It is hard to turn on ESPN these days and not hear a daily update about what is happening—or more recently, what is not happening—between the NFL and the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA).
By all accounts, it looks like the NFL is headed on a path to lock out its players and most likely spend the summer in court fighting it out.
As I've been watching and reading about the issues on the table, it seems there are three issues there are simple solutions for. While I recognize everything in a negotiation is a bargaining chip, these are no-brainers for both sides.
Issue 1: Rookie Salary Cap
This makes no sense as a point of contention other than setting the number.
From the owners' perspective, they hate the idea of paying players at the top of the draft $50 million without them ever having played a down of professional football. Compounding the issue for team owners is that the current structure makes it a near impossibility to deal those picks on draft day, as other teams are no more willing to take the financial risk.
You would think the players would be in favor of this as well. All it does is drain money away that could be spent on contracts for the players who have spent years establishing themselves in the NFL
Resolution: The NFL and NFLPA should agree to a rookie salary cap and move on.
Issue 2: Financial Transparency
The NFLPA seems to have no position that is not contingent on getting access to the NFL owners' organizational financial statements so they can validate their position one way or another.
NFL owners are against doing so for a variety of reasons, one of which is certainly their negotiation position. Yet that is not the only reason. Public funding for stadiums would evaporate if it were the case that NFL teams were swimming in cash. As an owner, I would not want the NFLPA, or anyone else for that matter, making recommendations on my internal accounting practices.
What are fans going to say about ticket prices? The NFL and its teams are not publicly traded corporations [Green Bay excepted] and have no requirement to release this kind of information to the public. This list could go on for a while, so suffice it to say it is not going to happen.
Resolution: The NFLPA needs to drop this issue. It is never going to happen.
Issue 3: The 18-game Regular Season
I have the impression this was a Roger Goodell invention that came out of a vacuum and one which he has slowly gained owner support for. In his op-ed piece a few days back, Goodell stressed this is a means to increase revenue for both sides and ensure the continued success and expansion of the product.
Give me a break. In reality, I think this has been created by the NFL as a bargaining chip.
The teams should not be behind this at all. They lose the opportunity from two preseason games to continue to evaluate players and form a roster. More importantly, they are exposing their most important assets, their players, to an increased risk of injury.
The players are spot-on in their assessment of this issue and are firmly against it.
Resolution: The NFL needs to forget about this.
So there you have it—in a brief article, three issues are solved in which each side gave away something and both agreed to one. If only reality were this easy.