Most of the NFL fans are about done with CBA negotiations, talk of 18 game schedules, 9 billion dollar revenue pots, and just about anything else that is going on between the NFL and NFLPA. I have to say, that I’m getting tired of finding there is only that to cover when I should be writing about the Dolphins new free agent additions. After a week of mediated negotiations ended in a 24 to 7 day extension, it has become clear that both sides are simply not going to get this done, and in my opinion, the NFLPA is to blame.
The NFLPA is simply allowing these negotiations to fall apart. They have stepped over the “gag” rule that mediator George Cohen asked to be observed and now info keeps finding it’s way into the media. NFLPA head man De’Maurice Smith has taken to the podium to say exactly what he thinks needs to get done before the union files for desertification and takes the league to court.
Yesterday, Smith announced that there was no way that the NFLPA would agree to an 18 game schedule which the owners proposed to bring in more revenue. The players offered 2 more playoff games instead. Smith is standing his ground on this as the players do not want to play two more regular season games. O.k. fine, but is that something that really needs to be broadcast outside of the mediated room?
It also came to light that the two sides have agreed in principal on a rookie wage scale that is not being denied as of yet by the NFLPA but the heart of the entire negotiations lies with the split of 9 billion in revenue. The NFLPA wants the NFL to open their books and while the NFL is doing some of that, the NFLPA says it’s not doing enough. In the event of desertification and subsequent litigation, the NFL would have to open their books for the courts.
Smith said yesterday that the NFL has reduced it’s demand from taking an additional one billion off the top and instead are asking for 800 million. The NFLPA of course says no. They want .50 cents on the dollar which it’s reported is less than what they are currently getting from the last CBA. In other words, the two sides are so far apart right now that the chances of getting a deal done by tomorrow’s extension deadline is nil.
The NFLPA has also asked US District Court Judge David Doty to open the information from last weeks judgement regarding the NFL’s “Television insurance” ruling. That ruling stated that the NFL acted unlawfully in setting up TV revenue in the event of a lockout. Judge Doty said that the NFL was out of line in doing so. The ruling was the biggest asset for the NFLPA heading into negotiations.
While both sides are apparently still meeting in Washington, D.C. it is growing more and more likely that the NFLPA will cease to exist come Saturday and a contingent of three NFL players, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Drew Brees will file an anti-trust lawsuit against the NFL and it’s owners within the next week or two.
Desertification of the union will mean that the NFL can not lockout it’s players as they are seen as single businesses and working together under rules would be a violation of federal anti-trust laws. It’s uncertain how the NFL season would progress from there but players would still be able to workout a team facilities and there is some speculation that a free agency period could still take place although it’s doubtful.
Litigation is likely to last well through the summer months and the season itself could be in jeopardy as there would be no union to negotiate with throughout the summer. The same thing happened following the 1987 players strike that resulted in litigation leading to the current free agency system in place. Remember “Plan B free agency”?
All eyes, and most of the national media it appears, are staring directly at the Federal Commission on Mediation offices in DC. It was reported today that many members of the NFLPA Union player reps are at today’s meetings and so are many of the NFL’s big player owners, including Jerry Richardson of Carolina and Jerry Jones of Dallas.
The deal will either get done or will fall apart quickly. Stay tuned!