DALLAS- With the eyes of the world focused on Cowboys Stadium for what can turn out to be one of the greatest Super Bowl matchups in a long time, the mind can’t stray far away from the gigantic pink elephant in the room.
That “Baby Ruth” in the crystal punch bowl is the increasing possibility that next season could be locked out and cancelled. The CBA jargon that we have all been putting off all season has finally caught up and is rearing it hideously ugly head. There is no more ‘we’ll worry about that later’ talk. Later is now. And the later we now face is grim, bleak and very un-super.
Here’s the jist in the most simplest of terms: the players want more money and more protection. The owners do not want to meet the players salary desires and, frankly don’t care about player protection as much they do their pocket books. Chief among these points that prove owner greed is the proposed expansion to an 18 game season. This is to bring the fans more football. Which (if you don’t want to read anymore explanations of owner greed just rub your index and middle finger against your thumb) maximize revenue profit. Remember the word ‘revenue’ as it’s basically the magic word surrounding the CBA talks.
The first tactic for CBA negotiations is amping up the rhetoric to stew the juices pre-Super Bowl. This is really the school yard recruiting tactic of “who’s side do you want to be on? Us the good guys or them the selfish bullies?” Patriots owner Robert Kraft said Put them in the background. Lawyers are dealbreakers, not deal-makers”. In other words just take the deal we give you no questions asked NFLPA. The players aren’t flawless either, as they make massive amounts if money and I’d trade salaries with them anyway. But the players being looked after by the big boys in this case are the players making the league minimum. The NFLPA also wants to prioritize salaries by putting veterans above unproven rookies. This has been a topic of much debate as a player like an offensive lineman with 10-plus years under his belt can make the league minimum of $820,000 non-guaranteed while the first pick in the draft who hasn’t played a down yet, and isn’t guaranteed to ever, can make a cool $50 Million…guaranteed. The NFLPA wants a model more like the NBA where a rookie signs a minimum contract with options on multiple years at a higher salary or the option to renegotiate based on quality of play.
One thing the owners would like to keep is the ‘Franchise Tag’. Some of you may have heard of this; basically what it is is a way for teams to keep their best free agent really against his will. The team does have to sign him to a one year deal at the salary of the highest paid player at that position, but it’s not as sweet a deal as you’d think. This prevents a player from not only signing elsewhere but signing a long term deal with long term guaranteed money. This is being disputed right now because if the ‘tag’ rule is lifted before March 4th and a deal isn’t reached, players such as Peyton Manning and Michael Vick will be fair game to all 32 teams.
Pewter Plank will be breaking down all things CBA related after the world sobers from hangover of the Super Bowl and from the sounds of it it’ll be one hell of a sobering up. But I’ll leave you with a shining beam of hope that we will see a 2011 season (in which the Bucs hoist the Lombardi Trophy). That reason is the hand gesture I told you to do earlier: the almighty dollar. Roger Goodell projects the NFL can lose “over $1 Billion collectively” by August if a work stoppage occurs in March. This will come from loss of revenue(there’s that word again) from no ticket sales and loss of sponsors. The whole point of the lockout revolves around money and if there is a profit loss, everybody loses. That may be, unfortunately, the one thing that leads to the fans winning and a 2011 season occurring.
But until then: Bucs win today by 17 – oh they’ll find a way.
Steelers win by a field goal or more. You mark those words.