SBD/27/Leagues Governing Bodies

PEACE IN OUR TIME? NFL/NFLPA REACH TENTATIVE LABOR DEAL

          The NFL and NFLPA reached an agreement in principal on
     terms for a five-year extension of the current CBA through
     the 2002 season.  The tentative deal would include an
     uncapped season -- or an additional capped season at the
     mutual option of the two sides -- in 2003 (NFL).
          DETAILS: In DC, Leonard Shapiro reports that "most of
     the principals in the original CBA agreed to in 1993 remain
     in place," including free agency after four years,
     guaranteed signing bonuses which can be pro-rated over the
     length of a deal and the franchise player designation.  The
     rookie salary pool is increased, as are minimum salaries for
     fifth-year veterans.  The two sides also agreed that if a
     "vested player (one with four years' experience) makes a
     team's active roster for the start of the season, he will be
     guaranteed" a full season's salary.  The team can deny
     payment if it shows the player did not put forth sufficient
     effort.  A player "would be warned in writing by his coach
     if that did occur, and any dispute would be settled in
     arbitration."  The players also agreed to "consider"
     contributing some of the designated gross revenues they
     receive to a stadium fund.  Players will earn 63% of teams'
     designated gross revenues through 2002, and 64% if 2003 is
     uncapped (WASHINGTON POST, 2/27).  A one-year guaranteed
     deal would affect a "small number of players" and differs
     from the current system where players with five-plus years
     who make the active roster get only half of their salary if
     they are cut.  The agreement also includes increased
     benefits for the players, including a 401(k) plan and
     pension funds.  Benefits increase from $150M to "almost"
     $500M over the life of the deal.  Also, the NFL and NFLPA
     will donate $100M to a fund for the "further development of
     youth football programs" (Mike Freeman, N.Y. TIMES, 2/27). 
          TOUGH SELL? The deal must be ratified by 23 of the
     league's 30 owners and a simple majority of the players.  In
     N.Y., Mike Freeman writes that the deal could still "fall
     apart."  NFL Exec VP/Labor Relations Harold Henderson said
     the agreement is "certainly not a slam dunk" to be approved. 
     Henderson: "There are some people who won't like some
     aspects of this" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/27).  In Boston, Ron Borges
     writes the deal "moves the players one step closer to
     football domination."  Patriots Owner Bob Kraft: "It's a
     better deal for the players than the owners. ... I'll vote
     for it because it assures us labor peace for five years, but
     it's an awesome deal for them."  NFLPA Exec Dir Gene Upshaw:
     "There are things in here both sides will say, 'How could
     you ever agree to that?'  But we felt it would be best to
     guarantee labor peace and put our contract and the [recent
     TV deal] on the same track" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/27).

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