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    NFL teams prepping for lockout ..

    By MICHAEL MAROT, AP Sports Writer Sep 17, 6:11 pm EDT

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP)—Players for four NFL teams have already taken a key step in their looming fight with the league over pay—a fight that may include a lockout next year.

    Carl Francis, a spokesman for the NFL Players Association, confirmed in an e-mail to The Associated Press on Friday that Indianapolis, Dallas, New Orleans and Philadelphia have all voted unanimously to decertify the union. He said union leaders were still collecting voting cards from other teams.

    Decertification would strip the union of its collective bargaining rights on behalf of the players, so the move might seem counter-intuitive. But since antitrust laws exempt NFL owners from being sued by unions that are negotiating CBAs, decertification would in essence eliminate the union and allow players to sue the NFL in the event of a lockout—giving them potential leverage in their dispute with the owners.

    Colts center Jeff Saturday(notes) said the Indy vote took place Wednesday and that he expects the other 31 teams to do the same thing—unanimously.

    “When it’s explained why you’re doing it, I don’t think anyone would vote against it,” he said.

    League officials declined to comment.

    No immediate action is expected by the NFLPA, but voting now will help the union avoid the logistical nightmare of tracking down players for voting cards and signatures during the offseason. The collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the union expires in March.

    Players have been told that if the union does not decertify before the CBA ends, the NFLPA would have to wait six months to sue the league.

    NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith is expected to meet with each team over the next few weeks. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell also answered questions from Colts players during a training camp meeting last month.

    It’s not the first time this has happened.

    The NFLPA was decertified in 1989, two years after a failed players’ strike. It returned as a union in 1993, when a contract was reached with the league that provided for free agency. That landmark CBA was renewed or restructured several times since 1993, including in 2006. The owners opted out of that deal two years ago.

    The players currently get 59.6 percent of designated NFL revenues, a number agreed to in the 2006 CBA. The owners say that’s too much, arguing that they have huge debts for building stadiums and starting up the NFL Network and other ventures, making it impossible to be profitable.

    The NFL generates nearly $8 billion in revenues annually, with about $1 billion going to operating expenses. The owners get about 40 percent of the rest, but they want about $1.3 billion more before the players get their cut, and they’d like two more regular-season games to get more money out of the networks for everyone.

    Players have said they won’t take anything that amounts to a pay cut. Smith has been warning players since he took office in early 2009 to put aside money in case of a work stoppage.

    Swell! It's starting to look like there will be a lockout after all .. I no longer follow major league baseball because of the strike they had - that one took all the joy out of it for me. I fervently hope something will be worked out between NFL owners and players, but right now things appear ominous .. I am too lazy to do the math, but if the NFL regular season were to be expanded to 18 games, shouldn't teams' active rosters be expanded from 53 players to say 60? In this economy, it is very easy for the "haves" to grind the "have nots." One certainly cannot make the case that star players are "have nots," but fringe players have as much on the line as stars where injuries are concerned.

    Also there is the matter of the product an owner puts on the field. As is stands now, there are very few NFL rosters that can withstand multiple serious injuries without a big drop off in onfield performance. If owners want an 18 game regular season, then active roster limits should be increased.

    Fri Jun 18 09:10am PDT
    Expanded season revenue: The NFL's math problem

    By Doug Farrar

    Recently, we detailed the concerns of Ray Lewis and Tom Brady when it came to the idea of an 18-game regular season. Obviously, the players and the NFL Players Association are very concerned about increased injury risks and fair financial compensation should an expanded season become a reality. Unfortunately, in the most recent public statements about how these problems would be solved, the NFL neglected to do a bit of simple math. In a recent conference call with the media, Green Bay Packers team president (and ad hoc league spokesperson) Mark Murphy had this to say:

    I think [the union] may well raise that issue [of enhanced player pay], but at the end of the day you've got a pot of money and the players get nearly 60 percent of that. We compared the NFL to other professional sports leagues. Right now we're significantly shorter than the NBA, Major League Baseball by about eight weeks. Obviously, the injury rate in the NFL is higher than those other sports ... with the partnership that we have with the players, they're going to get X-percent of whatever revenue comes in. I think that's how we would view it.

