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NFL Lockout

By Jeff Dutton
On February 21, 2011

With the Super Bowl now behind us news surrounding the NFL has been focused on issues off the field.  With the spotlight being shined on the growing chance of NFL owners locking out players once the current collective bargaining agreement expires on March 4th, 2011.  What this means is that if the NFL Players Association and NFL Ownership group cannot come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement then players and coaches will be locked out of team facilities.  A fact that would cut into a team's preseason preparation time and quite possibly could delay the beginning of the regular season.  For those of you unfamiliar with the situation here is a look at what both sides are seeking in a new agreement.

The Owners

There are three major changes that ownership is seeking in a new collective bargaining agreement.  The first issue is the want on the part of ownership to extend the regular season from 16 to 18 games.  After that ownership wants a larger share of the profits, claiming this is needed to fund the building and expansion of new stadiums, as well as bring greater exposure to the game internationally.  As it currently stands of the billions of dollars the league brings in ($9 billion in 2009) the ownership group receives the first $1 billion dollars in profit off the top as a so called "cost credit", after the 59.5% of the remaining revenue goes to the players.   NFL ownership is arguing that it needs an additional billion dollars of the top in order to fund its stadium and international initiatives.  The last change ownership is seeking is the establishment of a rookie pay scale that would lock players into a set scale for the first four years of their career, with no ability to renegotiate their deals in the first three years in the league.

The Players

Essentially the players are eager to maintain the status quo in the NFL, pointing to the sport's popularity and growing revenue stream as proof that the NFL is not in need of any of the changes ownership is suggesting.  Players are opposed to a longer regular season citing short and long term health concerns, as well as the fact that the average players' career only last 3.4 years on account of the physical demands of the game.  Players also contend that ownership is doing fine financially under the current agreement and an additional $1 billion dollar "cost credit" is unnecessary.  In defending this position players have called upon ownership to open their financial books and make transparent all expenses and profits; a request that NFL ownership has thus far scoffed at.  While salaries for high draft picks have began to get out of hand, with unproven players sometimes being paid more than highly accomplished veterans, players are balking at ownerships proposal on the issue.  The point of contention here is the idea of locking players into a deal for the first three years with no ability to renegotiate the terms of their contract.  While not totally opposed to some sort of rookie pay scale players feel that high performing rookies deserve the ability negotiate pay raises based on performance.

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