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    Default We're in uncharted territory

    From Dale Lolley's blog, "NFL From The Sidelines"....

    Friday, March 04, 2011
    It's official: We're in uncharted territory

    A month ago, the Steelers were playing the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl.

    Now, who knows?

    Free agency would have begun today had the owners decided not to tear up the old CBA and start negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement.

    We should be talking about who's coming, who's going and what those moves mean in terms of next month's draft.

    Instead, the entire league is in limbo.

    It's likely that the league and players will continue to extend negotiations and that's a good thing. It means that at least they're talking and things haven't gotten contentious enough that they no longer have anything to talk about.

    But if it continues long enough that we start getting close to the draft at the end of April, things could get very interesting.

    Usually, free agency opens up and teams draft according to who they lose and who they are able to sign.

    This year, things could be different. Teams may have to draft and then hope that they're able to fill the holes.

    Also, while teams will proceed with their draft plans as usual, it's the post-draft stuff that could get interesting.

    With no new CBA in place, rookies won't be able to go through any mini-camps or other offseason workouts. They won't even be permitted to meet with coaches.

    And undrafted rookies won't be permitted to sign with any team.

    The longer that process goes on, the tougher it will be for rookies to make a contribution in 2011 and the more difficult it will become for undrafted rookies to make a roster.

    http://www.observer-reporter.com/or/sidelines/
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    Default Re: We're in uncharted territory

    Could NFL shutdown look like baseball and hockey?
    Analysis: MLB strike, NHL lockout offer lessons that linger years later

    Sunday, March 06, 2011
    By Dejan Kovacevic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    Anyone looking for historical precedent for a possible National Football League lockout might learn more from baseball and hockey than from the NFL's most recent work stoppage.

    [IMGL]http://i55.tinypic.com/25yydr4.jpg[/IMGL]That occurred in 1987, when the players' 24-day strike canceled the third week of games, then prompted the owners' use of replacement players for weeks four through six. The Steelers were throwing touchdown passes to someone named Lyneal Alston, and the rest of the league -- some teams derisively nicknamed, such as the San Francisco "Phony Niners" and Oakland "Masque-Raiders" -- looked no less illegitimate.

    The NFL has since grown financially nearly tenfold, free agency has been instituted, players now draw seven-figure salaries, and the league now generates a mountain of television money. Comparing these eras is akin to comparing Ben Roethlisberger to Bobby Layne.

    What might be more relevant is how -- or if -- the current situation compares to the two longest work stoppages in professional sports history: Major League Baseball's strike in 1994 and the National Hockey League's lockout 10 years later. Both had dramatic impacts on their sports, and both were felt deeply in Pittsburgh.

    Will that history repeat?

    [HIGH-LIGHT]Baseball strike, 1994[/HIGH-LIGHT]

    Baseball players walked off the job Aug. 11, 1994, beginning a seven-month strike that cost the sport the World Series for the first time as well as millions in players' salaries, about $1 billion for the teams and countless fans. By the next official pitch, April 25, 1995, it was the longest stoppage in any sport.

    Tony Gwynn was batting .394 at the time of the strike. Matt Williams' 43 home runs had him on pace to break Roger Maris' hallowed mark of 61. And the Montreal Expos, never having won a division title, were headed for 105 wins and what many felt would be a world championship.

    All were lost, and the Expos eventually were lost altogether. The team's average attendance in that great year was 24,543, but it shrank to 18,189 the following year, then hovered just above 10,000 for five years leading to a move to Washington in 2005.

    Overall attendance plummeted from a record average of 31,612 in 1994 to 25,260 the following year. It took a full decade for attendance to return in 2004 to the pre-strike level.

    The Pirates' average attendance plummeted, too, from 21,448 before the strike to 12,577 the following year, though it quickly climbed back to 20,457 in 1997, thanks to the beloved "Freak Show" team that contended for a division title despite a paltry $9 million payroll. But it was not until 2000, the final year of Three Rivers Stadium, that attendance returned to the pre-strike level.

    People everywhere fumed.

