Let’s talk a little NFL labor issues for the Super Bowl. The owners and players are trying to work out what would be a new 10-year contract, which is really long. The owners really want, as they have for years, more football. The players, who bodies are the ones getting destroyed in the game, do not. This is a huge sticking point and could lead to a strike. Right now, there’s an offer on the table from the owners that is basically this: give us a 17th game and we will give you almost everything else you want.
The player reps who met Thursday were “just about unanimous” against a 17-game expansion, only to morph into a more conciliatory tone as they were led through the point-by-point analysis of the proposal, a source said. That session concluded with the decision to have another meeting this coming week.
There is a real possibility the players will ask their negotiating team to see whether the owners are willing to consider other concessions, both financially and in further reducing the overall workload in training camp and the preseason, which could be shortened to two or three games.
According to sources, some of the highlights of the CBA proposal:
• The NFL will have an option to establish a 17-game regular season that would not kick in until at least the 2021 season, with the option tied to new revenues in pending TV and media contracts.
• If there is an agreement in place before the new league year in March, the new deal would take effect immediately for the 2020 season, bumping up the players’ share of revenues immediately under a 16-game format.
• The players will receive an annual fixed share in the 48 percent range of an anticipated larger revenue pool and also greater spending minimums for clubs.
• The 2020 season also would likely include an extra playoff game, pending the owners’ approval at the annual league meetings in March.
• Changes to the league’s drug policy would nearly eliminate punishments to players who test positive for marijuana.
• The on-field discipline fine schedule will be modified significantly in the players’ favor.
• The players would gain increases to benefits to former players, including a continuation of the legacy fund.
This is of course a brief ESPN story that doesn’t get into too many details. But it’s a fascinating deal even with this outline. The NFL basically decriminalizes marijuana. It makes what at least are claims to major reductions in the NFL’s ridiculous and arbitrary policing of player behavior. There are real financial incentives. I suspect a reduced preseason schedule could be the clincher here. But we will see.