve out a piece of TV revenue exclusively for their own use (breaking the existing bargaining agreement in the process) effectively taking money out of the player's pockets so that the owners have funds to lock the players out. The owners claimed they weren't making enough money yet it turns out that they had deliberately left money on the table. Do you know what would have made the league more profitable, actually trying to get the most money from TV revenues instead of telling the networks that the deal breaker was lockout insurance not total revenue. Again, more lies. This is probelmatic when considering that the league has effectively said to players that they just have to trust them. It really doesn't help matters when Jerry Jones makes incendiary and disrespectful comments and gestures and then walks out of the room during the last negotiation session with the players either.

149 Re: CBA Talks Break Down, NFLPA Decertifies

Until the owners open their books no one has the slightest idea how f***ed or not the owners were under the last CBA. The value of each franchise has done very nicely over the period which doesn't normally indicate a drastic loss of profitability of the sort that would require business models to be ripped up and started again.

Could you provide any detail of exactly how the players screwed the owners? Other than the fact that the owners don't like the old CBA.

150 Re: CBA Talks Break Down, NFLPA Decertifies

Simply the fact that they (metaphorically) held a gun to the owners head and said "here's a proposal - take it or leave it, and we're not going to give you any time to look it over." If it were really a fair proposal, why not let the owners have the time they need to look at it?

I actually agree that we don't know how fucked the owners were. But that also means we don't know just how good the players have had it for the last 5 years, either.

157 Re: CBA Talks Break Down, NFLPA Decertifies

As much as you want to rage about how the owners are terrible, horrible people, you're going off on a complete tangent. None of this is related to my original question, which was "What have the players offered to the owners in exchange for the concessions they want?"

The owners have reduced what they are looking for, and offered compromises.

The players, as best I can tell, have not. Nobody here has been able to name any, which leads me to believe that the players actually haven't offered anything.

I feel pretty confident at this point that the players are stonewalling and refusing to compromise, which means my sympathies are entirely with the owners.

159 Re: CBA Talks Break Down, NFLPA Decertifies

OK again, the players didn't cancel the last CBA, they liked it. They don't want any concessions, they want to keep things the way they are, why do they have to start giving things up?

Just to make you happy here are some of the things I do know the union has suggested;

-they offered to simplify the revenue split to change to a simple 50% of all revenue, which is less than they had gotten in any single year under the last CBA.

-they came to a rough agreement with the owners on a new rookie wage scale (an oft repeated owner demand).

-I have read references from players reps to other fiscal offers made in the regotiations but the detail have been very brief or entirely missing. These include proposals governing salary cap numbers and the way they are calulated.

These are negotiating points that aren't safety related and the union has made offers. I wouldn't expect the union to agree to anything that they feel places players in greater danger, especially not whilst wages are under pressure (that one is just a fact of life). So there you have union movement on key issues (ie in this bargaining this means fiscal issues) to prove they have negotiatied just as hard as the league.

As much as you want to rage about how the owners are terrible, horrible people, you're going off on a complete tangent. None of this is related to my original question, which was "What have the players offered to the owners in exchange for the concessions they want?"

No rage, not horrible people, I just think they are being greedy and taking huge risks with the health and well being of a golden egg laying goose. Not smart at all. I apologise if I may have misunderstood your original question however your question is in of its self a bit of a tangent. We have no idea of exactly who has said what in neogtiations so your question is somewhat sophomoric.

You seem to infer from the fact that the owners have given ground on a list of what are basically safety concerns that they are negotiating. I would argue that by insisting that safety concerns need to negotiated alongside financial concerns the owners are being obtuse, probably with the intention of convincing people like you that they are behaving in good faith (it seems to have worked).

160 Re: CBA Talks Break Down, NFLPA Decertifies

I know very little about the negotiations that lead to the last CBA. However, I vaguely recall reading somewhere that the owners planned to leave the CBA early when they signed it. This was because they felt that the deal was not good for them. However, they signed it believing that it was better to have an unideal agreement in place rather than no agreement.

If this is true, I think it's fair to argue that the owners have been making concessions to the players for the past five years under the terms of the last CBA. In which case the players must now make some concessions.

