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Popps
01-05-2010, 03:59 PM
This is a big story. I hope this stuff gets worked out. If not, it really hurts our chances to improve ourselves via free agency. Sounds like the sides are far apart...

The NFL and the players union met again Tuesday, ostensibly to continue discussions about a new collective bargaining agreement. But as was the case with all seven of their prior negotiating sessions, no serious progress got made. One person familiar with the negotiations told me these scheduled meetings were "so the lawyers can justify their fees," and that characterization reflects the growing pessimism -- mainly on the part of the union -- about the chances of getting a deal done in time to make sure games aren't canceled in 2011.

NFLPA chief DeMaurice Smith told me last June that he believed the owners were intent on locking out the players in 2011 in an effort to break the union and get a new CBA deal that's tilted heavily in the owners' favor. And nothing that's happened in the seven months since has made the union any more optimistic. Smith's requests for audited financial statements that would back up the owners' claims of economic distress have all been rejected, leading the union to believe the other side isn't interested in negotiating.

"The owners are of the opinion that costs are rising too quickly or that costs are too high, and they would like players to take a smaller piece of the pie," said Jessica Horewitz, a financial consultant and industry expert who's been hired by the players to assist them. "But without some concrete data for each of the clubs, it's pretty hard to get an understanding of what the issues are with regard to those costs."

One of the things Horewitz is working on is a review of the past five years' worth of financial data for the Green Bay Packers, who are a publicly owned team and therefore required by law to make their balance sheets public. In June, the Packers released statements that said they made a $20.1 million profit for the fiscal year that ended March 31, 2009, which seems to hurt the credibility of the owners' cries of poverty.

In a letter sent to player representatives last week (and first reported by ESPN), Smith painted a bleak picture of the state of the negotiations. He said all evidence points to the owners having been determined since 2007 to lock out the players in 2011, and that evidence includes the hiring in 2008 of attorney Bob Batterman, who helped engineer the lockout that cost the NHL an entire season, and the new TV deals that will pay off even if there are no games in 2011. Those were two points Smith made to me last June, and since then the owners have done several things that have solidified his opinion that a lockout is, in fact, what they're after:

1. They've made it clear that they're willing to play the 2010 season without a salary cap, which they must if there's no deal in place by March. The owners have installed several safeguards to prevent top-revenue teams from overspending on players in George Steinbrenner-like fashion, and their fears of what an uncapped season would mean long-term have been shelved in favor of a desire to get the labor deal they want. But the union hates the idea of an uncapped season, since about 200 players who would otherwise be unrestricted free agents will instead be restricted free agents and because they're far more worried about low-revenue teams paring back to bare-bones budgets than they are about high-revenue teams breaking the bank.

2. The owners have decided to abolish the $200 million supplemental revenue sharing fund for 2010. This is money that would go to the bottom eight revenue teams in the league for use on their 2011 payrolls. The union has appealed this decision to a special master and fears that it too portends a lockout. After all, if the owners aren't expecting any games to be played in 2011, that $200 million would be a lot more useful as rainy-day money split among 32 clubs than it would be as supplemental payroll funds for eight of them.

3. The NFL has helped take to the Supreme Court the American Needle case, which is scheduled to be heard next week. The union believes one of the reasons the league has been moving so slowly on the CBA negotiations is that it's waiting to see what happens in American Needle, where a win for the league could conceivably broaden the league's antitrust exemption to the point where it might not even have to bargain collectively with its players. The league is currently exempt from antitrust laws for purposes of negotiating its broadcasting contracts, and this particular case applies to licensing. But since the NFL joined American Needle's appeal even after winning the lower-court case, the union's fear is that the league believes it can score a big enough victory in the Supreme Court to give it "single-entity" status in such matters as determining player salaries -- i.e., the league itself could set the salaries instead of allowing players to negotiate them individually with the different teams. This case is of grave enough concern to other sports unions that the MLB and NBA players unions have offered support to the NFLPA in preparing for the case.