    The problem with that view is that the ongoing percentage of revenue provided to the players is very much up in the air. The primary reason that the players and owners are so far apart in the current CBA negotiations is what I might call the "middle 20" — the 20 percent of overall revenue between the 40 percent that each side is willing to concede. Under the current CBA, the league is obligated to give 58 percent of revenue to the players in league years 2010 and 2011. After that, things get a little weird. The league's most recent revenue proposal starts at that same 58 percent, but back-end deductions reduce that revenue in a major way. On their site, the NFLPA has an analysis by longtime offensive lineman and player rep Pete Kendall, which includes this poison pill:

    The NFL's current proposal would keep the player's percentage of Total Revenue at 58%, but importantly, it would reduce the amount of money that is included in the definition of TR by 18%, to allow for certain additional expense deductions. These additional expenses would be on top of the already existing $1.0 billion in expense deductions. If the 18% expense deduction were applied to the 2008 league year revenue, it would result in an additional expense credit of more than $1.3 billion. The obvious effect of this 18% expense deduction is that the players would get the same percentage of a much smaller revenue pie. Instead of each dollar of Total Revenue being included in the cap calculation, only 82 cents of each Total Revenue dollar would be included. That translates into an 18% reduction in the total amount of money included in the cap.

    Expressed another way, the NFL owners are asking that the players reduce their percentage of TR, as it is currently defined, from 58% to 47.56% of TR. This lowering of the cap by 10.44 points represents an 18% reduction in the applicable percentage. Expressed in dollars, a cap of $116 million per club as calculated under the existing definition of TR, would be reduced to $95.12 million under the NFL's proposal. Thus, if the impact of the proposal were to be spread evenly over all player salaries and benefits across the league, each player would have to take a cut of 18% in salary and benefits.

    You would have to turn back the clock to the early 1980's, in the days before free agency, to find a season in which the players' share of football revenue was as low as that being proposed by the NFL owners for 2010 and beyond.

    And that's the untold story behind the league's insistence that the players would get "X-percent of whatever revenue comes in." If the owners get their way, the league's elite players would, in fact, be playing more games and encountering more injury risks for far less money as their gross revenue gets chopped at the top to compensate owners for outlays like practice facilities and travel costs. (The NFLPA has proposed compensation credits for revenue-generating expanses, like stadium construction costs). Problem is, the players aren't shareholders in their teams and in those facilities. In fact, if you combine the increased schedule and devalued revenue stream, the players become much more like very highly paid sharecroppers. Think I'm exaggerating? Let's take a look at the dictionary definition of "sharecropper":

    n. A tenant farmer who gives a share of the crops raised to the landlord in lieu of rent.

    How is it different if the players are now required to give back up to 18 percent of their revenue to cover costs, when they will not share in the benefits established by the fruits of those costs? What's next — will the players be forced to pay rent for their lockers? Monthly fees for the gym? And here's the worst part; as Kendall outlined, the owners already have expense deduction built in to the current CBA.

    This is at the heart of the current labor unrest, and it's why the owners are quite possibly willing to play "chicken" with an entire NFL season to break the union and force the players to bend to their will. They see an opportunity to reverse the great benefits gained by the players in an era when the NFL has become a virtual license to print money. That the league seems to endorse statements like Murphy's, which ignore the real issue of gross versus net revenue, tells you just how far the league is willing to take this — and perhaps why Roger Goodell is pushing so hard for an 18-game season in the first place.

    Thoughts ??

  2. #2
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    Re: NFL teams prepping for lockout ..

    The share-cropping analogy is flawed in my opinion. NFL players are not individual entrepreneurs on the field, each theoretically self-employed while ultimately being bound to the man he rents from. They're employees. Since they don't have any ownership claim in the teams, they are not strictly speaking owed any greater share than any other group of workers. NFL players are contract workers; they just happen to have much larger contracts than the rest of us.

    Whether you're arguing over the share of profits before accounting for operating costs or after doesn't really matter in principle--you just use different arguments depending on whether those costs are going to come out of one side's share or not. The real problem is that the owners feel like they gave up too much in the last round and are wanting to push the negotiation back the other way. Of course, it's never easy to take back what has already been given.

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