SBD/July 22, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Boston Globe Columnist Suggests NFL Owners "Obliterated" Union With Latest CBA

The NFL's current CBA was signed almost exactly two years ago, and “now that the realities of the CBA have set in,” no matter “how you slice it, the owners obliterated” the NFLPA, according to Ben Volin of the BOSTON GLOBE. The “biggest proof” came last week when the Packers “reported a team-record operating profit” of $54.3M for the 12-month period ending March 31, 2013. If the Packers are “making money hand over fist, so are the 31 other teams.” Volin: “The players? The rookie pool has been slashed, young players are locked into unfavorable contracts, and the money isn’t trickling to the veterans, who are getting priced out of the NFL, even at minimum salaries.” One agent said, “The NFLPA absolutely failed the NFL players. It’s the worst CBA in professional sports history. It’s pushing the veterans out of the game and cuts the rookie pay in half.” Volin noted players have "better post-retirement benefits -- medical care, pensions, transition programs, and more -- under the new CBA." Additionally, the creation of the $620M Legacy Fund for "pre-1993 players helped correct some mistakes of the past" and players "have a better quality of life.” Another agent said when it comes to splitting up the NFL’s $9B in revenue, the NFLPA “got taken to the woodshed.” Volin asked, “How badly did the owners beat down the NFLPA?”  He noted rookies "got a raw deal," veterans are getting "squeezed" and the owners "hold all the cards." The players are “stuck with this deal” through the ‘21 draft. An agent said, “Ninety-eight percent of the players have no understanding how bad this deal is” (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/21).

READY FOR SOME ACTUAL FOOTBALL: NFL training camps begin this week, and in N.Y., Ken Belson wrote the start "cannot come soon enough for the NFL” after an offseason “marked by owners, front-office personnel and players having run-ins with the law.” It has “highlighted … the intense scrutiny that comes with being the nation’s largest and most popular sports league.” The offseason developments also “reflect the unintended consequences of the league’s push to become a 365-day business with events spread throughout the year.” The negative headlines have “had the effect of crowding out notable business announcements” such as the NFL renewal of its deal with Verizon and signing a $400M deal with Microsoft (N.Y. TIMES, 7/21). ESPN's Jemele Hill said, “Image is often about perception and ... for the NFL, even thought the vast majority of players I believe do the right things, all it takes is a few banner cases and all of a sudden the rest of the league is under scrutiny.” Hill said the amount of arrests is “more alarming” for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell because “part of the reason why he instituted a personal code of conduct is to curb some of this, only to find out that since he’s done that arrests have actually risen." Hill: "If you’re him, you’re wondering, ‘What needs to be done?’” The Boston Globe's Bob Ryan said the “only way we’re going to know ultimately” if the NFL has an image problem is if “people stop coming to the games or stop watching and the ratings have a significant drop, neither of which is going to happen." ESPN's Howard Bryant said, “The real problem that the NFL has is the fact that it’s a perfect storm of arrests, concussions and ex-player lawsuits. It’s an umbrella issue for them” (“The Sports Reporters,” ESPN2, 7/21).
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