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Monday, August 14, 2006
New NFL Commish Has His Work Cut Out for Him

Vito Sellino has an interesting piece in Sunday's edition of the Florida Times-Union, in which he addresses a common misperception in the sports world that new NFL commissioner Roger Goodell took over from Paul Tagliabue a "well-oiled machine" ("Goodell's hands full with heavy contract issues"). Sellino interviewed Jacksonville Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver, who said the consensus of owners right now is that they need a new business model. Despite the fact that the owners passed a new collective bargaining agreement last March by a 30-2 margin, that agreement has yet to be finalized in written form and, according to Sellino, many owners appear to have buyers' remorse. Weaver said he voted in favor of the new labor deal because "labor peace was more important than having a labor strike or Armageddon."

At the final hour, the owners and the union agreed in principle on a very complex and detailed revenue sharing plan that still hasn't been reduced to writing. Indeed, the very next day following the announcement there appeared to be confusion among the owners about how the revenue sharing would work, and some owners were even questioning what it was they agreed to regarding revenue sharing. Now, five months later, 32 owners and the union are still trying to come to agreement and accurately reflect in writing what they agreed upon last March. It even appears as though there is some disagreement among the "have's and have not's" regarding the basics of the revenue sharing plan. Sellino wrote:
"The way it's set up, the small-market teams must pick up the costs that help the big-market teams make more money. Weaver has called that agreement "unsustainable" in the long term. Small-market owners will closely watch to see how Goodell handles this issue because they're concerned that big-market teams will insert qualifiers in the deal and limit the money the lower-revenue teams receive."

Here we go again! It remains to be seen how much longer the so-called "labor peace" in the NFL will actually last. Even if and when the owners and the union finally agree upon the precise terms and language, Sellino points out that, in just 27 months, the vote of only nine owners would enable them to opt out of the deal, which would then expire after the 2009 season and the onus would then be on Goodell to convince Gene Upshaw that the union should give back some of the perks it won last March. Good luck with that Mr. Goodell....


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