    "Fans were angry, and understandably so," said Frank Coonelly, the Pirates' president who worked a decade in MLB commissioner Bud Selig's office before taking his current post in 2007. "The economic damage was felt everywhere, but some markets felt it more acutely. Perhaps the most profound and lasting lesson from 1994 was that our fans will be particularly angered if we ask them to invest in a season that we cannot guarantee we will complete."

    Pittsburgh had the most memorable display of anger, with many of the 34,841 fans at the 1995 home opener throwing giveaway flags onto the field late in an ugly 6-2 loss to the Expos. Shortstop Jay Bell, the Pirates' union representative, was booed with each trip to the plate.

    The sport's bottom line took a hit, too: MLB's revenues were at $1.87 billion in 1993, the last full season before the strike, and did not return to that level until 1997. And, when those revenues topped that figure beginning in 1998 -- the summer of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa chasing Maris' home run record -- that rebound, in hindsight, would be tainted by baseball's steroids scandal.

    All that probably explains why MLB never had another stoppage. The 1997 labor pact brought revenue sharing and a luxury tax, the 2002 pact was signed with barely a whisper, and even the expiration of the current pact Dec. 11 is expected to affect little more than how drafted amateurs are paid. It has been 17 years of peace after three decades marred by eight work stoppages.

    Some credit the longtime presence of the lead negotiators -- Rob Manfred, MLB's executive vice president, and Mike Weiner, who took over as union chief last year -- as being instrumental. Others point to revenues hitting a record $6.6 billion in 2009. But the foundation of this peace is the memory of 1994.

    "Owners and players both had to appreciate the lasting damage from the strike," Coonelly said.

    One more result of the fear of another stoppage: MLB remains the only league without a salary cap, which brings dramatic extremes in how much teams can pay their players. The New York Yankees' payroll has been in the $200 million range the past three seasons, while the Pirates' has been in the $40 million range. There never has been a significant appetite to address that disparity.

    [HIGH-LIGHT]Hockey lockout, 2004-05[/HIGH-LIGHT]

    In stark contrast, there was little that the NHL's lockout did not address.

    Hockey's stoppage lasted 310 days, from Sept. 16, 2004, to July 13, 2005, and a full season was lost, another first in professional sports. No Stanley Cup was awarded for the first time since 1919.

    That might sound as though it should have had a far worse impact than baseball's, especially given hockey's stature as North America's No. 4 sport. But it turned out quite the opposite: Twenty-five of the league's 30 teams increased attendance right after the lockout, none greater than the Penguins' increase of 33 percent. Arenas were filled to 91.7 percent and a total attendance record of 20,854,169 was set.

    What happened?

    The game became fairer and faster, and the fans -- among the most loyal in sports -- immediately fell in love.

    "What the lockout did for the NHL and for the Penguins ... it allowed us to survive," said David Morehouse, the Penguins' president who joined the team shortly after the lockout. "It accomplished cost certainty with the salary cap, bringing parity to the game. Pittsburgh can compete with the larger markets because they can't pay any more than we can."

    NHL team owners claimed to have lost a collective $273 million in the 2002-03 season, and that, they said, occurred because they were spending 76 percent of revenues on players' salaries. That is well above the usual 50 percent-to-60 percent for most leagues. The NHL tried to sustain its finances by charging $50 million expansion fees for nine new franchises in as many years, but that bubble contributed greatly to that 76 percent of revenues going to the players because so many new ones were needed.

    "It was a flawed model," Morehouse said.

    Because teams in lucrative markets had raised the bar for player salaries -- a few payrolls began approaching $100 million -- they were able to buy up elite players. In Pittsburgh, money forced the trade of scoring champion Jaromir Jagr for three middling prospects. In Canada, the sport's birthplace, beloved franchises left Quebec and Winnipeg for the United States, and others were threatened in Edmonton, Calgary and Ottawa.

    The league's commissioner, Gary Bettman, diligently held owners together, even though a couple resisted the lockout strongly, and even threatened them with fines up to $1 million for speaking out against it. His job was made easier because two-thirds of the owners were losing money.

    When an agreement finally was reached, the NHL had its first salary cap, limiting each team to $39 million in the first season and limiting players to 54 percent of all revenues for the life of the pact. Because revenues increased after the lockout, the cap rose to $44 million the next season and is at $59.4 million now.

    Revenues were at $1.8 billion before the lockout and now are close to $3 billion.

