The league will be able to smile again soon.
With less than three weeks remaining until the first NFL training camps open, many are beginning to fear that the season will be greatly affected. However, there was much positive feedback coming from this week’s talks, and so it looks like a treaty will be reached.
Optimism is high that a deal will be made by July 21st (according to ESPN). It is with this in mind that I boldly state that not only will a deal be made in time (so that the regular season is unaffected), but that the NFL will be better off as a result of all this drama.
The number one answer as to why both of these statements will come to fruition is money.
First off, discussing the end of the lockout, many naively claim that NFL owners are content with the season being delayed or even cancelled. They have this view because the owner’s 4.5 billion dollars in guaranteed revenue from the TV stations has been well publicized. But the idea that this is enough for the NFL owners to be comfortable with a lost season is utterly ridiculous. Even if the owners do receive this money, their leverage for demanding higher television contracts in future years would be gone. No longer would the owners be able to use the growing viewership and publicity of the NFL as their major bargaining chip. Their inability to guarantee football would destroy their credibility and thus much of their value; and this is something NFL owners cannot afford.
In addition, their adversary the NFL Player’s Association, are not quite so villainous. They are not seeking a radically new revenue split. The players have clearly and consistently expressed that they are content with the current situation of a near 50-50 split. Even in the situation last year, the NFL was financially successful, and thus everybody would win in the case of a deal. The owners have a weak case, and the players have few demands, which is why a compromise will eventually be found. I realize this extremely trivializes the lockout, but contracts always are messy when it concerns $9 billion.
The second issue is how the NFL will be affected as a whole.
Assuming a deal is made, will the legal battles cast a positive or negative shadow over the 2011 season and the future of the NFL? I feel strongly that the new deal will benefit the NFL because it should create an improved salary situation, most notably with the rookie salaries debacle.
Rumors and speculation from the talks say that a new deal would create shorter contracts that are paid for through production. Although I doubt Ryan Leaf is suffering from guilt, players want to earn what they deserve. This new system would make rookie and veteran contracts primarily based on incentives with only enough guarantees for the possibility of injury. No longer will unproven rookies earn millions of dollars in guaranteed money before they reach the field.
The NFL has the ability to pay players tens of millions of dollars, but it should go to the players who earn it. This new system would make sure that happens, and that would be a major improvement for the NFL. You breathe a sigh of relief, the NFL will be back with us soon.