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).