CHANTILLY, VA - MARCH 02: NFL Senior VP of Public Relations Greg Aiello briefs the media after a meeting with NFL owners at a hotel on March 2, 2011 in Chantilly, Virginia. The NFL owners are meeting in Chantilly to discuss negotiations with the players union about a collective bargaining agreement that expires March 3, at midnight. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Mike Freeman has done a good job covering the labor strife in recent weeks. With reports circling yesterday from multiple sources that a new NFL collective bargaining agreement could get voted on within the next few weeks, it's Freeman (via PFT, which a reader pointed us to) that's now saying the deal is roughly 80% completed, and it could be finalized in days, not weeks!
One source with intimate knowledge of the discussions tells me negotiations are 80-85 percent complete. They've made such fast progress, I'm told, it's catching many of the principals by surprise. Some are now canceling vacations, believing an agreement will be reached within a matter of days.
Basically, it seems, we continue to move solidly into that threshold where a season will be played, not if one will be played. Again, barring the knucklehead factor."It's going to be very difficult for this to get screwed up," the source said
Freeman states that, according to his sources, the players had no trust in anything ownership said during the initial mediation sessions. Thus, no progress was made. Now, trust has been re-established (to a certain degree), and proposals are being exchanged daily.
The big question on everyone's mind (other than WHEN WILL THE FRIGGIN LOCKOUT END!) is what arrangement was made on the split of revenues? What the owners originally demanded was outrageous, and bordered on insulting. Coupled with their sleazy attempt to secure money regardless of whether or not football was played, it's not surprising the players had no trust in the Jerry Richardsons running the NFL.
So, what was compromised on with the revenue split?
PFT suggests the compromise could involve the players taking less of a cut now, but with guarantees in place for the future (legally binding guarantees, not handshakes) that when the revenue grows, players get more of a cut.
The league wants the players to take a smaller slice of the piece, with the understanding that the players will make up the difference, and then some, via an ongoing expansion of the total revenue. Thus, in order to persuade the players to make the requisite leap of faith, the players may request that the league make firm commitments regarding the growth of the proverbial money pie.
Now, this is significant for small market franchises like Indianapolis because a key component of franchise 'growth' is revenue sharing. Without it, the Colts are not competitive, and a non-competitive team in Indianapolis would mean empty seats at Lucas Oil Stadium. Add to this that a big factor in 'future growth' is the NFL getting back into the Los Angeles market.
The details of this new CBA will be very interesting to pour over and study. But, for now, the positive energy that many are reporting from the negotiating table is a welcome change.