NFL Labor Talks Canceled as Lockout Looms Larger Than Ever
The union has been demanding that the owners open their books to demonstrate the financial hardship they've been citing in an effort to get the players to accept a smaller share of revenue. But according to two of the sources, the players said Wednesday that they would drop that demand in exchange for a 50 percent cut of "all revenue," meaning the total $9 billion pot.
The reason this is a non-starter for the NFL is that it doesn't currently share "all revenue" with the players but rather a smaller pool it calls "total revenue." The league and the owners take $1 billion off the top for operating costs before splitting any revenue with the players.When they say the players get roughly 60 percent of revenue under the current deal, they're talking about 60 percent of "total revenue," meaning after that first $1 billion comes off the top.
The owners, seeking in this deal to increase their share of the revenue, would like to take an additional $1 billion off the top, meaning the portion of revenue they'd share with the players would drop to roughly $7 billion. The players have said they'd like to see audited financial statements to justify such a hit, but the sources said Wednesday that they'd stop asking for that if the owners would agree simply to split the whole (roughly $9 billion) pot evenly. The owners apparently walked out after hearing that proposal.
Issues such as the 18-game season and rookie wage scale can't be dealt with until the sides agree on the framework of the revenue split. And as long as there's such dramatic disagreement on that issue, it's practically impossible to imagine a deal getting done before the current one expires March 4. The owners' insistence on increasing the amount of revenue they don't have to share with the players serves as more evidence for the union's claim that their intent all along has been to lock out the players and squeeze them in an effort to secure a deal very favorable to the owners' side.
Players are concerned about losing their health coverage in the event of a lockout, and it's possible that could cause fissures in their ranks as the March 4 deadline approaches. But so far it hasn't happened, and the rank-and-file membership of the union has so far given its leadership no reason to soften its stance.
The league also has no reason to soften its stance, as it's still months away from a lockout threatening regular-season games and has TV contracts that pay off even if those games aren't played. So all in all, unless something dramatic changes in the next three weeks, the NFL appears headed for a work stoppage on March 4.