The NFL, NFLPA, and an 18 game season.

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nfl

“We’re ready for round 5 in the Goodall vs. Smith fight.”

While almost every NFL analysts was projecting a massive spending spree by the league in an uncapped year, nearly 2 years ago I told you that the NFLPA would be crying for the reinstatement of the salary cap floor because teams would use the uncapped year to dump expensive players and save money. That is exactly what happened.

More than a year ago on this site, I proposed a solution to the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that involved the 18 game season. The proposal was that the current players would get paid 18/16ths of their current contracts which would increase their gross by 12.5%. It should allow the NFLPA and NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith to give back 8% of the player‘s cut of the total income from around 60% down to around 52%. If that proposal included an increase in the rosters from 53 to 60 and a rookie salary cap (to cut the amount of the pie that went to newbies and increase the pool available for the Vets) with the reinstatement of the NFL Salary cap, I believed that the NFLPA would accept it in order to prevent a strike/lockout. There were still going to be a few other issues but those were inconsequential next to the money.

Three things were true then that are not true now. First, the NFL looked like it was going to win the American Needle vs. NFL law suit that involved the league’s anti-trust status. That would have strengthened the league’s position and in the opinion of some might have allowed it to impose an agreement that the union would have almost been forced to accept.

Second, at the time I wrote that, it also looked like the NFL and the drug enforcement program would prevail in the Williams’ vs. NFL in Minnesota state court. Instead the court has failed to give the league a win and has stopped the league from enforcing the suspension of the Vikes’ DTs.

Third and most important, the proposal was not submitted quietly so that the union could digest it as part of the overall proposal. The stick only works if there is a carrot at the end of it. Recently, the NFL came to the same conclusion about the 18 game season and are expected to approve it at the next league meeting.

That is a really stupid move.

What the league had done is take the one carrot they had and stuff it down the disposal rather than adding it to a balanced dinner salad of a solution to the labor issue. The owners got greedy and gave the key to an agreement away and now they have nothing with which to bargain.

This almost guarantees that there will be a work stoppage because the league will have very little to offer the union that could encourage them to give back some of the money they got in the last agreement.

I wish I had better news but I try to give you the best forecast I can of what will happen.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on

and edits .

Technorati Tags: NFL,NFLPA,DeMaurice Smith,Goodell,Collective Bargainning Agreement,CBA,Lockout,salary cap,rookie salary cap,18 game season

February 28th a giant date for the NFL.

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Fryingpan Sports

February 28th a giant date for the NFL.

By Bill Smith

In one of his first public statements, the newly elected Executive Director of the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) DeMorris Smith gave hope to millions of NFL fans. Smith said that he wanted to get started on negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) as soon as possible. While no one should hold his breath, there is a chance that the NFLPA and the owners can come up with a system that is going to acceptable to everyone involved.

February 28th is a key date in both 2010 and 2011. If the two sides can come to agreement and the players ratify it before 2/28/10, the uncapped year could be avoided. There is enough money for everybody. The cap for 2009 was originally estimated to be around 105 million, due to the TV contracts and other increases in revenue, the new cap is now over 116 million per team. That also raises the minimum salary to nearly 99.5 million which is the amount every NFL team must spend on salaries and player bonuses.

There are a number of poison pills placed in the last year of the contract by agreement of the two sides in the last negotiations in an attempt to facilitate a new deal. As things stand now, in 2010 there is no salary cap and no minimum. A team could conceivably cut all their NFL players and hire a semi-pro team at 100K each. That would save over 94 million dollars. There is also a change in free agency. Players with 6 seasons of service by the end of the 09 season under the old agreement would have been unrestricted free agents. Since the owners opted out of the agreement, those players can not get free agency until they reach 8 seasons of service. That will cost many players millions of dollars in free agent contracts.

The owners get some poison as well. The playoff teams can only replace players lost in free agency despite the uncapped year. And even a single uncapped year could drastically change the balance of power in the league for years to come. If a small market team takes advantage of the elimination of the minimum salary, it could poison the fan base and make a move necessary.

The second February 28th that is critical is in 2011. Unless the parties get a deal before that date, there will be a lockout for sure. Let’s hope things don’t get to that point.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

My email is [email protected]

Technorati Tags: nfl,lockout,pro football,NFL Players association,Owners,free agency,free agent,collective bargaining agreement,salary cap

Smith's election as Executive Director of the NFLPA is great news for NFL fans.

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Fryingpan Sports

Smith’s election as Executive Director of the NFLPA is great news for NFL fans.

