NFL owners walk away from CBA negotiations

Uh-oh. (ESPN)

NFL owners walked away from the negotiating table Wednesday when the NFL Players Association proposed to take an average of 50 percent of all revenue generated by the league, according to player sources.

Consequently, a five-hour second negotiating session scheduled for Thursday was canceled, and no further meetings have been proposed. Also, the NFL notified teams and owners Thursday that a scheduled owners meeting in Philadelphia next Tuesday has been canceled, sources told ESPN.com’s John Clayton.

Wednesday’s meeting in Washington started badly, one source said, when the owners’ negotiating team interpreted the union’s proposal of a 49 percent to 51 percent take as “total revenue,” instead of the union’s intended percentage take of “all revenue.”

At the current revenue levels, “total revenue” has been defined as an estimated $9 billion gross, minus a $1 billion credit in the owners’ favor. In the current CBA deal about to expire, the union’s share has been estimated at about 60 percent of $8 billion, once the $1 billion credit was subtracted.

Owners have asked for an additional $1 billion credit — or $2 billion in total — before they split “total revenue” with players.

So if the 60 percent number is correct, the union is currently getting around $4.8 billion while the owners are getting $4.2 billion ($1 billion credit plus 40% of the remaining $8 billion). If the two sides went to a 50/50 split of the full $9 billion, they’d each get $4.5 billion.

A union source said that if the NFLPA accepted the owners’ current proposal, it would receive a little more than 40 percent of all revenue.

[NFLPA executive director DeMaurice] Smith said in an interview with ESPN last week that a 40 percent to 42 percent share of all revenue would represent the smallest percentage of a players’ share by any professional sports union.

Assuming a 41% cut of all revenue, that’s $3.7 billion, so the owners are asking the union to take a $1.1 billion cut. It sounds like the union is willing to take a $0.3 billion cut (from $4.8 billion to $4.5 billion), so the two sides appear to be $0.8 billion apart.

It is telling that a 40-42 percent share would be the smallest percentage of any professional sports union given the fact that NFL rosters are far bigger than the NBA, NHL or MLB rosters. It seems like the NFL should have the highest percentage or at least be nearly equal to those other leagues.

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