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Super Bowl XLV: Why It Was the Last NFL Football We'll See for a Long Time

Michael CahillCorrespondent IFebruary 7, 2011

Super Bowl XLV: Why It Was the Last NFL Football We'll See for a Long Time

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    Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

    Not all football fans are in the same boat most of the time. While some fans have teams that are in it to win it, others have teams that are down and out by week two.

    However, we as football fans are officially in the same boat. We all hold our breath in anticipation of football next fall. But thanks to greedy owners, fed up players, and a commissioner that is in way over his head, it's looking like we won't see football for quite some time.

    On the surface it's a simple labor negotiation. The players want more, the owners want to pay less and it's about finding middle ground to sign a new collective bargaining agreement.

    Below the surface however, there are plenty of twists and turns to these negotiations that could drag this out for months. Here's a look at the issues that could make for a long football drought.  

15. The League Is Immensely Popular

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    This doesn't sound like a bad thing, but it's the leverage both sides are trying to use to get what they want. From the players standpoint, the last thing the league want's to do is lock them out and have a work stoppage. It crippled baseball for years and no one wants that.

    And the owners know this is one of the most lucrative times to be a player—if the league is hurt by a work stoppage that lucrative earning potential for the players goes away. 

14. The NFLPA Wanted The Status Quo

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    The current collective bargaining agreement was signed in 2006 and was scheduled to go through 2012. The NFLPA proposed that the agreement be extended another six years. They were happy with their cut. The owners, on the other hand, were not happy and opted out of the CBA.

13. It's All About The Money

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    Right now the owners claim to have a 60/40 split with the players. According to the owners, the players get 60 percent of the total revenue the league brings in.

    The NFLPA claims that the 60/40 split is only accurate when you don't factor in the 1 billion dollars the league takes for themselves right off the top. The NFLPA claims that the truer number is 51% of the total revenue.

    Until they can agree on what the split is now, they will have trouble agreeing on the future split.

12. The Owners Are Broke?

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    Well, no NFL owner is filing for Chapter 11 but they are claiming that the operating costs of the stadiums and the economic downturn is hurting their business.

     

    The players are looking at a league that made $9 billion in revenue last year and isn't exactly buying the“we're in trouble” plea.  

11. The Owners Keep Secrets

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    The NFLPA president DeMaurice Smith has urged the owners to let the Player's Union take a look at the financial records to verify the claims that the NFL is in trouble.

    The owners have balked at this idea and refuse to let the union peek at their records. It's hard to convince the players you're broke if you refuse to show them proof.  

10. There's Big Money Coming In

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    The owners want to create a new CBA right at the time that FOX, NBC, and CBS are all set to sign up for new deals. Now, they were paying a combined total of 11.5 billion dollars to broadcast.

    That number is set to climb significantly, due to the immense popularity of the league.

    Also, during the CBA(whenever it gets done) ESPN will renegotiate their 8.8 billion dollar deal.

    What this boils down to is that the players want to get as much money as they can while the revenue is set to be high, and the owners want to spend as little as possible for the same reason. Trying to share that kind of money is not going to be easy.

    A little-known fact—the contracts the NFL has signed make it so that they get paid whether there is a lockout or not. Not to mention, the NFL has a $900 million dollar emergency fund for the owners in case they decide to lockout their own players.   

9. Rookie Wage Scale

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    On the surface this seems to be the one issue they can put to bed right away. They both agree that rookies are getting paid far too much.

    Sam Bradford made more than Tom Brady did last year and that in itself is ridiculous—considering he never took a snap in the NFL.

    So, while both sides are in agreement that the money needs to be taken out of the rookie pool, both sides seems to differ on what happens to the money that comes out of that rookie pool.

8. The Owners View on the Rookie Wage Scale

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    The owners want to take the money and use it to pay for the costs of having new stadiums built and general operating procedures. This means the overall money into the players' pool would decrease, which makes sense to the owners since the rookies aren't getting it anymore.

    The owners were receptive to the players union but according to NFL general counsel Jeff Pash, the players not only wanted a rookie wage scale—but after the proposed three-year contract—the players would be unrestricted free agents.

    The owners were not in-line with that.

7. The Players View of The Rookie Wage Scale

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    According the the NFLPA's website, they proposed a fund called the Proven Performance Plan. This would mean that of the $200 million that is saved league-wide from the rookie scales, the NFL would get 150 million to put back into veterans who are working on a small rookie contract. The other $50 million would go to retirees.

    The owners could get behind giving more assistance to the retirees, but saving money on the rookies just to turn around and give it back to the veterans was not their idea of a good time.

6. Franchise Tag

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    This rookie wage scale also affects the franchise tag. As it stands, the players have had an added benefit to the bloated salaries of the rookie wage scale: it ups the value of the franchise tag.

    Without those bloated salaries, the value of the franchise tag goes down. Are the players okay with the franchise tag being devalued?

    Also, the NFL owners are still putting the franchise tag on players, but without a CBA in place the players are starting to question its validity.

    The Associated Press quotes DeMaurice Smith as saying that if there is no CBA that the franchise tags are meaningless. This might be a lesser issue, but it's these smaller issues that can hold up negotiations. 

5. The 18 Game Schedule

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    Roger Goodell told SI's Peter King that he is confident that the fans want an 18-game schedule.

    While there have been various polls, including one taken by Peter King himself, that seem to indicate otherwise, the fact is that the NFL and the owners want to see the regular season go to 18 games.

    Of course, the issues with the extended regular season could force the negotiations to break down altogether.

4. Roster Expansion

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    The rosters are currently set at 53 players. However, the NFLPA believes that if they are going to have to play two extra games that they should have the rosters increased. The owners however, would be forced to have to pay at least the league minimums on these players.

    That's an increase in payroll that the NFL owners are trying to avoid, so why would they want to increase the rosters?  

3. Offseason Workouts

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    The NFL has become a 12-month league. There are mandatory mini-camps and OTA's for current players. The players believe that if they have to go to a 18-game regular season schedule that they should have an offseason that has less required work.

    The owners, while not necessarily opposed to less offseason work, may decide to use that as leverage to get the 18-game schedule through without having to spend so much in player healthcare after they retire.

2. Insurance for 18

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    The owners and the players have had a long-standing agreement that for the first five years after retirement, the NFL would pick up the tab on all medical expenses.

    However, the NFLPA now wants the league to extend their medical benefits past the five-year mark.

    The owners are receptive to this idea, but not if they are already putting money back into the retired players fund and the Proven Performance Plan. The owners want to save money at some point.

1. Payment for 18

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    The view of the owners is that a pay increase isn't warranted for the extra two games. Since the NFL would be cutting the preseason(something fans have advocated for years) the total games a player has to take part in over the course of the year would still be the same.

    The players on the other hand, feel there is a big difference between the two preseason games that they normally sit out for, and two games they'll be expected to play for four quarters.

    They want to be fairly compensated for that difference.  

1. Conclusion

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    The NFL and the NFLPA are at a dead-lock and it seems each side is entrenched in their point of view.

    The owners simply want more money, and the players simply don't want to take less money. Everything else is just an add-on to the issue.

    If the players can get some of the things they want they could take less, but it seems as if most of these things are contingent on the money in the first place.

    What this means is that the only Super Bowl played next year might be played on an Xbox.

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