4. Smith's letter claims the league has asked the players to give back 18 percent of their portion of the overall revenue pot in the first year of the new CBA. There's a lot of debate about the overall revenue figures and how much each side gets. The popular notion is that the players get about 60 percent and the owners 40 percent of the league's $8.5 billion total revenue. But sources close to the situation say the pool that's actually split is only about $7.5 billion. The players get 60 percent of that, which amounts to about 53 percent of the gross. And if they gave back 18 percent of what they already have, they'd be down to about 43 percent of the gross. The union doesn't consider that a reasonable proposal. In fact, they believe the league is overreaching to an extent that only a side that was willing to cancel games or a season to get what it wants would overreach.

5. The union believes the league is attempting to divide players on issues such as a rookie wage scale (which has public support and the ability to rile up veterans when they see what the top draft picks get, but which the union opposes on its face), and that it's using the issue of retired players as a wedge issue. By offering to use part of their desired savings as a fund for retired players, the league could well be trying to get the retired guys on their side against a union the retirees already distrust due to years of perceived neglect by the previous NFLPA administration.

The union and the players insist they will not go on strike. They say they liked the current CBA (which was supposed to run through 2012) and that the owners won't tell them why they opted out of it. They want the public to know that any work stoppage would be owner-driven and not player-driven. But unless they can get public support (or congressional support, which they're working on) on their side, it's hard to see how they have a whole lot of leverage on these issues. And by stonewalling so far in the negotiations, the NFL is acting as if it knows that -- as if it knows it will eventually get everything it wants. No matter what it has to do to get there.

http://nfl.fanhouse.com/2010/01/05/lockout-in-2011-looks-likely-as-nfl-labor-talks-stall/

GoHAM
01-05-2010, 04:30 PM
Item #3 is by far the most interesting thing in the article. If the NFL wins that ruling the entire sports world is significantly changed. Big time.

Sodak
01-05-2010, 04:54 PM
I wonder who the bottom eight revenue teams are?

Ziggy
01-05-2010, 05:00 PM
I wonder who the bottom eight revenue teams are?

8. Jacksonville Jaguars

Broncos_OTM
01-05-2010, 05:10 PM
ill take a stab at it. Buffalo, Jacksonville, San Diego, Minnesota, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Carolina Cincinati. just guessing. maybe cleveland.

bombay
01-05-2010, 06:16 PM
The owners are determined. They'll have their way or we'll see a lockout in '11.

400HZ
01-05-2010, 06:27 PM
ill take a stab at it. Buffalo, Jacksonville, San Diego, Minnesota, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Carolina Cincinati. just guessing. maybe cleveland.

I don't think its publically available information, but I'd guess St. Louis is probably on there as well as maybe Detroit, Oakland, Arizona, or New Orleans. Does anyone know for sure?

kappys
01-05-2010, 07:28 PM
The union seems to be playing this one pretty well. I feel like amongst football fans they've gotten much more sympathy than the owners. Perhaps we need a poll to better define this.

That said public sympathy will only get them so far. The big question is how hardcore are they willing to go with a lockout. 1 lost season is big, but if the players stick together and balk at any lowball deals and a 2 season lockout looms I can definitely see Congressional action as a real possibility.

Hercules Rockefeller
01-05-2010, 07:38 PM
IIRC, Cleveland is one of the 5 most valuable teams. If not, they're close because they've been in the Top 5 in recent years. No chance they're a Bottom 8 revenue team.

sixtimeseight
01-05-2010, 07:46 PM
I wonder who the bottom eight revenue teams are?

http://www.forbes.com/lists/2009/30/football-values-09_NFL-Team-Valuations_Revenue.html

400HZ
01-06-2010, 12:57 AM
http://www.forbes.com/lists/2009/30/football-values-09_NFL-Team-Valuations_Revenue.html

