Colts President Bill Polian described the last 14 days, "as difficult as I've ever spent in this business." We've done our best to monitor and blog the events leading up to the new CBA with a lot of help from our blogging brothers at PatsPulpit, WindyCityGridiron, and especially Grizz at BloggingTheBoys. Grizz blogged like a maniac throughout the entire period, and his entries (and the comments attached) are worth a read. If you check out stories posted on each blog you'll see many sides to this issue, and for good reason. Every fan had a stake in how this thing was going to play out. For small market teams, expanded revenue sharing and an extended salary cap were vital tools necessary to compete. For big market teams, revenue sharing and salary caps hinder their potential ability to buy whomever they want whenever they want.
When the smoke cleared, when the dust settled, when the owners's hands went up and the votes were counted, the small market teams won. The integrity of this National Football League was renewed.
Make no mistake, big market owners like Bob Kraft did everything they could to disrupt and derail this CBA. An uncapped 2007 and the dismantling of revenue sharing would offer great benefits to teams like the Patriots, Cowboys, and Redskins. It got so bad at one point that the possibility of splitting the league in two was actually contemplated. But, in the end, sane owners like Dan Rooney and John Mara managed to iron out a consensus that forced owners like Jones and Kraft to go along. Why do I think this? Look at the details:
The new CBA calls for the high revenue teams like New England and Dallas to pay for most of the 59.5% of the revenue pie the NFLPA wants. The CBA also allows teams new options on retaining players before they hit free agency. John Clayton, who is the master of NFL guruness, has written an outstanding fact sheet on the new CBA.
I guarantee you, these provisions do not sit well with high revenue owners. They are the ones who must front most of the bill for the 59.5% the NFLPA wants and they are now limited in their ability to pry key players away from small market teams.
Are there benefits for large revenue teams in this new CBA? Absolutely. Veterans are now obligated to receive more minimum salary, which will jump up their market price and make large market teams more attractive to them. But in the end, while neither side got exactly what they wanted, it's pretty clear that the small market clubs got more. To the credit of owners like Mr. Kraft and Mr. Snyder, they did vote for this along side owners like Jim Irsay. However, that does not excuse Kraft's or Snyder's behavior these last few weeks. While I never wish harm to anyone, I'll just say instant Karma is sometimes a bitch and leave it at that.
So, what now?
Well, between now and late-April, free agency will hit a full stride, draft gurus will publish about a billion mocks, and at least one moronic player in the NFL will demand a trade or act like a fool (Daunte Culpepper, Javon Walker, etc.) in order to get out from the team they play for. In short, there's tons to blog about. There's also more info out about the Colts's new stadium, titled Lucas Oil Stadium, or the LOS(S) as WCB kindly tells me. We'll be blogging more on this and other subjects. In the meantime, football is still America's pasttime and the NFL is the best league in professional sports.
Long live football, and Go Colts!