    The new rules and enforcement standards, plus a shootout after tied overtime periods, added excitement, too. The Penguins' Sidney Crosby was part of an exceptional group of rookies and immediately achieved 100 points.

    Rough ice might be ahead, though: The NHL's current labor pact expires in September 2012, and the union has hired Donald Fehr, the longtime chief of the baseball union who engineered the 1994 strike. The NHL players caved in 2005, but pushback is expected this time.

    [HIGH-LIGHT]Football, 2011[/HIGH-LIGHT]

    What can be culled from those stoppages to illuminate what might happen now?

    Maybe the main thing is that the NFL's situation does not look all that serious, by comparison.

    "I think the NHL was in a much different place than where the NFL is today," Morehouse said. "The NFL is the greatest league in the world, and they don't need to reinvent what they do."

    Maury Brown, author and founder of the Business of Sports Network, sees at least one similarity.

    "I would say that the relationship between the leagues and unions are very similar," Brown said. "There's distrust. Acrimony. There's just a sense of no partnership between the NFL and its players, which was certainly the case with MLB and the NHL leading up to their work stoppages."

    But what separates the NFL, Brown added, is its popularity and profitability.

    "In MLB, there had been labor strife at each deadline, and fans finally had enough when the '94 season was lost. For the NHL, it was a matter of a less popular sport losing a season, which impacted some gains that had been made. For the NFL, I think any losses will be very short-lived. Fans have an incredible appetite for the NFL. I would expect them back in a short period of time."

    Most factors point to the NFL settling without much damage or time lost:

    [HIGH-LIGHT]•[/HIGH-LIGHT] Foremost is that the NFL and its union do not have differences close to those of the baseball and hockey examples. Football's biggest is how to divide the pool of $9.1 billion that dwarfs those of other leagues. There is no individual owner confirmed to be losing money, either.

    [HIGH-LIGHT]•[/HIGH-LIGHT] The NFL's revenues are 30 percent higher than those of baseball, more than triple those of hockey. Consider that each NFL team gets $100 million in national revenue-sharing monies -- including TV rights and merchandising -- compared with the $90 million that the entire 30-team NHL divides today.

    [HIGH-LIGHT]•[/HIGH-LIGHT] Football players figure to be far more interested in settling. The average NFL career lasts only 3.5 seasons, compared to 5.6 in baseball, 5.5 in the NHL. A lost season in football costs veterans the chance at championships and milestones, and it will wipe out some careers in some cases. The Steelers' Hines Ward, 35, and James Farrior, 36, have raised the latter possibility in their cases.

    [HIGH-LIGHT]•[/HIGH-LIGHT] If the NFL shuts down for an entire season, it would have two full draft classes upon restarting in 2012. Football draft picks -- unlike those in baseball and hockey, sports that have minor league systems for player development -- commonly contribute right away. Thus, training camp in 2012 could involve double the number of new candidates, as many as 20, for jobs on a 53-man roster. Players on the fringe would have cause for concern.

    NFL owners and players agreed Friday to extend the current collective bargaining agreement and continue talking for another seven days, delaying the deadline for a lockout.

    Still, negotiations can turn ugly, and sides can become bitter on a personal level, outweighing any history or other factors that point to a settlement. That happened in baseball and hockey, and there is no assurance it will not happen between NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and union chief DeMaurice Smith.

    For now, NFL training camps are set to open the third week of July.

    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11065/1130054-66.stm
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    Default Re: We're in uncharted territory

    I am hoping that the week extension of the current CBA means that they are getting close to an agreement, but in todays environment who can tell. I don't think that the owners are wanting to risk locking out the players, especially after losing the ability to keep the tv money and drawing the ever increasing ire of the fans.
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    Default Re: We're in uncharted territory

    3/7/2011
    Money not only sticking point in NFL labor talks
    Associated Press

    With five more days and nights - at least - to reach an agreement, the NFL and the players' union might find money off the top is not the bottom line.

    The owners' request that about $2 billion of total revenues be deducted before they split the rest with the players has been a sticking point ever since 2008. That's when the owners opted out of the current collective bargaining agreement, which would have expired last Thursday if not for two extensions.