Thanks!
Team Revenue ($mil)
Washington Redskins 345
New England Patriots 302
Dallas Cowboys 280
Houston Texans 256
Philadelphia Eagles 250
Miami Dolphins 242
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 241
Chicago Bears 241
Denver Broncos 240
Baltimore Ravens 240
Carolina Panthers 238
Cleveland Browns 235
Pittsburgh Steelers 235
Indianapolis Colts 233
Green Bay Packers 232
Tennessee Titans 232
New Orleans Saints 232
Seattle Seahawks 231
New York Giants 230
Kansas City Chiefs 228
New York Jets 227
San Diego Chargers 224
Arizona Cardinals 223
Cincinnati Bengals 222
Buffalo Bills 222
St Louis Rams 217
Jacksonville Jaguars 217
Oakland Raiders 215
San Francisco 49ers 214
Atlanta Falcons 214
Minnesota Vikings 209
Detroit Lions 208


I wonder if those figures take into account the $200 million that was previously being distributed. The figures are actually pretty close outside of the top 5.

KillerBronco#76
01-06-2010, 01:36 AM
ouch to whoever put the bucs in the bottom 8... it surprised me when i moved down here but they have alot of support. Lots of die hard Buc fans and the city does have quite a bit of money for its size.

That One Guy
01-06-2010, 04:12 AM
PFT in their numerous articles on this have previously mentioned that TV Networks will still pay full price for a lockout year to the owners but would be compensated in following seasons by having lower fees. That means the NFL itself should be able to cover its debts during a lockout year. The players? Probably not so much...

Owners are banking on the players caving if a lockout looms.

Also, anyone think it's a possibility that the NFL did away with revenue sharing to make the situation more dire for some teams? If they can play on an uneven field, the poorer teams become the lowest common denominator that can be thrown at the NFLPA. If a handful of teams would go bankrupt on a specific deal, obviously they can argue against it while the Jerry Jones and Pat Bowlens of the league rake in the cash.

peacepipe
01-06-2010, 04:39 AM
PFT in their numerous articles on this have previously mentioned that TV Networks will still pay full price for a lockout year to the owners but would be compensated in following seasons by having lower fees. That means the NFL itself should be able to cover its debts during a lockout year. The players? Probably not so much...

Owners are banking on the players caving if a lockout looms.

Also, anyone think it's a possibility that the NFL did away with revenue sharing to make the situation more dire for some teams? If they can play on an uneven field, the poorer teams become the lowest common denominator that can be thrown at the NFLPA. If a handful of teams would go bankrupt on a specific deal, obviously they can argue against it while the Jerry Jones and Pat Bowlens of the league rake in the cash.
It's possible,but don't expect the NFLPA to buy into it. They'll be well aware of what thje NFL is trying to do.

kappys
01-06-2010, 06:43 AM
My understanding is that one of the big issues is the lack of unity amongst owners as to the plan. The rift is mainly over revenue sharing with richer owners like Jerry Jones trying to do away with it. Until the owners can walk in unison the NFLPA doesn't really have a negociating partner. Thus all the owners can do is completely lowball the NFLPA.

Garcia Bronco
01-06-2010, 07:06 AM
I hope there is a strike. It will do nothing but help the fans because the NFL will have to lower its prices.

jhns
01-06-2010, 07:10 AM
The biggest change I would like to see is a rookie salary cap. I hate seeing them take up so much cap room when they haven't proven themselves.

It sucks they aren't going to get this done. This staff was very good in free agency this past offseason.

Chris
01-06-2010, 08:10 AM
The Broncos are the 5th grossing franchise. We could hold our own in an uncapped league... just as we did in the old days (or was there just no free agency? I'm only 25). The chuggers on the other hand... forget it.

400HZ
01-06-2010, 08:29 AM
The Broncos are the 5th grossing franchise. We could hold our own in an uncapped league... just as we did in the old days (or was there just no free agency? I'm only 25). The chuggers on the other hand... forget it.

