You’re not living the High Life if you can’t figure out how to share $9 billion

The NFL logo is seen on a trailer parked near the New Meadowlands Stadium where the New York Jets and New York Giants NFL football teams play home games in East Rutherford, New Jersey, March 14, 2011. The NFL has officially announced a lockout of players by team owners following the move by the players’ union to dissolve themselves and pursue court action against the league. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL BUSINESS)

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If your league grew 7.5% last year and now you can’t figure out a way to best divvy up $9 billion so that fans can enjoy a season next fall, then you automatically aren’t living the High Life.

As expected, the NFL labor situation has gone from bad to worse as the players have decertified and the owners have locked them out. While there are many factors at play, the root of the bickering is revenue – as in, how to share it. The owners want the players to take a paycut, while the players want to know why when the league’s profits and popularity keep growing.

Meanwhile, the fans continue to suffer this offseason. This is supposed to be a time for free agent news, draft rumors and a renewed sense of hope that your team will compete next year (even though it won’t…sorry, Buffalo fan). Instead, the draft is the only thing fans have to look forward to and the players and owners are doing their best to ruin that now, too. (The NFLPA has instructed top prospects not to attend Radio City Music Hall, so things could get real awkward when Roger Goodell starts announcing names on stage in New York next month.)

The worst part about the situation (besides the fact that there may not be a season next year) is that neither side is getting anywhere. Judge David Doty (who has ruled more in favor of the players than the owners when it comes to previous NFL cases) ruled that the owners couldn’t use the $4 billion from renegotiated TV contracts to fund their lockout, so the players seemingly had the upper hand in talks. Thinking they had friendly Judge Doty in their back pocket if they went to court, the players decided to reject a last-second offer by the owners last Friday and decertify. The only problem is that they didn’t have Judge Doty because a different judge has been assigned to their case. Now it appears the playing field has been leveled again.

The NFL has grown in leaps and bounds because of its fans. Now the league is a victim of its own success because fans are getting more impatient by the day. With no resolution in sight, everyone may have to wait until September to get back to living the High Life.

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