TORONTO - The NFL owners met this week and guess what?
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has told the world the league and its players could have a new bargaining agreement in time for the Super Bowl.
Right. And there could be world peace and the $9-billion US industry he heads up could also wipe out world hunger by the beginning of next season. But don’t bet on it.
This he-said, he-said between the players’ union and the league is starting to sound very familiar. So is the rhetoric surrounding it.
“There’s no higher priority than getting a collective bargaining agreement,” Goodell said. “So we will work night and day to get that done.”
Well, at least night and day when they’re not busy meeting in Vegas or Atlantic City or playing golf or out on the yacht or getting the limo fixed, or ... never mind.
Not to get too cynical but we’ve heard this tap dance before and Major League Baseball still ended up playing with scrubs. The NHL just didn’t bother showing up for work one day.
The arguments in the NFL are essentially the same. The only difference is the pie is bigger and the union and owners are fighting over who gets the bigger slices.
The major sticking point is the owners demanding to restructure the players’ share of designated revenues. They’re (ahh, pass the shrimp cocktail) crying poor. At the same time (and a little more champagne, please) refuse to give the union access to individual team financial records.
It sounds disingenuous to NFLPA president Kevin Mawae.
“No team is losing money,” he said. Every week and every year we hear that the ratings are up, more tickets are sold this year than ever before, more advertising is being sold now than ever before, all that does is generate revenue and we have to listen to the owners tell us that we’re not making money. That’s a hard thing to understand when you won’t show us where you’re losing money because you’re afraid to show us your books.”
That argument has taken other major sports to work stoppages and unless one side or the other backs off it’s difficult to see how one might be avoided by Goodell. To believe it could happen before the Super Bowl seems pure fancy.
“We wanted to get a deal done before the holidays. It’s not going to happen,” Mawae told ESPN radio. “We’re going to work diligently to try to get a deal done before March 4, which is the beginning of the new league year. But at the same time, as the president of the PA, we have to prepare our players for the worst-case scenario, there being no football.”
Another point of contention is the owners wanting to turn two pre-season games into regular-season games; the union fears more injuries and has countered with a request for additional roster spots and cutting off-season workouts by about one-third from the current 14 weeks.
Now, few fans will sympathize with players when every week there is another report about multi-million dollar contracts being signed. There are very rich players. There is also a lot of agent-speak out there making financial mountains out of molehills. For every Tom Brady there are a dozen guys living on the fringe. Most contracts aren’t guaranteed.
And, a solution by Super Bowl most definitely is not guaranteed either.
SOME CHOICE WORDS
Tashard Choice is still getting hassled locally for asking Michael Vick for his autograph.
The way he’s being pilloried by the local Cowboys’ faithful you’d think he had just gone home and kicked the family dog. Or something, really horrid.
He’s had everything questioned from his loyalty to the Cowboys to his competitiveness. All of which, of course, is ridiculous. It’s not like he went over between plays to ask Vick to sign his glove. The game was over. Done. History.
“Am I more competitive if I would have tried to fight him after the game?” Choice asked ESPNDallas.com in his defence. “What would you say then? If we would have won the game? Sixty minutes is from the beginning to the end. That’s all you play in a football game. When a game’s over, it’s over.”
Players can be fans, too. There’s nothing wrong with Choice wanting Vick’s autograph. No wonder some people think NFL stands for the No Fun League.
Bills coach Chan Gailey is unhappy with the progress of first round-draft pick C.J. Spiller. “C.J. did some really good things in pre-season,” said Gailey. “But we all know the level of intensity goes up a notch when it’s not pre-season. C.J. wasn’t able to adjust enough.” Spiller has 232 yards on 56 carries. He has been more productive as a kickoff returner with 835 yards and one TD ... Tim Tebow has been getting most of the snaps at practice and, with Broncos starter Kyle Orton ailing with bruised ribs, the rookie could finally get a longer look Sunday against the Raiders.
The first-round draft pick has made only cameo appearances and thrown just one pass.