The National Football League is a $9-billion-a-year business. Super Bowl XLV drew 111 million viewers, making it the most-watched TV program in American history. The last thing team owners and players should have on their minds is a lockout that could delay or cancel the 2011 season. But that seems to be the only thing they’re talking about.
“Players must understand that when the doors are locked – and they will be – they have to draw the circle around their family and teammates and become protectors and providers, given the business of football,” NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith said in a statement.
“The status quo means players continuing to keep 60 percent of available revenue, in good times and bad, no matter how the national economy or the economics of the league have changed,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has said.
Owners could lock out the players when the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) expires March 4. It that happens, Goodell says he would accept a salary of just $1 this year. Smith says he would accept 68 cents. Both men are well-off. They’re posturing, which is the biggest concern for football fans. Rather than lock out the players, Goodell and Smith should be locked in a room until they have a deal. Owners say that during a recession, players should give money back to keep the league strong. Players say owners have not proven that givebacks are necessary.
No CBA means no free agents on the market, no training camps and no exhibition games. But know this: The only deadline that really matters is Sept. 8, the scheduled season opener in featuring the defending champion Packers.
Smith and Goodell should listen to Arizona Cardinals kicker and player representative Jay Feely, a voice of reason: “We have record revenue, we have record TV ratings, we have record worth of franchises and players have never made more money. It is inherent on both sides to find a way to get a deal done.”
It makes too much sense, and would cost both sides way too many dollars, not to get a deal done.
Cecil Harris is the author of three books, including Charging the Net: A History of Blacks in Tennis from Althea Gibson, Arthur Ashe to the Williams Sisters.
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