Judgement Day for the NFL

Today at 5pm EST, the deadline to negotiate a new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NFL Player’s Association and the league owners passed.

And unlike last week, no extension was reached. The two sides left the meeting with the NLFPA turning down the owner’s most recent proposal, and electing to decertify the union so that players could file anti-trust lawsuits against ownership (ESPN News Link).

In response, Adam Schefter of ESPN is reporting that the owners are on the verge of locking out the players, which can be accomplished as soon as tonight.

This is what all NFL fans have feared. On each addition of Home Field Advantage Radio, we have opened each discussion about the city’s football squads by asking our guest to put aside the CBA debacle, and talk only about the on-field product. But, we’ve come to a point where we can no longer ignore the issue.

The game has now become a legal battle between the millionaire players and the billionaire owners. To your average Joe sports fan who is barely making enough money to buy their season tickets or personal seat licenses, the debate is annoying. The haves want more money and rights from the have even mores. Nobody looks good in the eyes of the always-judging public.

The issues the two sides can’t come to terms on are the proposed 18-game regular season schedule, roughly $800 million in dispersion of league funds, a rookie wage scale and retirement benefits for players. The players feel that the owners are asking for too much out of them, while not rewarding them properly for all the work and attention they bring to the league. However, owners feel that players are being too greedy in their desires since its the owners manning all the expenses of the league.

From a fans perspective, its nearly impossible to side with either party in this debate. Its hard to see the negatives for either party when, at the end of the day, both will be walking away with a wheelbarrow full of dough. However, personally, I don’t understand the need for an 18-game regular season schedule. With the rate players get injured these days, its almost impossible to imagine a team surviving the length of an extended regular season. For example, keep in mind that the Super Bowl champion Packers won despite having to start their fourth different running back, James Starks.

The rookie wage scale makes perfect sense to me as well. All three other major sports leagues maintain some form of structured rookie salary system. Most notably, Major League Baseball follows a league-sponsored “slotting” system, where the league recommends what teams should pay plays chosen at specific draft numbers. Also, the NBA has a leveled rookie wage scale that pays players certain cap figures for each individual pick number.

As for the $800 million in revenues that need to be separated, I’m not going to pretend to understand or predict where that money should go. The players need to realize their making millions upon millions of dollars to play a game. I understand their fear of retirement benefits because of the physical damages their bodies have to handle through an NFL career. But, players also need to take some responsibility and manage their funds better to ensure financial flexibility in the long run.

With the lockout into effect, fans must understand that we’re still a long way off from the schedule start of training camp and pre-season games. The NFL Draft will continue as normal, so there will still be football coverage about something not related to the CBA.

But, the longer the league goes without an agreement, the more the fear of a lost season creeps into the minds of those following the NFL.

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About Home Field Advantage
We are two senior Sports Communication majors at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York. We have launched this blog as part of our senior year capping project, with the goal of creating a comparative analysis and multimedia approach to the differing sports cultures in America.

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