    The deadline now is at the end of Friday, and a compromise on that figure - the owners already deduct about $1 billion for operating expenses from the $9 billion overall take - might be easier than reaching accord on expanding the regular season to 18 games or several other issues.

    "We have made player safety our biggest concern, and we won't back off on that," said Tennessee Titans guard and player representative Jake Scott.

    "There are so many moving parts, so much that goes on," added Saints tackle Jon Stinchcomb, also a player rep. "When you have these CBA negotiations, what we establish now will affect how we do business for years to come. It's more than just how to slash the pie. It's how you go to work, what your offseason will look like, benefits for former players, how protected are we when injuries come along. There are so many aspects being negotiated, it takes time to come to an agreement on all these different fronts."

    One front that could have wiggle room is the owners seeking the additional $1 billion, which they say is essential for league and team operations because of the heavy debt many franchises have for stadium construction loans. Such numbers often are negotiable. Although the players aren't eager to take any sort of paycut, they might be amenable to a substantially reduced giveback that serves the owners well enough.

    The rookie wage scale being proposed also shouldn't be too contentious as long as the owners plan to divert much of the money they save toward the veteran players and not their own pockets. All those players who wince when they see an untested rookie getting more guaranteed money than they've earned in their entire careers are firmly behind such a redistribution of those dollars.

    Most dicey, as Scott suggests, is anything dealing with player safety and health benefits for current and retired players. That's where the proposed 18 regular-season games and two preseason games figure in.

    The union is adamant, with so many injuries in a 16-game schedule - particularly brain trauma and major injuries that can have long-term effects - increasing the length of the regular season is not an option. The owners are just as adamant that the extra revenue 18 games would bring from league media partners and sponsors is necessary to keep the assets growing.

    Commissioner Roger Goodell insists the preseason matches don't feature the quality fans deserve, so switching two of them for games that count is preferable.

    For the players to agree on 18 games, they would want substantial reductions in offseason workouts, minicamps, and training camp. Should they get that, and if NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith can coax, say, five extra roster spots per team (160 more jobs), perhaps the league and union can find common ground in this area, too.

    "To me, I feel like we were so far apart," Vikings defensive end Brian Robison said. "But they're trying to keep it out of the courts, which tells me that we're starting to agree on some things. I'm not saying that deal is going to be done real soon, but it's good to see that the guys on both sides are staying in the meeting room and making some progress toward our common goal, which is getting football back on the field when it's supposed to be there."

    http://www.observer-reporter.com/or/...hru-03-06-0810
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    Default Re: We're in uncharted territory

    I hope the lockout happens.

    I'm sick of these ****s cat fighting over our dollars and there is nothing more I would want to see than them lose some of it because of their greed and stupidity.
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    Default Re: We're in uncharted territory

    Quote Originally Posted by Sweetchuck View Post
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    I hope the lockout happens.

    I'm sick of these ****s cat fighting over our dollars and there is nothing more I would want to see than them lose some of it because of their greed and stupidity.
    Sort of agree. No worse than politicians greediness and always wanting more taxes. Started for me when they had to sell PSL's. Bad enough to raise ticket prices, but forcing me to sign a mortgage crossed the line.

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    Default Re: We're in uncharted territory

    Quote Originally Posted by NKySteeler View Post
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    at least they're talking and things haven't gotten contentious enough that they no longer have anything to talk about.
    The mood in the country has changed quite a bit because of the high unemployement.millionaire fighting billionaires over 9 billion dollars .F'em if the greed gets in the way and I am sure a lot of other people feel the same.As much as I love football I find it hard to stomach what college football and the nfl have turned into.
    Last edited by VtSteeler; Mar-08-2011 at 07:56 AM.

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    Default Re: We're in uncharted territory

    Quote Originally Posted by Sweetchuck View Post
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    I hope the lockout happens.

    I'm sick of these ****s cat fighting over our dollars and there is nothing more I would want to see than them lose some of it because of their greed and stupidity.
    No one will lose any money.

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    Default Re: We're in uncharted territory

    Like the problems in this country, we fans could fix these problems in a hurry WE made a decision to stop giving the NFL our money and stopped watching the games on tv as well. We must remember that there are WAY MORE fans than owners or players and neither of them make money without us.
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