As the clock continues to countdown towards doomsday, the 11:59pm EST deadline looms over the heads of the NFL and the NFL Players' Association to come to an agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Should the deadline come and go without a new CBA, the NFL would experience its first work stoppage since 1987. It would tarnish the legacy of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. His predecessor, Paul Tagilabue, never experienced a labor dispute during his 16 years as commissioner.
However, there may be some light at the end of the tunnel—or at least every football fan hopes there is.
According to ESPN, there have been reports that the owners have made a significant enough proposal to the players that may be enough to "stop the clock" and continue negotiations without causing a work stoppage.
As of now, the union is waiting for answers on key issues in order to determine if there will be an agreement to extend negotiations beyond tonight's deadline.
The NFLPA is on the clock for a different matter. The union has until 5:00pm EST to file paperwork to decertify. Should this strategic legal move happen, it would allow the union to function as a trade organization and players would be able to sue the NFL under antitrust laws.
If the NFLPA does not file paperwork to decertify by the close of business today, then it will have to wait six months before it will be allowed to decertifiy.
According to reports from ESPN, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Drew Brees have agreed to be plantiffs on the antitrust suit the players will file against the NFL.
Earlier this week, the NFL lost a key court ruling that would have allowed them to use the $4 billion in television reviews in the event of a lockout. The ten owners who make up the NFL's Labor Committee have stated that, should the union choose to decertify, they would then lockout the players in retaliation.
At this point so late in negotiations, the NFL and NFLPA should try and avoid a work stoppage at all costs. Not only will there be a substantial lose of revenue, there will also be a loss of jobs and, ultimately, fans.
The NHL was devastated after the lockout of the 2004-05 season which led to the cancellation of the entire season. The NHL lost money from all its television contracts, not to mention all of the fans who were fed up with all of the bickering between the NHL and NHLPA.
The NFL cannot risk losing a fan base that has increased dramatically over the last five years, as well as players who may jump to other football leagues like the CFL or upstart UFL.
So, what are the issues the NFL and NFLPA are bickering over?
First is the division of $9 billion in annual revenue between the owners and the players. That's right! $9 billion!
As of right now, the players receive 60% after the owners take $1 billion credit. Let's do some math.
$9,000,000,000.00 - $1,000,000,000.00 = $8,000,000,000.00 (the players take 60% of $8 billion)
60% of $8,000,000,000.00 = $4,800,000,000.00
$8,000,000,000.00 - $4,800,000,000.00 = 3,200,000,000.00
The Owners get $3.2 billion plus another $1 billion which equals $4.2 billion.
The players get their $4.8 billion.
That is one of big chunk of change!
So, what I fail to understand is how could the owners of the NFL—who are worth billions of dollars themselves—be greedy enough to want to take a larger cut of revenues that should be given to the players who make the owners as rich as they are?
I can understand why the players don't want to give up more money to the owners, because you know the owners won't show it to the players when contracts are up.
Another issue is expanding the current 16-game season to an 18-game season.
While I am all for more football during the fall and winter, owners would need to make concessions regarding roster size, practice squad size, and offseason workouts.
The idea of a longer season isn't really wanted by the players, and I can understand why. Their bodies undergo a great deal of punishment during the season and adding two more games may lead to a rise in injuries.
However, as a fan and a former season ticket holder, I see it as a plus.
For anyone who has ever owned tickets to an NFL team, none of us want to pay full price ($92 a seat for a Chargers game) to watch two meaningless preseason games, and you can guarantee that owners aren't going to cut ticket prices for those preseason games.
Third, an institution of a rookie wage scale.
This is pretty much a no-brainer.
College football players dream of making it to the NFL and getting the paycheck that comes with it. However, how many of these player who receive astronomical rookie contracts actually live up to what they are getting paid? A rare few.
A rookie wage scale would allow incoming college football players a chance to get what they didn't get while in college (other than a college education)—a paycheck. However, by not spending tons of money on unproven rookies, teams would then be able to reward those hard-working proven veterans with the big money contracts they deserve.
Lastly, better retirement benefits for players.
Once again another no-brainer.
The average NFL career is three and a half seasons. With the amount of punishment players take during the season, I understand why. Retired players need benefits, especially as they get older and their bodies deteriorate due to injuries suffered while playing football.
It should not be the sole undertaking of the NFL to be paying for the benefits to retired players. Both the NFL and NFLPA need to establish a fund where both contribute an equal amount of money to distribute to retired NFL players.
While I love the game of football and am lucky enough to be a sportswriter covering the game I love, it would be a tremendous blow to the NFL and NFLPA should they not be able to work out a new CBA before time expires. In the end, no one wins...including the fans.
UPDATE - The NFL and NFLPA have agreeded on a 24-hour extension to continue the expiration of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement in hopes of continued negotiations in a new Collective Bargaining Agreement
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