I really enjoyed doing Total Access, on the NFL Network, with Jeff Saturday of the Indianapolis Colts. Jeff is a member of the NFLPA Executive Council and an excellent spokesman for the Union.
Jeff has a very deeply held belief in the Unions position and has an evenhanded approach to the relationship with the owners. At the end of the day, Jeff knows that whatever form the new CBA takes, it will be a negotiated one. Unfortunately, the legal action the NFLPA has taken to dispute the owner’s lock out is one that they feel was unavoidable. Because of the time frame involved, they had to decertify when they did, to give them time to force the action of the owners to avoid the loss of game. At least that is what they believe.
At the heart of the players request is the need to know what the true operating costs of the owners are, compared to those costs that are associated with a family business, that virtually every teams, except for the Green Bay Packers have. Jeff contends that they are not out to embarrass the owners nor are they interested in what they do with their own profits as long as it can be quantified and considered with regards to what should be included in the players percentage.
I believe Jeff strongly thinks that some type of agreement will be reach, or at the very least, some type of court judgment will allow for the season to be played. Like Gene Upshaw, Jeff believes that part of the problem is the divergent views that owners like Jerry Jones and Mike Brown have on the view of the economic model the owner wants. The haves and the have-nots among the owner fraternity may indeed be as much as a problem as the differences between the owners and the players.
There is no question in my mind that a deal can be reached, and that both sides are simply waiting for the courts to decide who has what leverage before they can proceed. The players that are going to be most harmed are those who would have normally been free agents. They, on the sort term, will simply be the causalities of the negotiation wars. Some may recoup their loses due to the increase in player revenues, but many are going to see lost wages that will never be recouped.
The NFLPA would do well to put a gag order on their entire member community and simply let guys like Jeff, who have a genuine love of the game and a thorough understanding of the issues, explain their views. Unfortunately for the owners, they do not have a counterpart to Saturday to present their points of view in as a believable way.