Wednesday, May 21, 2008

NFL Owners Void NFLPA Contract--Mike Brown Vindicated?

Mike Florio and Mark Crunette have both argued that the recent decision of NFL owners to void the current Collective Bargaining Agreement is vindication of Mike Brown. Brown, along with the Bills owner Ralph Wilson, opposed the current contract which imposes a salary cap but requires teams to pay 60% of their revenues to the players and that allows players to secure signing bonuses (guaranteed money) over the term of the contract. Recently, more owners have chaffed at the arrangement—the main rub being the 60% allotment to the players. Owners claim that this percentage is too high and hurts their “ability to invest.” Other issues include the inability of teams to recoup signing bonuses if a player refuses or is unable to complete their contract.

Let me get this straight. These owners, who are upset at their inability to invest, are the same owners that periodically hold their fan base hostage, claiming that if the public doesn’t come up with some money (typically in the form of higher consumption taxes) for the construction of a new stadium that they are going to move their team to a new city. These are the same owners that have invented “seat license fees” and sell more and more seats to corporations in the form of luxury boxes. Is it any wonder I feel no sympathy for the owners? Once owners actually take responsibility for building their own stadiums and stop gouging the fans, I will listen—but of course I will charge an “ear fee.”

Moreover, the current CBA has worked pretty well. Revenues are up. Fan interest is up. Attendance is up. For both owners and players, these are good things. You could make a pretty strong case that in the past 15 years, football has surpassed baseball as “America’s pastime.” The current CBA has facilitated this by creating greater parity and a relatively predictable career path for most players. It is pretty much win-win.

If anything, I would argue that the players are getting the short end of the stick, at least compared to baseball players. In reality, all football contracts are one year deals, any player can lose his job at anytime. And given football’s short career span, many players have to face that reality. The players have two points of leverage—the signing bonus, and the refusal to play. The owners want to take those away, and seem willing to risk the salary cap to do it. And be certain, if the salary cap disappears, it is never coming back.

Florio snidely blames players for signing “bad contracts.” But it isn’t the players junking the current CBA, it’s the owners. Perhaps the owners are the ones who keep signing “bad contracts” and are forced to live with them—or at least forced to live with the public relations nightmares they create.

The good news is that the NFLPA and the owners have until 2009 to negotiate a new contract. But if negotiations fail and we get a capless season followed by a strike , will Mike Brown be vindicated?


1 comment:

Mark said...

Well that's how the thing works. They are only thinking how to manage to charge money for anything! Taxes for everything, made up to get money from the public. It's just like viagra online stores, charging you taxes even for clicking your mouse!