When the NFL owners and players signed their collective bargaining agreement in March of 2006, they consented to a clause that would allow either party to opt out of the deal by November 8th of this year.
It seems that the owners are certainly going to exercise that clause. And they probably won’t wait until November. The NFL, whose labor relations seem harmonious relative to other leagues, could be setting themselves up for some turmoil.
From Dave Goldberg of the ASSOCIATED PRESS:
That contract was due to expire at the end of the 2013 season. If the owners nullify it, a move that has seemed inevitable for a while, it would end after the 2011 season with 2010 being uncapped.
The end of the agreement does not necessarily mean that there will be a work stoppage, although Upshaw has predicted that the owners could lock out the players in 2011. But the early opt out also could lead to earlier talks on a new deal, which the owners feel has leaned too far toward the players — [executive director of the NFL Players Association Gene] Upshaw already has had several preliminary meetings, including one recently with Jerry Richardson of Carolina and Pat Bowlen of Denver, two of the owners expected to be involved in the negotiations.
So everyone has seen this coming. The owners are upset that the players are getting 60 percent of the revenue since the current CBA was signed.
[The signing] was done at the last moment and was the last major act of former commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who managed to put together a coalition of high-revenue, middle-revenue and low-revenue teams to ratify the contract.
Only two low revenue teams, Cincinnati and Buffalo, voted against it.
Since then, however, high-revenue owners, such as New England’s Robert Kraft, have also supported negotiating for a new deal. And if a vote is taken, 24 of the 32 teams would have to vote to extend it, something that is highly unlikely to happen.
The only thing more annoying than labor strife in professional sports is referring to the playing of a game as “labor.” That’s not to suggest that they aren’t worth millions of dollars a year (I never saw an English teacher that could hit 40 home runs a season). They are. But as a fan, watching these people squabble over slivers of an enormous pie is irritating. For the sake of the fans, they need to get a deal done. Soon.