By Bill Smith

The NFL Players Association announced that attorney DeMorris Smith had been elected Executive Director unanimously by the team Player Reps. This is very good news for all NFL fans. It seems that the Reps have selected a moderate in Smith over the extreme positions of the other leading candidates.

Troy Vincent and Trace Armstrong were the best known candidates to fill the very large shoes of Gene Upshaw. Both of them were campaigning on a platform of a very hard line position against the NFL. Both had reportedly promised the players that they were the candidate that could finally bring guaranteed contracts to the NFL players. That would create a long and ugly strike/lockout that could cost the NFL several seasons. If the owners folded first, it would have created a league that would make Major League Baseball look organized.

While Smith’s positions on league issues are widely unknown, he has not made any overt public statements about what concessions he would demand from the league.

The NFLPA website says the following about Smith:

Smith, 45, is a trial lawyer and litigation partner at D.C. law firm Patton Boggs. He has defended individuals in high profile criminal cases and Congressional investigations while also representing Fortune 500 companies in criminal and complex civil cases, compliance matters, and internal investigations. A former assistant U.S. attorney, Smith previously served as counsel to then Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder in the U.S. Department of Justice.

Smith graduated from Cedarville University and received his law degree from the University of Virginia. Smith, who is married with two children, will begin his term with the NFLPA immediately and will work out of the Association’s Washington D.C. office.

In his first act as ED, Smith asked former head coach of the Colts Tony Dungy to be a buffer between the union and the league. Dungy has said he is interested in the position.

My analysis: In his first day on the job, Smith has given the fans two very positive signals. First, the selection of Dungy to help broker a deal. Dungy has the respect of players and owners and has the kind of quiet demeanor that is conducive to getting things done—even things as difficult as negotiations between the NFLPA and the owners.

The second and equally important sign was in his first official statement as ED. He said that he wanted to begin negotiations with the league as soon as possible. An agreement before the end of the 2009 season would reduce the uncertainty that now exists in 2010 and beyond.

The fact that the players did not elect either Vincent or Armstrong is a very good sign that at least a number of the players have a serious interest in getting an agreement. If the union is at all reasonable, a deal will get done. The owners have way too much at stake to not be reasonable.

The fans deserve the very best and fairest deal between these parties. The game is too important to too many people not to get a deal done. A strike will only depress the millions of people that love NFL football. And with the current economic downturn, we are depressed enough.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

My email is [email protected]

Technorati Tags: nfl,pro football,nflpa,contract,strike,lockout,Smith,Vincent,Upshaw,labor union Dungy,Colts,Armstrong

TO: Owners of the NFL and NBA This is not the time to strike or lockout!

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Fryingpan Sports

TO: Owners of the NFL and NBA

This is not the time to strike or lockout!

By Bill Smith

There is a famous saying that those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. That is not correct in all cases. In the case of the NFL and the NBA that face expiration of player master contracts in the next couple of years, let me restate it.

“Those that fail to learn from history are just doomed!” Smith, 2009

Both the leagues must learn from the examples of the NHL and MLB how devastating strikes or lockouts can be to their survival.

The case of MLB in 1994

In 1993, MLB had a total attendance of 70,257,938 a 26 percent increase over 92 and the best in league history. In the 5 years from 83-88 the league had averaged an increase of 3.3 percent per year. From 89-93 the league enjoyed an average increase of 5.5 percent per year. Teams like Montreal that had struggled for years were starting to show improvement. The game seemed fine but according to both the players association and the owners the economics were not.

The owners had forced then MLB Commissioner Fay Vincent to resign in September 1992. They replaced him with an owner, Bud Selig.

The owners stated publicly the case for a salary cap similar to the one in the NFL. They claimed that small market teams would go bankrupt unless a salary cap and revenue sharing was implemented. The players distrusted the owners with good reason. The league had been found guilty of collusion and was forced to pay $280 million in reparations.

Despite President Clinton trying to intervene to prevent a strike, the two sides threw unrelated proposals back and forth doing more negotiating in the press than face to face. The players voted to strike and on Aug. 12, 1994 walked out. The rest of the season was lost including the World Series.

Attendance in 1995 which was 144 games instead of 162 was down 28% from 93. The total attendance did not recover to 1993 levels until 1998. The growth rate of 5.5 percent per year was not seen again. In fact the total growth between 1995 and 2005 was 6.6%.

We now know that the era of the live ball was being replace by the era of “juiced” ballplayer. After all that, the owners folded before they got a salary cap or any meaningful revenue sharing. Somehow the luxury tax does not replace either of those principles.

The case of the NHL

You may remember fondly the ESPN coverage of the NHL. Real hockey fans may remember less fondly the Fox coverage with glowing pucks and battling hockey robots. But at least that was coverage most people could see.

