Monday, May 19, 2008

Will owners opt out?

Rumors that NFL owners will choose to opt out of the Collective Bargaining Agreement set in March of 2006 seem to be coming true. That agreement set guidelines so that if either the owners or the players didn't like their position they would have the option of opting out of the contract. Several owners are suggesting their organizations have become "cash strapped" because of the current arrangement.

It is becoming clear that the disagreement has become prevalent within the "small-market" owners in the NFL. These owners have a problem with the current revenue sharing program where 60 percent of total revenue is given to the players. Owners complain that is too “one-sided.” It is boiling down to several owners thinking they deserve the right to all the money made by their team. It’s their investment right? I mean they put in all the money and all the work.

In the current labor agreement teams have a salary cap of 116 million dollars. If the owners do choose to opt out of the current agreement there is a possibility of an uncapped season in 2010 and no draft in 2011. This means that the teams electing to pay players less today are the same teams that wouldn't be able to afford high end free agents in an uncapped market. The funny thing here is, small-market owners are about to opt out of an agreement that would help their teams in the future. How much of a fighting chance do small-market teams have in 2011 of getting either top ranked college prospects with no draft, or legitimate free agents with no money?

It's unfortunate to me that there are owners who choose not to acknowledge why their team makes money. Two reasons: fans and players. Fans want to see great athletes compete. Fans don’t give a shit who is paying for the team, they just want a team. As a kid my idol was John Elway and the Broncos were my team. I watched closely as John led miraculous comebacks week after week. I cried when they won the Super Bowl. I could have rattled off the entire roster in numerical order yet one person that would not have come to mind, the owner. Taking this a step further, as a current NFL player, I couldn't rattle off more than 6 or 7 current owners.

What it all comes down to is money and the NFL is a money making machine. It has quickly become the most watched and talked about professional sport in America. Its popularity keeps fans entertained year round. Free-agency, the Combine, Draft Day, Mini-Camp, and Training Camp have become as exciting for some people as Game day. Fans can't get enough of their team and because of this revenue in the NFL has sky-rocketed. Yet owners don’t get their fair share?


The NFL is still the richest sports league in the world (the average team is worth $957 million, 7% more than last year) as well as the most profitable (mean operating income in 2006 was $17.8 million on $204 million in revenue).

The 2006 season marked the beginning of six-year contract extensions with the three major networks--a $3.7 billion deal with CBS, a $4.3 billion deal with Fox and a $3.6 billion deal with NBC--that award the NFL with an average of $2 billion a year until 2011.

Do the owners realize that in this profession only a very select group of people can do what we do? There are less than 2000 players on NFL rosters every year. This is my fifth year on the job and I can make one easy conclusion. It is extremely difficult to be great in the NFL. Fans pay to come out because they like to watch great players. The NFL is an enormous entertainment industry and the Players Union easily recognizes that. The Union doesn't feel like what we get isn’t fair, but that the money has been earned by the players.

In my personal opinion an owner should be someone who is truly proud of his team. They should be proud of their players. An NFL team should be more than an investment to its owners. Winning and losing should be more about pride than the money. Unfortunately, as we can sadly see by what is happening with this potential opt out is that owners care much more about the money than having a successful team.

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"Winning and losing should be more about pride than the money." Certainly working with Mr. Snyder has taught you that this simply is not true. If the owner's do choose to opt out of this agreement, aren't we going to see more teams moving to better markets? For example, I could see Buffalo becoming a canadian team while the Jaguars move to Los Angeles. Then when those markets fail, they move again. The NFL is already testing the Euro/Mexico market, how soon will it be before owners see the earning potential in Europe vs a small market US team?

Unfortunately, it has to be about money when your shelling out 15 million in guaranteed money to a first round draft pick. The NFL should not bail owners out of bad business decisions (insert brandon lloyd here).

If you want to make money, make better decisions and don't mortgage the future of your team on one player. Smart Business + Winning = Profit

I've been a Bengals fan forever and I can't believe that they didn't sign this CBA; they're basically getting paid by the other owners for using an obsolete business model.

With no draft and no salary cap, the Bengals would be that armless man in the prison laundry room that cries himself to sleep every night. Their current ineptitude would seem like a wet dream compared to how bad they would suck without those labor controls.

My opinion is probably the minority here but maybe rather than the owners or the current players getting the money they are arguing about it should go to retired players pensions or something.

Three words for you...

Rookie salary cap.

That is a good question, from Anon above. And Mr Cooley I don't know if you are taking questions on this and I know your busy and don't get to read everything on here.

But would you accept a deal where the players get 50% of the money but a cap is put in for rookie salaries, what other issues could be corrected?

Or if the owners were to get any significant amount from the players, but were forced to do something with it. What would you like to see done with that money? Go towards more community charity work?

If you want to save that for the next time you do a Q&A fine.

What I see in sports are two business models for running a professional athletic team --> the "high revenue, high cost" model and "low revenue, low cost" model. The obvious example in Major League Baseball is Kansas City Royals and the New York Yankees. Although the Yankees are not tearing up the league this year, no one realistically expects the Royals to win anything because of their financial situation.

My understanding is the idea of the salary cap is to allow the smaller market teams the ability to compete by limiting the spending of the larger teams. Not having a salary cap will be the death of small market teams in the long run, as Chris mentions.

Ultimately, in an attempt to control their costs, the small market teams will ruin the value they have in their franchises because big market teams will out-spend them. Small market teams like Indianapolis and Jacksonville will become like the Clippers in the NBA. They will minimize their expenses and put forth an inferior product, and the parity that the league has tried so hard to maintain would be destroyed.

