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    OK. Take your 10/5 as gospel. That divides the NFL into 3 parts, 10/17/5

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  • Contributors


    Cris Collinsworth

    Former Pro Bowl wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals and Emmy-winning analyst from Sunday Night Football and Inside the NFL.
    Dave Lapham
    Has called game for the Bengals radio network for 25 years. Analyst for Big 12 games on Fox Sports Net. Played 10 years in the NFL for the Cincinnati Bengals.
    Turk Schonert
    NFL quarterback for 10 years with the Bengals and Falcons. Has served as quarterback coach for the Buccaneers, Bills, Panthers, Giants and Saints and Offensive Coordinator for the Bills.
    Phil McConkey
    Played 6 years in the NFL as a WR, punt returner and kick returner for the Giants, Packers, Cardinals and Chargers. Played college football at the Naval Academy and served in the U.S. Navy before joining the NFL. Best remembered for his oustanding game in Super Bowl XXI.
    Josina Anderson
    Josina "JoJo" Anderson is contributing reporter on Showtime's Inside the NFL and is a weekend co-anchor/reporter/producer for FOX 31 Sports in Denver, Colorado. Josina produces the nightly sportscasts and covers the Denver Broncos, Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, and the Colorado Rockies.
    Jerry Jones
    NFL Draft Expert, has published the acclaimed Drugstore List since 1978.
    Russell S Baxter
    Researcher, writer and editor covering the NFL for over 30 years.
    Andy Freeland
    Statistician and researcher for NBC's Sunday Night Football.
  • AN EXCELLENT VIEW OF THE SITUATION

    George Will is a well-known writer and commentator. He is also a rabid sports fan with a nice feel for the games. This article appeared in papers in early June.


    MUCH TO LOSE, LITTLE TO GAIN FOR BOTH SIDES IN NFL FIGHT

    By GEORGE WILL, Washington Post writer, ABC commentator

    Although his Park Avenue office is as quiet as an empty stadium, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sits atop a seething volcano of fans who will erupt if training camps do not open in July. Fans care nothing about the details of the labor dispute that threatens to keep stadiums empty into September and perhaps beyond: There were meetings between the two sides last week, but apparently there have been no formal negotiations since March 11; the court hearing this past Friday might -- weeks from now -- result in a decision that will restart negotiations. Even if, however, you think football is one of America's dispensable frills, the NFL's agony is a fascinating illustration of how things can spin out of control.

    Explaining why the NFL -- a hugely popular $9.3 billion enterprise -- needs fixing, Goodell sounds paradoxical: Costs are growing faster than revenues, stadiums are the biggest costs, and they must be made better because most fans never enter them. Most NFL fans have never been to a game; more than 90 percent never or rarely go. They watch at home on wide-screen televisions, with super-slow-motion replays and close-ups of linebackers' collisions and cheerleaders' cleavages. The television experience will be diminished, Goodell says, if the stadiums are not full. And the parlous condition of state and municipal budgets means that taxpayers are resisting building them.

    Under the previous agreement, owners took $1.3 billion of league revenues off the top before players got about 65 percent of the remainder. This time, owners began by demanding that another $1 billion of revenues -- subsequently reduced to less than $400 million -- be set aside for stadiums and other investments, before the players get their portion. But players, whose careers average about six years, according to the league, resist sacrificing earnings so the league can make long-term investments that might benefit players now in high school. Furthermore, because fans -- especially season ticket holders -- resent having to buy tickets for two home preseason games, the owners want to reduce those games from four to two, and lengthen the regular season from 16 to 18. Players say this means more work and risk of injury for less pay. Owners say players would get a smaller slice but of a bigger pie.

    These are splittable differences. But the players union responded to the owners' lockout of its members by dissolving itself ("decertification"). This created a situation in which, without a collectively bargained agreement, all players would be free agents -- independent contractors. So the players, whose pay and benefits increased 85 percent over the last 10 years, and who began by playing defense against the league's demands, now might threaten to unravel the draft, team salary caps and other arrangements by which a sports league contrives to produce competitive balance.

    Because 43 percent of NFL revenue comes from national television contracts and is shared equally among the 32 teams, and almost 80 percent of all NFL revenues are shared in some way, teams in smaller markets can prosper: The teams in the last two Super Bowls were from Pittsburgh, Green Bay, New Orleans and Indianapolis. The combination of revenue sharing and the salary cap means it takes a perverse genius for a team to lose money.

    The owners, by decrying the current system, desperately want the union resurrected so they can bargain with it to preserve most of the system. Currently, the owners propose a salary cap of $141 million per team, meaning $4.51 billion in league-wide compensation. The players want $151 million, meaning $4.83 billion. It is ludicrous to risk even part of a season over so little, and both sides probably would, if they could, erase the last three months of staking out improvident positions and agree to extend the current system.

    Any labor dispute is a test of the two sides' pain thresholds. The owners think the players' serious pain will begin when they miss the first of their 17 paychecks. The owners may, however, be forgetting a pertinent fact: NFL players -- pain is part of their job description -- are NFL players because they are intensely competitive and hate to lose at anything. After decades in which economic sectors much larger and more essential than the NFL -- e.g., the steel and automotive industries -- were laid low by mismanaged labor relations, and as the role and rights of organized labor are being hotly debated, the NFL's current crackup suggests that both sides are slow learners.

