With the start of preseason action just two months away, the NFL is looking to avoid the problems that have NBA fans concerned and NFL fans in hibernation -- labor unrest that threatens the game.
While the NFL may, for all intents, be dead and the NBA in danger of joining them if owners lock out players July 1, the NFL has thrived in recent years and continues to grow. But it is that same growth that could be the biggest problem in getting an extension to the current collective bargaining agreement done.
Many fans believe the biggest issue is the salary cap and it is, but not necessarily in the way most consider it. The final year of the current agreement is 2007, but, unless a new deal is struck, there would be no salary cap that year -- allowing teams to potentially spend whatever they want for that year. Most owners are convinced that a salary cap is a good idea, so that isn't viewed as a deal-buster.
There have also been rumblings that the players association is looking for a bigger cut of the revenue pie, since owners continue to see increased revenues that aren't included in the salary cap formula and the value of franchises continues to grow. However, the consensus among owners is that the players aren't out of line in their request for additional percentages -- certainly not big enough to be a road block in the way of getting a deal done.
The biggest problem as it stands now is that, while league monies for television revenue and the like are shared, there are several revenue streams that aren't shared, like those taken off of luxury boxes, concessions, parking, etc.
For some teams, like the Cowboys and Redskins, these revenues add up to tens of millions of dollars a year. For the have nots like the Vikings and Colts -- both playing in antiquated domes that didn't take luxury box revenues into consideration at the time they were built -- the lack of revenue has created a competitive imbalance that is the biggest threat to labor peace.
If the owners can't come to some sort of resolution, they may add a new chapter to the sports lexicon -- a potential lock out because one side of the issue has more internal problems than specific gripes with the other side.
* Final approval of the sale of the Vikings to Zygi Wilf is expected to come down today.
* The NFL announced Wednesday that former Viking Randy Moss has reclaimed his spot as the No. 1 jersey seller in the NFL. He dropped last year's leader, Michael Vick, to No. 2 after moving to the Raiders -- one of the selling points for Al Davis to make the move and trade for Moss. No Vikings were in the top 10 individually or overall as a team.
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