SBD/January 18, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFLPA Made Proposals To NFL On How To Split Revenues

A proposal that the NFLPA revealed last week it has made to the NFL in their ongoing labor discussions deals with the core economic issue of how revenue is split between owners and players and gives owners credit for investment above and beyond what is contained in the current CBA, according to a source familiar with the negotiations. The proposal, which was made in early December, offered greater concessions than have been made previously on giving credit to owners on the revenue that makes up the salary cap, the source said, though the details of those concessions were not shared for publication. The source asked for anonymity because this person was not authorized to speak publicly on the negotiations. Additionally, in a related proposal, the players asked for the supplemental revenue-sharing plan among teams in the NFL to be continued, but with changes intended to make the plan more palatable to high-revenue clubs, the source said. The NFL has told the union it does not like the proposals but has yet to make a counter proposal in response to the players as is customary in bargaining, the source said.  NFL and NFLPA officials declined to comment for this story. NFLPA General Counsel Richard Berthelsen said last week that the union hopes to get a response from the league on the union’s proposals after the owners meet today in Atlanta. He noted that that has been the NFL’s practice in the past. NFLPA President Kevin Mawae last week on a conference call said that the last formal meeting for the union with the league was around Thanksgiving and that two proposals were then made. Berthelsen, on that same call, said one proposal dealt with rookie compensation, the other involved a way to deal with revenue in the future.

PROPOSAL WOULD CHANGE SALARY CAP CALCULATIONS: Bob Batterman, the NFL’s outside counsel, addressed the union’s proposal on rookie pay in an interview with the AP last week, but he did not comment on any revenue-related proposal, according to a transcript of the interview that the NFL distributed. “They made a proposal on rookie pay,” Batterman said last week. “We pointed out the very serious deficiencies we saw in that proposal and maintained a proposal that we had previously made.” According to the source familiar with negotiations, the union’s proposal on owners’ investment would change how the salary cap is calculated in the future to incentivize investment by owners in stadiums and other investments that would grow revenue. The CBA already gives owners credit for such investment, but the new proposal would give them additional credit, the source said. On supplemental revenue sharing, which began with the ‘06 CBA renewal, that plan would continue, but with changes to reward high-revenue clubs that spent money on growing the game. For example, the source said, outlining the plan in broad generalities, if a high-revenue club like the Cowboys built a stadium, they would share less revenue with a low-revenue club, like the Bills, than they would have had to share if they had not built the stadium (Liz Mullen, SportsBusiness Journal).

PLENTY TO TALK ABOUT
: In DC, Mark Maske cited sources as saying that the NFLPA has "filed a collusion case against teams, accusing the sport’s franchise owners of improperly conspiring to restrict players’ salaries last offseason." It is unclear "how many teams are named in the union's case, how many affected players are cited or the extent of the financial damages being sought." Sources indicated that the case "would cite the lack of activity on the restricted free agent market last offseason, among other things." The case is to be decided by NFL Special Master Stephen Burbank (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 1/17). Meanwhile, PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Mike Florio reported apart from the "sluggish negotiations and the pending 'lockout insurance' case," as well as the new collusion case, NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith "recently requested in a letter to every team a copy of injury documentation required by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration." The union "wants the OSHA 300 log, and employers are required to make the documentation available upon request." The move "doesn’t mean that any legal action will be pursued against the league by OSHA or the union regarding safety issues," but it "forces the league to deal with the request by compiling records and gathering information and permitting it all to be scrutinized by the union." It also gives the NFLPA the "most accurate information regarding any workplace injuries suffered by players during offseason practices, training camp, preseason games, and regular-season games" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 1/17).

TV TIMEOUT: In N.Y., Judy Battista notes the two sides also are "awaiting the outcome" of a separate union complaint brought before Burbank. The union contends that "when the NFL negotiated television contracts that ensure it will be paid even if there is a lockout in 2011, the league did not maximize the revenue that it could have received and which would have to be split with players." The union argues that it "violated a 17-year-old agreement that the league would make good-faith efforts to maximize revenue for players" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/18).

NOT TOO OPTIMISTIC: SI's Peter King appeared on the “PFT Live” podcast yesterday and discussed the NFL’s labor situation. King said there "could be some very minor things that progress is being made on, but I don't think any of the major areas are getting closer." King: "I believe there are prominent owners out there who quite literally, if the system isn't fixed to where it was a lot closer to pre-'06 levels than it is now ... would rather lose the season because they hate this system that much. They would rather find some other way to pay the mortgage on their stadiums, even the guys who owe a lot of money. ... That's how badly they want this system to be overturned and a new system put in place." King said he does not believe there is "any real reason to be optimistic, although there are some conversations taking place" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 1/17). CBS' Phil Simms said he hopes there is not a work stoppage but added he thinks "there will be some kind of lockout. I just hope it doesn't last long." Simms: "Sometimes when you're in charge of an organization you think strike is the only way you gain attention and get what you want across" ("The Early Show," CBS, 1/18).

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