Stuck between a rock and a hard place

ULM Hawkeye

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NFL owners and player will prepare for lockout

This past Saturday, the NFL owners locked out after failing to negotiate a new labor deal.  As a result, the 2011-2012 football season is in jeopardy as the NFL heads for its first work stoppage since the 1987 strike.

The action came following the decision by the player’s union to decertify.   Decertification means that the players are no longer represented by a union and therefore all 32 NFL teams are considered individual businesses and are subject to anti-trust laws.  This allowed players such as Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and drew Brees to sue the owners in federal court to prevent the lockout and force legislative action to get a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

The main problem with the negotiation seems to be how to divide up nearly nine billion dollars in revenue shared by both owners and players.   The players initially asked for half of all the revenue, but the owners insist that the players already get too much money.

Other issues holding up the negotiations for a new labor deal are plans for an 18 game season and a rookie salary cap.  With the injuries both serious and minor occurring, players are reluctant to expand the season for fears that their careers may be cut short.  Although the exact plans for extending the season are unknown, the proposals are to decrease the preseason by two games and decrease offseason workouts.

As far as the rookie pay scale, it is almost a certainty that some sort of rookie cap will be present in the next CBA.  In previous years, players such as Sam Bradford received lucrative contracts for over 50 million dollars without playing a single down.   A new pay scale would limit the value of rookie contracts to more reasonable levels for owners and reward veteran players.

The saddest part of the work stoppage is not for the players or the owners however, it is for the fans.  The Super Bowl is consistently one of the highest watched television programs and football on Sunday is virtually an American tradition.  To deny fans of such a wonderful game would be a tragedy.

The fact that people across the U.S. are struggling to find jobs and make ends meet while football players and owners are complaining about who gets more billions is disgraceful.  Surely these two groups can find a way to set aside their petty differences and come to an agreement if only for the fans that love the game.