One major sticking point in the current NFL work stoppage has been the resistance of the owners to hand over financial records to the NFLPA.
The league is trying to convince the players that sharing with them based on gross revenue isn't feasible, as gross revenue doesn't take into account the expenses and debt teams incur. As such, they want an additional expense credit of $1 billion, added to the $1 billion they already receive, taken off the top.
That's $2 billion dollars sucked right out of the league's revenue, before the rest is split among the owners and players. The union, rightfully so, has asked the teams to prove it by handing over their books, at which the league has balked. As private entities, NFL teams are not obligated to show their financials to anyone outside of the ownership committee.
Yet the Bears are one of a few teams that have stated publicly a willingness to open up their books. Along with the Denver Broncos and the publicly owned Green Bay Packers, Bears president Ted Phillips recently said he's open to sharing his financials with the NFLPA.
"If the league feels to get a deal done, they need to release [financials], we're on board," Phillips told the Chicago Sun-Times. "I'm actually proud of how we operate our club. We think we do a good job, revenue-wise and expense-wise."
With litigation proceedings set to begin April 6, the NFL is no longer in a position of power. The past has shown that when these issues go to court, it usually favors the players. If the owners truly want to end the lockout, they'll follow Chicago's lead and hand over their financials. This seems like the easiest and fastest way to clean up this greed-fueled mess … unless, of course, they have something to hide.
Let's hope other teams follow suit so that the real losers, the fans, won't have to endure what NHL fans did in 2004.
Hillenmeyer compares NFL/NHL lockouts
Speaking of the NHL lockout, does everyone realize the NFL is running its labor war using the outside council of Bob Batterman, who presided over the NHL negotiations that resulted in a lost season in 2004/2005? This move was actually made in 2008, just before the owners opted out of the most-recent collective bargaining agreement. To say this is bad news for fans is an understatement akin to saying "Andy Reid needs to lose a little weight."
In an open letter penned for NBC Chicago, former Bears linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer, who was the Bears' player rep to the NFLPA for several seasons and who recently sat in on negotiations in Washington, points out Batterman's role in the NHL's lost season and forewarns that, if the course doesn't change, the results could be the same.
He said, "It should come as no surprise then, that both lockouts started in a similar fashion: The NFLPA and the NHLPA were both targets of lawsuits filed by their respective owners with the National Labor Relations Board for a failure to negotiate in good faith.
"The NHL suit went in favor of the players. I would expect the same to happen in our case, given that I sat in the room participating in the painstaking negotiations and saw the multiple proposals we made in a long and drawn out attempt to come to a resolution on our differences.
"This is about where the similarities end, and that has to be a good thing for players and fans. I say that because the NHL story ends like this: The first completely missed season by a professional sports league in North America; NHL players forced to take a deal that was even worse than the last offer on the table from ownership before the lockout began; and owners who suffered from half a decade of slumping ticket sales and viewership in the wake of their work stoppage.
"How is the NFL a different story? Let's start with the big picture. The NHL was hemorrhaging cash during its negotiations with players. Owners lost less money in the lockout year than they would have lost in operating another season under the status quo. Even in the current NBA labor dispute, Commissioner David Stern has been very explicit in explaining that teams are losing around $400 million annually in their league.
"On the contrary, not a single NFL owner, not one time, has claimed that any team in our league has lost a penny. In 2010, seventy of the one hundred most watched television shows of the entire year were NFL games. Think about that for a second, despite all the huge sitcoms and reality TV shows like American Idol, 70% of the most watched shows on television were NFL games. Our Pro Bowl, which is admittedly the worst of the four major sports' All-Star games, had more viewers than Game 6 of the World Series. The NFL has more revenue than the NHL, NBA, and MLB, COMBINED."
LB Nick Roach
Roach feels kickoff safety not fully addressed
In an effort to make kickoffs safer for players, the NFL moved the kickoff line from the 35-yard line to the 30-yard line. But Chicago linebacker Nick Roach says the rule doesn't address one of the more dangerous aspects of kickoffs.
"I think the most dangerous thing on a kickoff isn't the distance you have to cover, it's the type of blocks that are allowed on the kickoff return team," Roach told ESPNChicago.com. "You'll see a lot of trap blocks, where say I'm the third guy running down from the sideline on the right side -- running down the field and thinking nobody is blocking me because I see a wedge forming in front of me about twenty yards away. But then a guy on the kickoff return team will come from across the field, the complete other side, to blindside me from my inside out.
"Those are by far the most dangerous hits. It's just like a complete blindside shot when you are wide open running down the field in a total sprint. You never see that coming and they totally take you off your feet sometimes."
One has to believe that if the competition committee had actually sat down and discussed the actual aspects of kickoffs that make them dangerous, instead of just haphazardly rushing through a rule that curtails one of the most exciting plays in the game, it would have come to address issues like this.
Knox lands endorsement deal
Avitae, Inc., producers of a new caffeinated water, has hired Bears wide receiver Johnny Knox as one of its product sponsors. The deal puts Knox in the company's "A-List" team of endorsers, which includes Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Rey Maualuga. His nickname on the A-Team is Johnny "Ace" Knox.
Knox said of the product: "I'm kind of excited about this drink; I hope it jumps out at the world."
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.