Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Roger Goodell Is The Wrong Man At The Wrong TIme

Since Roger Goodell took over as commissioner of the NFL he has promised to restore the integrity of the game, demonstrate his appreciation for the fans, and hammer out a new collective bargaining agreement to prevent any work stoppages in the future. It appears his third promise was hollow. With 16 days left before the collective bargaining agreement expires and the two sides oceans apart it is a foregone conclusion that a deal will not get done in that time frame. NFL teams continue to place franchise tags on players and prepare for the draft, but these moves are irrelevant considering the current state of affairs. What went wrong?

Roger Goodell has been naive in his approach to the situation. He assumed that with a superior product at the apex of its popularity and $9,000,000,000 of revenue to share there would be reasonable and rational conversation about the future of the game. Instead he finds himself in the middle of a power struggle he can't control. The owners want wholesale changes to the current system including a rookie wage scale, an 18 game regular season, and $1,000,000,000 in revenue back. The owners claim that some franchises lose money and the player's share of revenue is too high. The players would like for the current agreement to stay in place (they have a sweet deal) but understand that change is necessary. In order to analyze the economic woes some of the teams are facing the players association has asked to take a look at their finances. Show me the car fax in other words. The owners have balked at the request and the two sides are at an impasse.

To make matters worse the two factions have different leadership than during collective bargaining negotiations of the past. Paul Tagliabue and Gene Upshaw were friends and understood they were both representing unrealistic egomaniacs, but compromise was in the best interest of both sides and avoiding a work stoppage was the most important thing. Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith are new guys trying to please their constituents at all costs. The two have no relationship to lean on and no experience in negotiations of this magnitude.

At this point the two sides are drifting further apart and don't trust each other as far as they can spit. Roger Goodell has found out the hard way that billionaires don't like to be told what to do and players no longer underestimate their importance in the NFL equation. This problem has no easy solution and in my opinion the commissioner lacks the experience, trust, and respect it will take to get a deal done anytime soon. This thing is going to get ugly and I doubt we will see NFL football in September this year. As a die hard fan I hope I'm wrong.

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