NFL Commish Roger Goodell: 'Staying With the Status Quo Is Not an Option'

David SpiegelContributor IFebruary 16, 2011

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - FEBRUARY 05:  Commissioner of the NFL Roger Goodell speaks to members of the media during the NFL Commissioner Press Conference held at the Greater Ft. Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center as part of media week for Super Bowl XLIV on February 5, 2010 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell published an op-ed in newspapers around the country Tuesday morning. He expressed the need for “an agreement that both sides can live with.”

He believes that the collective bargaining agreement that is currently in place does not work from the standpoint of the teams, meaning the owners.

He said, “The hard work to secure the next NFL season must now accelerate in earnest.”

The Commish seems to see the good and bad on both sides of the discussions. He stresses that both sides should come to an agreement that fulfills what both sides need, not necessarily what they want.

He doesn’t simply want the owners and players to come to an agreement, he wants the league to grow and improve from it, and he wants this as quickly as possible.

The biggest issue keeping the owners and the players apart is how to split the roughly $9 billion in annual revenues. Currently, the owners take $1 billion off the top, and then the players union takes an estimated 60 percent of the $8 billion left over.

The owners now want to take $2 billion before the rest is split with the players.

Goodell mentioned that in 2006, the players got such a great deal. This is why they would rather keep things the same.

“The union has repeatedly said that it hasn’t asked for anything more and literally wants to continue playing under the existing agreement. That clearly indicates the deal has moved too far in favor of one side.

"Even the union’s president knows this—as he said on national radio on Jan. 27: ‘I think what really happened is in 2006 we got such a great deal. I mean, the players got a good deal and the owners felt they got it handed to them.’ We need an agreement that both sides can live with and obtain what they need, not simply what they want.”

It seems that the owners are in no way willing to accept things the way they are in the current agreement. The current system does not work for the owners.

It is now up to the players to either give in to what the owners want, or create a completely new plan that works for both sides.

The owners walked out on a meeting with the players last week after the union proposed a 50-50 split, so clearly that is not the solution.

It is unclear how this issue will be resolved, but both sides definitely need to compromise, or neither will be making any money next year anyway.

Goodell mentioned that players continuing to take 60 percent of the available revenue, no matter what the economy is like, is the status quo.

He claims that the NFL cannot be successful as a business if it continues along this path, and that bigger businesses have failed because of mismanaged costs that were never dealt with.

He mentions that status quo means no rookie wage scale.

“In 2009, for example, NFL clubs contracted $1.2 billion to 256 drafted rookies with $585 million guaranteed before they had stepped on an NFL field. Instead, we will shift significant parts of that money to proven veterans and retired players.”

I agree with the commissioner’s point here. Veterans who have proven themselves worthy of larger and longer contracts are not getting the money or years they deserve because teams are spending large percentages of their payroll on unproven rookies.

A rookie wage scale does make sense, but only if done the right way. NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said that the owners’ latest offer “makes the proposal worse not only for rookies, but for veteran players with three to five years in the league: the core of our membership.”

This being the case, it is understandable why the players are upset with the proposal.

I believe the best way to handle it would be to set a cap on how many years a rookie can sign for depending on the round he is drafted in. Also, there would not be set salaries, but bonuses, incentives and escalators would be regulated.

As the union has proposed, the money saved from these regulations would go into a bonus pool for players who outperform their contracts.

The meaning of status quo in Goodell’s op-ed deals with the length of the season. He believes that 16 regular season games and four preseason games are not what is best for the NFL.

He believes that a change would be right by the fans, who have expressed their disdain with the current number of preseason games played. He clearly wants more games to be played, but realizes it is only possible if they find a way to make the game safer.

What Goodell fails to realize is that fans and players are already frustrated enough with the ever-changing safety regulations that the NFL has implemented since Goodell took over for Paul Tagliabue as commissioner.

I agree with the way concussions are handled now, but new penalties have made the NFL soft. Safer rules would make it easier to instigate an 18-game season, but the quality of the game would be significantly worse. If this is the case, then it would be pointless to have more games.

To Goodell, the status quo also means failing to realize the costs involved in creating and maintaining stadiums. He pushes for new stadiums for Minnesota, San Diego, San Francisco, and Oakland, but also expressed the need for one in Los Angeles.

This is partially why owners would need more money, to maintain the old stadiums and build new ones.

I do not believe that a stadium and franchise in Los Angeles is currently necessary at this time, though. This is the least of the issues that the league is dealing with, and I think Goodell should have completely left this out of his column.

As the Commish said, the current deal “does not secure the best possible future for the game, players, clubs and fans.” He stresses that if each side gives a little, everyone wins.

He is absolutely correct in believing this, but this is something that fans will not have any control in. It is up to the union and the owners to hammer this out while the fans sit back and hope for the best.

To read Commissioner Roger Goodell’s op-ed column, click here.