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NYT: In N.F.L.s Labor Talks, the Rumblings of War

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Omaha Steve Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 01:09 PM
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Published: August 22, 2009

A good indicator of how far the N.F.L. is from a new labor agreement with its players is that the two sides do not even agree on whether their talks have been productive. Less than seven months from the expiration of the leagues salary cap, union leaders say the owners made no proposal in the first two negotiating sessions, and the owners say that their concerns have been conveyed during a series of less formal conversations.

It is increasingly likely that the N.F.L. is headed to a season without a salary cap. Unnerved by that prospect in 2006, the owners accepted a deal so favorable to the players that the owners soon began to say they could not live with it. Three years later and more than a year after they opted out of the current agreement the owners are convinced that most of them will be disciplined enough not to go on a spending spree in 2010. They aim to get a long-term agreement that works for them, no matter what it takes. A lockout looms less than two years from now, and owners no longer view the loss of games as unthinkable.

Much of the conversation at last weeks owners meeting was about preparation for labor unrest. DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the N.F.L. Players Association, has said in recent weeks that he thinks the owners are preparing for a lockout. But management says that is not what it wants. Yet one of the leagues negotiators is Bob Batterman, who helped strike the owner-friendly N.H.L. labor deal after a season-long lockout and has a reputation as a union buster.

Were into this 14 months, were still waiting for a proposal from the N.F.L. that we havent gotten, said James Quinn, a partner at Weil, Gotshal & Manges who is on the unions negotiating team. That will jump-start the negotiation. We were perfectly prepared to live with this deal another couple of years. Its clearly incumbent on them to come forward and present some alternative.

The N.F.L., with $8 billion in annual revenue, has not had a work stoppage since 1987, stability that has been the underpinning of its financial strength and its popularity with fans. The league says it remains a successful, profitable business, for owners and players, with total player costs this season approaching $5 billion. This is a fight, then, over degrees of success.

FULL story at link.

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RUMMYisFROSTED Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 01:36 PM
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1. IIrc, on average, owners make $50M in profit every year.
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