The NFL lockout has hit the league’s employees in the wallet. And not just NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and the league’s lead negotiator, attorney Jeff Pash, who have voluntarily agreed to reduce their multi-million dollar salaries to just $1 until the lockout ends.
All league employees have been hit with a 12 percent reduction in pay, and the penalties will be even steeper if the lockout is still in place on Aug. 1. The highest level employees – aside from Goodell and Pash – would see a 25 percent reduction in pay. Employees have been told it hasn’t been determined whether the paycuts will be rescinded retroactively once the lockout ends.
NFL executive vice president Eric Grubman disclosed the paycuts today at a gathering of Associated Press Sports Editors at the league’s Park Ave. headquarters in New York. Grubman also estimated that the league’s 32 teams would operate at a combined deficit of $2 billion if the entire season was lost because of the NFL’s first work stoppage since the 1987 season.
“It’s incredibly expensive to maintain the state of readiness without the revenues coming in,” Grubman said. “We’ve told the clubs they need to account for a total deficit spending of $2 billion … That’s $40 million per week.”
Grubman said he’s still hopeful that the season will proceed, but that won’t happen until there’s a new collective bargaining agreement in place. The league is currently being sued on antitrust grounds by 10 active players, including quarterbacks Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, as well as a group of retired players led by former Vikings defensive end Carl Eller and former Chiefs running back Priest Holmes.
“We are still planning to have a full season,” said Grubman, who declined to specify a “drop dead” date after which games would have to be missed. The season is scheduled to open on Sept. 8, and Ray Anderson, the league’s director of football operations, said he’d like to see a minimum of two preseason games before the start of the regular season.
The NFL and the players’ representatives have been engaged in forced mediation since last week, but the mediator, Judge Arthur Boylan, called a halt to the talks earlier this weeks. Mediation is expected to continue in mid-May, but not before Judge Susan Nelson rules on the players’ request for a preliminary injunction to lift the lockout. Even if the injunction was granted, the decision would be appealed to the Eighth District Court of Appeals and the lockout would likely remain in place.
Grubman suggested Boylan’s call for a delay came in part because the players seemed unwilling to negotiate.
"The NFL is prepared to negotiate (CBA) now,” Grubman said. He added that negotiations could restart very quickly in the very conference room where he was addressing reporters and editors if the players’ side was willing.
“The NFL is prepared to negotiate now and has been trying to negotiate for the last two years,” “If the union shows up on your side of the table, I bet I could find Roger Goodell and Jeff Pash … to sit in these seats.”
Goodell showed up at the tail end of the 90-minute session, and reiterated his desire to resume negotiations.
“Ad the end of the day, it’s going to come down to negotiation,” he said. The sooner we get there the better.”