An inside look at the ongoing NFL labor dispute, only if I were the federal mediator and Charlie Sheen owned an NFL team (Issues are all real. Charlie Sheen quotes are all real. The conversation is very made up.):
DeMaurice Smith: Super pumped I got this hat on sale yesterday. Today's going to be a good day.
Kevin Mawae: Yeah, only it was the last one and you knew I wanted it.
DS: I saw it first.
KM: That's bull sh—
Sam Toth: Guys. This really isn't appropriate right now. We were fortunate enough to extend these talks to Friday, now lets take advantage of that fact. You are anywhere from $750-800 million apart. PER YEAR. We have a lot of work to do, so you need to get your acts together. Besides Kevin, I'm not sure you can pull off that hat.
KM: That's bull sh—
ST: Mr. Goodell! Good to see you.
Roger Goodell: Good to see you all. I've got a couple of owners here and we're ready to get to work.
Jerry Jones: Howdy!
ST: Welcome Mr. Jones... but do you think you could not smile like that? You are scaring DeMaurice.
JJ: (Leans in, whispers) Negotiation technique.
ST: Ugh, fine. So let's get this negotiation started. Everyone needs to try their best to create a fair and balan-
Charlie Sheen: I'm here and I'm ready. They're not. Bring it.
ST: Wait. What?
CS: Defeat is not an option. They picked a fight with a warlock.
ST: What is Charlie Sheen doing here?
RG: Oh, yeah. Sorry. He bought the Jacksonville Jaguars yesterday.
CS: They got tiger blood.
ST: You know that jaguars and tigers are two different anim—wait. I'm not responding to that. Let's get back to the issues at hand. So in regards to money, the NFL generates about $9 billion in revenue. The owners already take $1 billion off the top for expense credits. The NFLPA is fine with this, but the owners seek an additional $1 billion before sharing revenue, which is 60 percent to the players after whatever is taken off the top.
CS: It's all about commerce, dude. It's all about commerce.
RG: Charlie brings up a good point. We need that extra money so we don't face financial ruin. Companies that have generated more revenue have gone bankrupt because they did not properly handle expenses.
DS: But you won't even allow us to view full expense reports! We have asked for it before and you told us it's "none of your business"! We want that information.
CS: You can't process it with a normal brain.
ST: What are you talking about, Charlie?
CS: I have a 10,000-year-old brain... and the boogers of a seven year old.
ST: Sorry I asked. Moving on. The next big issue is whether to expand to an 18 game schedule. Roger?
RG: Yes, we believe that is the way to go. It will allow us to generate more revenue and give the fans something they wholeheartedly want and deserve.
DS: You are always saying that, but it's not even true. In a recent survey, only 27 percent strongly favored or somewhat favored the expansion. You need to know your fan base.
RG: We do know the fans. They are...
CS: ... People who aren't special. People who don't have tiger blood and Adonis DNA.
RG: (Coughs sheepishly)
CS: Sorry, Middle America. Yeah, I said it.
KM: But what about the physical toll that an additional two games will have on the health of players? With all your perceived concern over player safety, demanding another two games is absurd. How can you sleep at night with such hypocrisy?
CS: It's funny how sleep rhymes with sheep, you know.
KM: Haha yeah...
ST: Guys, focus. People want their football, so let's work this out. We can't keep getting off track like this.
CS: Can't is the cancer of happen.
JJ: Cancer? Where?
ST: Next issue! The rookie salary scale. Seems like we both agree on this, it's just a matter of implementation. Finally some common ground...
JJ: Rookies are getting paid way too much. I think I still owe Marcus Spears money.
DS: We agree that unproven players should not be getting paid more than top players at their position. But that money lost should be redirected to veterans and retired players.
RG: And we think the owners should get it. Remember that extra billion we talked about earlier?
ST: Hmm, alright. Let's move on to the final issue: benefits for retired players; namely, the health care provided. Currently, players only get five years of health insurance post-retirement.
DS: Which is ludicrous. Most work related health issues—such as deteriorating knees and joints, or brain damage—don't take effect until well past five years. Our players put their life on the line!
CS: Dying's for fools.
ST: Now that seems a little insensitive.
CS: Dying's for amateurs.
KM: Watch it, Charlie.
CS: You're with the trolls.
KM: You realize how badly I can beat you right? I'm twice your size. You're scrawny.
CS: I don't have a tuxedo that fits anymore because my chest and biceps are too big.
KM: You serious?
CS: I'm an F-18, bro, and I will destroy you in the air and deploy my ordinance to the ground... I got magic at my finger tips... Imagine what I could do with my fire-breathing fists?
DS: Okay, now you are beginning to scare me...
CS: I wasn't even trying. I wasn't even warm.
JJ: That's what she said! (High fives Charlie)
ST: ENOUGH! I've listened to both of your sides and I'm ready to give my final ruling... First of all, allow me to say that I am not going to sympathize with EITHER of you. You're all filthy stinking rich and worrying about how to divide up $9 billion dollars. Someone find me the world's tiniest violin.
As for the issues, I believe that the owners should provide full financial disclosure to the NFLPA. Call me paranoid, but when you tell the players they "have all the information they need," something smells fishy. If you have nothing to hide, prove it. And after full financial transparency is made available, we can decide on whether or not the owners need the extra $1 billion off the top (or some fraction of it). If they need it, so be it. We are concerned about the long term financial interests of the league for the fans sake. A bankrupt league does no one any good.
In regards to the 18-game schedule, no one likes the four preseason games, but I'm tired of the owners acting as though fans overwhelmingly support this concept. Some are hoping for it. Some are not. Most don't care. I understand that it will result in an increase in revenue and that fans will no longer have to pay full price for two meaningless games—these are good things. I just think that with the health concerns— especially with the recent findings on concussions—it is best to table this discussion and seek alternatives.
The rookie salary scale needs to happen. Teams at the top of the draft should be excited about its benefits, not view it as an impediment. With the increasingly insane rookie salaries, teams in the top five could not trade their pick if they wanted to. If you whiffed on a top ten pick, you had to pay the consequences for years, while teams drafting later in the first round—the better teams—would barely feel a ripple in their salary cap ramifications if they missed on a player. As for where this money lost is redirected, I believe it is best to move it towards...
Expanding health insurance for retired NFL players. The players take a beating for our viewing pleasure and the NFL's profit—and deserve just compensation. Five years is simply not enough. If a player retires at age 29, he probably will experience the brunt of his work related effects well past the age of 34. The NFL would not financially be able to cover everything—such as non-football related injuries or sicknesses—but if a player needs a cane by the time he is 48 because of his playing days, the NFL should help the man walk right.
Now we need to make a deal already so we can stop talking about this and start talking about the NFL Draft!
... So what do you all think? What's on your minds right now?
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