Rumor has it that the NFL lockout is very close to coming to an end. With deadlines looming to get preseason and training camps started, it appears that both sides are urgently working through key issues on a line-by-line basis. As of this morning, they even allegedly came to an agreement about the rookie wage system.
The what? I know. This whole lockout debacle is totally confusing. I’m a huge football fan and even I barely have a grasp on the ins and outs of the situation. There’s so much legal mumbo-jumbo (a phrase no one has used since the 50s) and shady shenanigans, it’s almost like they don’t want us to be able to figure out what’s going on.
So here’s my guide to the NFL Lockout to the best of my understanding. And if you don’t care, just skip to the end where I talk about the chickens.
Why Was There an NFL Lockout in the First Place?!
The NFL owners want to take money away from the players and reduce the share of league revenue set aside for player salaries because they claim (but are unwilling to show proof) that they have taken a financial loss. They also wanted to extend the season from 16 to 18 regular season games, saying that would give players a way to gain back the money they would have lost. AKA: more work for the same money.
In short, the owners want: LESS PAY. MORE GAMES.
The players were happy with the existing CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) where players and owners split roughly 50 percent of the revenue, but NFL owners terminated the agreement two years early. It expired in March after negotiations collapsed at which point the NFL Players Association decertified. NFL owners declared a lockout hours later. (The NFLPA said it would no longer function as a union in order to allow individual players to sue the NFL for antitrust violations and ask the courts to halt the lockout, which several of them already have.)
In short, the players want: SAME PAY. SAME AMOUNT OF GAMES.
What Does “Lockout” Mean?
There are no games, practices, or interaction with coaches or team doctors etc. until an agreement is reached about the players’ salaries. Right now a lot of players have taken it upon themselves to partake in unofficial practices lead by the team’s quarterback.
Unfortunately for teams, they can’t trade or sign players, so this has left a ton of unsigned players and free agents in limbo, not knowing where they’ll be working in just a few short weeks. But hey, I think they’ll just be happy to work at all.
Pros & Cons Are Easy to Understand, So Let Me Give You Some of Those!
Pros & Cons for the Owners:
- Pro: Even if there is no 2011 NFL season, owners are still guaranteed TV revenues that approach $4.5 billion.
- Con: Loss of goodwill from fans.
Pros & Cons for the Players
- Con: The NFL will not pay for active players’ health insurance during the lockout.
- Con: The addition of two regular season games greatly increases the chances of players getting hurt. Consider this: the average NFL career is 3.6 years. You have to play for three years to even qualify for 5 years of post-career healthcare. There is also basically a 100 percent injury rate in the NFL. Those are some pretty crazy odds.
- Con: Players aren’t allowed to talk to coaches, team doctors etc.
- Con: Players can’t participate in team-related activities.
- Con: Young players will miss out on an entire year of training, practice and playing. This is bad for them and for fans.
- Oh wait. There are no pros.
Pros & Cons for the Rest of Us
- Con: Team cities stand to lose $160 million and 150,000 jobs.
- Con: Stadium workers lose 10 or more paychecks.
- Con: Restaurants/bars lose tons of revenue (One bar owner in Green Bay, Wisconsin earns ONE-THIRD of his annual revenue on Packer game days.)
- Con: No fantasy football (a $5 billion industry).
- CON!!!! NO FOOTBALL. Which honestly just sounds like the worst thing ever.
And What About the Chickens?
According to the National Chicken Council, more than 1.25 billion wings are consumed on Super Bowl Sunday alone. Without Sunday football, demand for wings goes down and so does the price. So while it would be a lifesaver for our little feathered friends (yay!), it could potentially devastate the chicken wing industry (boo!).
So? Are They Going to Figure This Out or What?
If you were looking forward to spending leisurely Sundays with your football fan significant other doing things like attending church and picnicking and working in the yard, it looks like you’re out of luck. (Also, next time, I will try to come up with less cliché things people look forward to, but I seriously have no idea what people do on Sundays between September and January.) Negotiators for the league and players are working out the final details right now, BUT whatever they figure out still has to be approved by the owners and players in a vote.
By next week, however, it looks like the NFL will be back in business and the football season will be on. And can I just say, THANK GOD. I don’t know what I will do if there’s no football season this year. Go outside more? Not start drinking at 10 a.m. on Sundays? RSVP “yes” for out-of-town weddings? It is more than I can bear, people! More than I can bear!
I'll pour one out for the chickens on Opening Day.