If six accrued years are still required from players before qualifying for unrestricted free agency then that advantage is severely negated. Players will accept lower money extensions from their original teams to gain more financial security earlier on. Even if they don't, their prime years were already spent with the team who drafted them. As for free agency, the bottom 20 teams aren't active players in it right now anyways. If Jerry Jones, Dan Snyder, and Pat Bowlen have more money to throw at ****head players like Roy Williams, Albert Haynesworth, and Travis Henry then good for them.

ludo21
01-06-2010, 08:42 AM
Id still watch the Broncos with replacement players if it came to that

Drek
01-06-2010, 08:52 AM
If six accrued years are still required from players before qualifying for unrestricted free agency then that advantage is severely negated. Players will accept lower money extensions from their original teams to gain more financial security earlier on. Even if they don't, their prime years were already spent with the team who drafted them. As for free agency, the bottom 20 teams aren't active players in it right now anyways. If Jerry Jones, Dan Snyder, and Pat Bowlen have more money to throw at ****head players like Roy Williams, Albert Haynesworth, and Travis Henry then good for them.

An uncapped NFL would be more and more like MLB, which also requires six years of ML level service time (post-minor leagues) to reach FA.

Teams won't be able to buy a ton of years from young players in addition to the base six, they'll just be able to lock them up for that six at a more reasonable rate than what the player would command on the open market. The big difference in the NFL that will further skew this system towards big money organizations is that many of those players would be elidgable for RFA no later than their 5th year, while MLB players owe six years at the controlling team's discretion. It isn't hard to poison pill someone if you're willing to pay a 1st and 3rd for a young stud that another team hasn't locked up.

You'd see a lot of short deals to all draftees. Once they show they can perform they'll get the remainder of their required service time before FA bought out at well below market value, but at very few additional years (maybe one or two) and the club would be paying more to buy those years out. Then almost every player would at least dabble in FA after those six years are up.

An uncapped league where the owners don't orchestrate a lockout is in the best interest of the players because owners like Dan Snyder and Jerry Jones will quickly turn the NFL into the gridiron version of MLB.

gyldenlove
01-06-2010, 09:04 AM
I hope there is a strike. It will do nothing but help the fans because the NFL will have to lower its prices.

If there is a full lockout season then the prices will be lowered the year after to get people back, but they will go up again as soon as they came down.

cutthemdown
01-06-2010, 09:05 AM
ill take a stab at it. Buffalo, Jacksonville, San Diego, Minnesota, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Carolina Cincinati. just guessing. maybe cleveland.

Nope Browns make good money.

bendog
01-06-2010, 09:06 AM
yeah, the owners want cheaper tix and direct ticket prices. (-:

cutthemdown
01-06-2010, 09:06 AM
Panthers also do well. Any of the teams with a nice stadium deal do well.

peacepipe
01-06-2010, 09:53 AM
Id still watch the Broncos with replacement players if it came to thatI won't watch the NFL at all if they bring in scabs.

400HZ
01-06-2010, 10:49 AM
An uncapped NFL would be more and more like MLB, which also requires six years of ML level service time (post-minor leagues) to reach FA.

Teams won't be able to buy a ton of years from young players in addition to the base six, they'll just be able to lock them up for that six at a more reasonable rate than what the player would command on the open market. The big difference in the NFL that will further skew this system towards big money organizations is that many of those players would be elidgable for RFA no later than their 5th year, while MLB players owe six years at the controlling team's discretion. It isn't hard to poison pill someone if you're willing to pay a 1st and 3rd for a young stud that another team hasn't locked up.

You'd see a lot of short deals to all draftees. Once they show they can perform they'll get the remainder of their required service time before FA bought out at well below market value, but at very few additional years (maybe one or two) and the club would be paying more to buy those years out. Then almost every player would at least dabble in FA after those six years are up.

