The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals warned the NFL and the NFLPA* that neither side would be happy with the court’s ruling, regarding the legality of the lockout, when rendered.
The Players in Brady v. NFL contend that this is a case that falls under the Sherman Antitrust Act. Conversely, the NFL contends that the player’s case has no merit because this is a labor dispute, and that the decertification of the NFLPA is a sham.
Apples v. Oranges.
The court’s pointed warning has had the arm twisting effect intended. The owners and players have reluctantly returned to the bargaining table—sans attorneys.
To me, the court has suggested that the National Labor Relations Board could be brought into the fray, and that the CBA could come down to binding arbitration.
The specter of binding arbitration would make for some oscillating sphincters on both sides.
A rational approach which is based upon some quid pro quos would be apropos, in my opinion. Where can the owners and players find some common ground?
The owners cry poverty, yet refuse to open their books. The players want a fair share of TV revenues plus a bigger slice of the pie.
Here, the quid pro quo would split revenues at the current percentage rates, and give the players 40 percent of TV revenues.
This would allow the owners some recoveries from the horrible CBA that then commissioner Paul Tagliabue forced upon the owners in the last CBA based on projections of double digit revenue growth that never happened.
For the players, the 40 percent of TV revenues would be allocated to the Health and Welfare Fund to defray escalating health care costs, and a portion (to be determined internally) to be allocated to the Pension Fund.
Free Agency and a Rookie Wage Scale
The owners want to maintain the current free agency structure. Afterall, the owners are spending millions on front loaded rookie contracts, and need to see a return on their investment. Perfectly reasonable when a rookie’s bust, and injuries are considered.
The players want unrestricted free agency after three accrued years of service, instead of the current five. They contend that the current structure is akin to restraint of trade. An equally compelling argument.
Here, the quid pro quo would establish a rookie wage scale with a four year, escalating back loaded contract. There would be no signing bonuses which currently guarantee rookies fabulous riches before they play a snap in the NFL.
If a player is released during the first three years of his rookie contract, he would be guarenteed a percentage of his remaining contract to be paid over the life of the contract.
Call it the JaMarcus Russell clause, if you will.
In the fourth year, the team with the rights to a player who has fulfilled his rookie contract will have the right of first refusal, or restricted free agency.
Remove the "franchise" tag.
An 18 Game Season
The owners insist that an 18 game schedule would boost revenues for all concerned parties.
The players contend that an 18 game schedule that eliminates two exhibition games curtails player development and evaluation. It also increases the chance of injury.
My proposal is that the NFL adopt a 17 game schedule and add three players to every team’s roster.
This should be done on a 2-3 year trial basis under regular review by a committee comprised of owners and players.
Are my quid pro quos overly simplistic and naïve? Or, are the owners and players so overwhelmed by long standing disputes and recriminations that obvious solutions through conciliations are impossible?
Keep it simple, and pass me the "Easy" button.