March 05, 2006

No progress, but talks might resume March 5: Hopefully, both sides will come to some kind of agreement. If not, this could spell disaster for quite a few teams. With no salary cap in 2007, it would be like a league wide "free-for-all."

posted by wingnut4life to football at 08:48 AM - 21 comments

It's starting to get a little tense. Minnesota Vikings center Matt Birk let his feelings slip a little with the union and Gene Upshaw, but later apologized. Although I agree with Birk apologizing, he does have a valid point. Many players don't even understand the contract talks and just go by what they're told.

posted by wingnut4life at 09:08 AM on March 05, 2006

Might a strike actually be good for the NFL? Has the league just become too mediocre?

posted by roberts at 09:48 AM on March 05, 2006

It's amazing what happens to even the most successful and richest of pro sports once the greed factor kicks in. It makes me sick. Birk is right, this sort of stuff will put football back where it was before the last strike. The article says they are fighting over 4% (10 million per team). Out of the billions of $ the NFL brings in every year one would think 10 M wouldn't be that big of a deal. Maybe they should just donate that 10M to charity and call it even. Everybody comes out smelling like a rose that way.

posted by tdheiland at 09:50 AM on March 05, 2006

Maybe they should just donate that 10M to charity and call it even. Everybody comes out smelling like a rose that way. I like the way you think. Wish the NFLPA and the Owners thought that way.

posted by scully at 09:53 AM on March 05, 2006

I think this is all a bunch of "posturing and saber rattling", as they say in politics, and neither side can give in for fear of looking weak. As always the loyal fan is the one who gets screwed. A starring contest waiting for the other to blink first. Neither side has the testes to derail the gravy-train.

posted by kosmicdebris at 10:29 AM on March 05, 2006

I can only hope they get this straightened out before all hell breaks loose. It will be just like baseball. The Yankees in or close to the World Series every year and the KC Royals bringing up the rear. That haves and a have nots. Baseball might have record attendence numbers but has baseball really improved? They are way behind football and dropping fast. A strike by the NFL would bring them right down to where baseball is or even worse because it is so popular. You can only piss fans off so many times. Nascar looks better to me more and more every day.

posted by dbt302 at 10:33 AM on March 05, 2006

I would hate to see a strike,but if thats what it takes to get things straight, so be it.

posted by rosiekandk at 11:38 AM on March 05, 2006

I don't see it (a strike) happening. Yes, these ongoing deadline extensions make it look dire, but the NFL, I have to assume, realize they are all in very good shape, and doesn't want to expose itself to the same harsh criticism the NHL faced. It would be like (attempted) suicide.

posted by dyams at 12:01 PM on March 05, 2006

NFL popularity and revenues have never been higher. I wholeheartedly reject the idea that the league needs to be 'fixed' or 'straightened out'. The NFL is, by a wide margin, the most popular sports league in America. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Beyond the 56 or 60 percent question, there is another lingering issue that may not be resolved even if today's talks end in an accord. The union and owners' representatives are battling over pieces of a pie that includes local revenues, not just the whopping national TV revenues. There are 11 owners (you can probably figure out who some of them are) who make local money hand over fist and have no interest in passing it out to their 'poor' country cousins. So even if the union and 'owners' agree to share 58% of combined revenues, these rich owners may simply reject that deal out of hand. I saw a quote today from the Bills' owner where he complained that there are no big businesses in Buffalo, so how can he compete? Let's see, I can think of a city in Southern California with lots of big businesses that could use a team. Having a football team is not a divine right; if a city can't support one, then it stands to lose its team. I don't think it's reasonable to expect the Cowboys, Redskins and Patriots to subsidize football teams in areas where local fans can't pay the freight! Who will be the biggest losers if an accord can't be reached? Matt Birk is right: the players. Despite talk of an 'uncapped year', this season would feature a massacre of contracts as teams have to pare an extra 10m from their budgets. When the ostensibly lucrative capless year rolls around, many lower-profile players will be without the benefits that they currently rely on. These players will never recieve the whopping contracts that Upshaw is tantalizing them with. The whole thing stinks. By using a hard-line negotiating position that only exploits a growing rift between owners, the NFLPA is sowing the seeds of the NFL's destruction. Even a deal reached today could be the beginning of the end and lead to a lockout. Most importantly, nobody stands to lose more than the rank-and-file of the players' union. It just doesn't make sense.

