Were the owners more flexible in negotiations than players?

NFL Executive Vice-President and General Counsel Jeff Pash (C) talks to reporters about negotiations with players association representatives as they seek an agreement as a deadline looms for a player lockout, in Washington, March 4, 2011. The NFL and the players’ union agreed to extend talks on a new collective agreement for another week, the League-owned NFL Network reported Friday. The chief sticking point in the talks is how to distribute the league’s $9 billion in annual revenues. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL BUSINESS)

Jim Trotter of SI.com wrote a great piece about the breakdown of the NFL labor talks and in the article, he writes that the owners felt they were more flexible in the negotiations than the players were.

Owners also argue they were more flexible in the negotiations than the players. On Friday the two sides were $640 million apart on the 2011 salary cap number; the NFL offered to split the difference. The union, however, would not move from its best offer of an additional $137.5 million a year for four years without a detailed accounting of each team’s books, a demand it had requested as early as May 2009. Says Pash, “In November ’09 we asked for an 18 percent rollback, and we didn’t get that either. Demands that you make before your first-ever face-to-face bargaining session might not be where you end up two years later.”

Ultimately, players contend that the owners initiated the standoff, so the burden of proof rests with them. “Not once have the players asked for more money during this negotiation,” Brees said on Friday. “Past players sacrificed a great deal to give us what we have now, and we will not lay down for a second to give that up.”

It may come down to a court to decide if they have to.

Because of the media blackout, there’s not a whole lot of information available on this labor dispute. Of course the owners are going to feel like they were more flexible, as I’m sure the players felt like they were more than fair with their demands. We the fans and media can only go off of what certain people tell us because we weren’t in the meeting rooms.

That said, there’s a real possibility that the union overplayed its hand here. They knew they had an advantage in talks once Judge David Doty ruled that the owners couldn’t use the $4 billion from renegotiated TV contracts to fund their lockout. The players then figured that if they decertified and their case went in front of a judge, they always had Doty (who has ruled often ruled in the players’ favor when it comes to previous NFL cases) in their back pocket.

Thus, when the owners came to the table with a last-second proposal on Friday before the lockout, the players wouldn’t budge on their offer. But they may have screwed themselves because Judge Susan Nelson will oversee their case, not Doty. So while they still could wind up winning big, they may have bypassed a decent offer and a way to end this charade before the CBA expired last week. Instead, they decided to go to court and now here we are.

When the dust finally settles on this issue, I wonder which side will have more regret: the owners for not opening their books (even though they did agree to show the players five years worth of aggregated league wide profitability information), or the players for not taking that last-second proposal last Friday.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

To use solvemedia you must get an API key from http://api.solvemedia.com/public/signup