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NFL Czar: NFL labour pains growing discord

Justin Vanderzwan | Interrobang | Sports | February 14th, 2011

So, after that exciting Super Bowl game, we turn our sights towards the NFL offseason. Unfortunately, this particular offseason may not end in September. The NFL is currently dealing with a potential lockout, and that could mean a very boring winter for football fans. Let's take a look at the major issues being discussed in the labour talks.

Revenue Sharing
Now, I realize this can get fairly complicated for people not in the business field, but the gist of it is that there is a lot of money being made, and it has to be divvied up between the players and the owners. Now I'm not going to go over the specific numbers involved, but my opinion is that the players already make a significant chunk of the money, and shouldn't seek that much more. I also realize that the NFL is a business, and the players are entitled to every penny they earn. This is an issue that seems minor to fans, but it works out to millions (maybe even billions) of dollars, so it will get a lot attention in a new collective bargaining agreement.

Rookie Pay Scale
This issue is one that clearly needs to be looked at. Rookie players in the NFL are making too much money. When a player goes number one overall in the NFL draft, they are bringing home nearly $50 million in guaranteed money. GUARANTEED. This cannot happen anymore. The problem faced here is that the players don't want to give up this money. I see their point, but don't agree with it. My proposal would be to make each rookie sign a three-year contract, and assign a certain amount of money to each position in the draft. It would work similar to the NHL's system, where a player would EARN their money during the three-year contract, and cash in big when they make it to free agency.

The 18 Game Schedule
While the players need to give in on the rookie pay scale issue, the owners will have to get off the idea to move to an 18 game regular season schedule. When it comes down to it, the owners want more money, but they have to think about the players as well. Here are two reasons I don't think the move should be made:

1. Injuries: I don't know if anyone else noticed, but a lot of star players have been going down with season-ending injuries over the past few seasons. For example, Tom Brady in 2008, and Tony Romo this past season. If they add two games to the regular season, it will increase the number of injured stars even more, and make it nearly impossible to keep a team together for the whole course of the season, and subsequent playoffs.

2. Reduction to the pre-season: By adding two games to the regular season, they will be removing two games from the pre-season. These games, while not very entertaining to fans, provide coaches and owners with time to evaluate their young talent before they take the field in the regular season. It also gives star players time to prepare for the season. By taking away two games, this will greatly decrease the time given to evaluate players, and make roster decisions.

Those are just three of the many issues being discussed by the NFL owners and the Players Association. So what does this all mean? Basically, if they don't reach a deal by March 4, there will likely be a lockout to start the 2011 NFL season. As we saw with the NHL a few years back, this doesn't usually end well. Hopefully a deal gets done before that, because I don't like the idea of being without football come September.

Next week I will preview the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine.
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