When I set out to film this documentary in August of 2008, I set out to tell the fans side. To let the fans speak about what it means to be a Jets fan. How the new PSL’s were going to affect their status as a season ticket holder. Were they going to invest in them or stop going to games altogether. Now, it seams, no one may be going to any games in 2011.
National Football League team owners locked out the league’s players Saturday, shutting down professional football for the first time in 24 years and plunging the nation’s most popular and prosperous sport into a time of uncertainty.
The owners acted after labor talks with the players’ union collapsed Friday afternoon and players decertified the NFL Players Association, moving the bitter dispute into the courts and ending an era of NFL labor peace that had lasted since players went on strike in 1987.
Decertifying the NFL Players Association enabled the players to file antitrust litigation against the owners, which they did late Friday, with superstar quarterbacks Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees among the 10 named plaintiffs. Lawyers for the players also announced that they are seeking an injunction to lift the lockout.
Some still wonder if all of this was worth the headache. Not just for the players and owners, but the fans as well. Both the Jets and Giants issued apologies to the fans for the lockout. The players feel they did what they could but were left with no other choice.
The team owners will complain they are losing money. I am sure they will have no issues paying their bills though. The income is a loss for their business, not them personally. Some younger players will feel the crunch if they are not playing. Many veteran players have investments and other business ventures that will help them get by. But in the end, they will all be on the losing end.
Does anyone really win when this happens? When the last lockout occurred in 1987, who won that battle? The players were n strike while the owners went out and hired “scabs” to play out the season. Will the team owners o the same thing this year? Probably not. They all want to get this rectified before training camp begins. The fans would like it done sooner.
For season ticket holders, they would like to know sooner than later. Many are pleased only 50% is due and not the whole bill. It gives some longer to get that money together. But knowing a season will happen is better knowing now rather than three weeks into a season. We are on the outside looking in, wondering if a sport many of us enjoy will even happen this year.
Last week Judge David S. Doty ruled that the NFL violated the collective bargaining agreement with its players by renegotiating $4.078 billion in television rights fees for team owners to tap during a lockout even if no games are played in 2011. Why should the owners be entitled to money if there is no season? Should the players get paid if they do not play?
Both sides have their issues. Many players feel the union walked away from a deal that sounded good and met their needs, despite the negative media attention towards the NFL and its owners. According to that statement the NFL released the latest proposal’s details included:
1. The NFL proposed that the two sides split the economic differences between them, increasing their proposed cap for 2011 “significantly” and accepting the NFLPA’s proposed cap number for 2014, which was $161 million per team.
2. The NFL proposed an entry level compensation system that was based on the union’s “rookie cap” instead of a wage scale that the clubs originally proposed. In this proposal, the players drafted from rounds 2-7 would be paid the same amount of money, or even more money, than they are paid now. The savings that would come from the first-round picks would be reallocated to help veteran players and benefits.
3. After a player is injured, the NFL would guarantee that they would pay up to $1 milllion of that player’s salary for the contract year. This is the first time that the owners have offered a standard multi-year injury guarantee.
4. The following changes would be made immediately to promote player safety:
- Reduce the off-season program by five weeks, reducing OTAs from 14 weeks to 10 and limiting on-field practice time and contact.
- They would limit full-contact practices in the preseason and regular season
- They would increase the number of off days for players
5. The NFL proposed that any change from a 16-game season to an 18-game season would only be made if the two sides agreed on the change. The 2011 and 2012 seasons would be 16-game seasons.
6. The NFL team owners would boost retirement benefits for more than 2,000 former players by nearly 60 percent by funding retirees benefits $82 million in 2011 and 2012.
7. The owners offered current players the opportunity to stay in their current medical plans for the rest of their lives.
8. The owners would allow third-party arbitrators in the NFL’s drug and steroid programs.
9. The owners would improve the Mackey plan (designed for players suffering from dementia and other brain-related problems), disability plan and their degree completion bonus program.
10. The owners proposed a per-club cash minimum spend of 90 percent of the salary cap over three seasons.
Now that you know the particulars of the deal, do you still agree with the NFLPA’s decision to decertify and go to court with the NFL?
Yes, the negotiations have been messy and well-publicized but progress was made before the recent burning of bridges. After having half the month of March in extensions of negotiations, both sides were reportedly off by $185 million on how much owners should get up from each season for certain operating expense before splitting up the rest of the revenues with players. That’s a far less amount than the $1 billion difference that separated the two sides earlier in discussions.
A recent poll by ProFootballTalk.com asked fans to place blame on who is responsible for the lockout and 27,000 have said that the player’s are to blame, barely. Just over 38% say the players are to blame, while 24.8% blame the owners and 36.7% blame both.
Many say this is the billionaires vs the millionaires. Two sides who get paid well, fighting to be paid more. If you own a professional football team, one would think you already had enough. Some of that may go to team operations and other bills to be paid, but many know where the bottom line ends. Players put their bodies on the line and should see a little more compensation. Let’s see Woody Johnson or the Mara or Tisch families out there to battle for that extra compensation. I think not.
So while the league and the union continue to bicker like a divorced couple fighting over bank accounts, the fans are the ones who are truly hurting from this dispute, like a child overhearing their parents argument.