Owners, union jeopardizing 2011 NFL season
Sunday’s National Football League’s games offered fanatic football fans some of the greatest excitement so far this season. Two games went into overtime, seven underdogs either won or beat the point spreads and 10 games weren’t decided until the final play of the game.
This was professional football at its finest. Nearly all of the stadiums were sold out and the regional television broadcasts all had record ratings based on the number of fans who were tuned in.
Houston Texans fans who watched the early game against the Kansas City Chiefs on CBS were in suspense most of the game anxiously waiting for their heroes to pull ahead on the scoreboard. But this didn’t happen until 28 seconds were left in the game and the Texans scored and pulled in front 35-31, which was the final score.
And Dallas Cowboys fans watched their favorite players continue to commit a plethora of penalties, turnovers and special-teams breakdowns and finally help the Minnesota Vikings end up with a benevolent 24-21 victory and see their early record sink to 1-4. Less than five per cent of the teams starting the season 1-4 ever make the playoffs.
Everything seems to be so hunky-dory and yet last week The Wall Street Journal had a full-page article by staff writer Matthew Futterman with the headline “NFL Braces for a Costly Labor Fight.”
The article, which was written in Chicago begins, “Even as the NFL romps through a season of record television ratings, the owners and some of the league’s key sponsors and corporate partners are bracing for what could be an expensive and debilitating player lockout next spring.”
This information was released after last week’s private meeting at the league’s annual fall owners’ meeting where NFL officials presented a sobering financial forecast.
The article points out that according to two senior league officials who have seen the report, it stated that the lack of progress on a new contract with the players union had already begun to create financial losses.
Even if a deal were reached late next summer that allowed the league to play the entire season, total losses could reach $1 billion.
Reebok, the NFL’s top merchandising licensee, has already requested a $30 million reduction in its scheduled payments because of the labor uncertainty.
If there’s no deal in place by March 1, the NFL report said the league could expect to lose $125 million as existing corporate partners demanded discounts on sponsorship deals, while others decided not to sponsor late-season events like the Pro Bowl.
The report added that owners could expect to lose $400 million in March alone, the prime month for fans to renew their season tickets and for the league to organize games abroad.
From April through August, the report said losses from a labor deadlock would climb by an additional $500 million as preseason games are missed. NFL officials said each team could expect to lose about $8 million for every canceled home game.
The article adds that given the immediate losses and the potential for more in the near future, NFL officials said that if the league can’t agree with the players on a collective-bargaining agreement soon, the league’s future proposals to the union are likely to get worse rather than better.
“In any negotiation, when there are less revenues on the table, the proposal gets worse for everybody,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told The Wall Street Journal when interviewed last week.
The article said the central issue that divides the owners and players is the NFL’s desire to reduce the share of league revenue set aside for player salaries by roughly 18 per cent or about $1 billion beginning next year. The owners also want to institute a new wage scale for rookies that would reduce the amount that teams are forced to pay to untested players who may not pan out.
Union officials said the players oppose any overall salary cuts. They said they didn’t support the argument that the owners should be allowed to keep more of the league’s profits so they can invest them in business operations.
Union officials note that the owners will continue to receive some $4 billion in television rights fees during any potential lockout, a sum that will help teams cover their debts. The league would have to reimburse the networks in later years.
Owners say the increased costs have forced them to look for ways to boost revenue and roll back salaries. Chief among these strategies is a plan to extend the regular season to 18 games from 16. The NFL says adding two regular season games and eliminating two preseason games would produce an additional $500 million annually.
Some NFL sponsors have a lot invested in the league’s success. The NFL earlier this year reached a four-year, $750 million sponsorship deal with Verizon Wireless that gives the telecommunications company the right to carry footage from NFL games on its mobile phones and to use NFL players in its advertising.
But union officials point out that if the current collective-bargaining agreement expires on March 3, the NFLPA’s deal with the league to package the players’ marketing rights will end with it, killing a valuable part of the deal with Verizon and giving the company possible grounds to seek recourse.
This Korner believes that both the owners and union are being stubborn and greedy and if this stalemate continues, everybody loses. So enjoy what we’re getting every Sunday and Monday night before the plug gets pulled.
KWICKIES…Former West Orange-Stark and Texas Longhorns defensive whiz Earl Thomas had a hand in the Seattle Seahawks’ 23-20 upset victory over the Chicago Bears Sunday at Soldier’s Field. Earl was part of the defense that made the Bears go 0-for-12 on third down situations and recorded four tackles. Port Arthur native Jordan Babineaux tackled a Bear in his own end zone for a safety. The Seahawks upped their record to 3-2.
Watched the Orangefield-West Orange-Stark game Friday night and came away very impressed with the Bobcats’ Quinton Evans who seemed to be all over the field on offense as the quarterback, played in the defensive secondary and then punted for the special teams. Unfortunately, Evans left the game with an injury, the extent of which was unknown at this writing.
We ventured up to the press box to find out why the down, yards to go for a first down and the yard line the ball was on was lit up but not working on that beautiful scoreboard that a local business had donated to the school’s football program. We were told that the game officials were in charge of the scoreboard, and if they didn’t feel like letting the 6,000 fans know this information, it was out of the home team’s jurisdiction and just tough luck.
We’re not so shocked that going into Tuesday’s action the NLCS is tied at 1-1 between San Francisco and the favored Philadelphia Phillies. But we’re certainly happy that our Texas Rangers are leading those highly-favored New York Yankees two games to one in the ALCS.
JUST BETWEEN US…Got to watch the McNeese-LSU game on Time Warner cable Channel 14 Saturday night and was pleasantly surprised how our Cowboys hung in there with the Mighty Bayou Bengals. In fact the Pokes forced a fumble and went on to score first 7-0 and converted another LSU miscue into a field goal before the Tigers bore down and realized they had a better opponent than they first thought. McNeese stayed within a touchdown most of the game until they made a couple of costly mistakes in the final few minutes and eventually lost 32-10.