Tuesday, July 26, 2011

NFL Moratorium Over...Full Report

Earlier today, I wrote a quick-hit initial reaction to the ending of the NFL lockout.  For the most part, I was disgusted with the media coverage and the memes that just kept creeping to the surface in the reports and interviews with interested parties and the like.  If, just in case you don't remember why I instituted the moratorium in the first place, I recommend that you read my little tongue-in-cheek 'statement' from right after the Super Bowl.  With that said, let's get into this with a little more depth...

1) I sincerely regret not starting a specific BWS blog.  I had been encouraged to do so by some friends, but I made the decision early on that it wasn't going to be worth the headache and indigestion.  A lot of the BWS truly pisses me off - and it would have easily made me more unhinged than I need to be; over something that just isn't ultimately worth it.  However...it would have made for an interesting niche blog to chronicle all the crying in the media over the course of the lockout.  It would have only gone on for four months, but maybe that could have been parlayed into something more.  Who knows?  Ah, an opportunity lost...

2) As I said in the post below, I honestly thought the lockout would keep moving, and the debt negotiations between Congress and President Obama would conclude first.  There was a lot of interest in keeping the lockout on, especially for veteran players who were under contract and those who don't have a lot riding on training camp.  So long as there was a regular season, any player under contract was going to be paid his salary.  It was the free agents and the drafted players who wanted a quick resolution, because the longer it dragged out, the less money there would be for this season's salary cap and thus less money to be used on free agents and draftees.  

3) Nick reminds us that nothing can officially move forward until the NFLPA actually re-certifies as a union, since only a union can collectively bargain.  If they do not re-certify, all of this talk of a settlement will go up in flames, since part of the understanding is that the players re-form their union by August 4th.  There is a vocal minority who is against doing such a thing, preferring to take their chances with a large-scale antitrust lawsuit in the courts. My guess is that they will be told to shut up and go along with the agreement.  Media sycophants like Florio will pressure those holdouts as well, since as he has said so many times that even a bad deal is better than no deal at all, because God forbid there not be football.  And now you know why I get  aggravated with the BWS so much.

4) The salary cap for the 2011 season will be $120 million, which is less than what it would have been if the previous CBA had been extended.  In 2009, for example, it was $128 million; and although 2010 was uncapped, it would have had a $140-145 million level or so, and a 2011 cap would have been around $150 million (or more), so $120 million is a precipitous drop, and the results are already being seen - players are being cut to get the team's number under the cap.

5) Related to the salary cap is the asinine provision that requires each team to spend something like 99% of the cap amount on payroll.  If this is true, then why bother having a cap at all?  Just institute a floor and be done with it.  I am not a fan of the concept of a salary cap, but would rather the NFL move to a similar structure that MLB has - luxury tax thresholds and the like.  As it stands, though, since the NFL is so beholden to national television contracts and money, that will never happen.

6) The free agent period is going to be hectic, but I do wonder if it will be as hectic as some are making it out to be.  Considering the last couple of points, between the cap space and such, quite a few players may be on the outside looking in.  I wouldn't be completely shocked to see a handful of teams write this season off and come back looking to reload for the 2012 season. Also of importance is the fact that training camp rosters are going to be around 90-strong this season, so many teams will be on the lookout for cheap spots this season.

7) The eighteen-game season idea is dead for the time being.  It was never a good idea to begin with and considering that they get full prices for exhibition games (I hate the word 'pre-season') anyway, it just looked like a cover to make the fans think they were getting a little more for the exorbitant prices they were paying to begin with.  Sixteen games is so perfectly symmetrical and to screw with that was just a rank power play that was purely about revenue, or at least laundering their revenue further.  Only a union vote in 2013 can allow a potential expansion of the season to go further.

8) This new CBA is for ten years; I guarantee by 2013 there will be some massive complaining about the agreement by one side or another.  I say?  Too bad.  No one had the will to push this to the end where one side or the other completely broke.  The owners didn't really want to break the players and the players needed to feed their ridiculous lifestyles which, in some cases, required taking out loans from usurers.  Steve Czaban advocated that the NFL players take a stand similar to what the baseball players did in 1994 and effectively bring the owners to their knees.  That was never going to happen in any circumstance, although it would have been a very interesting story to follow.  And just imagine if Florio had to return to his law practice, or Peter King, John Clayton, and Chris Mortensen had to report on real news stories.  The horror!

9) I have to admit, I am a little disappointed that all of this was settled with a bit of a whimper. I made no secret of the fact that I wanted as long-drawn of a lockout as possible.  The NFL is like a drug to a lot of people and even though it was 'just' the offseason, that alone drove people to the precipice of the cliff, so just multiply that by at least a hundred had actual games been lost.  And then people wonder why the NFL costs so damn much - whether it is the price of the ticket, or DirecTV's Sunday Ticket television package, or the cost of parking and concessions.  The fans are responsible!  I could make a crude joke about bending over, but needless to say, if you keep handing your wallet over to a thief, don't act so shocked when it is returned to you completely empty.

10) With the moratorium officially over, I go back to what I would have normally done during an offseason - ignored the NFL, save for some timely free agent signings and trade talk.  The idea of the offseason is exactly as the word implies, but the NFL doesn't want it that way, so the suggestion I make is to rename it something that lets everyone know that the league is a twelve-month enterprise.  However, with the CBA mandating less OTA's (organized team activities) and padded practices, it got just a little more difficult to rationalize it.  What a pity.

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