What Now, Roger Goodell? How We Got to Football Armageddon

Nothing, nothing, is more boring to NFL fans than the details of the owner-player conflict to kill the CBA. Fans want to
talk about players and games, not anti-trust and labor law.

We screen the stories about the war between the owners and the players so that you don’t have to. So, with some risk to today’s traffic count, here are three must-see sites to get a handle on why pro football is upside down at the moment.

Quick summary

1. Owners offered plan to hold harmless player revenue. Nobody understands it.
2. TV revenue isn’t helping small market teams. It’s killing them.
3. Progress in owner-player talks, but not enough to avoid football Armageddon.

csnwashington.com – Smith vs. Goodell: Who has the edge?

Hey, it’s a sports site. Forgive them if they condense the issues to the two most familiar faces of the opposing camps,Roger Goodell NFL Player’s Association Executive director DeMaurice Smith and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. It’s what fans do. Condense an entire football team’s success or failure to the quarterback. (Well, we don’t do that at Hog Heaven. But I digress.)

This 5:42 video featuring former Redskins Shawn Springs, Brian Mitchell and Charley Casserly, has one big nugget of note. Casserly, at 4:00 of the video, succinctly described proposals the owners put to the players to protect their dollars even with a lower share of TV revenue. Today, the player’s share is 60 percent of a defined portion of total revenue.

The owners proposed the addition of two games to the regular season schedule and two new TV packages, a Thursday and a Saturday game. The players’ smaller share of a larger pot would be a wash under this scheme.

Well, at least that showed the owners offered something in return for a players concession. If true, Roger Goodell and the owners have done an incredibly poor job at making their position clear. They are coming across as greedy billionaires reneging on their deal with the players. That’s a surprise for a group renowned for its marketing savvy.

Host Russ Thayer operates under the misperception that the players selected Smith as exec director to negotiate a deal with the owners. No. No. No. The players selected Smith to defend against the owner’s power play to take back a larger share of revenue.

The CBA was scheduled to end after the 2012 season. The owner’s opted out of the deal in 2008, as allowed by the CBA and as the late Gene Upshaw predicted they would. The players don’t see why they should give anything back. A legal defense was always their strategy, agree Springs, Mitchell and Casserly. Smith is a litigator. That’s why he is there.

The panel thought Goodell to be under more pressure. Mitchell hints that the opt out strategy was Goodell’s suggestion to the owners. It would go badly for him if these negotiations are not successful.

Here’s a visual curiosity. The video segment includes file footage of Smith in several venues. One of them, at 3:02 of the video, is the sideline of a Washington Redskins game. Say, isn’t that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in the background? The footage is undated, so I don’t know if it was taken before or after Holder was appointed America’s top lawyer. Holder, if you didn’t know, was once outside counsel to the NFL.

If you have only five minutes to spare, this CSN Washington video is the one to watch.

Blog Maverick – Understanding salary caps and why the NFL opted out

Why does it take a basketball guy to explain salary caps and the NFL lockouts? Beats me, but Mark Cuban, the flamboyant owner of the Dallas Mavericks did a slam-dunk job defining the cap and the pressure it brings to small market teams. (Slam-dunk, clever I thought.)

How does that happen? Says Cuban, “in the biggest of big markets, significant increases in revenues can increase the value of the salary cap by more dollars than some other teams can increase their local revenues.”

While the overall health of a league can be good, some markets will not support 100,000 seat stadiums, or have the local revenue to cover ever-larger increases in salary cap. That will ignite a vicious cycle when some teams cannot sign top tier players to field contending teams that entice local fan support. Those teams will eventually collapse.

Buffalo, Jacksonville, even Minnesota come to mind as at-risk markets. Little Green Bay, home of the Super Bowl Champion Packers, are the only publically held NFL franchise.  They have to issue financial statements.

The Packers 2010 financial statement showed that team revenue was up but profit was down 71 percent from 2007. How does that happen in the age of huge increases in TV revenue? Player salaries are spiraling out of control, as the NFL tells it, so that survival of teams like Buffalo and Green Bay is in question.

Do we care if Buffalo moves to big market, English-speaking Toronto? Or if Minnesota moves to LA? How many pro teams can Florida support anyway? No. We only care if our team moves away, though something in the NFL will die if Green Bay moves further away than Milwaukee.

Players just presume that a failed franchise will move to a market that can support it. They don’t share the owners’ urgency to solve the problem, especially when the owners are reluctant to open the books for troubled teams.

(Get smart, owners. The players are your partners. Open the books and collaborate.)

Cuban foresaw all this when he blogged his story in 2008. The NFL has the salary structure the NBA would kill for. His explanation is lengthy but illuminating. This is a must read for those who want to understand.

If only Dan Snyder wrote blogs like this to explain his thinking!

washingtonpost.com – NFL labor dispute could come down to owners, players compromise on $800 revenue split….

The owners and players closed their $1 billion gap by $200 million, writes WaPOST sports reporter Mark Maske. Do the math. At $200 million per day, we could get this done by Friday.

Maske cautions otherwise. The union still wants to see records for individual teams to verify the NFL’s claims of structural weaknesses in the contract. The owner’s want to the players to agree to move judicial oversight of the CBA away from Judge David Doty. I can’t imagine why the Player’s Association would ever agree to that.

Maske cites several sources who say the owner’s might buy off the exclusion of Judge Doty by offering a significant concession to the players. Hmm, that would take a pretty big concession–like sticking with a 60 percent revenue share to players. Too big for 32 owners to swallow, I reckon.

The two sides are talking. Progress has been made. Don’t get your hopes up for a full settlement by Friday. I predict a decertification and lockout by next week and a settlement in time for training camp.

Anthony Brown

About Anthony Brown

Lifelong Redskins fan and blogger about football and life since 2004. Joined MVN's Hog Heaven blog in 2005 and then moved Redskins Hog Heaven to Bolguin Network. Believes that the course of a season is pre-ordained by management decisions made during the offseason. Can occasionally be found on the This Given Sunday blog and he does guest posts.

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