Lawsuits from angry Super Bowl fans either denied seats or given obstructed views in Cowboys Stadium may be the least of the NFL’s worries.
According to an ESPN.com report, Thursday’s cancellation of negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement could bring to fruition the worst fears of the league’s players and fans -- the first shutdown since 1987.
Livid over the players’ demand Wednesday for 50 percent of all revenue, ostensibly denying the owners their current $1 billion credit off the top, the owners walked out of the first round of negotiations since an initial initial two-hour meeting Saturday, the report said. That meeting bore enough fruit for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to call it “beneficial,” but apparently any good feelings from that meeting vanished in the face of the NFLPA’s newest demand.
No further talks have been scheduled.
With just 21 days remaining before the current CBA expires midnight March 4, the sides need to do more talking, not less. But a collective inability to slice up a pie worth nearly $9 billion equitably has put the 2011 schedule in danger.
The report said the union made the 50 percent offer to simplify the bookkeeping of ascertaining the league’s total worth. The league would not have to open its books, nor would the players have to audit every team’s investment transactions. The owners not only want to preserve their $1 billion credit, but want to increase it to $2 billion.
The players currently get 60 percent of total revenue after the $1 billion comes off the top.
Neither the league nor the players commented on the state of negotiations. But it is hard to imagine the two sides being farther apart.
3 ways to get back to the table
Now that the NFL owners and their players have decided to stop talking, the next step is to get back to the bargaining table and stay there until they hammer out a new collective bargaining agreement. Getting there is the trick, though. Here are three areas that could ease them into the tougher issues.
Rookie Wage Scale: Wouldn’t be a bad starting point, and far less volatile than talking about total revenues. The NFLPA wants shorter rookie contracts and individually-negotiated salaries. The owners love the current slotting method. How about three-year deals for high-round picks with a maximum cap on salaries and a bigger percentage pay hike when they become restricted free agents?
Health Benefits: The owners have already kicked up post-career health care, but they could do more. A lot of players aren’t worried about current salary, but they want to know they’ll be taken care of. Show them.
Season Length: The players don’t want an 18-game season. The owners are split on it. If the owners just took the whole issue off the table — immediately — the players might see it as a sign of good faith and give at least a few of those revenue percentage points back to the stadium builders and salary payers.