View Full Version : Fans guide to NFL labor issues & the CBA

09-09-2010, 01:10 PM

Roger Goodell was in the midst of a leisurely training camp tour last month when the NFL commissioner began experiencing severe labor pains.
Goodell, as part of his weeklong bus trip to seven NFL camps with Hall of Fame coach and broadcasting icon John Madden, initiated locker-room meetings with players at each stop, and the level of interrogation he faced became increasingly charged as players expressed anxiety and anger over a potential lockout next spring.
At one point in the commissioner’s visit with the Cleveland Browns (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/teams/cle/), linebacker Scott Fujita (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/6029/)(notes) (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/6029/news), a member of the NFL Players Association’s executive committee, asked: “What do the owners want? What’s it going to take to get a deal done?”
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“I can’t answer that,” Goodell replied.
“You’re the NFL commissioner,” Fujita shot back. “You’re here as the mouthpiece for the owners, and you can’t even tell us what they want? The CBA [collective bargaining agreement] is up in March. Don’t you think you need to start giving us some answers?”
By the end of his visit with the Browns, players were referring to the league’s chief executive as “Roger the Dodger.” It got worse for Goodell during the final visit of his tour, this stop coming at the Indianapolis Colts (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/teams/ind/)’ training camp. According to two sources familiar with the meeting, some Colts players admonished Goodell with swear words, to the point where star quarterback Peyton Manning (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/4256/)(notes) (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/4256/news) was embarrassed by their behavior. Veteran center Jeff Saturday (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/4953/)(notes) (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/players/4953/news), another executive committee member, cut the meeting short to keep the situation from escalating further.
Welcome to the strange world of the 21st-century NFL, a wildly profitable business in uncertain economic times whose proprietors and employees can’t just get along. With the two sides seemingly headed for a rancorous and incongruous labor showdown next spring, America’s most prosperous and popular sporting enterprise could be walking a fine line between hard-fought progress and shameful self-immolation.
Two years ago, when the owners voted unanimously to opt out of the current collective bargaining agreement following the 2010 season, it set the stage for a confrontation that could well result in the league’s first work stoppage since 1987. As the deadline for striking a new deal nears – things will likely come to a head on or around March 1 of next year – each camp is preparing for battle on numerous fronts. There has been legal wrangling, political maneuvering, spin-doctoring and economic leveraging by both sides … and much of it has been lost on a blissfully oblivious fan base.
Internal NFLPA studies have shown that only 33 to 40 percent of hardcore NFL fans have the impending labor drama on their radar screens. For everyone else, the prospect of football interrupted – and the potential havoc it could wreak upon everything from video games to fantasy drafts – may come as an unwelcome shock.
As we head into a season that could end with an abrupt dose of harsh reality, here’s a fan’s guide to the labor landscape based on exhaustive research and conversations with owners, NFLPA officials, players, agents and other league insiders.

Which side is forcing the issue?
The owners, particularly a faction of aggressive, entrepreneurial Goodell confidants (Jerry Jones, Robert Kraft, Pat Bowlen, Jerry Richardson) who want a CBA that accounts for the high-risk investments they’ve made on new stadiums and other capital expenditures. For the most part, the owners are unified in their belief that they agreed to a lousy deal when the current CBA was extended in 2006, and that the players currently receive too great a share of their adjusted gross revenues. At last March’s NFL owners meeting in Orlando, Fla., the Carolina Panthers (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/teams/car/)’ Richardson gave a fiery speech (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=ms-ownerrankingsparttwo090310) in which he exhorted his peers to “take back our league” by forcing a more favorable deal down the throats of the players. This is likely to be accomplished in the form of a lockout, though it’s possible that the owners could opt for a milder approach: negotiating to impasse and imposing terms of their choosing, which might compel the players to strike. DeMaurice Smith, the NFLPA’s executive director, is convinced that a lockout is coming, and a majority of his constituents – many of whom are more engaged and informed than is commonly perceived – share this belief.

Are the two sides making any progress toward a new deal?
http://l.yimg.com/a/p/sp/tools/med/2010/09/ipt/1283977339.jpg?x=80&y=120&xc=1&yc=1&wc=80&hc=120&q=100&sig=LRY7pD2yL34MpnKnOACI6A-- DeMaurice Smith

Not really. Though there have been recent reports of an improved atmosphere between the NFL’s management council and the players’ union, there has been no substantial movement toward a new CBA. This may be partly due to the desire of some owners to play hardball and lock out the players until they capitulate; it also may simply be a function of timing. Think of it as akin to negotiations between a team and its first-round draft pick. Though the NFL draft is in late April, talks usually don’t begin to heat up until the approach of training camp, and often the contract isn’t signed until deeper into the offseason. In this case, though the CBA expires after the 2010 season, the real deadline isn’t until a year from now, when there’s a risk that games will be lost.

The rest of the article is very good so definitely check it out. Grab a cup of coffee or a cold beer because it's a bit long.