I say the small market teams may need to figure out other ways make money, or else move to large market such as Los Angeles, but do not mess with the salary cap.

And a rookie salary cap is needed, but not so much as a cost control measure; rather, a high draft pick should always be something that helps your franchise. Teams and fans should be excited about having a high draft pick, rather than dreading the expense and risk that goes along with the pick.

well is it just me that is seeing a pattern here? or are the ones that are wanting to opt out, aren't they cheap sob's in the first place? they want all the glory but don't wanna pay for it like the owners of the raiders,bears,bills,and the chiefs and so on?

so imho they get what they deserve. just spend the money now! and save yor self the embarrassment. because two years down the road when the owners with deep pockets like Snyder and Jones have an all star team for the next 6 years, because you didn't wanna shell out the money this year. and they will have to pay this any way when the next contract has been signed. but by then they are bankrupt because they have no stars for the fans to come see.

the moral of this story is don't bite the hand that feeds you because the owners like jerry jones and dan Snyder are hoping your dumb enough to do it lol

Chris, as a girl, I honestly don't care all that much about the owners' opting out or salary caps, but I just want to say I LOVE the engagement pic of you and Christy! You guys are so cute together! Congrats and best wishes to you both!!!

Maybe I'm selfish or have a limited understanding of the implications, but weren't the Redskins good before the CBA? And don't we have a tendency to win championships in strike years?

Maybe the latter was just a Gibbs effect, but I would love to see Snyder go absolutely nuts with the checkbook without a salary cap. Season after season, I worry about losing my favorite players to free agency simply because we're not allowed to pay to keep everybody. It's great when guys voluntarily restructure to keep the team together, but it shouldn't have to be that way.

That said, Snyder knows how to find ways to make more money, we the fans in a HUGE market love to give it to him, and if more of that money can go straight to him to spend on the team, I say go for it.

Love the picture of Chris and his fiance on the blog main page. I can see the spot where they're standing from the window in my den, but even better, my boat is in the background of the picture. Would have had him over for a beer if I knew he was in the neighborhood!

When I heard about owners wanting to opt out, I figured it was big money owners (Snyder, Jones, etc.) looking to get rid of the cap to load up teams with players on fat contracts...

I never figured the small teams would be dumb enough to screw themselves like that.

These are the same teams that want more revenue sharing from larger teams, yet hold off on doing things like selling naming rights to their stadiums.

Please, pick the nuclear option - then sell your team, idiot. Then Roger G. will have lots of franchises ready to be bought and moved overseas.

You nailed that one, Sexual French Vanilla

As unsilent majority said, preach on, Chris, hopefully all of this gets worked out eventually and there won't be a stoppage. Love the blog, keep up the great work on the field, congrats on the marriage, and Go Skins!

damn, looks like all 32 of them voted to end it

I agree, fan's dont care about who pays for their team's salaries. And that's a big part of the problem.

The whole CBA, Salary Cap, etc is so f'd up it costs a fortune for a avg family of four to go to a game. At least $400 with tickets, parking, food. And that's without any major purchases. Plus for me it would be about $50 in fuel.

I heard you on Rome last week and couldn't agree more; how & why does a rookie get these MONSTER contracts without proving themselves on the next level?!?! Look at all of the college "stars" that turn out to be total busts.

BTW, I can name at least half the NFL Owners. But I'm a NFL geek that way. Tooooo much NFL Live!

Great blog Chris! change the colors, it's too hard to read.

first of all, love the blog. quick question though. will you guys start wearing your burgundy jerseys at home? they look great, and since most teams wear their colors at home, you're always in white. any switch to burgundy at home soon?

As much as no salary cap would help the redskins as far as never having to loose good talent, its bad for the nfl as a whole.

As awesome as it would be to win every single football game for all eternity after a while it just wouldn't be fun. look at what happened to the atlanta braves win the division 13yrs in a row or w/e it was and their attendance went down every year. Because people didn't go to a game hoping to win they EXPECTED to win and after winning so much that thrill started to dull.

Football is great because every season you have no idea what is going to happen. Every week is a tossup and each game matters so much to your season its the drama that draw people to football.

What's the deal with Matty Ice making more than Brady and Peyton? I wouldn't want to be Ryan in that locker room if he doesn't start producing quick, plus you know there will be some pissed off veterans in Atlanta. I can't fault the guy for taking the money, but man what a first year he's going to have: Learn the playbook, get comfortable with all the vets, live up to unreal expectations, and live his own life. Tough road to hoe.

Pretty interesting C.C., but to be honest its not gonna matter. The NFL will make money either way and you will get paid either way. Probaby get paid more money if they do opt out.

I have to say...I'm not really into football but when I saw your article posted on Yahoo news about you and Christy I read it from beginning to end without skipping a word. I apologize that it was the first time I had heard of either of you. But I have to say that your words filled my heart. Oddly, it changed my mind about football as well. Now that I feel like I know you a little better I might just flip on the TV next time you play ;) Your story of getting together with Christy made me smile more than anything. It reminded me of the intense love that I feel for my boyfriend and how wonderful falling in love was for us. I wish you the very best of luck in your adventure together. Remember to never be too big to say you're sorry, never take advantage without letting her take a little as well, never say I love you and half mean it and never ever go to bed mad. Best wishes....a new fan

Congrats on getting married. I'd get married too if my wife was as hot as Cooley!

Hey Chris,

Great article. Very well written and well argued (and I'm an English Professor and a Giants fan!)

You should send it to SI or some other place.

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