The Looming Specter of an NFL Lockout

The Super Bowl is over, the good guys won, and now it is time for the agonizing wait until next fall when the 2011 NFL season starts.

If it starts at all.

If you are a Sports Center junkie like me and my housemates, then you should at least be aware that there is a pretty big problem between the National Football League (NFL) and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA).

You should also know that the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is set to expire on March 3.

Despite Roger Goodell’s and the owners’ assurances, things are not looking good.

As of  Feb. 10, a meeting between the owners and the NFLPA was cancelled, as well as a meeting scheduled for next week.

Instead of delving into the nitty gritty of the labor negotiations, here are the big things you need to know.

The owners claim that, despite increases in revenue, costs are going up at a disproportional rate and as such, the owners should get more money as well as institute an eighteen game season to further increase revenue.

The players, on the other hand, want more health care after retirement as well as increased access to NFL financial records.

It seems that the compromise here is obvious.

Have a seventeen game season and up the players’ health care to a certain extent, but less than what they are asking for.

But since the season doesn’t start until September, no one is really feeling the heat to do anything but talk tough.

As the issue stands right now, I can’t help but lay blame on the owners.

Granted, neither side is doing a good job with PR, but even if that weren’t the case, the owners are coming off as greedy and secretive.

They are the ones claiming that, despite record-setting season revenue, they are losing money, yet they don’t show the records that prove it.

They are the ones who have walked out on meetings with the players.

They are the ones who want to institute an eighteen game season with virtually no increases in compensation to the players.

The players want to play. The owners are simply trying to make them play under unfair conditions.

As for the fans, I typically hear a lot of grumbling about football players and how much money they make, and thus they should just shut up and do their jobs.

That is a fair statement to a certain extent. But fans should put NFL players’ salaries, as well as the nature of playing football itself, in context with players of other sports and how much money they make.

For example, in the NFL, the only money that is guaranteed to players is the signing bonus.

After that, contracts are written in such a way that certain expectations have to be fulfilled for the player to see the rest of that money.

In basketball, all the money is guaranteed.

Just look at Gilbert Arenas and everything that has happened to him. Does he really deserve over $100 million for playing basketball over a six year period, especially after bringing guns into the locker room?

Tom Brady is currently the highest paid player in the NFL, bringing in $72 million over four years.

Tom Brady, arguably one of the greatest quarterbacks to play the game, makes less money to do more than Gilbert Arenas ever will in his career.

The point is, the way in which football players get paid is much more aligned with the real world: you are hired based on your merits, and you are paid based on the quality of your work.

In short, if there is a lockout, I’ll probably be watching the United Football League, because this is probably a great time for them to get their foot in the door and really start competing with the NFL.

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