The National Football League, mainly through the voices of commissioner Roger Goodell and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, is doing its best to convince the world that meaningful and at least relatively amicable negotiations with the NFL Players Association on a new collective bargaining agreement could bear fruit in the not-too-distant future.
Has anyone but me noticed we’re not hearing anything resembling that optimism from anyone connected to the NFLPA?
The league has gone so far as to leak comments that it would love to have a new deal in place prior to the Packers and Bears meeting at Soldier Field to kick off the league’s 100th season and, short of that, well in advance of the expiration of the current deal.
I’d like to win the Powerball, but that isn’t going to happen either.
Goodell has tremendous incentive to get something done in the form of annual bonuses totaling in the tens of millions of dollars depending on the new deal he is able to strike.
Jones is looking to make money as well — and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that — but is driven more by his craving the kind of credit and worship heaped on Patriots owner Robert Kraft after he was perceived to be the driving force behind the breaking of the logjam that yielded the current deal in 2011.
Here are the realities behind all the owners’ hope and hyperbole:
At the end of the last deal, the players were receiving approximately 51 percent of total football revenue. Today, they are collecting approximately 47 percent.
What is included in total football revenue is a moving target, as is just how big a business the NFL is.
But strictly for the purposes of this exercise, the NFL is currently estimated to be between a $14 billion and $15 billion business — and it was about a $10 billion business when the current CBA began, so let’s say it has averaged about $11 billion a year over the first eight years of the deal.
The four points the players lost have cost them about $440 million per year, or a total of about $3.5 billion.
Nice work, NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith, who is somehow still leading the Association and heading up negotiations again.
The players have to know they aren’t getting any of that money back, but they have to dig their heels in for the four points going forward, don’t they?
The owners know the surest way to increase their revenue by at least 10 to 13 points a year is to swap two preseason games for an 18-game regular season.
The players’ position remains no chance.
The players have also said they will not have another deal under which Roger Goodell gets to be judge, jury and executioner on the topics of player conduct and behavior.
The owners might move a bit here, but not in any way that is meaningful to their employees.
If there is anything the players should absolutely go to the wall for, it is healthcare for life once they are done playing.
They should get it, but the last owner I got to ask about that recently just looked at me and smiled.
Can today’s players continue to have mirrors uncovered in their homes if they don’t do more for players retired prior to 1993 desperate for some kind of healthcare and more compensation for disabilities including issues related to dementia or CTE?
Those are just the big five, people. There are a host of other issues that, according to everybody I talk to on either side of the table, they are no closer on.
Nothing would make all of us happier than seeing these guys get this done quick and easy.
But combine the incompetence of Smith on behalf of the players, and the owners once again looking to not just win, but crush their employees on the next deal once again — not to mention the incredible arrogance on both sides — and there is about as much chance of that happening as there is of the Cardinals going to the Super Bowl this year.
The St. Louis baseball Cardinals that is.
• Hub Arkush, the executive editor of Pro Football Weekly, can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Hub_Arkush.