An uncapped league where the owners don't orchestrate a lockout is in the best interest of the players because owners like Dan Snyder and Jerry Jones will quickly turn the NFL into the gridiron version of MLB.

I was stuck on the MLB comparisons when the information about the post-CBA NFL began to emerge, too, but the more I think about it the more I think that it's a poor comparison. There are major fundamental differences.

For starters, revenue disparity in the NFL does not even approach what it is in baseball. The main chunk of NFL team revenue is the network TV contract, which is split among franchises. MLB revenue is much more closely tied to a team's home market which allow big market teams to financially dominate.

Secondly, most baseball players are drafted out of high school, and so after a couple years in the minors and six years with their club, most are only 26-27 years old and are just entering their prime physical baseball years. Also, the lifespans of MLBers are much longer than NFLers. A baseball player can expect to play out his rookie contract and still have eight good years left in his career. Maybe a few less for pitchers. How much does a football player have left in the tank after three or four years of college ball and then six years of pro? Most players would already be 28-29 years old and just about to hit the point of declining physical ability.

Third, the dynamics of free agency are way different in baseball. Baseball is driven much more by personal performance than football is. The Yankees can go out and buy a whole new bullpen in one year full of aces that are going to perform. What do you think would (will?) happen if Snyder goes out one year and tries to buy eleven new defensive starters?

Lastly, what is the bust rate of free agents in the NFL vs MLB? MLB players don't rely on the players or system around them to be successful, and so it is much easier to mix and match the pieces to create a good team. Who was the last big money NFL free agent who wasn't a major disappointment?

SoCalBronco
01-06-2010, 05:15 PM
3. The NFL has helped take to the Supreme Court the American Needle case, which is scheduled to be heard next week. The union believes one of the reasons the league has been moving so slowly on the CBA negotiations is that it's waiting to see what happens in American Needle, where a win for the league could conceivably broaden the league's antitrust exemption to the point where it might not even have to bargain collectively with its players. The league is currently exempt from antitrust laws for purposes of negotiating its broadcasting contracts, and this particular case applies to licensing. But since the NFL joined American Needle's appeal even after winning the lower-court case, the union's fear is that the league believes it can score a big enough victory in the Supreme Court to give it "single-entity" status in such matters as determining player salaries -- i.e., the league itself could set the salaries instead of allowing players to negotiate them individually with the different teams. This case is of grave enough concern to other sports unions that the MLB and NBA players unions have offered support to the NFLPA in preparing for the case.



Some more analysis on American Needle:

More on whether the NFL is a “single-entity” for anti-trust purposes

Monday, 04 January 2010 , by : Chris

This question — which is trickier than many give it credit for — is the subject of an upcoming Supreme Court case, American Needle v. NFL. I previously discussed it here, and now Gabriel Feldman of Tulane Law School is chiming in:

[American Needle v. NFL] involves an unremarkable set of facts. For many years, all of the NFL teams jointly licensed their trademarks and logos to a variety of apparel manufacturers. American Needle was one of these licensees, and had sold NFL-logoed hats since the late 1950’s. After retail sales of sports-related merchandise struggled in the 1990’s, the NFL teams decided to grant an exclusive license to Reebok to manufacture all NFL-licensed apparel, thus eliminating American Needle’s ability to continue selling NFL hats. In response, American Needle brought an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL and its teams, claiming that the exclusive license with Reebok eliminated competition in the market for NFL apparel and constituted an illegal “contract, combination…or conspiracy” in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. In American Needle’s brief to the Supreme Court, they note that “a Reebok vice-president hailed the elimination of price competition as ‘a godsend from a profitability standpoint,’ explaining that ‘[b]asic fitted caps that were selling for $19.99 a few years ago because of the price pressures are now selling for $30.’”

