I know your all sick to death of this stuff, but i was researching for opinions about what is happening right now with the negotiations for a new CBA. The good news is that because we are approaching a deadline that most, if not all, of the parties involved believe is real, there seems to be a push on to get something done. The bad news is that because of the gag order, no one really knows for sure if there is enough agreement to get signatures on the dotted line.
Speculation has no bounds when it comes to what could, should or is happening right now. I have a few quotes for you to give you a sense of what I mean. While these quotes won't give you any encouragement that good things are happening, the one thing to keep in mind is that today there are 12 angry men meeting in a room to try and find a way to settle this. Those 12 are five owners, five player reps, D Smith and Roger (the dodger) Goodell. Negotiation is expected to continue as long as progress is being made, and continue until agreement is made. If you see these talks break off without some kind of announcement that an agreement has been reached in principle, it's probably a really bad sign.
Don Banks of Sports Illustrated gave both the optimistic and pessimistic views in an article yesterday.
The biggest cause for optimism that this round of talks will succeed, league sources said, is that the right people are doing the direct negotiating. The owners and players have become comfortable with each other, as well as the back and forth between the two sides, as have Goodell and Smith. As one source said: "I wouldn't underestimate the value of the people in the room. It's very important.''
He then goes on to describe the biggest obstacle.
But if there's an issue that could still pose trouble for the last mile of this marathon it's that some within league circles believe NFLPA attorney Jeffrey Kessler would rather ligitate this fight than negotiate it, and that his goal is to delay any potential agreement until the 8th District Court rules on the NFL's right to indefinitely lock out its players. Whether or not Kessler is in the room for the most pivotal stages of the coming negotiations, or Smith and the players take control and move to cut the final deal, could be a tell tale indicator of whether these talks finally produce a settlement.
Others claim the problem is coming from within the owners camp entirely because they cannot agree on revenue sharing. Andrew Brandt recently wrote this concerning this problem.
The real elephant in the room at Owners meetings is commitment to revenue generation by teams, an issue since I started attending Owners meetings in 1999 and today.
With the present model, the potential exists for teams to "free-ride": not exhaust every possible revenue stream. I witnessed a few pointed exchanges between Jerry Jones of the Cowboys and owners such asMike Brown of the Bengals and Wayne Weaver of the Jaguars, questioning their pursuit of every revenue opportunity while not only taking their equal share but also receiving supplemental revenue sharing from owners such as he.
This all goes back to the players needing to have money from revenue sharing being spent on players salaries rather than on other expenses. If an owner who doesn't make as much as the big boys wants to spend his revenue sharing on G&A expenses at this point, he is theoretically allowed to do that because there is nothing to stop him. This is why one of the stumbling blocks to the CBA is how much of the Salary Cap must be spent in cash. This is intended to force those owners to spend revenue share money on players and then pursue 'every possible revenue stream' for other expenses instead of free riding as Brandt mentions above.
Then of course there are the retirees that are making waves and trying to make sure that some of that money that the players are securing is being spent on them in the form of health care and other benefits. I read not long ago that Judge Susan Richard Nelson is scheduled to hear that complaint. It is not expected to affect the out come of the CBA right now, but if this thing continues to drag on, who knows the reality of that?
What this really boils down to is the fact that as time runs out on both sides, somebody is going to have to give up something that they don't want to give up. The problem is whether or not those things that they don't want to give up are wants or needs. If they are needs and the other side cannot be made to understand the truth of that, we may be in for a very lengthy court battle. It appears that at least one lawyer for the players is predisposed to think that is the best course of action. What no one knows at this point is, what will it take to persuade D Smith and the players to go ahead and push that button? From his previous actions it would seem that it wouldn't take all that much.
We are nearing the end of negotiations. The time is now to get something done because pretty soon, the reality of a lost season begins to reduce the argument from the practical to the principle. Soon we will be discussing the upcoming season with fervor and excitement or we will be lamenting the various court decisions and how they destroyed football. At the very least, I guess, we will have our answer. I just hope they follow good advice and...
Here's to no more lockout posts!