Thursday, July 28, 2011
Behind The Scoreboard
NFL fans breathe sigh of relief
This past weekend, actually beginning late Friday, the next to the last volley was fired in the CBA war in the NFL.
The league owners rushed to the press to say that they had reached an agreement to end the lockout which has been dominating the minds and souls of all true football fans everywhere. This was a major part of the puzzle which had begun about four months ago and ran on to become the longest “lockout” in NFL history.
But it did not automatically signify the end. Each of the 32 teams in the league has a player representative who has a vote. And, as the case in any democratic process, each has a right to exercise his one vote. Make no bones about it, the National Football Players Association (NFLPA) is a union – a very powerful union.
How did the lockout happen in the first place? A player by the name of Tom Brady decided to lodge a suit against NFL owners for a more equitable distribution of profits. This time the NFLPA had elected a president (Demaurice Smith), who was not prone to bend easily. When the owners recognized the bulldog tenacity of the NFLPA, they locked the doors to their facilities (which is their right since they own them). And the game was on but the season was off.
The stalemate meant that owners had no contact with teams, coaches had no contact with players and clubs could not even sign the prospects which they had drafted some weeks ago. Probably the group receiving the deepest wounds in this was the new coaches. We know some of the new mentoring faces for the 2011 season, starting with Jason Garrett who was hired by the Dallas Cowboys before the end of the last season. And there’s Mike Munchak of the Tennessee Titans who is stepping into Fisher’s shoes. He has understudied his former for years, so there shouldn’t be much of a transition. Those who have time to make up will be Hue Jackson (Raiders), John Fox (Broncos), Pat Shumar (Browns), Ron Rivera (Panthers), Jim Harbaugh (49’ers) and Leslie Frazier (Vikings).
The details of the new CBA are lengthy at best and won’t be delved into at this juncture but there are a couple of very important facts. There is a new salary cap of $123 million which has to be strictly adhered to; the new agreement is instituted for 10 years with a “no-opt-out” clause. This is binding on both owners and players. There was word that the NFLPA would accept all terms of the new pact on Monday. A vote by the 1,900 players in the NFL would ratify for the players and that was expected to take place by mid-week.
Now, all of us NFL buffs can breathe a “collective” sigh of relief; however, the pro basketball buffs among us just might have to abate that breath until November. The NBA is not even close to an agreement yet.
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