As the summer moves forward, the gulf between the owners and the players doesn't seem to be getting any narrower in the NFL.
The owners opted out of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, and now the two sides have to sit down and hash out a new one. The problem is, this time it's the owners who are on the hot seat.
The usual way owner/employee spats play out, the owner is the one with the upper hand. Not this time, though, because the players were more than willing to continue playing under the old CBA.
So if there's no agreement before next spring, there could be a lockout in 2011.
Because the situation will be a lockout, the owners can't bring in scab players like they did in 1987 when the players went on strike.
This time, the players want to play; it's the owners who don't like the compensation package.
According to a letter sent March 3 by Pete Kendall, the NFLPA representative at the bargaining sessions, the owners want to reduce the players share of salary and benefits by 18 percent.
To be very clear, that's about as simple as the situation can be stated, but you really should read his entire letter here .
The situation, on a more detailed level, involves the owners realizing the players have a very good deal, which is fine, but the owners think they're getting the short end of the stick and want to renegotiate to get some of their money back.
Understandably, the players really don't want to give any of their money back, and why should they?
The players assume all the physical risk, while the owners make money no matter what.
It's no secret the NFL slowly has usurped baseball as America's favorite sport. The reasons for that are many, and the subject of a different column, but the fact remains NFL owners are not losing money.
Despite this fact, the owners want more, and the players aren't happy.
"You would have to turn back the clock to the early 1980s, in the days before free agency, to find a season in which the players’ share of football revenue was as low as that being proposed by the NFL owners for 2010 and beyond," states Kendall in his letter.
"Thus, the only way to describe this proposal is that it is a dramatic reduction in player compensation, which is not justified given the NFL’s unprecedented growth and their failure to provide meaningful financial data relating to their expenses."
To be perfectly fair, owners are going to tell you their costs are increasing and that player salaries are out of control. When a player like Albert Haynesworth rears his greedy, short-sighted head, he ends up proving the owners' point.
But that's quibbling, and the owners know it.
Still, it's not like the players aren't willing to negotiate over the numbers. Right now the players are saying, "Talk to us, show us the numbers, and we'll see what we can do."
According to the NFLPA, the owners haven't shown them any real numbers, and any kind of financials thrown out for public consumption have not been substantiated.
The players are willing to give a percentage of money back as long as it goes into creating new revenue streams and growing the game, Kendall indicated in his letter.
However, neither of those options appear to be addressed in the current proposal, in their opinion.
The owners also have thrown out the idea of adding to the season and creating an 18-game schedule, as the two additional regular season games would significantly add to the revenue pot, and give the owners what they want.
That proposal has come under severe criticism because of health and safety concerns and is far from being a done deal.
If you ask any fan right now what they want, they'll just tell you they don't want a lockout, they want football. Hopefully, they'll get their wish in 2011.