The NFL is the most popular league in the United States and for good reason. I think the biggest reason, and Kansas Citians can relate to, is the aspect of parity in the game. Not only can our teams win any year, but we can sustain the nucleus of the team for longer periods of time. This obviously isn't the case in baseball where you can buy a championship and where smaller market teams struggle to keep elite talent. And in basketball the dynamic of the game alone, a starting roster of 5 players, allows for these mega dynasty squads. I think the dynamic of the NFL would never allow for a situation like in baseball or basketball even if the salary cap were to be removed. So I don't think we have to worry about that with the CBA negotiation. But, will the game improve or decline after this agreement. Lets examine it after the jump.
Here is a list of the major issues that stand in the way of this deal going down
1. The owners are complaining that they are taking all of the risk and believe that players, who currently take up 60% of the revenues, should take a pay cut. Obviously, the players aren't going to agree to a pay cut. Its against their self interest and they would argue that the NFL owners are doing fine with the league expanding every year. The owners point to these mega stadiums being built and the fact they are heavily leveraged. But, they won't open the books so its hard to know how these owners are doing financially.
2. The owners want to expand the season to an 18 game schedule, eliminating the final two preseason games. This would be the way owners could obtain more revenue. But, the players point to greater risk to injury and the fact that they should get paid more if they play more. Also, eliminating these preseason games could prevent undrafted free agents from being discovered since there isn't a development system besides the practice squad.
3. The owners want to institute a rookie pay scale to end the multi-million dollar contracts paid to unproven rookies. This is something everyone should be able to agree on. However, the owners want to take that revenue for themselves, whereas the players would prefer half of the money goes to vets and the other half to retired players.
4. The owners want to be able to recoup guaranteed money from players that do stupid shit. (i.e. shoot themselves in the leg) Players are very wary of giving up this kind of power considering the owners could take advantage of the situation.
Now here is some issues that the NFL needs and wants to address in general that might help these sticking points in my opinion.
1. Getting an NFL franchise in LA. The Chargers make the most sense considering their current location, stadium conditions, and the fact they can't sell tickets in San Diego. The die hards could still travel to LA to see a game.
2. Expanding the game internationally
3. Player safety and helping former players with health issues
I think all of these issues can be resolved if the players can agree to two things. Maintaining their 60% share of the revenue, despite having to play one more game a year and the institution of the rookie pay scale. The owners can make more revenue by expanding the game to markets across the world and the 2nd biggest media market in the country. The extra game would be an international regular season game that every club would take part in and the last preseason game would be eliminated. To quell the concerns about injuries the NFL should add a 2nd BYE week to every club that could take place after the international game. So instead of one game a year in London you could have 15 more games in Mexico City, Paris, Rome, Berlin, Tokyo, Beijing, etc. The scheduling would be extremely flexible in that you could pair an AFC team with an NFC team. For instance, if the Chiefs finish first next year you could slate this game between any of the 1st place winners in the three NFC divisions the Chiefs will not usually play that season. This would help both parties in the long run. Owners would get greater revenues and players could eventually make more money in endorsements. And coaches should still have enough time to evaluate talent during preseason.
As for the rookie pay scale I think it would be only fair to split it three ways. One third to the owners, one third to the vets, and one third to retired players. And the owners should give up ability to recoup player salaries. That should be a buyer beware policy. And that is my idea. Tell me what you think and if this is a feasible option and a fair compromise.