NFL Lockout for Dummies: Explaining the NFL Labor Dispute in Layman's Terms

Holden McGinnisContributor IFebruary 12, 2011

Roger Goodell, DeMaurice Smith and others discuss the labor dispute.
Roger Goodell, DeMaurice Smith and others discuss the labor dispute.Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

Now that the Super Bowl is over and the Green Bay Packers have been crowned NFL champions, it is time for the owners and players to meet and rehash the collective bargaining agreement in hopes of avoiding a lockout next season. 

The average football fan could never even begin to fathom the amount of painstaking discussion and calculation done to produce a multi-billion dollar agreement to keep together the most profitable sports league in the world.  So what is the big issue, why can’t the owners and players agree to an agreement and avoid the most costly lockout since the NHL lockout in 2004-2005?

The main dispute over the newly proposed bargaining agreement centers around the amount of money that the owners want to take as “credit” from the revenue pool.  In the previous agreement, the owners took $1 billion from the pool of approximately $9 billion, but now they are trying to increase that number to $2.4 billion, citing “the economic realities of the era” as reasoning. 

This would effectively cut the players' share of the revenue by 18 percent, and thus is causing extreme discontent among the players.  However, many players understand how the increased funding of the owners would lead to an increased annual revenue thanks to new and improved stadiums. 

Over the last few years the values of most franchises have increased exponentially, so it appears as though the owners are making good use of this money.  Though this is a positive to the new agreement, it still won’t be enough to convince the players association to sign on.  

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A second topic of major concern has been the split of the overall revenue.  The players have been fighting for a 50-50 split with the owners, who have steadfastly refused this offer.  The offer currently on the table is a 51-49 split for the owners, which has been refused by the NFL Player's Association. If an agreement isn’t signed by the start of the NFL season, we could be looking at the first locked out season in the history of the league.

If a lockout were to occur, there would be major impact felt within the league and also within the country as a whole.  The owners would easily withstand the lockout as they all have enough money to wait around for the players to agree. 

The main casualties would be at the lower levels of the league, with ticket sellers, personnel assistants and community relation workers being among the first to go.  But this will work its way up the pipeline, as NFL coaches may need to take 50 percent pay cuts.  

The entire economy would also feel the brunt of this impact, as the NFL produces the most revenue of any sports league in the world.  Without tickets or team apparel to sell, the NFL would feel a major decrease in revenue, as would the stores that sell these items.  

The NFL fans themselves will be feeling a lot of the pain without anything to do on Sundays but sit around and twiddle our collective thumbs, especially without fantasy football to help us through the week.  Through the use of rational thought, a lockout seems highly unlikely due to the massive amount of revenue lost by the league, though this issue will take a few months to be resolved as both sides quarrel over their shares of the revenue.

Sadly, the owners and players are refusing to use the rational halves of their brains and continue to be deadlocked in dispute up to this moment.  Earlier this week, they cancelled meetings meant to help resolve the conflict.  It seems as though an offseason lockout is inevitable as March 4th, the end of the current collective bargaining agreement, quickly approaches.  

An offseason lockout would not have a major impact as long as the agreement was settled before the start of the season.  The NFL draft will still occur whether or not there is an agreement, but free agents cannot sign with teams until the new agreement is reached.  

Despite this negative turn of events, I remain adamant in my stance that there will be an NFL season in 2011, as the lack of one would have a negative effect on the sports world and our entire nation.