Posted by Will Brinson
Because you need reminding, there's a lockout going on. Just kidding -- we did think it'd be helpful to break down all the lockout-related issues for you.
Revenue Sharing: Surprise, surprise, but money is the biggest issue between the NFL and the NFLPA. Imagine you and your business partner have a really large pie that’s worth $9 billion. Would you have trouble figuring out who got how much pie? Probably.
Size of the ‘Pie’: The owners have proposed taking $2 billion off the top of revenue -- as opposed to their current $1 billion -- thus shrinking the pie. The smaller the pie, the more contentious the debate to divide it, unless the players are satisfied with a chunk being taken out before anyone starts slicing it.
Financial Information from Owners: The players want to know what the owners are spending all their money on, since they say that the NFL’s profits are declining. The owners don’t want to offer them. This isn’t a dealbreaker ... if the owners are willing to take less pie.
Rookie Wage Scale: Remember when JaMarcus Russell got $60 million in guaranteed contract money? Well, no one on the owners' side wants that to happen again. Repeat: NO ONE. The problem is, the players don’t want to hamstring themselves too much in terms of earning potential and don’t want this to affect veterans either.
18-Game Schedule: Well, it’s an “issue” in that the NFL wants it. But the NFLPA says it won’t even consider the addition of games without boosts to player safety, and maybe not even then. The NFL appears willing to concede 18 games for the immediate future. Players do NOT like the idea unless it means increased paychecks.
Salary Cap: The NFL proposed an 18-percent rollback of the cap during pre-lockout negotiations. You won’t believe this, but the players didn’t really like that idea. Naturally, this is a pretty big point of contention, because the less teams are allowed to spend on players, the less the players can actually get paid.
Player Safety: A sticking point for DeMaurice Smith, player safety is naturally pretty important. The NFLPA doesn’t want players’ careers shortened any more than they already are, and while the NFL does often talk about keeping players safe, there’s a certain hypocrisy with trying to tack on two more games at the same time.
State of the Union: This is actually the lynchpin for both sides in terms of their legal argument. If the courts believe the NFLPA has truly dissolved as a union, they have to lift the lockout. If they don’t, they will not be very likely to lift the lockout.
Semantics: You will hear NFL/owner-folk use the phrases “negotiate” and “collectively bargain” a lot as we continue down this path. You will not hear NFLPA people saying stuff like that. This goes back to whether or not the union actually exists (it does not, technically). The players will take special care not to say anything that could make them appear to really be a union that is collectively bargining.
Longevity: This isn’t mentioned as much, but it might be the most important point, because no one wants a “band-aid deal” that gets the NFL, the NFLPA and the fans back into this position in another five years. A fair deal that spans a decade would be stupendous.
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