Things couldn’t be going better for the National Football League. In a recent poll, they were ranked the most popular sport in America. The playoffs were exciting, with surprises like the Seahawks beating the Saints, and the Jets upseting the Pats, and the Super Bowl match-up pitches two of the most storied teams in NFL history, the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers, with a combined nine Super Bowl victories.
Even so, the NFL has some dark days ahead of them. As of May 3rd, the most recent Collective Bargaining Agreement expires. As of now, there will be a work stoppage on May 4th. With no CBA, the league doesn’t exist. There are no contracts, no games, no workouts.
The owners and the NFLPA (Players Association) have to get together and negotiate a contract that fits both the owners and the players. The owners are trying to get an 18-game schedule, and a rookie pay scale (so a rookie player isn’t making 10x that of veteran players). The players just want to play football.
So the two sides just need to meet in the middle, and agree to terms.
Unfortunately, the answer is no. Through the most recent negotiations, the owners and players have both dug their trenches, and are ready for a long fight ahead.
The two sides just can’t seem to agree on anything. The owners want an 18-game schedule, to increase revenue and entertainment, as well as safety. The players don’t want an 18-game schedule, because it can lead to more injuries. The owners want to maximize profit, and the players are afraid of safety.
This stalemate is leading like it will lead to a lockout, where the players can’t (and won’t) go practice, play games, and other football-related activities. If it lasts into the summer, there is a possibility that the teams can get ‘replacement’ players to play the games in-lue of professional athletes.
This stalemate has been prevalent on ESPN, Fox Sports, and numerous sports talk shows all across America. I was fortunate enough to call into one of those shows, on WEEI, 103.7, in Boston, and voice my opinion.
I don’t see why both sides can’t reach an agreement. I know, I am not behind the scenes with both sides, but just looking by looking at the numbers, it would be crazy for the NFL to lockout.
Think about it, the players will lose out on millions of dollars by not playing the game. The owners, I see it, will lose the most. Besides losing out on the multi-millions of dollars from television contracts, they will lose out on ticket sales, merchandise, concessions, and, most importantly, the respect from life-long fans.
If the owners try and get replacement players, they will lose even more money. They will pay all this money to get a stadium up-and-running, and no one will want to show up, basically burning the owners money.
But there could be one upside to this sticky situation, one that could be really hurt the NFL.
That is, the USFL. A place where former players and non-drafted college players go to show their stuff. Some are even picked up by NFL scouts, and have the opportunity to go pro. In the case of the lockout, some big name players may not want to take time off, and instead of waiting out the work-stoppage, and go to the USFL to play. By doing that, it will draw more interest to the small league. It has the potential to come out ‘smelling like roses,’ and becoming a league to rival the NFL.
I can’t stress enough again that this is my opinion. I don’t have all of the information the representatives have, but this is more of an outsiders view. It can be a very stressful offseason for players, owners, and fans. But as of now, we have the Pro-Bowl, and what looks to be an incredible Super Bowl to cap off one of the most unpredictable, and exciting, NFL seasons.