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PEACE IN OUR TIME? NFL/NFLPA REACH TENTATIVE LABOR DEAL
Published February 27, 1998
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).