161 Re: CBA Talks Break Down, NFLPA Decertifies

My overview of this, is that the parties met for 7 or 10 days or thereabouts with a mediator. They probably said a great many things to each other. The mediator is not talking - as is entirely appropriate. Each side however comes out and says whatever self-serving stuff they want to, in an effort to give themselves the best PR points, but none of which are necessarily true, or really a reflection of the position that they really want to achieve.

For example, the 18 game issue. I don't think either side really cares about this deep down. Each side will step in front of a microphone and tell you why they have a deeply held view on it, but it is simply not true. From the Owners perspective, on a simplistic basis, they make money on each game played, so more games equals more money (yes, it is more complicated than that, but they probably have financial models that says this will be true for a 2 game increase). From the Players perspective, again on a simplistic basis, they get more money on each game played too, and sure there is some increased injury risk, but that is just a risk and the extra game checks are there to offset that. Anybody remember a 14 game schedule. The number of games is just arbitrary, and these guys will agree to anything that ultimately makes sense to them, primarily on a monetary basis. At the end, if the Owners can get the players to give back enough money, they would abandon the extra 2 games - its just one negotiating point; if the Players can keep alot of the revenue and need to give the extra 2 games to do that, they will - its just one negotiating point.

All in all, nobody loses anything of significance until September. Sure, trades don't go, free agents can't sign, rookies can't sign, workouts are lost, etc., and all of that will ultimately have an effect, but players don't lose a paycheck and owners don't lose a gate until September, so why should I settle now? I think we are in for 3 or 4 months of lawyers and lies in the press. Hopefully by August they will get back to meaningful negotiations.

I am just thankful that unlike MLB and NHL, these guys had the sense to do this in the offseason. If they can't conclude by September, they are all idiots.

90 Re: CBA Talks Break Down, NFLPA Decertifies

Can anyone explain what the union is trying to get from decertification? If they win the antitrust lawsuit, what happens? Will there be a season? And how likely are they to win the lawsuit?

92 Re: CBA Talks Break Down, NFLPA Decertifies

A Collective Bargaining Agreement from a certified union allows the NFL to avoid anti-trust law. By de-certifying the union, the players remove the exception that the NFL enjoys from anti-trust laws.

If the NFL is exposed to anti-trust regulations it will be illegal for them to collude in restraint of trade, including colluding in restraint of employee compensation.

It will then be illegal for NFL owners to conduct a draft and force players to deal with only one team. Instead any eligible player without a contract can offer his services to any team and decide which to play for.

It will also be illegal to impose a salary cap or floor. Restricted free agency will be illegal. Also their TV contracts will come under greater scrutiny.

If the players are allowed to de-certify the union, the NFL will be exposed to the same laws that cover every other business in America, and from an economics perspective, their returns on investments will return to normal ROI, which will be a huge change for them, one they will not be pleased with.

The only way for there to be football next year, absent an agreement on a new CBA or the owners giving up on imposing a new CBA, will be for the union to decertify, which they did, the players to file an anti-trust action against the NFL, which they have, and for a judge to rule that the lockout is a restraint of free trade and issue an injunction forcing the NFL to play the season.

Of course, the NFL is free to disband any time they feel like it, but their franchises currently mostly worth over a billion dollars each would then be worthless.

99 Re: CBA Talks Break Down, NFLPA Decertifies

Um, and what is a "normal" level of pay for NFL players? Can any but a couple of them earn the NFL minimum outside of football?

The notion of "normal" does not really exist, and is only sophistry in these arguments. The league minimum is certainly not normal. Players want that to keep peace among themselves. I see no reason why the bottom of the NFL scale should not be UFL-level compensation otherwise. Sure, Manning and Brady would make more. But the nameless guys, they will making 1/4 of what they make now. That is what the free market looks like. And it would permanently break the players union as the bottom of the roster recognizes how screwed they are.

101 Re: CBA Talks Break Down, NFLPA Decertifies

Well, normal was actually in reference to 'return on investment'. The mistake you are making is in thinking that the NFL is free to collude to restrict player salaries. In a free market system, they are not. So the question isn't what is 'normal' for football players, which is a silly concept. What might I ask is the 'normal' income for an actor who is not allowed to act, a financial advisor who is not allowed to advise on finance, Steve Jobs if he isn't allowed to market electronics?

