Labor negotiations between NFL owners and players concluded for the week yesterday in Maryland, and a number of sources and analysts are still cautiously optimistic that an end to the lockout is finally in sight.
Greg Bishop, sports reporter for the New York Times, wrote a relatively revealing column yesterday which broke down the possibilities and expectations for the coming weeks from the perspective of individuals “with knowledge of the talks.” As usual, NFL fans looking for any specifics or even a few believable rumors in Bishop’s article are forced to trust in his unnamed, unverifiable sources, but we should all be used to that by now. For what it’s worth, Bishop is an extremely good reporter and usually trustworthy, but that doesn’t mean his sources aren’t full of crap. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what he wrote:
-One person involved in this week’s talks described both parties as having their respective “noses to the grindstone.”
-The parties are discussing a deal that could run 8 to 10 years, and the crux of the negotiations remains what percentage of revenue should go to the players and how players might share in an anticipated boost in television revenue — the largest chunk of the roughly $9 billion a year the N.F.L. generates — when new network contracts are negotiated later this decade.
-When all owners convene for a meeting in Chicago next Tuesday, the N.F.L. would like to give them as much information as possible, in broad strokes, about the framework for a deal. Still, a vote to ratify a final agreement in Chicago remains unlikely, as does the idea of an agreement in principle. The meeting will more likely aim to update the owners on where the league stands with players and get clubs comfortable with how a deal may look.
In short, it looks like things are still relatively the same as they’ve been for past couple weeks. Both sides seems to share an increased desire to hammer out an agreement, but the gears are still moving relatively slowly. If the owners can all get on the same page next Tuesday – and, seeing as how the league is asking all owners to be prepared to stay overnight and possibly longer, this seems like a likely outcome – then the ensuing round of negotiations with players should be more productive than any we’ve seen to date. Hopefully, by the end of June, the owners will finally have come to a solid agreement on a proposal they believe the players will find acceptable, and by early July both sides could be ready to reconvene with their legal teams and get the ratification process underway.
Of course, none of this is even close to guaranteed, and anything can happen between now and next Tuesday. The best we can do right now is keep our fingers crossed and our eyes on the horizon. We’ll do our best to keep you posted.