2011 NFL Lockout: NFL CBA Discussions And Financial Disclosures

While the NFLPA's decision to decertify combined with a lockout officially underway (pending an injunction) is not shocking, I will still say "I called it" with my trip to Las Vegas. It doesn't take away the sting of these events. Now that a 2011 NFL Lockout is officially on the litigation war is officially on. Whatever optimism anybody had is more or less out the window. I was actually in the Monte Carlo poker room down here in Las Vegas as this was all unfolding. I was in touch with our front page staff and checking twitter on my phone as I took a bit of a beating in 2-4 limit Hold 'Em. Combine that with UNLV losing on a last second shot by San Diego State later in the evening and it was not a good day for Fooch.

As events unfolded yesterday the PR war began anew after about two weeks of relative radio silence from both parties at the behest of mediator George Cohen. The NFL released a rundown of their proposal, which was followed later in the day by the NFLPA response. I've posted those responses after the jump. The information comes courtesyof NFLLabor.com and NFLLockout.com.

In the comments of our two posts yesterday, I noticed a lot of discussion about the NFLPA demands for more financial transparency. The NFL offered some level of profitability information, but the NFLPA wanted complete financials that included expenses and other information beyond revenues brought in and profit figures. While the NFL did seem to show a very small amount of compromise, I don't believe profitability figures really bring much to the table. Telling me team X's profit figures without actually showing the numbers behind those profits basically would require the players to take the owners word on it. It remains to be seen what this "independent auditor" would be seeing in that regard as well so I won't go too far on this issue.

The NFLPA responded with a request for ten years of financial statements. If you're the owners, why not counter that with an offer of a few years worth of that kind of information, for example? If the players were demanding an increase in their cut of the pie that's one thing. But when it's the owners wanting a cut in pay for financial reasons, I see no problem with the union requesting this kind of information. I'm not saying the owners have to give it up, but don't be stunned that the union won't roll over. The league claims record ratings and is seeing continuing huge television deals. Is it shocking the NFL wants to see more than some profit figures written down?

At the end of the day none of this really matters for the fans. We as fans want to see the NFL and the NFLPA get their crap together and figure out a solution to this mess. I find the labor stuff interesting because that's the area of law in which I'm hoping to work. However, that does't mean I don't want this situation resolved. If this lockout drags on to the point that it starts costing us games, I hope the fans are prepared to raise some hell. Howard Bryant over at ESPN had some comments on this that I recommend checking out. In the meantime, the waiting and litigation game begin.

NFL Proposal

1. We more than split the economic difference between us, increasing our proposed cap for 2011 significantly and accepting the Union's proposed cap number for 2014 ($161 million per club).

2. An entry level compensation system based on the Union's "rookie cap" proposal, rather than the wage scale proposed by the clubs.  Under the NFL proposal, players drafted in rounds 2-7 would be paid the same or more than they are paid today.  Savings from the first round would be reallocated to veteran players and benefits.

3. A guarantee of up to $1 million of a player's salary for the contract year after his injury - the first time that the clubs have offered a standard multi-year injury guarantee.

4. Immediate implementation of changes to promote player health and safety by:

  • Reducing the off-season program by five weeks, reducing OTAs from 14 to 10, and limiting on-field practice time and contact;
  • Limiting full-contact practices in the preseason and regular season; and
  • Increasing number of days off for players.

5. Commit that any change to an 18-game season will be made only by agreement and that the 2011 and 2012 seasons will be played under the current 16-game format. 

6. Owner funding of $82 million in 2011-12 to support additional benefits to former players, which would increase retirement benefits for more than 2000 former players by nearly 60 percent.

7.  Offer current players the opportunity to remain in the player medical plan for life.

8. Third party arbitration for appeals in the drug and steroid programs.

9. Improvements in the Mackey plan, disability plan, and degree completion bonus program.

10.  A per-club cash minimum spend of 90 percent of the salary cap over three seasons.


NFLPA Response

  • The NFL demanded a multi-billion dollar giveback and refused to provide any legitimate financial information to justify it.
  • The NFL's offer on March 7 to give the NFLPA a single sheet of numbers was NOT financial disclosure. The players' accountants and bankers advised that the "offered" information was meaningless: only two numbers for each year.
  • The NFL wanted to turn the clock back on player compensation by four years, moving them back to where they were in 2007.
  • The NFL offered no proposal at all for long-term share of revenues.
  • NFL demanded 100% of all revenues which went above unrealistically low projections for the first four years.
  • The NFL refused to meet the players on significant changes to in-season, off-season or pre-season health and safety rules.
  • The NFL kept on the table its hypocritical demand for an 18-game season, despite its public claims to be working toward improving the heath and safety of players.
  • The NFL wanted cutbacks in payer workers' compensation benefits for injured players.
  • The NFL sought to limit rookie compensation long after they become veterans - into players' fourth and fifth years
  • THE PLAYERS WANT TO KEEP PLAYING
    • The players offered repeatedly to continue working under the existing CBA, but were rejected by the NFL five times.
    • Despite publicly admitting no club was losing money, that TV ratings, sponsorship money, etc. were at an all time high, the NFL continued to insist on an 18-percent rollback in the players' share of revenues and continue to deny the NFLPA's request for justification.
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