Friday, July 1, 2011

How did the Verbal Handshake almost turn Into a Symbolic F You?

While the NBA and the NBPA were descending into the lockout abyss, it looked as if the NFL and its player were ready to emerge in harmony from their lockout inferno. In fact, it was only Wednesday where Player Head DeMaurice Smith invited NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to jointly address the NFLPA Rookies at the NFL Rookie Symposium in Sarasota, Florida.

However, that optimism soured when Smith and Goodel returned to the bargaining table yesterday,
where they were respectively joined by player representatives and owners. After marathon negotiation sessions that lasted well into the night, it seemed that negotiations had hit a stumbling block. Player sources claimed they had a verbal handshake where the approximate $9 billion in revenue would be split 48% for the players and 52% for the owners. The players originally wanted revenue to be split 50/50 but were willing to be more flexible in exchange for more favorable salary-cap formula.

The talks began to break down because of disagreements on what the definition of "total revenue" would include. The owners want it to include "expense credits" likely regarding upkeep and stadium development expenses, etc. and to also include that funds for the NFL retired players legacy fund come out of the salary cap. On the other side, owners do not want a government tax placed on tickets to be defined as part of the total revenue. Some owners are not surprised that the negotiations are breaking down as they see it as no coincidence that the breakdown all of sudden occurred with the reappearance of Jeffrey Kessler and James Quinn, two of the NFLPA's attorneys.

Nonetheless, the owners and players were back at the bargaining table this morning not long after they had concluded yesterday's marathon session. Today's talks, overseen by court-appointed Mediator Chief Magistrate Judge Arthur J. Boylan has renewed some optimism. And although no deal was reached before breaking for the Fourth of July weekend, the sides are cautiously optimistic that a deal could be reached by the end of next week. NFL fans should hope that the players and owners will come back to the table refreshed without any leftover fireworks from 4th of July celebrations...

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