As we enter the post season it can be easy to forget that the NFLPA and the NFL owners have still yet to reach a new fair and agreeable Collective Bargaining Agreement.
The leagues current agreement was put in place in 2006 but the owners decided to opt-out in 2008 claiming the current setup skewed revenue sharing drastically in favor of the players leaving their piece of the “money pie” too small to tolerate.
It may seem funny to most of us to believe that the owners, who have an estimated 1 billion in net worth, are having a hard time paying their bills. The NFL is only the most popular sport in the United States, dare I say the world.
Both sides are at an impass of sorts failing to see eye-to-eye on such major issues as revenue sharing, an 18-game season and a change in the rookie wage contract scale. It all truly boils down to the money, owners want more and players are not willing to take less.
A new CBA affects more than just the issues above including how and when the NFL’s current unrestricted free agents can be re-signed to new contracts. The issue is that no one knows if there will still be a salary cap and if so what the cap will be in 2011.
While teams still technically can sign players they are not necessarily anxious to do so because of the uncertainty of the cap, and conversely players are not willing to resign knowing there is a chance thet may be able to get larger contracts.
There are some good things to come out of this though, primarily the institution of a true rookie wage scale. Currently elite college players that have not played a single down in the NFL are awarded monstrous contracts worth ten’s of million’s of dollars in guaranteed money.
It certainly seems like an unfair system given that a proven veteran player almost always makes less then these very rookies, something must be done.
Over the coming months the NFL will almost assuredly maintain that a new CBA can and will be put in place before the start of the regular season. In fact they may even say it could happen by the time the draft kicks-off in April.
Don’t believe the hype as most close to the NFL and the situation believe just the opposite is going to happen. The very real possibility exists that there may be no football in 2011.
NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith has even gone on record and said he believes owners are indeed preparing for a lockout this time. The questions is what do you believe?
As a fan there is not much you can do but wait and see what happens. I would encourage all of you to visit NFLlockout.com and sign the petition to help block the lockout. Also you can call or email any one connected to the NFL in attempt to prevent this from happening.
Also please take this post and pass it around, disperse it through twitter and facebook, whatever it takes to spread the word and let people know.
Commissioner Roger Goodell sent out a mass email today to nearly 2M NFL fans exuding his confidence that he feels the deal will get done. Some of you may have received this email, and some of you may not, but I have inlcuded the email in it’s entirity for those who did not receive it.
With one of the most exciting regular seasons now completed and the playoffs about to begin, let me first thank you and all NFL fans for your incredible support. Many fans have been asking me where we stand on signing a new collective bargaining agreement with the players union. Let me update you and be clear at the outset:
I know we can and will reach an agreement.
My goal as Commissioner now is to help our teams and players find a solution that is fair to everyone and ensures that football becomes more popular, accessible, and fun. We want the next decade to be the best yet for our fans, and I’m ready to work day and night to make that happen.
We’ve come a long way. Compare where we are today with 10 years ago. From player accountability to player safety, more and better television coverage, upgrading the in-stadium experience, innovations like the RedZone channel, the Draft in prime time and playing the Pro Bowl before the Super Bowl, we are focused on doing what’s best for the players, teams, and fans. My priority is and always will be the game and the fans who love our game.
The NFL is great because fans care deeply about it. Economic conditions, however, have changed dramatically inside and outside the NFL since 2006 when we negotiated the last CBA. A 10 percent unemployment rate hurts us all. Fans have limited budgets and rightly want the most for their money. I get it.
Yes, NFL players deserve to be paid well. Unfortunately, economic realities are forcing everyone to make tough choices and the NFL is no different.
These are not easy negotiations, but the outcome can be positive. If both sides give a little, everyone, including fans, will get a lot and the game will improve through innovation.
Even in difficult economic times, a new CBA presents us with the opportunity to secure the future of our game. You may ask how will the NFL look under this vision?
A significant change would be to resolve fan complaints about preseason by modifying our 20-game format. Fans tell us they don’t like the quality of the preseason games, and we’re listening. An enhanced season of 18 regular season and two preseason games would not add a single game for the players collectively, but would give fans more meaningful, high-quality football.
Our emphasis on player health and safety is absolutely essential to the future of our game. We are strictly enforcing rules that protect players from unnecessarily dangerous play, especially involving hits to the head. We are changing the “play through it” culture to a “player-first” culture to ensure that if a player has a head injury, he doesn’t play again until his health is certain. We are also addressing the potential wear-and-tear on players in the way they train in-season and off-season.
It’s not just the health of players that concerns us. We must ensure the health of the league. That includes a new system that properly compensates proven veterans and retired players by shifting some of the outrageous sums paid to many unproven rookies. Earlier this year, Sports Illustrated published a list of the 50 highest-paid American athletes that included five 2009 NFL rookies. Every other athlete on the list was a proven veteran. In 2009, NFL clubs contracted $1.2 billion to 256 drafted rookies with $585 million guaranteed before they had stepped on an NFL field.
Don’t get me wrong: top draft choices will continue to be highly paid. All we’re asking for is a return to common sense in paying our rookies. Other leagues have done this and we can too.
These improvements and more will lead to better football, plain and simple. A forward looking CBA that is fair to players and clubs will lead to a great future for the NFL and our fans.
My job is to represent the game — the fans, teams, players, coaches and business partners. Protecting the integrity of the game and ensuring it thrives is a responsibility I take very seriously.
This is about more than a labor agreement. It’s about the future of the NFL. We have to improve and will be relentless in our quest. The commitment to our fans is to make the NFL experience even better in the years ahead. With a responsible CBA, we will fulfill that vision.
Happy New Year and enjoy the playoffs. — Roger Goodell
Check out Keith Null’s weekly article about the Saints on NFL.com by clicking here.