Prepare for Lockout in 2011

I was 9 years old in 1994 when Major League Baseball’s players went on strike ensuring that their would be no season that year.  The players struck mid season on August 12, 1994 and went until April 2, 1995.  The World Series was cancelled.  There was the threat of replacement players playing in 1995.  Needless to say, as 9 a nine year old kid my favorite sport was taken away from me because of greed and I was devastated.  Owners wanted to save as many pennies as they could and the players felt they were entitled to those very pennies. I say pennies facetiously knowing full well that millions upon millions of dollars were at stake.

Now there is the same possibility for the NFL in 2011.  In fact, it is actually a mere certainty that the players will strike and there won’t be a 2011 NFL season.  After enjoying watching the Patriots beat the Ravens in a thrilling game on Sunday, my mind wandered to what Sundays in the fall and winter will be like without watching my favorite team, and without rooting for my fantasy team as well.  I then realized I could be upset and depressed, or I will just do my best to enjoy the hell out of the rest of this season.  I am going to do the latter.  Here are the pressing issues that will be sticking points if there is to be football next year.

The owners are seeking a deal in the CBA that will protect their investments that they have made on new stadiums and other capital investments.  Many of the owners (Kraft and Jones among them) feel they were essentially screwed in 2006.  The allowed the players to get too high of a share of the gross revenues.  The NFLPA head, DeMaurice Smith says that the players would basically have to take an average paycut of $340,000.  This is something that players obviously don’t want to do.

The owners feel that the NFLPA director in 2006, Gene Upshaw, took advantage of then commissioner Paul Tagliabue leaving his post.  Tagliabue’s legacy was that there was 100% labor peace during his reign as commissioner.  Upshaw also took advantage of the fact that he knew the owners would be loathe to a labor stoppage after investing in their stadiums (Jerry Jones). All the leverage was in the hands of the players as they got a deal which landed them a 59.6 percent share of team revenue.  Now the owners want that to see more of their own commission.  It is alleged that the owners want the players to take an 18% pay cut.

That is a tough pill to swallow for the players.  Especially for a group that doesn’t enjoy the luxury of a pension, health insurance within their contracts, or that the majority of their contracts aren’t guaranteed.  After a week that saw DeSean Jackson, Joshua Cribbs, and Mohammed Masaquoi take vicious hits resulting in serious concussions, the players have to be thinking they don’t want to lose any of their current compensation.  This time around the owners have the leverage as they would be in a better position to withstand a work stoppage.  DeMaurice Smith has been quoted as saying that the NFL will still make $5 billion even without playing from its network television deals.

Another huge issue with the players is the idea of having an 18 game regular season.  Yes, there would be less preseason games but having 3 more games that are at full speed will be taxing to the players bodies.  This doesn’t go unnoticed due to the players not having any retirement coverage or post career health care.  I agree with owners that pre-season games are a waste of time as none of the top players play.  The two sides could reach a compromise here as the owners would get more games if they gave the players some kind of postcareer salary.

It is my wish that there would be no lockout.  I understand that owners want to make as much money on their investments as possible.  However I feel that the players should be appreciated because they are the product.  They are the ones that are risking their health and future well being all season long.  Without the players there is no product.  Ultimately I feel that the players will strike and there will be a lockout.  I am starting to prepare myself for the idea of replacement players.  With the strike happening, my only wish is that the Patriots are the first to inquire about Shane Folco’s status because of his miles and miles of heart.