posted by Venicemenace at 12:08 PM on March 05, 2006

I can't find the numbers on how much every NFL team gets from the national TV deals, but the number is astronomical. It's fallacious to compare the NFL to MLB in terms of "haves-and-have-nots" - in the NFL, even the have-nots have hundreds of millions of dollars to play with before they even sell a ticket or a T-shirt.

posted by Venicemenace at 12:11 PM on March 05, 2006

I'm just saying that if it gets to the 2007 season and there is no salary cap, it will turn into what baseball is now. The Players Association has already said if they ever go without a cap, it will never be voted back in. You'll have the owners who will spend money like crazy and most who won't. I'd hate to think that at the beginning of ever football and baseball season you only have a handful of teams who can win it all. What good is watching if you already know your team has no chance?

posted by dbt302 at 12:54 PM on March 05, 2006

I think this is all a bunch of "posturing and saber rattling", That's exactly what I thought when the NHL was going through their negotiations. Look what happened? And Venice, you sound too much like a union buster. I don't think it's reasonable to expect the Cowboys, Redskins and Patriots to subsidize football teams in areas where local fans can't pay the freight! You also sound like you don't care about the little man. Fans are fans, no matter where the team is located. That's why there is a thing called revenue sharing.

posted by wingnut4life at 01:46 PM on March 05, 2006

I guess the point that I am trying to make is that the teams with the most fans make the most money, and I don't see anything wrong with that. wingnut, you seem to be suggesting that each fan base deserves an equal chance to win, even if one is massively smaller than another and less willing to support its team with their wallets. I don't agree. Small-market teams like the Colts will not be crushed if a salary cap goes away, because the national TV money is so copious that they can still remain competitive. Rich teams like the Redskins won't necessarily succeed, as D. Snyder's spendthrift ways have demonstrated. Baseball teams like the KC Royals don't have the benefit of national television money ample enough to completely fund their operations. (And even in baseball, we've seen that low-budget teams can still succeed if they're run effectively!) If an NFL owner blames a lack of revenue for a team's failures, even in the absence of a salary cap, it means that (a) he is an incompetent bum or (b) the team needs to move to another area. I'm not interested in busting the NFLPA, but I scorn their newfound and foolish ambitions. In fact, I believe the current system is ideal (salary cap, revenue sharing and all) and shouldn't be altered. The greed of the smaller, less effective teams and the players' union is threatening to undermine a system that has heretofore been vitally effective. If your company had a business plan that took it to the top of its industry, benefiting everyone involved, why on earth would you start tinkering with it?

posted by Venicemenace at 02:35 PM on March 05, 2006

As usual, the ones who really suffer are the fans. Enough said!

posted by livedawhile at 03:33 PM on March 05, 2006

Nope, not enough said. You know who'd also suffer from a work stoppage? The people who work in and around the stadiums, the suppliers of stadium and team-related goods and services (including textile makers, graphic designers, and caterers and other food suppliers), the charities who are regularly supported by the teams and the people around those teams, and any establishment the players or the people connected to the team patronize, buy things from, lend their faces to in a promotional way or even just hang out in. And that's just off the top of my head. The economy of a pro sports team in any market is a complicated thing, and when that machine grinds to a halt, it affects a lot more people than merely those who buy tickets or watch the games on TV.

posted by chicobangs at 04:18 PM on March 05, 2006

the nfl will bounce back in shape

posted by defrag3x at 05:32 PM on March 05, 2006

wingnut, you seem to be suggesting that each fan base deserves an equal chance to win, even if one is massively smaller than another and less willing to support its team with their wallets. I don't agree. That is your opinion, and you are entitled to it. Chico has already explained the other part of the economics, so I won't get into that (thank you, chico). Now, in my opinion, I do think that every fan base, big or small, deserves a chance to win. There are various factors that go in to reasons a fan will or will not buy a ticket, but that doesn't mean pull the franchise out of town! Christ, I'm a Lions fan, and I can only afford to go to maybe one game a year. They suck (except for this year, we're turning it all around and Restoring the Roar! Honestly!) but that is no reason to pull the franchise out of Detroit (but I sure do wish the Fords would frickin' sell them to somebody who knows football!). That's why there is a thing called a salary cap, and revenue sharing, and parity. You've also mentioned baseball's KC Royals. They are a small market team, and it sucks for them. If there was a cap and revenue sharing and parity in baseball, we wouldn't see the same teams in the playoffs almost every single year. Salary caps, revenue sharing, and parity is what keeps the NFL on the top, and we really need it to stay that way.

