Jags owner: Labor deal may take awhile
Jacksonville Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver doesn’t expect a quick resolution to the NFL’s labor negotiations with the NFL Players Association.
Earlier this week, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said there was a “realistic” chance that a deal for a new collective bargaining agreement could be struck by the end of the postseason in early February. Weaver, though, wouldn’t be surprised if labor talks drag all the way until the CBA’s expiration date on March 4.
“Everybody is going to try to posture and do everything they know how to do up until the very end,” Weaver told FOXSports.com on Friday. “But at the end of the day, it’s in their interest and our interest to get it done. Somewhere, reason starts to prevail. I honestly believe that.
“I know we’ll get a deal done. Will it be before a March deadline? I would think so. I would hope so. But if not, we’ll (still) get a deal done. There are enough pressure points.”
Weaver is one of the NFL owners who could be most affected by the work stoppage expected if/when the current CBA expires. The resurgent Jaguars (8-5) may lose the momentum generated from this year’s boom in season-ticket and group-ticket sales. Thanks to an aggressive marketing plan, Weaver said the Jaguars sold more new season-tickets (15,000) than any other NFL team in 2010.
Weaver wouldn’t comment on how a work stoppage could impact the team’s business operations. He did say the NFLPA needs to contribute more funding through a different revenue split than in the current CBA to help account for some nonfootball ownership expenses.
“We’ve got the best business model in sports. It’s out of whack right now,” said Weaver, whose franchise began playing as an expansion team in 1995. “You’ve got bigger stadiums, bigger stadium overheads with operations (costs). There are some expenses that have to be shared differently than in the past. That’s the only way you’re going to continue to grow the game.
“What we’ve got to do is make sure our leadership can make the case that these are real expenses. We’ve got to make sure (the NFLPA) participates in those expenses so we can continue to invest and grow our business. Then we’re all the beneficiaries of it.”
The NFL and NFLPA are trying to avoid the league’s first work stoppage since the 1987 players' strike. Goodell met with NFL owners about the subject on Wednesday at a special meeting in Fort Worth, Texas. Among the major issues that must be agreed upon with the NFLPA include Goodell’s desire for an 18-game schedule and the implementation of a rookie salary cap.
“There are discussions (with the NFLPA) going on, but it takes productive dialogue,” Goodell said at a post-meeting news conference. “We’ve got to get to the kind of place where we’re making significant progress in getting an agreement. I think it’s a positive sign that we’re having dialogue. But like I’ve said, it’s not just about having meetings or dialogue. It’s about getting real significant progress on the key issues.”