While we have made much of the player-related activity in the past several weeks, we have largely left that pretty pink elephant in the room alone. This article series is aimed at summarizing what has been happening with the business side of the NFL, why and what's coming. As there are MANY issues, and because I'm not inside any of the actual meetings, the series cannot cover every issue, nor can it go very deep on any issue. My aim is to highlight the key points and prompt a little discussion.
If there's an angle you're particularly interested in, feel free to note it and I'll try to do the necessary research.
First, a couple definitions:
CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement): a labor contract between management (NFL owners) and union (NFL players). The CBA outlines rules regarding drug testing, off-season workouts, how free agency works, and - most importantly - revenue sharing.
NFLPA (NFL Players Association): essentially, the players' union. The NFLPA has an Executive Committee to manage and transact its business. DeMaurice Smith is the Executive Director (head honcho) of the NFLPA, and Kevin Mawae was just re-elected to be President of the Executive Committee. Jeff Saturday is on the Executive Committee.
The agreement (CBA) under which the players are currently playing was signed on March 8, 2006, and was originally set to expire after the 2012 season. However ARTICLE LVIII, Section 3, allowed for either the owners or the players to terminate the final 1 or 2 years of the agreement, accelerating its expiration.
On May 20, 2008, the owners opted out of the agreement, which gave them two years to come to a new agreement or face an uncapped year for 2010 and a possible lockout for 2011. The reasons cited for opting out were (comments in parentheses mine):
1. High labor costs (read: minimum wage requirements)
2. Problems with the rookie pool (read: unproven rookies get more than veterans)
3. The league's inability, through the interpretation of the courts, to recoup bonuses of players who subsequently breach their contract or refuse to perform (see: Vick, Michael)
Some resources for those who are interested in diving deeper before I get to my next article:
- NFL Players Association Web site
- Articles written by Liz Mullen, who covered the NFLPA Annual Meeting in Maui
- The current CBA
- Q&A from the league's perspective
So before I move ahead... what are your thoughts? Is this topic interesting? Are there specific areas you'd like to hear about?