The real question is what would player salaries be without collusion on the part of the owners, that is to say, what would player salaries be in a free market?

I suspect you are very wrong as well on what the bottom part of a roster would make. Teams that do well in the violent game of football are the ones that have quality depth. The bottom part of the roster might not be as talented as the top part, but that hardly matters. What does is how many people could replace them without a drop in quality. IS the 45th guy on the roster interchangeable with anybody off the street?

94 Re: CBA Talks Break Down, NFLPA Decertifies

I didn't really understand this:

"If the players are allowed to de-certify the union, the NFL will be exposed to the same laws that cover every other business in America, and from an economics perspective, their returns on investments will return to normal ROI, which will be a huge change for them, one they will not be pleased with."

I presume you are talking about some sort of change to the TV revenue sharing affecting the ROI of the individual teams, but last I looked the TV contracts were independent of the union and accompanying anti-trust protections. At least, the previous era of union decertification (ca. 89-93) didn't affect the TV contracts.

Unless what you mean is that there won't be football, so the owners will be stuck investing in a business that in not operating. But that isn't 'normal' ROI either.

98 Re: CBA Talks Break Down, NFLPA Decertifies

Without a salary cap, restricted free agency and a draft, owners that want to win will compete for players, bidding up their teams' salaries. The percentage of the revenue currently captured by the owners because of their agreement to not compete on total salary, and restrictions on players ability to market their services to the highest bidder, will instead be captured by the players.

In a competitive market, that's what would be expected. It doesn't necessarily matter where the revenue comes from, the competitive process will bid up the price for players.

TV would, and should come under greater scrutiny because the NFL forcing TV networks to not cover other professional football is a clear violation of anti-trust law, one that they have gotten away with in the past.

105 Re: CBA Talks Break Down, NFLPA Decertifies

The anti-trust exemption affected by the union de-certification extends only to the salary cap. Neither the draft nor the revenue sharing agreement are affected.

We have already seen a year without a salary cap, and total player compensation went down, not up. Remember that without the salary cap there is also no salary *floor.* Personally, I estimate that the need for the Browns and Jaguars and Bills to be cheap will long outweigh any spending that Jones and Snyder and Davis can afford. In any case the big money will go to a few big name stars and most players will be, relatively speaking, worse off.

I suppose the players might try to overturn the draft as well, but to do accomplish that they need to overcome 77 years of precedent in the NFL (and more in other sports). It ain't happening in this space-time continuum, and the players have never made any suggestion that they want to disassemble the draft. Even if they did, how would that affect ROI? Teams with scouting departments would find college players and sign them to futures contracts in January. Big Deal (the lawsuits between teams about who got to a player first might cause confusion, but all the owners would really have to do is institute a 'decision announcement day' like the colleges do.

What the players have said they want to do is to use the antitrust system to stop the owners from locking them out . They will likely win that one, and when Judge Doty tells the owners to let the players work, the league will resume activity under the *former* (1987) collective bargaining agreement -- with full free agency after 5 seasons and no salary cap. This is apparently what the union wants, and it *includes* the present structure of the induction draft (there might be a few more rounds allowed).

None of the forgoing has *any* effect on the source of the owners guaranteed ROI, which exists because of revenue sharing from the national TV contracts. There in no aspect of the CBA at all that has *anything* to do with revenue sharing between the owners, and its unlikely the players even have standing to bring suit in regard to it. The only entities that might have standing would be the networks and video-game publishers, but what reason would they have to bring down their own cash cow? Revenue sharing makes the league (as a league) strong, which in turn makes TV ratings and video game sales strong as well.

I suppose the UFL might try, on the grounds that NFL revenue sharing inhibits their business expansion. They would probably be as successful as the last rival league that sued the NFL, the USFL -- which won the verdict but was then awarded damages in the grant total amount of $1. Apparently the jury felt that was all people dumb enough to take on the NFL in its fall TV programming wheelhouse (USF played its final season in Fall) deserved.

But even the USFL teams wanted to *join* the revenue sharing arrangement, not end it.

