The NFL Without a CBA
In these final hours before 24 owners bend over to the agents' agent, Mr. Upshaw,
it is worth a moment to reflect on what could have happened
had they rejected the "final offer".
All commentaries (that i've seen) have been apocalyptic ... chaos to follow ...
self-immolation of the union in 2008 ... strike or lockout ... all that stuff.
Having tried for a couple weeks now to imagine a future without the CBA,
that future doesn't appear so terrible. Wasn't pro football fun to watch before the CBA came along in 1993?
Doesn't the labor market grade and distribute all kinds of talent and skill throughout the economy ...
without a draft?
without intermediation by a union?
without rules and regulations for "free agency"?
without salary caps ... and vet minimums ... and bonus proration?
How about if ? :
instead of the draft, teams bid money (and other desirable contract terms)
to college players they wished to hire ... and the player chose one.
Each contract, naturally, is for an agreed period of years ...
after which, neither party has any obligation to the other.
Teams could negotiate options to extend, if they wished.
If a team wants to cut a player while he is under contract, they buy it out.
That is to say ... teams would have "labor relations" with their players
identical to their labor relations with their coaches ... and scouts ... and capologists ... and dieticians.
There are no anti-trust violations; simply standard contract law.
What would be lost is Rozelle's vision of pay-parity. Some owners would
carry big payrolls ... and compete for championships.
Other owners would low-ball their employees, and merely play out their schedules.
But the union doesn't care about that anyway. Television well may PREFER such a scenario. Why should the owners object?
I do think the illusion of parity contributes to the NFL's national success. By "illusion" I mean that, on average, every mediocre team will earn a playoff spot often enough to give their fans false hope. In reality, the Jags and Giants and all the other mediocre teams aren't in any danger of actually winning a SuperBowl, but they are just close enough to keep their fans thinking about it.
Of course, nothing generates false hope quicker than signing a big-ticket free agent. Most NFL fans actually think one "piece of the puzzle" makes a difference, not understaning that a good football team requires a contribution from 53 players.
From my perspective as a fan, my biggest complaint with the current system is that it necessitates too much roster-churning for roster-churning sake. The winners in that are the agents. Fans lose because it is impossible to keep players. In an ideal system, the Pats should at least have the chance to keep David Givens. In reality, they don't.
Hmmm - interesting thoughts.
Maybe the thing to do is to put all the teams with a lot of money to spend in one division and another division for the teams with less money to spend.
Then parity will be preserved, at least until the two divisions have to play each other in the Super Bowl.
I'd prefer to keep things the way they are but if there's going to be no Cap, and no revenue sharing, that's probably the way to go.
Then you have a problem that exists in European soccer. Teams like Chelsea or Wigan have owners with nearly unlimited cash reserves who can splurge on every desirable player imaginable. While other teams can find diamonds in the rough, it would be harder with players emerging from a single pool (the NCAA) rather than hundreds to thousands of leagues all over the world. Sure, the NFL is successful and owners would be able to buy enough players to compete, but there would always be a few owners (Daniel Snyder?) capable of and willing to drop a ton of cash to create dream teams.
1) Players want to play. They don't want to sit on the bench.
2) There are only 53 spots and 8 practice squad slots (though that may change with an uncapped year) and a very limited number of plays in every game. Because of this, not every player will go to the team throwing the most money around. Why? Because players want to play.
3) The Patriots have shown that its not the team with the MOST talent that wins. Its the most talented TEAM that wins. There is a distinction there.
4) Owners are in this to make money. If Dan Snyder is spending $300 million on a payroll, he's severally cutting into his revenues and profits and won't be able to sustain that level of salary payouts. Particularly if his team isn't winning.
5) Even in the uncapped year, a MAJORITY of the revenue is coming from TV Contracts. In fact, I've read that teams received 87 million last year. That's more than the salary cap. So that puts all the gate receipts and local revenue together for the purpose of paying out cash over cap amounts. And really takes away from these "low revenue" teams claiming they won't be able to compete.
The problem I see is that you are looking at the teams as individual business, but they need to function as a league. (By the way if not they lose the anti-trust exemption and all hell breaks loose)
But at some levels owners need to work together for the greater good.
That means there probably, unfortunately does need to be a players union.
While I would agree that the 'open season' scenario you suggest isn't bad, a union would eventually get in the way of it.
The possibility that it would turn into 2-3 mega rich teams always winning seems remote to me because there is so much potential profit involved that you would attract wealthy owners willing to consider the team an investment and plow cash into it. (Its different than baseball IMO because of the huge TV $$)
Lets wait until 11pm to see if there will be life without a CBA
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