The agreement that ended the 94-95 lockout of players expired on Sept. 15, 2004. The owners led by Commissioner Gary Bettman wanted an agreement including salary structure linking player salaries to league revenues to provide cost certainty. From 2002, the league and the players association (NHLPA) negotiated. But failing to reach agreement, the owners locked out the players on Sept. 16, 2004.

To the surprise of no one, the NHLPA and executive director Bob Goodenow didn’t believe the league numbers and refused to budge on the “cost certainty” issue. Both sides tried to negotiate in the press but according to a poll of Canadian fans conducted by Ipsos-Reid, the owners were more successful than the players at getting their point across to the public. 52 percent of the fans blamed the players while only 21% blamed the owners. 17 percent said a pox on both of your houses.

The league lost the entire 2004-05 season but the agreement finally reached did not solve any of the problems and caused several others. Attendance, the life blood of the league went down following the second strike in 10 years and is still recovering in some markets. The biggest blow was the loss of the ESPN TV contract. Following the stoppage, ABC/ESPN passed on the opportunity to bid on covering the league.

The NHL had their 2008-09 all star weekend broadcast by their new network—Verses. I pay 80 dollars a month for Dish and Verses is not part of my package. Enough said.

My Advice:

If you are going to risk the future of the league with a strike or a lockout, make sure it is worth it. Stick it out as long as it takes to get what you need to survive.

The owners in the NFL can not survive with guaranteed player contracts. They must prevent that to make a lockout worth while. If the owners are not willing to stick together to get that done, forget the lockout, play 2 extra regular season games and do the deal with the players.

The NBA needs to either eliminate guaranteed contacts (not likely) or get a hard salary cap based on a % of total revenues of the league. If you’re not willing to do what it takes to get that from the players, forget the lockout.

While the players make great salaries, they will not stick together for an extended period. They need the income to support their life styles. The owners are lacking backbone as well. We will see who blinks first.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

My email is [email protected]

Technorati Tags: FOOTBALL,BASEBALL,BASKETBALL,HOCKEY,NFL,NBA,MLB,NHL,ESPN,VERSES,DISH NETWORK,STRIKE,LOCKOUT,players association,Fox,fox network
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  • Published: Mar 3rd, 2009
  • Category: NBA Basketball
  • Comments: Comments Off on The NBA has to “bail out” 15 teams.

The NBA has to “bail out” 15 teams.

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Fryingpan Sports

The NBA has to “bail out” 15 teams.

By Bill Smith

The Sports Business Journal (SBJ) reported that a private placement deal to borrow 175 million dollars was arranged for the N.B.A. by JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America. The charged interest rates are reported to be as high at 8.27 percent. The influx of cash will augment the 1.7 billion dollar league-wide credit facility that uses the NBA’s media contracts as collateral to secure loans for the clubs.

The money is necessary to provide cash to 15 NBA teams to cover payroll and other expenses. Those teams, unnamed by the league, have struggled with salaries, capital improvements, and to cover losses sustained over the last few years.

“In this economic environment, it’s tremendous that the league can place such a facility,” Alex Martins, chief operating officer of the Orlando Magic told the SBJ, which plans to borrow from the new debt. “It certainly helps us bridge the time period between now and when we move into our new events center in 2010. We’ve been operating at a $15 [million] to $20 million [annual] loss over the past half-dozen years, so it helps us” Martins told the SBJ.

My Analysis:

The NBA has been suffering with guaranteed contracts for years without any hard salary cap like the NFL has. The GMs have been granting maximum deals to any player that can dribble a ball. Teams have spent their way into trouble with very little regard for total team cost or making a profit in much the same way that the US Congress has. The difference is that the NBA can’t just print money.

Similar financing programs in the NFL and MLB have been terminated by banks as part of their retrenching due to the credit crisis. Although the NBA placement is rated as BBB, there is little likelihood that the 1 billion dollar credit program which is financed by short term loans rolling over annually will be extended beyond the end of this season.

All sports leagues have to realize that the era of cheap money is over. Therefore the new contracts can not require guaranteed contracts over extended periods of time. Both the NFL and the NBA are facing master contract negotiations with their respective player unions in the next couple of years. The owners must be more open with the players. The players must realize that the very existence of the league is dependent on a fair and reasonable contract with the owners.

Sports leagues generate a great deal of money. The NFL and the NBA have to get deals that are fair to the players but allows the owners to survive. Otherwise, everyone including the fans lose.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

My email is [email protected]

Technorati Tags: nfl,pro football,contract,strike,lockout,NBA,MLB,Chase,JPMorgan,bailout,Sports Business Journal,Orlando,Magic

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