The labor discussions between the NFL and NFLPA center around three main points: revenue sharing, a rookie wage scale and an 18-game schedule. According to DeMaurice Smith, Executive Director for the Players Association, the schedule issue is no longer on the bargaining table.
That's what he told Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated -- who recently appeared on our Eye on Football podcast -- Wednesday evening anyway.
"First of all, the league has never presented a formal proposal for 18 games," Smith said, per Trotter. "But more importantly, it's something that our players don't want. Eighteen games is not in the best interest of our players' safety, so we're not doing it."
There are two days worth of mediation remaining before the current CBA deadline expires, which makes these strong words indeed.
Smith, apparently, spoke to fans after Wednesday's mediation session adjourned, when he had some similarly strong comments about the owners' willingness to open their books.
"How much financial information would you want before you write a $5 billion check?" Smith asked following mediation.
Provided that Smith and the union won't budge on this issue, and provided that the prior report about a tentative rookie-wage scale are accurate, negotiations between now and Friday could become quite interesting.
If those two issues are off the table, then negotiating a new CBA would come down to revenue sharing, and nothing else. If the owners will allow the union to stand fast by their stance on the schedule, it's conceivable that the union will cave some on the list of required financial documents. (Although the investment bank they hired for an audit may not let them, based on available information.)
On the other hand, this could just as easily lead to a full-on disintegration of any possible CBA discussion and prompt the Armageddon scenario that involves decertification and lots of lawsuits. Either way, the union has made its stance on schedule expansion clear, and they don't appear to be budging.
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