posted by wingnut4life at 06:26 PM on March 05, 2006

Unfortunately for many small market cities that have NFL teams, they are often the places that support their teams best. It's too bad some of these cities would probably lose their franchises if these talks fail. I live near Buffalo, and you don't find fans or a community that stick by a team more than them. But the push is always to get a team back to Los Angeles, where teams fail, move, and play before empty seats. Baseball, with such an emphasis on minor leagues and developing players, can still build competitive teams with lower payrolls in smaller major league cities. Look at how Cleveland has been able to do it. The key in MLB is scouting and recognizing young talent. Keeping those players once they've become big, established stars is another story altogether. But some small market baseball teams don't do a good job from the bottom, up. I'm not sure (because I don't follow them too closely), but maybe KC is in that boat. I do understand, though, that small market teams in MLB do face a huge, uphill struggle. Does the NFL want to see the same?

posted by dyams at 08:11 PM on March 05, 2006

Wait, they're talking again. Talks have broken off. They're talking again. They've broken them off again. Oh wait, they are talking again. Damn, the talks have stopped. Could it be true? They are actually close to agreeing? 59.5% is the number I've heard.

posted by dbt302 at 11:26 PM on March 05, 2006

1. Nobody here is suggesting that removing salary caps and obliterating revenue sharing is the way to go. That's the straw man in this debate. In fact, my entire argument has hinged on the effectiveness of the current CBA and the dangers of attempting to alter it. 2. I do realize that I've come off a bit cavalier in suggesting that teams should just move if they don't make money. However, a comment such as this one ''I can never compete with some of these [high-revenue] teams," Bills owner Ralph Wilson lamented. ''There are no companies based in Buffalo anymore." is a harbinger of a painful, but necessary franchise relocation. I'm not saying Buffalo fans aren't among the best, I'm sure they are. (I'll side with teams that play in the snow any day of the week.) But the fact is, people and businesses are apparently leaving Buffalo for other cities and regions, and if the pro football team goes with them, it's sad, but that's life and that's business. And given Mr. Wilson's comments, hardly the greatest peril facing the city of Buffalo. It makes no sense for profitable teams to divert a share of their fairly-earned local revenues to support teams in cities where there is zero corporate support. Again, this is in the context of support for the current CBA, an agreement that already includes a great deal of revenue sharing and a salary cap. 3. LA pro football teams have been a bit of a disaster thus far. But if you've lived in the city during the last USC resurgence, particularly in the weeks leading up to the USC/UCLA game, you know that LA definitely has the potential to be a football town. What LA - and Detroit, and several other good football cities cursed with crappy management - need is a good management team and coaching staff, and the money will come pouring in. The current CBA is set up for such a resurgence in any market, save those who really can't get the corporate support that any pro franchise needs to survive in major league sports. As for small-market fans supporting their teams best, that strikes me as an utterly unprovable assertion. With all due respect, dyams. 4. Again, there is absolutely no harm in the NFL becoming like the MLB unless something happens to fundamentally alter the national television contracts (unlikely to the point of near-impossibility). Unlike baseball teams, football teams recieve a HUGE cut of a HUGE TV contract, enough money to pay for most of their yearly operations. Baseball teams are left to fend for themselves, with widely differing results. (NESN or YES vs. local free TV in KC.) Let me repeat, this is not going to happen in football unless they all go completely bats. 5. Fundamentally, gentlemen, we agree: the current CBA is working and should not be removed. Unfortunately, one to two thirds of the owners and the leadership of the NFLPA do not agree with us.

posted by Venicemenace at 11:27 PM on March 05, 2006

As for small-market fans supporting their teams best, that strikes me as an utterly unprovable assertion. I know I made what is basically a generalization. My belief, however, is tainted because I've been a part, for so long, of Buffalo (the area) filling, consistently, one of the largest stadiums in the NFL, even when the product put on the field has been mediocre. Buffalo has it's problems, granted, but one of the things it can still draw from is having the Bills, rabid fans, and the distinction pro sports brings to the area. That fact still draws people to this area, especially the suburbs of Buffalo. Buffalo's problems lie in the city itself. Ralph Wilson Stadium is in Orchard Park. The Bills support many areas, such as Rochester (where their camp is every summer), and also draw from all WNY areas, as well as Canada. These smaller areas need a lot of help in many areas, but having their NFL franchise is still one of the stabilizing factors.

posted by dyams at 07:19 AM on March 06, 2006

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