26

July

The NFL Lockout is Finally Over: What Roger Goodell was Really Thinking

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has to be feeling good about his sport as the NFL lockout ends.

Roger Goodell was asked today if there were any damages from the NFL lockout that need to be repaired. He said:

“Well, I would say from the Commissioner’s perspective, we know what we did to frustrate our fans over the last several months. They want football and our job is to give them football. We think that through a 10-year agreement here, we’ve secured the future of the game to ensure that pledge to bring great football to our fans. I think we have some work to do though to make sure they understand that we are sorry for the frustration we put them through over the last six months, but our commitment is to bring them better football going forward. I think we ought to make sure that we understand that our bond with our fans is probably the primary issue that all of us have to keep focused on, whether you’re a player, or you’re an owner or you’re the Commissioner.”

While Goodell was giving this beautifully crafted and politically correct answer, here’s what he was really thinking:

“Hell no there aren’t any damages! Are you freakin’ kidding me?! We’re the NFL, not the NBA, MLB or NHL. Twitter literally melted into a pile of social networking goo once the lockout ended? ESPN basically threw a party live on the air. The NFL Network is covering this news conference like someone just brokered a peace deal in the Middle East. Fans are more excited for the upcoming football season than for any other season in our league’s history.

And do you know why? Because this lockout forced everyone to skip the boring parts of the offseason. How great is it that we didn’t have to endure a summer of free-agent speculation or BS stories from minicamps about how this player or that player looks really good running around in shorts and a tank top? Wasn’t it nice not having to read about how Albert Haynesworth or some other criminal in shoulder pads appears “focused” this year and wants to “put the past behind him?” We even managed to keep Brett Favre quiet until I gave him the go-ahead to start his unretirement rumors on Saturday night.

18

May

NFL Lockout Rant: Players Must Present a Fan-Centric Deal

Smith should put a fan-centric proposal on the table if he still cares about winning the PR war.

The 8th Circuit Court granted a permanent stay of the NFL’s lockout of players Monday.  There were also conflicting reports of progress being made in mediated negations for a new CBA.

Personally, I would not consider Carl Eller a very reliable source on CBA talks. And even if Eller was right, do we really think the owners are going to submit a fair deal now that they finally came out on the winning side in a courtroom decision?

I doubt it. Owners like Jerry Jones and Dan Snyder likely view this ruling as a chance to tighten the screws on the players and pressure them to accept an owner-friendly deal. Players representative DeMaurice Smith will do everything he can to keep all the players in line and continue pursuing a player-friendly deal.

In other words, a lot happened on Monday, but not much changed. There’s still no football and it doesn’t look like that’s going to change any time soon.

Even though it annoys me, both the owners and the players continue trying to win over the fans during this whole mess. I am anything but a labor expert and I only pretend to know what I’m talking about regarding the NFL lockout, but if I were Smith, and I felt that winning the PR battle would somehow help get a deal done, here is what I would do:

I would immediately submit a proposal with financial concessions favorable to the owners. I don’t know what the exact numbers would be, but it would be obvious to most fair-minded observers that the players made significant concessions and the raw financial numbers favor the owners. It wouldn’t be completely lopsided like the owner’s original proposal, but it would be a win for the owners nonetheless. However, those concessions would come with some fan-centric provisions.

  • Owners would have to lock in season ticket prices for the next three years;
  • All teams must offer at least 1,000 tickets to every home game at $10 apiece;
  • Any team-owned parking facilities may not charge more than $25 to park on gameday;
  • If teams charge fans money to tailgate, they must forfeit two games that season. If they charge money and limit the hours that fans can tailgate, the franchise is contracted and the owner is arrested;
14

March

The NFL Lockout, the Green Bay Packers and You

First off, let me get something off my chest:  This sucks.  This really sucks.

No one wins in a lockout. Not even Charlie Sheen.  The players don’t get to play the game they love, the owners don’t cash in on gameday sales, and the fans are resorted to banging their heads into the wall.

No matter where you stand on the matter, we can all agree this lockout is a tragedy.  As I mentioned in my phone call to Cheesehead Radio last week, the NFL and what it means to so many people goes way beyond money and could have a negative impact on overall American morale

In a hyper-political climate that is turning friends against each other, we could still all get together on Sunday and root for the same team as fans and clinging to that last thing that binds us together: football.  We cease to be Democrats, Republicans and independents and all become Packers fans.

As the world watches Japan crumble, we are stuck watching pampered millionaires debate over how to divide up $9 billion dollars.  31 owners were so fed up they decided, much like a spoiled child not getting their way, to pick up their ball and glove and go home.   As for the players, they are so committed to being able to look at the league’s financial records that they demanded 10 years of audited information be provided in hours.  That’s not realistic.

Before you correct me on the number of owners I stated in the above paragraph, think for a minute.  What lone NFL team does not have one singular all powerful owner?

That’s right, your Green Bay Packers.

As the only publicly owned team in the NFL, the Packers are forced to open their books every year. There are no secrets when it comes to the Packers as they have to be transparent for their 112,000 shareholders.

That’s one thing that really gets me during this whole “32 greedy owners “deal.  I can’t speak for the other 31 in the NFL, but I’m sure 112,000 Packers owners don’t like being called greedy.   These people are fans.  They are not on the side of the owners or the players.  They’re on their own side, the side of the fans.

11

March

NFL Lockout: Owners Should Lock Out Other Owners Instead of Players

Talks between NFL players and owners broke down today before a CBA agreement could be reached. At midnight, the owners will lock out the players and fans will wonder what the heck just happened.

I am far from a labor expert. I have no idea why billionaire owners and millionaire players can’t figure out how to divide up a gigantic pile of cash. I do my best to read about the issue from both sides and come to some sort of educated conclusion. In my opinion, the owners are in the wrong this time. Bill Simmons explains why much better than I could.

Amidst all sound bites, finger pointing and fan panic, there is one thing I still can’t figure out: Why are the owners locking out the players? Shouldn’t they lock out a couple of their fellow owners instead?

The core of the CBA issue is player expenses, right? Owners are saying player expenses are rising and can’t be sustained. The players say that is BS because the NFL is the most popular sport in America and basically prints money. Nobody knows for sure who is right because NFL teams refuse to open their books.

Don’t the owners share a good chunk of the blame for rising player costs? Instead of locking out the players, wouldn’t it make more sense to lock out Dan Snyder, Al Davis and Zygi Wilf for handing fat contracts to the likes of Albert Haynesworth, JaMarcus Russell and a broken-down Brett Favre? Isn’t the short-sightedness of some owners allowing player costs to get out of control? What am I missing here?

Obviously, owners can’t conspire to keep salaries at a certain level. That’s called collusion and it’s illegal. But nobody is holding a gun to owner’s heads and demanding that they overpay guys and allow salaries to reach a level that can’t be sustained.

Yes, owners have to shell out cash to players to be competitive. They also have to spend enough to meet the salary floor (except in 2010). But that still doesn’t excuse some of the outrageous bonuses paid and guarantees given to rookies and marginal veterans.

If player costs are supposedly making the entire league unsustainable despite massive public subsidies for stadiums, TV contracts worth billions and ticket prices that increase every year, maybe it’s time to step back and blame a few owners for helping drive up those player costs.