The above is a far cry from 2017 when NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith declared the likelihood of a strike or lockout of the 2021 NFL Season “almost a virtual certainty.” What’s changed? At the time, one major issue was the league’s position on national anthem protests, which was eventually settled after the NFLPA filed a grievance in 2018. The NFL’s profitability is also motivation for resolution, with yearly revenue approaching nearly $14 Billion per year.
No major issues have surfaced during the groups’ two formal sessions, with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell describing the discussions as “direct and open.” But it’s a long way to 2021. Below are some of the biggest issues surrounding extending the current NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement:
It’s laughable a group of billionaires believe they are entitled to benefits to finance stadiums. Stadium credits are player-funded allowance, taken from NFL revenue before it is split with the players to alleviate costs associated with construction. Owners used their full amount of credits provided with the 2011 CBA. With the league looking to build new stadiums in Las Vegas and Los Angeles and renovate existing ones in other cities, this topic has developed into a strong negotiation point.
Players receive roughly 47 percent of revenue earned by the league, down from 50 percent due to the last round of negotiations. With stadium credits decreasing the total amount of sharable revenue, the NFLPA must fight to (1) decrease the amount of allocatable stadium credits or (2) increase their revenue share. Otherwise, it will be the players, and not the billionaire owners, left footing the bill.
Last week, the NFL and NFLPA announced the creation of a “Joint Pain Management Committee” to research pain management and alternative therapies. In other words, the NFL is slowly opening the door to players using marijuana as a means to combat injury. On the heels of XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck stating the XFL would “prefer not to test for marijuana,” coupled with the legalization of marijuana in California, Nevada, Colorado, and other states, it only makes sense for the league to modify its stance.
Two-time Super Bowl champion Chris Long recently admitted to using marijuana throughout his playing career. The NFL tests for the drug once per year, usually within the first two weeks of training camp. Once passed, players are free to smoke at will. At this point, the NFL’s policy is merely for show, and the next iteration of the CBA should remove punishments for use.
Kirk Cousins is the first quarterback in NFL history to sign a fully guaranteed multi-year deal. Notwithstanding, players still struggle to obtain their worth. This is the reason why players such as Russell Okung and Todd Gurley believe a strike is necessary.
Owners of one of the world’s most violent sports should not be able to escape paying fully guaranteed contracts. Why this issue isn’t presently being discussed brings into question the seriousness of the current state of negotiations. NFL careers can end at a moment’s notice. If a structure for greater guarantees is not obtained now, the NFL will continue to kick this bucket down the road.
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