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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Owners' CBA position: Do you buy it?

By now, you've probably heard the NFL owners opted out of the current collective bargaining agreement, putting the league at risk for an uncapped season in 2010 and a potential lockout in 2011.

I'll share with you here the details of the league's press release on the matter, but I'll leave it you to decide for yourself. I'm skeptical, which is natural when all you have is the word of 32 billionaires who say they're being punished by an unfair labor agreement (the league is not required to open its books because it is not a public company). Owners are doling out roughly 60 percent of revenues to player salaries and costs, totaling about $4.5-billion. That's clearly substantial. But league revenues exceed $8-billion.

I'll have some more perspective in tomorrow's newspaper, including what this might mean for the Bucs or your favorite team. But for now, what do you think: Are the owners being greedy or are the players expecting too much?

The gist of the league's press release is as follows:

"A collective bargaining agreement has to work for both sides.  If the agreement provides inadequate incentives to invest in the future, it will not work for management or labor.  And, in the context of a professional sports league, if the agreement does not afford all clubs an opportunity to be competitive, the league can lose its appeal.   

"The NFL earns very substantial revenues.  But the clubs are obligated by the CBA to spend substantially more than half their revenues – almost $4.5 billion this year alone -- on player costs.  In addition, as we have explained to the union, the clubs must spend significant and growing amounts on stadium construction, operations and improvements to respond to the interests and demands of our fans.  The current labor agreement does not adequately recognize the costs of generating the revenues of which the players receive the largest share; nor does the agreement recognize that those costs have increased substantially -- and at an ever increasing rate -- in recent years during a difficult economic climate in our country.  As a result, under the terms of the current agreement, the clubs’ incentive to invest in the game is threatened. 

"There are substantial other elements of the deal that simply are not working.  For example, as interpreted by the courts, the current CBA effectively prohibits the clubs from recouping bonuses paid to players who subsequently breach their player contacts or refuse to perform.  That is simply irrational and unfair to both fans and players who honor their contracts. Also irrational is that in the current system some rookies are able to secure contracts that pay them more than top proven veterans.

"Our objective is to fix these problems in a new CBA, one that will provide adequate incentives to grow the game, ensure the unparalleled competitive balance that has sustained our fans’ interest, and afford the players fair and increasing compensation and benefits."

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 3:02pm]


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