The National Football League’s (NFL) collective bargaining agreement (CBA) has the power to change the face of modern era sports. To insure that future generations will have a chance to witness the sports I love, I am in favor of a lockout until sports in general become a more realistic business model.
As a fan, I see the NFL as a franchise structured business model. It’s not different from your local McDonald’s restaurant. The NFL is the parent company and there are 32 store owners operating in different cities. The NFL decides the rules that each franchise must follow.
The NFL draft is merely different teams selecting employees from a limited labor pool. Every year there will be an “X” amount of running backs and an “X” amount of kindergarten teachers. Setting a rookie pay scale will help the survival of the NFL, because a business model that guarantees an entry level employee millions of dollars before their first day of work is destined to fail.
The NFL must find an average per game salary for players at each position. The salary scale can be adjusted based on a player’s years of experience and allow for performance bonuses. Like a Wall Street CEO or a salesman that exceeds their expected performance levels, reaching 100 rushing yards or catching 4 TDs would warrant a bonus in that week's paycheck. Bonuses can also be applied to team achievements such as reaching the playoffs or keeping an opponent scoreless.
It’s hard to pick a side between the players and owners. The 2009 NFL minimum salary of $310,000 or the 2010 minimum salary of $325,000 would provide a sense of financial security for many of us. Like members of Congress, the players are already provided with the best of health care.
I support player unions role to provide protection against unfair player disciplinary action. For example, the union should represent players when they are fined $75,000 for tackling an opponent. I don't believe they should be able to dictate player salaries or profit sharing terms to the owners. The better owners understand that profits should be used to re-invest into the business and for projects to enhance the customer's experience. Profits would allow high tech stadiums to be built or the roof of the Minneapolis Metrodome to be repaired without the use of public taxpayer contributions. There's a reason employees don't get to make all the rules and as I was once told, "If you don't care for the conditions at this job, start your own company."
From a business point of view, the truth is that employees come and go. Unless the company closes its doors when you take the day off, then you are replaceable. Tom Brady and Tony Romo are franchise quarterbacks, but the season continued while they were injured. Brett Favre may flip flop between retirement decisions, but the league continues. The company (NFL) was there before you and it will continue when you exit.
Current players don't remember that there are also football players that are willing to play for less money. This is evidenced by the players in the Arena Football League (AFL), the United Football League (UFL), the Canadian Football League (CFL) and whispers of the new United States Football League (USFL). I know they don’t belong in this list but the Lingerie Football League is football first, attractive ladies in lingerie a very close second.
I'll wrap this up before you get lost viewing the Lingerie Football League’s website. Perhaps the reduction of financial prosperity will increase the graduation rate and the amount of four- and five-year athletes in the NCAA. Perhaps a fixed salary structure will eliminate player agents and prima donna hold-outs. Perhaps it will give current players a harsh reminder that playing in the NFL is like driving a car to most teenagers—it’s a privilege. If you won't play for this salary, another person will.