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Weekly Lockout Review
Dave Kolonich on February 13th, 2011 AT 11:37 AM
If the first weekend of the NFL offseason wasn't difficult enough to get through, the only hope for tangible league news comes in the form of labor issues. But then again, if we change the acronym of the NFL to "National Federation of Lawyers", I guess it's to be expected.
Here are some of the best recent articles regarding the league's labor situation – or best of the worst kind of subject – if you will.
Q: Do you fear Doomsday is coming March 4?
A: I am convinced the owners are willing to take this to a lockout.
Q: The owners refuse to show you their books.
A: The NBA just turned over everything to the Players Association. It’s about money. It’s about padding pockets and making money.
Q: Any concern about players caving in?
A: It doesn’t matter. You’re still locked out. It would be an injustice to our players to take a deal that’s worse now when the game is better than it’s ever been before. We’ve asked for absolutely nothing. We’ve only been asked to give back.
Q. Will the players ask for extended health benefits? -VB in NV
A. Yes. Currently, it takes three years [of NFL service] to get five years of post-career healthcare. Given the dangers and risks of the game, it is important that we work to improve this. We can't be in a situation where, five or ten years from now, we see former NFL players with similar or worse conditions than some former players live with now.
Q. The owners seem to be fine with a lockout next season if they don't get their conditions. If this is true, what leverage (if any) do the players have to force a collective bargaining agreement? What are the owners' incentives? -Andrew Ward
A. It's unfortunate that this is the reality of our situation. Players continue to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Our best leverage right now is to continue to negotiate as hard as possible. There is some legal recourse that the players can take if in fact there is a lockout, but none of that is a sure thing. Other real leverage, frankly, comes from fans (consumers) across the country understanding the facts about this situation.
"If we’re unsuccessful in getting an agreement by March 4, I expect the uncertainty will continue," Goodell said. "(It) will be bad for our partners. It will be bad for the players, (and) it will be bad for the clubs.
"That uncertainty will lead to a reduction, potentially, in revenue, and when that revenue decreases, there will be less for us to share. That will just make it harder to make an agreement.
"A series of things will happen in March if we’re not successful. There will not be free agency, which will impact on the players. There will be a number of things that I’m sure both sides will consider that, strategically, I believe will move us away from the negotiating table rather than toward the negotiating table."
So…here's my Layman's summary. Keep in mind that I have trouble even finding my own personal checkbook. Plus, last night I watched Harlan County, USA, about the 1974 Eastern Kentucky coal miner's strike, so my opinion is probably a bit skewed.
Basically the owners control nearly every aspect of this situation. If an acceptable deal is not reached, then football will not be played in 2011 – and the players can do absolutely nothing about it. From the perspective of timing, the owners have already set the tone for an offseason of negotiations – simply by waiting until the season ended. Had these talks begun in August – as Mawae mentions in his interview – the current momentum could have favored the NFLPA. But then again, any such swing factors in the "outrage" of NFL fans – most of whom are just beginning to realize that football is finished anyway for the next several months.
For any true fan revolt to manifest itself, the NFL season would have to be cancelled – but still even this idea would not fully register until at least late July. And speaking of which, when is the last time that any sort of Proletariat movement led to billionaires making financial concessions? How un-American.
In this situation, the owners know exactly what they want (two more regular season games and more revenue) and are aware of exactly who they are facing (hundreds of players who will soon be broke).
And regarding the players, this year marks an inordinate number of NFL free agents – many of whom are ready to cash in on the best offer they can find. While unity and brotherhood are novel ideas; unfortunately in the face of millions of potential dollars – such a temptation overrides all other sentiments.
And for the fans, there’s always something else to watch….and spend their money on.
Or if we move from coal miners to Chris Rock – "you're only as loyal as your options."
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