After five months of negotiations, courtroom battles, and stupid player statements (yes, you, Adrian Peterson), the NFL Players Association and team owners finally found compromise on Monday by agreeing on a 10-year labor deal that ended the longest work stoppage in NFL history.
The announcement came with an apology to fans from New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who according to longtime Colts center Jeff Saturday, was instrumental in making the labor deal a reality despite losing his wife to cancer during the negotiations. In a moment that was pretty touching, Saturday gave Kraft a hug and thanked him for his work in the labor talks. It was a moment that proved these the two sides of players and owners are actually human after all.
I must say I tried my damnedest to not listen to any news of the labor negotiations over the past five months because I don’t care what those details are. All I wanted was the news that a deal had been met. I don’t care about the revenue sharing percentage. I don’t care about how veterans’ pensions will be paid. I don’t care what the salary cap is. Why should I care about those details? I’m just a fan eager to watch some football this fall.
So now that a deal has been met, do we care what the deal’s details are?
Well, maybe. For one, there isn’t going to be an 18 game season this year. But that discussion has not ended yet. As part of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, owners can try to negotiate more games in 2013, but players must agree to it then. Maybe that will be the year when preseason football is eliminated? I hope so.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the CBA is the new rookie wage scale. High first round draft picks like Cam Newton won’t be making nearly the money they did under the expired CBA. I have always sided with the 10-year veteran who complains that the unproven first-year quarterback makes double what they do. According SI.com, Newton will make about half as much as last year’s first-round quarterback Sam Bradford. (I wonder if Newton now wishes he left college a year early?)
Like most jobs in the U.S., pay gets better with the length of your tenure, and rookies in the NFL will now have to live by that rule as well. In reality, they should call this the JaMarcus Russell rule, after the man who may have been the most embarrassing first-round pick of all time. The Raiders selected him in 2007 and then he held out until the Raiders decided to give him $61 million. He played only three seasons before he became overweight, out of shape and ineffective as a football player. What a waste. The new CBA also has language in it to prevent rookie holdouts.
The most important information for players in the new agreement is the revenue split, and this time the owners won the argument. Players must average at least 47 percent of all revenue for the term of the agreement, with 53 percent of the revenues going to the owners. According to Sports Illustrated, the money was counted differently in the past agreement but the split was essentially closer to 50-50.
The most important fact for the fans in the new CBA? It’s a 10-year deal. We don’t have to listen to football business B.S. for another 10 years and there’s no opt-out clause in the deal. Let’s all sit back and enjoy the next 10 years of peace and quiet in the NFL.
Like I said before, all of these details don’t really change my life too much. As a fan, now that agreement is in place, now is the time to pay attention. On Tuesday morning, mayhem across the league ensued as teams were finally able to sign players, make deals and figure out who the hell is going to be on the roster.
The free agency frenzy of deal making is going to be interesting for all teams involved, especially a team like the Broncos, who has a new coach and a quarterback controversy brewing between the veteran Kyle Orton and the newbie Tim Tebow. That controversy looks to be ending quickly, though as the Broncos wasted no time on Tuesday morning putting Orton on the trading block. This is a good move. The worst thing a team can do is have two quarterbacks wondering each and every week if they are the starter or not. Tebow will be shaky at first but I think he’s going to make a good leader, and he can score touchdowns inside the 20-yard line when the team needs it.
And, of course, now that there is going to be a season, there are rumors swirling around the media that the old man may be ready to sign on with the Eagles. That’s when I know football is just around the corner – when Brett Favre’s name is in the headlines.
The next couple of weeks is all the time coaches have to build their teams. This truncated off-season should make for an interesting season of football. Anything can happen.