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Solve the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement

EDITOR’S NOTE: Before we make this post, we have made our first landmark: 100 posts. Here’s to another blog posts to come!

The winner of the “Living with Sportz” Fan of the Day for Jan 27th is Dan Picca. Dan works for Junior Rank Sports. Junior Rank is the preeminent performance testing/online sports publishing company. They evaluate, recognize, highlight and reward the next generation of great student athletes. Dan is definitely Living with Sportz. Congrats Dan!!

Today’s Article:

I want to thank all of the terrific readers, listeners, followers and fans of Living with Sportz. I thank each and every one of you for your kind words since my Father-in-Law passed away last Sunday. You are truly special to me and my entire family appreciates your support and well wishes. It is great to sit down and put another article together. Hopefully everything will get back to normal soon. Whatever normal is. It is time to get back to what we all love and that is the fact that we all are Living with Sportz.

With the Super Bowl coming up a week from Sunday, I will be writing about my feelings and emotions of the big game over the next two weeks. I will not make bore you everyday with stories of the Packers. In fact, I will only write one or two articles between now and the big game about my beloved Packers.

There is something that we cannot ignore happening though. The NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) expires on March 3rd. Most of the average NFL fans do not think about this part of the NFL. FYI-The NFL is a business first and a sport second. It is about the dollars and nothing else. The current CBA was agreed to in 1993 and has continually rolled over when the agreement expires. Not anymore.

The NFL is posturing with the players and we all hear talk about certain elements of the CBA. The owners want an 18 game schedule, a rookie pay scale and a bigger piece of the pie. In all honesty, the players want what they are currently getting. The players do not want many changes to the CBA. The bottom line of the CBA is that the owners want a bigger piece of the $8.5 billion dollars in generated revenue. Don’t fall for all of the other elements the owners feed to the press, it is all about the percentage of the revenue that the owners have to share with the players. So you know the facts, the CBA was not set to expire until the end of the 2012 season but the owners have elected to opt out of the current CBA. A provision that was written in to allow the owners to opt out in March of this year. The owners have created this drama 2 years before it even had to effect the current standing of the NFL CBA.

The signing of the 1993 collective bargaining agreement brought the advent of the salary cap, free agency, and more than 15 years of labor peace in the NFL. It also created a system that has fostered prosperity for both the owners and the players. Player salaries are kept in line with revenue by the salary cap, and revenue sharing ensures that all NFL franchises share in the success of the league. As structured under the current collective bargaining agreement, the salary cap is set as a percentage of total revenue, the league’s revenue less a deduction for owners. The 2006 agreement set that percentage at 57.5 percent for the 2010 season.

Both NFL players and owners have done quite well under the current collective bargaining agreement. Median player salaries rose 9.4 percent between 2006 and 2009, and team values rose an impressive 16.2 percent over the same period. Such a win-win labor accord is obviously something both sides should want to renew

The owners argue that the current collective bargaining agreement signed in 2006 did not serve them well, despite the rising value of their franchises, that the cost of building new stadiums and the upkeep of league-owned assets are effecting their bottom lines. These specific claims are hard to evaluate because only the publicly owned Green Bay Packers release any detailed financial information. Details that show the team is quite profitable, though somewhat less so during the Great Recession. The NFL hasn’t released data on any other teams, including those likely to be much more profitable, such as the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers.

A look at the data that is available clearly shows that the current labor agreement, an extension of the original collective bargaining agreement signed in 1993, is a great success not only for the players but for the owners as well.

Players have done quite well under these terms, with the median NFL salary in 2009 equaling $790,000 a year, according to data provided by the National Football League Players Association. Since 2000, the earliest year with data available, we calculate that the median NFL player salary increased by 79 percent, and since signing the 2006 extension, median player salary has increased by 9.4 percent, meaning that player salaries have increased even during very tough recession years.

