A Critique of “The Commish’s” Letter

We are now about two weeks away from the first real deadline (March 4th) of the NFL labor negotiations.  The NFL Fan Strike is continuing to grow and is adding new supporters every day.  We’ll continue working to reach as many NFL Fans as possible, to achieve the greatest impact possible.  However, today we would like to take a closer look at the op-ed that The Commish (Roger Goodell) released to the national media on Tuesday.

Before we get into the letter, please understand that NFL Fans just want football.  We’re already tired of talking about the CBA and labor negotiations.  Both sides need to get together and come to an agreement.  Personally, I was displeased with both sides.  But after researching and learning more about the situation, I have to say that I am more angry with the Owners.  I’m not going to feel bad for the players that are making millions of dollars.  However, we must remember that it is the NFL Owners that are threatening to Lockout the players.  So please, take the below comments for what they are; we just want a new CBA so we can get back to talking about football!

Below you will see the words of the NFL Commissioner, followed by our translation of what he really means plus our questions/thoughts. (Our translation is written in bold italics, with parentheses). Enjoy!

THE TIME HAS COME TO MAKE (IT LOOK LIKE WE WANT TO MAKE) A DEAL

By Roger Goodell (Actually written by a roomful of PR ‘spin’ masters)

One of the best NFL seasons in history is now over. We salute NFL players for their extraordinary talent and we deeply appreciate the tremendous support of the fans (for spending billions of dollars on merchandise, tickets, and concessions, that we have deposited into our bank accounts).

The hard work to secure  the next NFL season (more revenue for the Owners) must now accelerate in earnest. We are just weeks from the expiration of our collective bargaining agreement. There has been enough rhetoric, litigation and other efforts beyond the negotiating table. It is time for serious negotiations (Not really, but we want fans to think we’re doing SOMETHING).

The current agreement expires on March 4, and I cannot emphasize enough the importance of reaching agreement by then. If we as a league — the teams and players’ union — fail to fulfill our shared responsibility to the fans and game, everyone will be worse off — players, teams and fans — starting in March. (The ‘teams’ because reports indicate that they’ll still make $5 bil if no games are played)

This is an opportunity to create a better future for the NFL (Owners), to improve the game for our fans, and to expand the economic benefits for the players and teams.

Staying with the status quo is not an option. The world has changed for everyone, including the NFL and our fans. We must get better in everything we do(at retaining more revenue for the Owners).

The union has repeatedly said that it hasn’t asked for anything more and literally wants to continue playing under the existing agreement. That clearly indicates the deal has moved too far in favor of one side (What happened to ‘there’s been enough rhetoric???). Even the union’s president knows this — as he said on national radio on January 27: “I think what really happened is in 2006 we got such a great deal. I mean, the players got a good deal and the owners felt they got it handed to them.”

We need an agreement that both sides can live with (is more favorable for the NFL Owners) and obtain what they need, not simply what they want.

Today’s collective bargain agreement does not work as it should from the standpoint of the teams (Finally, the TRUTH!!). If needed adjustments are made(demands are met), the NFL will be better for everyone (the Owners). The first step is making sure a new collective bargaining agreement is more balanced (wouldn’t 50/50 be balanced?!) and supports innovation and growth.

The NFL clubs want to move forward, improve the system, and secure the future of the game for the benefit of players, fans and teams.

The status quo means no rookie wage scale and the continuation of outrageous sums paid to many unproven rookies. In 2009, for example, NFL clubs contracted $1.2 billion to 256 drafted rookies with $585 million guaranteed before they had stepped on an NFL field (Agreed, this needs to be fixed). Instead, we will shift significant parts (Commish, please define ‘significant’) of that money to proven veterans and retired players.

The status quo means 16 regular-season and four preseason games — even though fans have rejected and dismissed four preseason games at every opportunity (WRONG! Fans reject paying absurd amounts of $$ for preseason games, that does not mean an 18 game schedule). We need to deliver more value to our fans by giving them more of what they want at responsible prices (Responsible, not reasonable?). This can be achieved if we work together and focus on more ways to make the game safer and reduce unnecessary contact during the season and in the off-season.

The status quo means failing to recognize the many costs of financing, building, maintaining and operating stadiums (Aren’t MOST stadiums paid by taxpayers, Mr. Commish?). We need new stadiums in Los Angeles, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Oakland and San Diego; and the ability for more league investment in new technology to improve service to fans in stadiums and at home. (Correct me if I’m wrong, but I didn’t know there was an NFL Franchise in Los Angeles…Why is a new stadium needed there?)

The status quo means players continuing to keep 60 percent of available revenue, in good years or bad, no matter how the national economy or the economics of the league have changed. From 2001 to 2009, player compensation doubled and the teams committed a total of $34 billion to player costs (and in that same time period, what have league revenues done???). The NFL is healthy in many respects, but we do not have a healthy business model that can sustain growth.

Companies with far more revenue than the NFL have gone bankrupt because they mismanaged their costs and failed to address their problems before they became a crisis. The NFL has a track record over many decades of making good decisions that have led to unprecedented popularity (So now is the perfect time to leverage the sport’s popularity and lockout the players). Negotiating a fair agreement will result in billions in pay and benefits to current players, improved benefits for retired players, and a sustainable business model for our teams.

The current deal does not secure the best possible future for the game, players, clubs and fans (I’d argue that the fans and players are fine with the way the NFL is now). The next few weeks must be used to negotiate with intensity and purpose so we can reach a fair agreement by March 4. If both sides (The NFL Players) compromise and give a little, everyone will get a lot, especially the fans (Oh yeah, and let me throw in ‘fans’ for the 11th time in this letter!).

There you have it, our thoughts on the latest piece of propoganda put before us. What do you think?  Leave us a comment with your thoughts or send us a tweet @NFL_FanStrike

If the new CBA isn’t agreed to by March 3rd, NFL fans will let their voices be heard.  We’re gathering fans to protest in Fort Lauderdale, outside of the NFL Owners meeting.  This March 3rd Owners meeting is when they will have the ‘official’ vote on whether or not to lockout the players.