NFL Labor Talks

So that NFL Lockout seems to be a sure thing now, huh?  As football fans we can only hope that it doesn’t last long enough to derail the season, but I wouldn’t bet on that.  Maybe the change to the status quo with the NFLPA decertifying and the CBA expiring will shake things up enough that a deal will be done.  I do not have that much faith in sense of the NFL owners.  The owners’ greed doesn’t seem to have limits and the players seem to be rightfully refusing to budge.  What the owners want is not good for the game, it is good for their pocketbooks.

A friend of mine recently told me he sided with the owners.  I was confused.  How could any outside party side with the people who are screwing things up?  While the Owners do have some points, this conflict is motivated purely by greed.  This isn’t the hockey lockout of 2004-05.  Those owners had legitimate complaint, because the NHL was losing money paying the players much more than they could afford.  Changes had to be made and while I’m not sure how long it will take them to recover from losing a season, the league is better off now.  But the NFL is making money, its making money hand over fist.  The contracts of NFL players are not outrageous; they are fair based on the income of the league.  The exception to this is rookies.  A rookie wage scale is a good idea.  There is no reason Sam Bradford should be making as much money as Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.  I know Bradford has already shown he is the real deal, but I do not think it is good for the game to tie so much money into unproven players.  Ideally, the lost rookie pay would then go to veterans, proven contributors.  NFL salaries look like, and are, a lot of money, but most players last less than 5 years.  They do not have many years of raking in that dough.  The owners make money every year, and not a single NFL owner is hurting for cash.

From what I understand, the NFL makes about 9 billion dollars a year.  The owners get 1 billion off the top.  The remaining 8 billion dollars is split 60/40 between the players and owners.  Which means that the players get 4.8 billion dollars and the owners get 3.2, plus the 1 for 4.2.  It works out to roughly 53% to the players and 47% to the owners.  What the owners want it to take 2 billion off the top, and then split the rest 60/40.  That would flip the money each side is making, giving the player 4.2 billion and the owners 4.8.  The players counter proposal I heard, and this may not actually be true, was a straight 50/50 split, which the owners, of course, rejected.  The players have shown willingness to compromise, to give up some of what they have, just not the amount the greedy owners want.  The owners seem to be banking on the league losing popularity.  If revenue goes up, eventually the players will be making more again with that 60/40 split.  But if revenue falls, then the owners automatic 2 billion swings the split in their favor.

To go along with reducing the players pay, the owners also want to add 2 more games to the regular season.  So the players get to destroy their bodies more and make less money.  The thought of more football sounds good, but think of the injuries the players would face.  Teams already end the years with upwards of 15 players on injured reserve, how many more would be added by two more games.  I know the owners want to do away with extraneous pre-season games, but a longer regular season should mean the players get more money, not less.

It’s hard to care about the financial troubles of people making as much as both the players and owners in the NFL do.  To me it comes down to who is driving this lockout.  It is the owners.  They want more.  Always more, and the players are right to do their best to deny them.  Fans who are with the owners, please answer these questions for me: What the hell?  Really?  Why?    I just hope everyone involved comes to their senses before games are lost.