The Pro Bowl is done. The Super Bowl is done, but the NFL is still in the spotlight. The owners and the NFL Players Association are behind closed doors negotiating for a bigger bite of the pie. What is on the table at present is a renege on the part of the owners because both parties have negotiated this issue in good faith. Now the owners want to back out of the revenue-sharing portion of the agreement.

Granted they are paying salaries and bonuses to the players, but you better believe any bonus or incentive clause in a player’s contract will be well earned before the said player sees a dime of the money.

When the players won the battle over free agency, the owners went to work to find a loophole to benefit their pocketbooks. When a player reaches free agency status, he can be kept from accepting a job from another team when the owners slap the “franchise player” tag on him. This means that a player’s salary is dictated by the standards of his present team, and he can’t move.

The back door side of this is the fact that a team can freeze a player with this tag, and then cut him the next season and not pay him the full value of his contract.

The overall deal of this current scuffle between the two parties is revenue sharing where after the owners earn the first billion, the players then begin to share in the profits. Now the owners are stretching out their greedy hands for another billion before the players can get a taste.

In the meantime, the owners are sitting back in their luxury boxes entertaining celebrities in 72-degree room temperature and drinking single malt scotch, while the players are being knocked around on cement masquerading as grass and getting concussions.

Fifteen years down the road, some of the players will be hobbling into a banquet hall to give a speech to some Kiwanis Club members for $3 grand. Meanwhile the owners will be behind closed doors trying to figure out a way to get another slice of the pizza.

However, I’m not sure this current tact by the owners is going to work. The threat to shut out the players for this upcoming season may backfire if the players see the total picture. Some of the players are not making grand theft money like the superstars, but they are making a hell of a lot more than us 9-to-five stiffs. A little money management, and the owners are going to be so out of luck.

For those of us who spend days staring out of the window, looking for the mail carrier who might be toting our Social Security checks, remember the last time a season was on the verge of collapse because of a strike. That time it was the players who struck. The owners scraped together a bunch of scabs (affectionately known as replacement players) and entertained us with a little sandlot football. But, the memory of the strain on their pocketbooks has to be dancing around in their heads at the moment.

Let’s take a look at the big picture. To do that, we have to ask the question, “Can the owners afford to lock out the players?” With a lock out, the stadiums are dark and the only life wandering around in the luxury boxes are the rodents looking for a taste of that caviar they came to like last season. On this subject, the average revenue for luxury suites is $45 million. Factor in the concessions where it costs $8 bucks for a hot dog, the price of a house payment for a couple of tickets, and TV revenue, and you can bet there are more than a few ulcers being cultivated among the owners.

Remember, quite a few of the owners are billionaires on paper. They are extended to the max, and every dollar they have invested had better be working for them at every moment.

Let’s take Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones as a case in point. Jerry just built a new state of the art stadium to the tune of $1.5 billion. You can bet Jerry didn’t have that kind of cash laying around under a mattress. Jerry had to go to the bank for a loan, and the bank is looking for a payment on a timely basis. Believe me these payments are a bit more than most of us are paying on the Honda Civic sitting in the driveway.

So, I suggest the players hang on for a bit, because the owners have got to cave. But, that’s just my opinion.


Tim Lacy

Special to the AFRO