Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Love that Conquers All

From NFL.com
The National Football League (NFL) is on the receiving end of antitrust litigation.  The players, unionized under under a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) as the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA), are suing the league owners to enjoin them from a lockout.  For the remainder of this post I will assume that you reader, don't understand this topic.  I normally give much more credit than that, but for some reason the NFL/NFLPA disputes are shrouded with mystery and intrigue.

The NFLPA filed to decertify themselves as a union and then filed a lawsuit.  Decertification may sound like the players are disbanding and will not play again!  But in all actuality, it is required for the players to use the courts for relief. Under the National Labor Relations Act a group of workers is allowed to form a union and negotiate using an elected official.  Both parties (in this case the team owners and the NFLPA) must negotiate to form an agreement called a collective bargaining agreement.  Both parties must come to the table and negotiate in good faith.  They don't necessarily have to reach an agreement, but they must fail in good faith.  Neither side can go to the courts while negotiating a CBA.  This is why the NFLPA decertified.  It doesn't mean they are going on strike. It means they can now pursue legal remedies available to a group of plaintiffs that are not available to a negotiating union.  Once the NFLPA decertified, the owners locked the players out. The infamous (as in The Three Amigos definition: "More than famous") Judge David Doty of the United State District Court of the District of Minnesota will again determine the fates of the new American Pastime.

From Blecherreport.com
A lockout is a stoppage of all league activities.  No trades, no negotiation, no planning for next season . . . nothing.  If a lockout continues, the 2011 football season will cease to exist in the NFL.  Why such extreme measures?

The NFLPA wants to increase the salary cap (the amount each team can spend on player salaries), keep the season at a 16 game schedule, and increase the retirement pension benefits paid to retired players from the owners (there are many other demands not listed here). They would like to have a revenue based cap that increases as the teams revenue increases.  Basically, as the players bring more money into the team revenue, they have the opportunity to by paid more (that makes sense in a performance-based, capitalistic society . . .).  The NFL is a $9 billion a year industry, a player's average time in the NFL is 2 - 3.5 years.  The owners seem to have a secure financial horizon, whereas players can be removed quickly from the industry that is on their backs.

From Schooloan.org
So here comes the big question: Why would either side risk SO much money for their demands?  I think that both sides realistically understand that there will be a 2011 season.  I think both sides will give in before it comes to not having a 2011 season.  The players do not have the time to strike and the owners cannot sustain not having a $9 billion industry.  Actually $9 billion is only the amount the NFL sees.  What about countless pizzas bought on Sunday night, Monday night, or Thursday night? What about countless beers consumed through the time frame of a televised game? What about enormous amounts of money poured into Sunday afternoon wing parties at Buffalo Wild Wings, Wing Stop, and Hooters?  How about the fuel costs to travel to your rivals city to jeer the home-team fans?  And the body-paint, posters, ink used for programs . . . And don't forget about the big-screen TVs purchased for "The Big Game" (the NFL has attempted to receive copyright protection of the phrase "The Big Game" and I'll probably owe money from this blog post).

The owners? The players?  What about our economy?  I don't think our economy can sustain the failure of the NFL and NFLPA to reach a new CBA.  I hope the NFL and NFLPA figure out they cannot afford to not play.  I hope their love of money conquers their stubbornness.  I hope they agree to continue pleasing us with bone-crushing hits, nail-biting 2-minute drives, and relationship building (and ending) fantasy football office pools!


  1. Excellent!
    Obviously written by a true fan with a legal education.

  2. Why should any group certified for collective bargaining be able to achieve decertification for a particular benefit, then presumably gain recertification when to their subsequent benefit.
    Why would this discontinuity of status be allowed? It would seem to promote uncertainty and a disadvantage for their opponents.