…[T]his case is about a lot more than whether the NFL’s exclusive license violates Section 1 of the Sherman Act. Instead, at issue here is whether the NFL is even capable of violating Section 1. Section 1 of the Sherman Act only applies to agreements, and (as Rob Bass and DJ EZ Rock might have put it) it takes two to make an agreement. So, for example, if all of the manufacturers of wool hats in the world got together to make a series of agreements, those agreements would be scrutinized under Section 1 to ensure they were not anticompetitive (e.g., to ensure that the manufacturers were not agreeing to fix prices). The question is, what happens when all of the NFL teams in the world get together and make a series of agreements? Should those agreements be scrutinized under Section 1?

In American Needle, the NFL argued that they are a single entity, and thus incapable of violating Section 1 (because a single entity cannot reach an agreement with itself). The NFL concedes that they do not look like a traditional single entity — that is, a single firm with a single owner. Instead, the NFL argues that they are a single entity because the NFL is a product that can only be created by cooperation among its teams, and none of its teams have any economic value without the league. The NFL’s argument is that the product created by the NFL teams is an interconnected series of games (the regular season) that leads to a playoffs, that eventually produces a Super Bowl champion, and that no individual team can produce this product on its own. Rather, the teams must make a series of agreements with each other–where to play, when to play, under what rules, etc. The NFL believes that this interdependence and need for cooperation renders the league a single entity, and that all of the agreements made by the league and its teams –ranging from scheduling to free agency restrictions to salary cap rules to franchise relocation restrictions –should thus not be subject to scrutiny under Section 1.

This is not a new argument. Sports leagues have been making this same argument for over thirty years, and virtually every court to address the issue has rejected the argument for over thirty years, often finding that agreements made by teams have violated Section 1. . . . I want to quickly touch on three basic points that have either been overlooked or misconstrued by the press covering this story.

1) If the NFL loses the case before the Supreme Court, it does not mean that all of their exclusive licensing arrangements [are] illegal. This case is a lottery ticket for the NFL. If they win, it could be a significant victory. . . If the NFL loses, nothing really changes. The issue before the Supreme Court is not whether the NFL’s exclusive licensing arrangement is legal under the antitrust laws[; it] is whether the licensing arrangement should even be subject to scrutiny under the antitrust laws. If the NFL wins, they escape Section 1 scrutiny. If the NFL loses, their arrangement will then be analyzed under the rule of reason, where a court will weigh the pro-competitive benefits of the agreement versus its anticompetitive effects…

2) [Baseball player] Curt Flood lost his case before the Supreme Court. Although only indirectly related to the case, there has been much discussion of Curt Flood and his fight for baseball free agency that went all the way up to the United States Supreme Court in 1972. Despite what some commentators have been writing, Flood lost[.] His fight is an important part of baseball history, but that case actually reaffirmed baseball’s (and thus the reserve clause’s) exemption from competition law…. Major League Baseball players actually won free agency in a 1975 arbitration involving Dave McNally and Andy Messersmith.

3) The NFL already has an exemption from the antitrust laws for its television deals with CBS, NBC, and Fox. In the 1950’s, the NFL teams agreed to pool their broadcast rights together and sell them as a package to the networks. A federal court held that this agreement violated Section 1 of the Sherman Act and prohibited it. Thus, the NFL teams were required to sell their television rights individually. In 1961, however, Congress passed the Sports Broadcasting Act, which permits NFL teams to pool all of their television rights and sell them as a package on network television. In other words, it exempts the network television deals from scrutiny under Section 1. Thus, regardless of the Supreme Court’s decision in American Needle, the NFL’s television deals with the CBS, Fox, and NBC cannot be challenged under Section 1. American Needle could, however, have an impact on the NFL’s deals with DirecTV and with the NFL Network. More on that, and much more on American Needle, in posts to come.

http://smartfootball.com/grab-bag/more-on-whether-the-nfl-is-a-single-entity-for-anti-trust-purposes#more-780