The NFL lockout is now set to enter summer with no end in sight. The sides have kept negotiations secret but reportedly have come no closer to a new contract between the league and the players' union. With the two sides so far apart, many have begun to wonder if the negotiations are just a sham anyway - a way for the NFL owners to save face while doing nothing to prevent a prolonged lockout. Are some NFL owners actually hoping for a lockout?
Is Lockout a Conspiracy?
Not only is the NFL not willing to give in to any of the players' demands except a few things dealing with retired player pensions, they are actually trying to roll back salaries while hoping to increase the number of games. How would you like to try to find middle ground in that room? The NFL owners' position has been almost immovable leading many to believe that this is a ploy to collect television revenue next year without having to put any players on the field.
The Perfect Crime
At its core, it is the perfect crime. The NFL's contract with the television networks guarantees them billions in revenue even if no games are actually televised all season. Get rid of your 53 man roster. Turn your stadium into a concert venue. Sit back and count the cash that Fox sent you for the game your team didn't play last week. While players, personnel, and entire cities will lose billions, the owners will still come out in the green - and thensome.
At its core, it is, in fact, the perfect crime - but something does not add up. Roger Goodell is allegedly leading these negotiations, what does he have to gain from a prolonged lockout? A cut of the action under the table? Doubtful. The owners would still make a profit but not all of them and not that much - not the massive sums they could bring in with a full operation. Not with the massive sums they stand to lose if football fans are denied the NFL for the first time in its history and lose interest.
What About The Players?
Mostly, elderly rich men colluding to stage a full season lockout for profit don't typically agree to make all of the concessions (though few) that the owners have offered. The NFLPA, which is now decertified, and the players have been just as rigid and unwilling to compromise. Sure they may have a point, they are mere millionaires while most owners are billionaires so if anyone should get more cash it is the guys getting laid out with vicious hits on a weekly basis while the owners huff about not being able to afford new luxury stadiums that all the cool kids are building.
The whole mess is not about who is conspiring against who, it is about where negotiation ends and greed begins. For both sides, this is about getting more money for their own. The players want more of the money since they are the ones subjected to five-year careers and lifetimes worth of concussion after effects. The owners want more money to build new stadiums and buy new yachts.
The Owners Have All The Leverage
The owners will make money either way, this is not a conspiracy so much as leverage. The players will be forced to cave to a owner-favoring compromise because they have everything to lose. Contrary to popular opinion, and an earlier snide remake that I made, most of the NFL players are not millionaires. They are guys making a few hundred thousand for a few years of their life before someone better, faster, and younger takes their spot on the roster. They need this season just to pay their mortgages, save up for the future, invest in something that will help them make an income after their NFL career is over in a matter of a few years - if that. The NFL owners, they are set - for this year and long after. When the lockout is over will depend on when the players cave and how much the NFL owners are willing to compromise even with all of the financial leverage that they need.
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