The NFL and the NFL Players Association have followed up their Saturday pre-Super Bowl XLV bargaining session with a scheduled nine-hour bargaining session today in Washington, DC. The session was scheduled to last from 10:00am to 7:00pm eastern time. This is to be followed up by a five hour negotiating session tomorrow (Thursday) from 9:00am to 2:00pm eastern time.
The ESPN article linked in SB Nation’s article discussed some of the issues in a new CBA, but also issues the league could face if a new deal is not done by the March 4 expiration date:
Among the major issues are how to divide about $9 billion in annual revenues; the owners’ push to expand the regular season from 16 games to 18 while reducing the preseason by two games; a rookie wage scale; and benefits for retired players.
The league estimates there would be a cut in gross revenues of $120 million without a new agreement by early March; $350 million if there’s no CBA by August, before the preseason starts; $1 billion if no new contract is in place until September. And if regular-season games are lost, the NFL figures the revenue losses would amount to about $400 million per week.
I’d argue player safety and health issues factor in to the expanded regular season issue as well as the benefits for retired players issue. One continuous argument coming from the union is the idea that if the league wants an 18-game schedule, they will need to come up with a way to cover the health and safety issues arising from such a schedule.
Whether you’re for or against the union in this negotiation, the health issue related to adding two games seems obvious. The NFL has argued that it’s still 20 games, just with the two on the back end evened out by removing two preseason games. While players do get injured in preseason contests, it seems like a logical fallacy to compare the two removed preseason games with the tow regular season games.
Even the most intense preseason game sees starters go no more than three quarters. Additionally, banged up veterans are more likely to be held out of such games since the games are meaningless for record purposes. However, a similarly banged up player is much less likely to sit out a late season game with the playoffs on the line. That needs to be accounted for when deciding on these scheduling issues.
If you’re looking for some more details on this on-going process, the NFL Players Association put together a list of the top 10 CBA articles from Super Bowl week. Some are more neutral in nature, while some lean towards the NFLPA’s arguments.