Top 10 false impressions of NFL lockout

Published Jul. 13, 2011 1:00 a.m. ET

You never know who to believe, right?

Well, I do expect to be visiting NFL training camps this summer and unless I’m nuts, fans can count on a 2011 season — complete with 16 games ending with a February Super Bowl in Indianapolis.

A deal between the owners and players isn’t finalized yet, but they are getting close and that’s not a lie. But there have been quite a few whoppers in the court of public opinion even before this process began and the best one was the NFL needed an 18-game season. Here are my top ten false impressions (or miscalculations or total fibs) during the struggle to reach a new CBA agreement.

1. The owners need more games for more revenue

The players were never going to agree to this because the owners really weren’t planning on giving them an even split from playing two more games.

This was a good attempt by the owners to generate more game-day income from concessions and parking while also putting the finger on their network partners for millions more, but this was never going to fly with the players whose bodies would inherit all the risks.

Instead, more revenue will be gained from more mid-week national telecasts.


Of course, some owners still want to see a provision for 18 games by the 2014 or 2015 season.

2. September games will be missed

This was the hardline stance from some owners who wanted to break the union, believing most of the players couldn’t afford to miss a regular-season game check. Cooler heads prevailed on this issue, or so it seems, if the deal gets done.

3. Rookie salary cap will be similar to the NBA’s

Although there was a lot of public support for such a plan, the big-time agents (plus one-time home-run hitters like those who represented JaMarcus Russell) never liked this idea because it cut into their huge commissions.

Both sides are buckling on this one because the owners weren’t willing to allow high draft choices to test the open market after four seasons unless they were a total bust.

The fifth-year option will protect teams that draft Pro Bowl players and franchise quarterbacks. Yes, the big bonuses might not be happening but the salaries will still be exorbitant for the top 15 players in the draft. Still a big point of contention.

4. Owners want $1 billion off the top

This demand never seemed fair to the players and already the number has been reduced to $500 million.

Both sides are still fighting over this issue because it truly lessens the players’ 48 percent share of all revenues. But in all negotiations, it makes sense to shoot for the moon and see where the other side falls.

5. An end to franchise tags

The Tom Brady antitrust lawsuit revolves around this issue, one that the players have always detested, believing the tag totally negates their earning power. In some cases, it does. But it’s not going away and when you think about it has helped some players grab some big money and generally the tag leads to a long-term contract that includes signing bonus money, which is the equivalent of decent guaranteed money.

6. This deal has nothing to do with NFL revenue sharing

I don’t know how many owners said that revenue sharing was never part of these CBA negotiations, but you can bet that when a deal is struck the mid-class franchises will end up with a worse deal than the players.

How’s that? Well, the big revenue franchises like those in New York, Washington, Dallas and New England are going to keep more of their local revenues in any new deal.

What this means is that this could make Los Angeles more attractive to franchises like those in Jacksonville, Minneapolis and St. Louis, whose revenue power is closer to $200 million than the $400 million enjoyed by the Cowboys and Redskins.

To make ends meet and generate higher profits, a team may believe it can earn more in Southern California, especially if the big market teams plan to reduce aid to the small-city franchises.

This situation could lead to some owners voting against the final solution.

7. A 50-50 split

To the fans, this always seemed like the perfect solution. Also, a fair one.

Right now, the players seem to be willing to take 48 percent as long as there are built-in guarantees that every team spends virtually all of their cap dollars on an annual basis. There has been a snag on this 48 percent issue when the players asked that sales taxes the owners pay be included when finalizing what’s considered the total revenue.

8. Retired players deserve a fair share

It should come as no shock to fans that neither the owners nor the players want to really share their wealth with those who helped build the NFL.

Yes, some players understand there should be more benefits for those retired players, but the majority is more interested in larger contracts and their own health and retirement benefits.

The owners simply don’t want to inherit the entire financial burden for those in need.

9. Player agents will never support DeMaurice Smith

This cloud has been hanging over the head of the players association ever since Smith won the job to replace the late Gene Upshaw. It hasn’t been as bad as predicted from the agents’ point-of-view because Smith appears to be in a position to make a deal.

If he gets a deal, then he can pursue a political career or whatever position many believe he really wants rather than being executive director of the NFLPA.

10. NFL owners must open their books

This was an expected demand from the players, and one that won them negotiating points with many fans. But, believe me, the players know the league’s revenue streams without going through every franchise’s financial ledgers.

The players will ultimately agree to a deal, possibly as long as 10 years, without really seeing every team’s financial bottom line.