Similarly, the owners have done quite well under the current agreement, despite their claims to the contrary. Since 1999, the year Forbes magazine started to value NFL franchises, the average franchise value has risen by 171 percent, so that by 2009, the average franchise was worth $1.04 billion, with 19 of the 32 franchises valued over $1 billion, according to Forbes’s annual “Business of Football” valuations. Since 2006 when the current CBA was signed, the average NFL franchise value has increased by 16.2 percent, a growth rate that is faster than the median player salary increase. As a result, it appears that NFL owners are doing fine, but if the league’s financials reflect a different reality, then the owners should release these numbers.

Specifically, in 2010 the average value of a Major League Baseball franchise was $491 million, approximately half of that of the average NFL team. Not only are baseball franchises worth less on average, but the variation in value is quite large. In 2010, the New York Yankees were valued at $1.6 billion, equivalent to the value of the top NFL teams. But the Pittsburgh Pirates, the least valuable baseball franchise, was valued at $289 million. In contrast, the least valuable NFL franchise, the Jacksonville Jaguars, was valued at $725 million.

The losers in all of the negotiations and this labor problem will be the fans. What a surprise. The ones that foot the bills for the players and the owners have absolutely no say in this labor agreement. We can expect higher ticket prices, souvenir sales and we can even expect parking to go up in the very near future. Owners will want bigger stadiums and then expect the communities or fans to pay the bills for all of the upgrades. There is the saying that the rich get richer, this has never been more true than with the NFL owners who sit in their plush boxes while the fans pay the bills and the players are out on the field risking a career ending injury. We all hear about the salaries of the players in the NFL, we never hear about the dollars that the owners generate. Why is this?

In the NFL, when a player gets hurt and then is released by his team, his pay also stops. There is no such thing as a guaranteed contract in the NFL unlike the NBA and MLB. As for the NFL taking care of the injured player after their career is finished, this is a joke. They get health insurance for 5 years after their retirement and then their benefits are finished. Yet the league will fine a player for hard hits and violent contact and turn around and sell a DVD on NFL.com that shows all of these hits. I swear sometimes that the NFL and NCAA get together to study hypocrisy.

The league and union acknowledged last week that they have not held a large-group bargaining session since November. What are you waiting for? I believe that out of respect for the fans of the NFL, immediately following the Super Bowl, the Players Union representatives, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and all of the NFL owners should be locked in a meeting room and do not come out until an agreement is finished. How is this going to get settled without communication? I volunteer to be a mediator in this process, I will be unbiased and only have the interest of the NFL and its fans at heart. I will be a no BS moderator and this will take me about 2 hours to settle. Does anyone disagree that this would be settled quickly if the fans were involved.

Roger Goodell came out yesterday and stated that he would change his salary to $1/year if the labor agreement resulted in a work stoppage. How about 50% reduction in ticket prices for the next 5 years or something to benefit the fans. I am sorry, I have always had an enormous respect for Roger Goodell but not one of us fans really care how much money he is making and what concessions he is willing to make. We want the NFL to go on and training camp to open in July without any work stoppage. Commissioner, you can make this happen. Step up and force your hand like you have done with so many off field disciplinary issues. This is the biggest off field issue to hit the NFL under your command, your legacy is here for the taking. Side with the fans and force an agreement.

I also have another way to get this settled. How about the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers come out tomorrow and say that they will not be playing in the Super Bowl unless an agreement is finalized before the big game. As much as I want to see my beloved Packers in the Super Bowl, I want the NFL owners to squirm a bit. I also care more about all 32 teams and their fans than I do one game or one team. Lets get this CBA settled. I am sick of millionaires sticking it to the ones that pay the bills, the fans.

As the NFL owners and the NFLPA representatives continue their negotiations, they should look at other sports leagues and remember how well the current system has served them. Now it is time for the owners and players to serve the fans of the NFL.


About livingwithsportz

I was a professional baseball umpire for 11 seasons from 1979-1989. I follow all sports and read and study everything to do with all aspects of sport. I am now a 50 yr old man who feels the need for a new career and am hoping to get into the sports information age. I love starting discussions about controversial sports and life subjects. I am originally from Wisconsin. I am a diehard cheesehead and have been a lifelong Packer and Badger fan. I have lived all over the country and hope to give an interesting perspective to sports.


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