With all due respect to the NBA and the March Madness of the NCAA, both of which I will return my attention to tomorrow, the story of today is still the NFL lockout. The NFL is the reason I love sports and as of this past weekend, my favorite sport is in limbo in regards to whether not their will be a next season, and I can’t wrap my head around the one fundamental reason for this.
They couldn’t agree how to divide $9 BILLION DOLLARS.
OK, to be honest, it appears that the exact number in question is about a paltry $185 million, which is a far cry from the $1 billion that the two sides were arguing over. You see, the owners, who under the last agreement received $1 billion off the top before splitting with players, wanted that figure to increase to $2 billion. The extra, the owners were claiming, would go towards football operations and potential facility upgrades since they weren’t really making that much money to begin with.
The players, for their part, said sure, you can have the money…BUT, we just want to see your accounting books to get a grasp on how much you are actually in need of it.
The owners huffed and puffed and sent over some documents, none of which was what was requested, and ultimately decided not to let the players see what they wanted to see. Instead, they decided to lower their asking price, from the additional $1 billion all the way down to the $185 million mentioned earlier.
The art of negotiations is based on compromise but apparently the greatly reduced asking amount still wasn’t to the players liking. They turned their noses to the owners last offer and decided to decertify the players union so that a chosen few, consisting of ten players including Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, could sue the owners in federal court in Minneapolis in a class-action claim.
This move was met with derision from the League, who called the NFL Players Association’s decertification a "sham" and said the players’ court action is "built on the indisputably false premise that the NFLPA has stopped being a union and will merely delay the process of reaching an agreement."
The NFL’s response was sad, but predictable.
The league said in a statement Saturday it was "taking the difficult but necessary step of exercising its right under federal labor low to impose a lockout of the union."
And that’s where we stand now. The players are fighting in court and the owners have barred the doors. Our beloved game of football is officially in limbo and the 2011 season is in the hands of the courts. As of right now, their can be no free agent moves, no offseason workouts and no players, even those who will be drafted in April, can be signed.
It’s hard to pick sides in this sort of thing, the natural inclination is to side with the players over the “greedy” owners, but I will give the owners the nod in this one because it’s become readily apparent that they were the only ones willing to compromise.
Don’t believe me? Well look at what is being reported as the last offer the NFL gave the players union before they walked away from the table (as reported by ESPN):
• Maintaining the 16 regular-season games and four preseason games for at least two years, with any switch to 18 games down the road being negotiable.
• Instituting a rookie wage scale through which money saved would be paid to veterans and retired players.
• Creating new year-round health and safety rules.
• Establishing a fund for retired players, with $82 million contributed by the owners over the next two years.
• Financial disclosure of audited profitability information that is not even shared with the NFL clubs. That was proposed by the NFL this week, and rejected by the union, which began insisting in May 2009 for a complete look at the books of each of the 32 clubs.
This offer was in addition to lowering their asking price.
So, with this info available, you tell me which side was willing to do what was necessary to get a deal done and who wasn’t.
I think that answer is obvious.