So I'm still baffled as to how anything arising from the particular employer-employee confrontation will affect the NFL owners 'artificial' ROI. The most 'pro-player' outcome in the courts will win the players an end to the salary cap followed by business as usual for the owners and networks. That includes revenue sharing, and it will continue to include an outsized ROI for the owners.

121 Re: CBA Talks Break Down, NFLPA Decertifies

You are misinformed. The draft, restricted free agency and salary cap/floor are all in violation of anti-trust law. Absent a union and a Collective Bargaining Agreement, none of these things are allowed. I think the mistake in your perception stems from the fact that if there is an injunction against a lockout, the season would be played under the rules currently in effect with the last CBA, which in this case includes the draft and possibly restricted free agency.

The artificially augmented ROI is a product of the cartel and the economic rent from monopoly power. An agreement to not compete financially; the salary cap, an agreement to limit the ability of players to market their services; the draft and restricted free agency and the 'franchise tag', the barriers to entry, generate the additional profits that inflate the ROI above free market levels.

164 Re: CBA Talks Break Down, NFLPA Decertifies

My memory of the USFL verdict was not that the jury thought more damages weren't deserved, but that they believed the judge had the power to set the amount and would be better able to do so properly. IIRC (from Wikipedia'ing this ages ago), they were upset to learn that the $1 award would stand.

130 Re: CBA Talks Break Down, NFLPA Decertifies

Morganja wrote:
You are misinformed. The draft, restricted free agency and salary cap/floor are all in violation of anti-trust law. Absent a union and a Collective Bargaining Agreement, none of these things are allowed.

I reply:
I think I am not misinformed that the NFL had a draft from 1934-1967, a period in which it did not have a Collective Bargaining Agreement, and likewise from 1987-1992. The period between 34 and 67 also saw various restrictions o0n free agency, culminating in the 'Rozelle Rule.'

So the presence or absence of a CBA has nothing to do with the presence or absence of a draft or the presence or absence of 'restricted' free agency. This is a matter of fact, not opinion. (The presence or absence of specific anti-trust lawsuits may well have a profound effect on those two items, but NO ONE ON THE PLAYER SIDE is talking about that yet -- merely a lawsuit to force the owners to end the lockout.)

Even if the draft and restricted free agency are somehow abolished, so what? People seem to forget that the pre-draft period (1920-1933) was the era in which the NFL *established* its monopoly power over the sport and destroyed at least two rival leagues and well as numerous independents. (Yes, the Depression had its influence on that, but how would our own shaky economic times be substantively different? Note that the effect of the crash is at least part of the point the owners are trying to make.)

And in any case, you still have not addressed how any changes you expect from this labor impasse will affect revenue sharing (which also existed in the absence of a CBA).

Football (and other sports) tend towards monopolistic behaviors because they combine a very small talent pool of workers with an even smaller set of owners able to provide work for that talent and a consumer base with fanatical loyalty. The ROI on sporting enterprises is inflated beyond the 'normal' because sports as a business is not 'normal.' Whether or not the NFL owners keep all of the monopolistic features their business model had a two years ago or only some, they will still get a pretty much guaranteed ROI on their product.

132 Re: CBA Talks Break Down, NFLPA Decertifies

You are absolutely, completely wrong. You cannot have a draft in the US barring a CBA with a certified union. No ands, ifs or buts about it. I really have no idea why you might think differently. Are you under the impression that businesses can collude whenever they choose to restrict the ability of employees to market their services?

You think that there is such things as restricted free agency outside of the anti-trust exemption between the league and a certified union? Let me get this straight. You believe that it is legal for a business to tell an employee that has finished their contract that no, they can't go work anywhere else and must accept the contract offered by their employer. Go have a talk with your HR representative and see what they say on the topic.

Football has an anti-trust exemption that allows them to bargain with the TV networks. Absent that exemption, they would not be able to have the deals they now have in place.

What is this revenue sharing theme you keep bringing up? Are you talking about the revenue shares between the teams or between the teams and the players? Let me know and I will address that directly.

I'm not being facetious on any of this. I am genuinely shocked to hear Americans confused on any of these basic rules of our economic system.