Trouble Looms For The NFL
If the season opener was any indication, there are serious problems in store for the National Football League. In case you missed it, both the Vikings and the Saints took to the field in protest—minutes before the kickoff—holding one finger in the air to symbolize they are united for the negotiations which will be held for the collective bargaining agreement.
“Even though five minutes from then we were going to go out and bash each others’ heads in,” Saints quarterback Drew Brees said, “we’re all one voice.”
At the center of the controversy is the fact that owners want to retain more of the money they spend on stadiums and facilities, as many of them think the current agreement gives the players unreasonably high percentages of the overall revenue. According to Yahoo Sports, Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson has been encouraging other owners to “take back our league.”
Players are currently receiving 59.6% of total revenue. On top of this, the lowest-earning teams are subsidized by the highest-earning teams in the league. Owners want more off the top before the players can get their cut, and they would also like to add two more regular-season games to the season to get more money from ticket revenue and television networks.
All of this will likely result in a lockout if things aren’t figured out by March. Owners seem to be hoping such a situation will hurt the players enough they are willing to come to the negotiation table more humbly. However, lockouts hurt everyone involved in the sport. Players, owners, and fans alike all suffer during this type of controversy.
Recall the writers’ strike of 07-08. Fans suffered, networks saw a decline of about 6.8% in television viewership, and some shows never fully recovered.
Even further back is the NBA lockout of ’98-’99. It took the league several years to recover from the abbreviated series and get back to pre-lockout prominence.
With those things in mind, it’s not looking very well for the NFL. Add in the fact that ESPN reports that four NFL teams have voted—unanimously—to decertify the NFL Players’ Association. The Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints, and the Indianapolis Colts have already placed their votes. Choosing to decertify the NFLPA will mean the players’ union will not have collective bargaining rights. In fact, it will probably mean the end of the union altogether.
However, ending the union’s certification will also mean the players can sue the NFL if there is a lockout. The other teams are expected to follow suit unanimously as well.
That being the case, we should probably enjoy football as we know it this season. Next season may come around pretty late, if at all.