NFL Lockout: Players Turning up the Heat
By now, everyone is painfully aware of the looming NFL Lockout. In case you’ve been out of the country and unable to pick up a phone, newspaper, magazine, computer, or radio, the NFL and the NFLPA have been entrenched in labor negotiations for months. The NFL, which is in this instance, the owners, insists that they signed a bad deal when the last Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) was executed. The 32 Billionaires are trying to tell the players and the fans that they’re losing money… sure.
The NFL players are obviously not happy with giving up 18% of revenue sharing, an additional 2 games in the regular season, and what they consider to be weak benefits. Obviously with any negotiation, both sides have and will continue to posture adn the ultimate compromise will be somewhere in the middle of what both sides are currently insisting upon.
But as we enter the second half of the season and as March begins to creep up (This is the date that the NFL will cut players’ medial coverage if no CBA is signed), the players are starting to crank up the heat on the NFL owners. Many players, current and former, have alleged that their league is hypocritical. Of main concern is the NFL’s insistence on extending the regular season to 18 games despite making radical rule implementation changes during the season in an effort to increase player safety. Also at issue, is the constant reinforcing of player safety and at the same time, the NFL is threatening to cut all medial coverage in March 2011.
The players have a point as the NFL isn’t being all that consistent, but the players also are in a no-win situation. If they make too much noise, they will get crushed by fans and will be perceived as spoiled athletes who are already overpaid and who are whining about being millionaires. The NFL has all the power as they have guaranteed revenue agreements with TV networks and in a lockout, they certainly have the deeper pockets and can afford to wait it out. The NFL knows the players have no power and leverage and players know it. And no matter how much fault you can legitimately place on the NFL, the players are the ones who are going to take the brunt of the fans’ anger. Not to mention, if this does go to a lockout, players usually aren’t that great with money and they’ll likely suffer.
With that said, the players or someone representing the players’ best interest has started a website, http://www.nfllockout.com/. This site has an online petition to try to stop the lockout from happening and they have information for fans who are interested. The players are trying to make sure that fans know that any lockout is not their fault. And even though they’re probably right and the owners are probably more at fault, the players will take the heat from fans.
So why are owners at fault? This is only my opinion and I don’t have inside knowledge or information to confirm my thinking, so keep that in mind. But the 32 NFL owners are Billionaires. The NFL is at an all time high in terms of attendance, viewership, and merchandising. I find it very hard to believe that they are really losing money, let alone losing enough money to justify cutting the players’ share of revenues by 18%. The problem is, however, that the owners refuse to open up their books to the NFLPA for review. So we have no way of knowing if they’re really losing money or if they’re making oil industry type record profits. We just don’t know. But the fact that they refuse to even provide summary financials to at least an independent third party who can confirm their claims, leads me to believe that they’re doing just fine.
I understand that the owners have never provided this information so they don’t want to set a precedent, I get that. But the fact of the matter is they can make any claim they want and no one would be able to confirm or deny. If NFL attendance, marketing, merchandising and viewership were dipping then I could potentially buy into what they’re saying. But look at MLB where attendance has dipped and the game seems to be dropping in popularity and even the worst teams make money hand over fist. If the NFL owners really are losing money, then it’s their own fault for poor management and organizational structure.
Like I said though, all that doesn’t really matter. The NFL is set up so that the owners and the league have all the power. Fans will likely be upset with both parties, but they’ll likely NEVER side with the players when it comes to money and when they’re faced with the reality of no football next September. The players won’t win the in court of public opinion, they’ll run out of money, and they can’t afford to not be on the field for a year. They know it, the owners know it, and they’ll probably be forced into a bad deal slanted in favor of the NFL.