    Comments 12 Comments
    1. bluestree's Avatar
      Thanks for putting that up, Jerry. For a baseball guy, Will presents an even handed analysis. Definitely agree with the point about the differences not being worth the damage that could be done.
      However, he's still a baseball guy, so he might be the guy Kurt Vonnegut refered to as "that owlish nitwit". If his solution to be "Pull your head out of you @#%es" that will be a tough sell.
    1. SpartaChris's Avatar
      NFL Players may hate to lose, but so do billionaires. If this truly becomes a waiting game, my guess is the owners can outlast the players by a margin of 10-1..
    1. msclemons's Avatar
      It's funny, I really dislike George Will when he discusses politics - his main job. I just don't like his positions on a lot of subjects.

      When Will writes about sports I love him. Some of his baseball essays over the years have been fantastic. He should have been a sportswriter. Yeah, he'd make a tenth of what he's making now but I'd be happy and that's all that counts, right?
    1. Swami's Avatar
      What I liked most about this was Goodell's realization that not only are full stands an integral part of the viewing experience, but that the fan experience needs to be enhanced to maintain those full stands. Players have short careers, but so what? Most of us don't expect to be able to retire after our first six years in the workforce.
    1. Dave Lapham's Avatar
      Of course the players are competitive and want to win every contest. But let us be real here. If regular season games are missed, the millionaire players will be upside down a hell of a lot faster than the billionaire owners. That is the bottom line in this matchup. It is not about size, strength, quickness, mental toughness, etc. It is all about dollars and cents.
    1. iwatt's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Dave Lapham View Post
      Of course the players are competitive and want to win every contest. But let us be real here. If regular season games are missed, the millionaire players will be upside down a hell of a lot faster than the billionaire owners. That is the bottom line in this matchup. It is not about size, strength, quickness, mental toughness, etc. It is all about dollars and cents.
      The expectation that the players would fold easily is based on previous strikes, where the average salary was much lower than it is now. And there is a lockout fund. I wouldn't be surprised by the players showing a lot more stamina than expected in ergards to missed payechecks, specifically with treble damages looming on the horizon.
    1. SpartaChris's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by iwatt View Post
      The expectation that the players would fold easily is based on previous strikes, where the average salary was much lower than it is now. And there is a lockout fund. I wouldn't be surprised by the players showing a lot more stamina than expected in ergards to missed payechecks, specifically with treble damages looming on the horizon.
      You're assuming the majority of the 1700 players in the league actually saved enough of their money over the past two seasons to make it through a missed season and then some. Hearing stories about players already taking out loans, some in excess of 30%, including at least one player taking out a $500,000 loan at 23% gives me reason for doubt.

      Either way, the players lockout fund amounts to $60,000 per player. When the league minimum for a member of the teams 53 man roster is $350,000, that's just not a lot of money. Yes, some players won't be needed it, but I imagine the majority will at some point.
    1. iwatt's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by SpartaChris View Post
      You're assuming the majority of the 1700 players in the league actually saved enough of their money over the past two seasons to make it through a missed season and then some. Hearing stories about players already taking out loans, some in excess of 30%, including at least one player taking out a $500,000 loan at 23% gives me reason for doubt.
      That's where the NFLPA lawyers will come in, to assist with creditors. People seem to forget how differnt the legal settlement system is now from the 80's. The promise of treble damages from the lockout (a very likely outcome BTW), should be enough to slow down the hungriest creditors.
    1. SpartaChris's Avatar
      Treble damages at some point in the future isn't a guarantee though.

      Meanwhile, missing paychecks and still having to pay your bills now, today, is.

      My guess is the players won't be able to last until damages, if any, are paid. Plus it's an awful risky gamble when they could just do a deal now and be done with it.
    1. iwatt's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by SpartaChris View Post
      Plus it's an awful risky gamble when they could just do a deal now and be done with it.
      So is locking out the players. Some people think Billionaires won't suffer as much during the lockout. You don't become a billionaire by leaving your excess money in a savings account. You become a billionaire by investing and leveraging, and a sudden cut in your expected cash flow can throw you into a deadly spiral. And not all billionaires are created equal. There are plenty of owners who depend on the TV checks coming in as well. It's not like they will go broke, but it'll hurt them alot more than they think, specially since they probably had planned to count on the TV lockout insurance money and now they don't have it. Try readjusting cash flows on the fly for a multi-billion dollar corporation with taking a BIG hit.

      Trying to pin this on any one side is ludicrous. They'll meet in the middle somewhere, but I'm with Cris now, I think we will miss some games. Hopefully only the preseason games
    1. ReaderM's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by SpartaChris View Post
      You're assuming the majority of the 1700 players in the league actually saved enough of their money over the past two seasons to make it through a missed season and then some. Hearing stories about players already taking out loans, some in excess of 30%, including at least one player taking out a $500,000 loan at 23% gives me reason for doubt.

      Either way, the players lockout fund amounts to $60,000 per player. When the league minimum for a member of the teams 53 man roster is $350,000, that's just not a lot of money. Yes, some players won't be needed it, but I imagine the majority will at some point.
      Honestly, based on the comments of many NFL players, that players being unprepared are more the minority then the majority in this case. There are always going to be a couple knuckleheads in any group, especially one of the NFLPA* size but it's not like the NPLPA* hasn't been preaching save up for the lockout for the last 2 years. While i think if it comes down to it, the players will cave first, as pointed out earlier, this isn't like the last few strikes. Players are better prepared for this work stoppage then at any other point in league history. Though the at the end of the article was on point in saying that Both sides are seeming to be slow learners of the repercussions this things could have
    1. BuckeyeRidley's Avatar
      Thanks Jerry. I also love how you're a regular here; Very Cool. I think George started out the article right talking about the Commissioner sitting on a volcano of fans. I think this is a good point that goes to how his image and rep with the public has taken a hit with all of this. He appears to be handling it all well but his way of handling it is off the mark. Tagliabue kept the peace from '89-'06 despite his quick exit after the '06 negotiations.