The NFLPA's negotiations and collective bargaining with the NFL during the past four years has centered squarely around avoiding a lockout through the implementation of a "pegged cap," according to a five-page NFLPA memo obtained by CBSSports.com.
This document sheds perhaps the most light to date on the specifics of back-and-forth -- formal or otherwise -- between the two sides through the current labor negotiations.
According to the document, the NFLPA and NFL discussed -- either in a bargaining session, meeting or via telephone -- the "pegged cap" issue nine times from June 2010 through March of 2011.
A September 2010 meeting with Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL lead counsel Jeff Pash is specifically detailed, in which the pair reviewed "in writing" the pegged cap concept.
The document also notes that during a Super Bowl bargaining session the NFL stated a need to "examine the pegged cap concept in more detail" and later respond. The Super Bowl bargaining sessions were cut short; per the memo the "NFL walked out, claiming a fundamental misunderstanding."
It was later reported that the now-infamous exchange between Panthers owner Jerry Richardson and Drew Brees/Peyton Manning may have caused the split.
The document, recently distributed to players to simplify the chain of labor-related events over the past years, also focuses on the inability of the NFLPA to procure financial details from the NFL.
According to the document, the NFLPA requested "audited financial statements and other financial information from the clubs and the League" at least a dozen times between May 2009 and November 2010.
The NFL responded, per the memo, by sending one page of "limited cost data" in November of 2009, and four pages of "League-wide cost information" from 2007 and 2008. In contrast, Pash said in March 2011 that the union had received unprecedented financial data from the league.
During the November 2009 session in which the NFL provided the single sheet of financial information, they also introduced the rookie wage scale and "18% rollback" of the salary cap, per the memo.
This 18% rollback was deemed necessary again at the Super Bowl negotiating meetings -- based on the document, the owners deemed such a rollback necessary to give "additional incentive" to invest in their teams.
Among all these discussions, however, the biggest issue at hand seems to be the difference in the split of revenue. The NFL repeatedly claimed a "70/30" split, while the NFLPA reiterated, according to the memo, that "it is closer to 50/50 after [the] $1 billion deduction."
It also seems that the "pegged cap" issue provided the most movement of any issue within the realm of labor negotiations. Several back-and-forths occurred, per the memo, and multiple proposals were exchanged, before the decision from Special Master Stephen Burbank that awarded the players damages in the television contracts case.
Whether or not the television contracts became the actual breaking point in negotiations can't be completely ascertained. The only thing that's clear from the document is that there was a chance -- at one point in time -- to avoid a lockout and the situation all parties, including fans, are in now: without football.