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The players' trade association sent out a memo to its constituents on Wednesday, detailing what it believes to be the NFL's plans for a lockout over the past four years.
Pro Football Weekly secured a copy of the document, titled "CBA Chronology 2007 — March 2011: NFL's Path to a Lockout," which outlines the steps the NFL and union have made up until the point in which the owners locked the players out.
The document begins in 2007, when the NFL hired attorney Bob Batterman, who worked for the NHL during that sport's 2004-05 lockout, and runs through the final item, the March 1, 2011 entry in which Judge David Doty ruled in favor of the players' arguments that the league set aside a $4 million "war chest" in future TV revenue.
In between are 52 other chronological items — many of them statements from NFL officials, NFL-NFLPA bargaining sessions, court rulings and positional letters from each side.
Among the more interesting items:
- July 14, 2009: "Bargaining session in which NFL explains that it terminated CBA 2 years early due to "inadequate rate of return" for owners; NFLPA repeats request for club financial information"
- Oct. 19, 2009: "After Roger Goodell makes public statement that NFLPA hasn't officially requested audited financial statement, NFLPA issues letter again reiterating its request for audited financials that was initially made on May 18, 2009"
- Jan. 18, 2010: "NFLPA issues letter requesting additional detailed cost data to support the owners' position, and once again, reiterates request for audited team and League financials"
- Jan. 19, 2010: "NFL provides 4 pages of League-wide cost information for 2007 and 2008 to "justify" $1 billion rollback from players; NFL claims that, under the 2006 CBA, players receive 70% of incremental revenue ('70/30 split')"
- Jan. 27, 2010: "NFLPA letter corrects NFL's "70/30 split" claim; the NFL's mischaracterization ignores $1 billion deduction by the League off the top — the actual split with players under the 2006 deal is closer to 50/50"
- Jan. 21, 2011: "NFL proposes 5 year rookie wage scale. NFLPA review of proposal concludes that it would seriously restrict veterans"
- Feb. 9, 2011: "Bargaining session that was originally scheduled for two days ends abruptly when NFL walks out, claiming fundamental misunderstanding"
The two sides have disagreed about most of the core issues, at least how they are characterized. But according to this document — even though the players have vehemently argued against an 18-game regular season publicly — the two sides have talked about such a format for nearly four years, dating back to March 2009.
Another interesting facet is that of a "pegged salary cap," which according to this document first was discussed back on June 2, 2010. The pegged cap would be a fixed-rate spending limit in which owners would benefit from rising league revenue intake. The pegged cap concept was discussed several times since then, mentioned nine times in the NFLPA document, through its final mention on Feb. 5 of this year. On that date, one day before this year's Super Bowl, the owners discussed the cap concept but said they wanted to examine it in more detail before promising to respond to the union's proposal on the matter.