No negotiations. No talks and more and more it appears no hope. The longer a stalemate between the NFL owners and the players Union goes on, the more likely it appears a league-wide lockout will occur.
Both sides talked last Saturday, with Commissioner Roger Goodell stating after the session in Dallas was “beneficial.“ As explained in a joint statement after the meeting, “The NFL and NFL Players Association met for two hours today in a continuing effort to narrow the differences and reach a fair agreement that will benefit the players, teams and fans,” the statement read. “We plan to increase the number, length and intensity of bargaining sessions so that we can reach agreement before the (March 3) expiration of the current CBA.”
Another meeting was held again Wednesday. A meeting was scheduled for Thursday, but was cancelled with no explanation. Reportedly even the owners cancelled their meetings for next week because of the lack of progress in negotiations. Whatever progress that was made Saturday was lost Wednesday.
Is anyone getting the sense Commissioner Goodell is less than “beneficial” to these negotiations? He wants to appear upbeat and positive about the talks, yet nothing upbeat and positive is happening. It’s completely the opposite. The lack of constructive talks led to Thursday’s meeting being cancelled and no meetings in the future have been arranged.
Goodell is working for the owners, as every Commissioner does. He has battle orders and these include the 18 game season and a two game reduction in the pre-season schedule. A 30% reduction in the player’s gross revenue piece of the pie. A rookie salary cap and increased benefits for retired players.
The 18 game season is unacceptable to almost everyone. The fans aren’t behind it, the players dislike the idea and coaches have told their owners they cannot field a team intelligently with only 2 pre season games. However Goodell, as he tends to do, over-exaggerated in his explanation that all NFL fans like the idea of an 18 game schedule. And this plan would recoup the 30% cut in revenue the owners are asking the players to accept.
Most good negotiators can make math say anything. Of course more games means more money. However it also means more expenses and more injuries. More injuries mean more players getting jobs because these injuries will cause players to miss the entire season. But it will cost the owners more money because these new players will get paid, as will the injured players.
Goodell is losing credibility. It began with the inappropriate fines for excessive hitting. Then reducing some. It continued into Super Bowl week and his comments about Ben Roethlisberger to Peter King. Right or wrong, why bring up something like “none of your teammates stood up for you. Not One.” Whatever the case, Roethlisberger won his teammates over and finished in the Super Bowl.
Goodell faced “seat-gate” in Dallas and tried to buy off the fans with tickets but nowhere to sit. The league is now facing lawsuits over seating snafus, continued labor unrest, hypocritical decisions and biased fines to players. He has not only confused the public, but he has baffled his players. Nobody, including the league, knows the direction the NFL is heading. Goodell is the pilot of a plane that is spinning out of control and he has no idea how to get it under control.
All this being the case, the league owners have nothing to worry about. When the lockout starts, Goodell’s $10 million salary will be reduced to $1. Or will it?