The National Football League, mainly through the voices of commissioner Roger Goodell and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, is doing its best to convince the world that meaningful and at least relatively amicable negotiations with the NFL Players Association on a new collective bargaining agreement could bear fruit in the not too distant future.
Has anyone but me noticed we’re not hearing anything resembling that optimism from anyone connected to the NFLPA?
The league has gone so far as to leak comments that it’d love to have a new deal in place prior to the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears meeting at Soldier Field to kick off the league’s 100th season, and short of that, well in advance of the expiration of the current deal following the 2020 season.
I’d like to win the Power Ball tomorrow night, but that isn’t going to happen either.
Goodell has tremendous incentive to get something done in the form of annual bonuses totaling in the tens of millions of dollars, depending on the new deal he is able to strike.
Jones is looking to make money as well — and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that — but is driven more by his craving the kind of credit and worship heaped on New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft after he was perceived to be the driving force behind the breaking of the logjam in 2011 that yielded the current deal.
Here are the realities behind all the owners’ hope and hyperbole.
At the end of the last deal, the players were receiving approximately 51 percent of total football revenue, and today they are collecting approximately 47 percent.
What is included in total football revenue is a moving target, as is just how big a business the NFL is.
But strictly for purposes of this exercise, the NFL is currently estimated to be between a $14-15- billion business, and it was about a $10-billion business when the current CBA began, so let’s say it has averaged about $11 billion a year over the first eight years of the deal.
The four points the players lost has cost them about $440 million, per year, or a total of about $3.5 billion.
Nice work, NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith, who is somehow still leading the Association and heading up negotiations again.
The players have to know they aren’t getting any of that money back but have to dig their heels in for the four points going forward, don’t they?
The owners know the surest way to increase their revenue by at least 10-13 points a year is to swap two preseason games for an 18-game regular season.
The players’ position remains no chance.
The players have also said they will not have another deal under which Roger Goodell gets to be judge, jury and executioner on topics of players conduct and behavior.
The owners might move a bit here, but not in any way that is meaningful to their employees.
The players want — and if there is anything they should absolutely go to the wall for is — health care for life once they are done playing.
They should get it, but the last owner I got to ask about that recently just looked at me and smiled.
Can today’s players continue to have mirrors uncovered in their homes if they don’t do more for players retired prior to 1993 who are desperate for some kind of health care and more compensation for disabilities, including issues related to dementia or CTE?
Those are just the big five, people. There are a host of other issues that, according to everybody I talk to on either side of the table, they are no closer on than they are on the big ones.
Nothing would make all of us happier than seeing these guys get this done quick and easy.
But combine the incompetence of Smith on behalf of the players and the owners once again looking to not just win but crush their employees on the next deal once again — not to mention the incredible arrogance on both sides — and there is about as much chance of that happening as there is of the Cardinals going to the Super Bowl this year.
The St. Louis baseball Cardinals, that is.