Golden Opportunity Wrong Negotiator Upshaw He Must Go

Updated: May 25, 2008


We could be at an

historic crossroads

or not be there

In owner-labor relations in the NFL and a model for other Sports. But bet everything you own it won’t happen with Old Gene Upshaw FRIEND of Commissioners and Owners doing the negotiations. What has just happened is that the 32 NFL owners have negated the existing collective bargaining agreement by voting to shorten it. In effect KILL it.

Seems the Owners no longer want to abide by the current agreement that 60% of all revenues go to player salaries which also effectively placed a cap on salaries while insuring very good paying jobs for the players. Under this agreement the NFL has never been more successful or dominant. But that is no longer good enough for these Super-Rich Owners. One phrase you can always bank on yesterday, today and tomorrow ….


The NFL owners have decided allowing 60% of revenues to go to players salaries is just too much. Of course they offer a “rationale” if you are stupid enough to buy it. That their costs are soaring. That new stadiums they are are building are expensive. Etc.,Etc.,Etc.

Now the Owners may be Greedy excuse us they are GREEDY but they are definitely NOT Dumb. They would NOT have pulled the Plug on the current collective bargaining agreement if they did not expect to win. The players may know how to play football. The owners know how to play business and how to play the players especially with Gene Upshaw still heading the NFL Players Association.

Pick a number any number. OK we will. Let’s say the Owners want the players’ share of revenue cut to 55%. A reasonable assumption. Well guess what they will WIN. Here’s why. If there is NO collective bargaining agreement after the 2010 season as now there will not be without a NEW agreement each team will be FREE to deal with its payroll and players as it sees fit. Now conventional wisdom is that the Owners would never do that because there would no longer be a salary cap and the Owners would get involved in bidding wars to sign key players costing them even more. WRONG !!


The reverse is true Sports Fans. While there will be some instances of over-sized salaries well there already are. The cap does not prevent a team from paying any one player too much. It just leaves less for the other salaries. And let’s never forget most of the contracts are not really guaranteed in any normal sense of the word. Virtually all of them provide the Owners escape clauses if they decide to dump a player. For any reason.

The Reality is without a requirement that 60% of their revenues MUST go to players teams will leave many of the players call them most line men if you like and and most back-up players at ALL positions with take it or leave it choices. There are lots of other would-be NFL players coming out of colleges that NEVER get to play in the NFL.

They would accept ANY salary to play. Take the salary the Owner offers or go work for Macy’s or Merrill Lynch. Because the LESS teams pay far salaries if there is no requirement there is more PROFIT for the Owners. Fans have nowhere else to go.

So what’s the Point Black Box

a profound one Sports Fans

The players specifically the NFL Players Association has a POWERFUL tool at its command. Often referred to as NEGOTIATING. NO not negotiating in the typical brain dead sense – which Upshaw and the Boys are already doing saying well we want more than 60% now. RIGHT ! That is why UPSHAW MUST GO.

First let’s keep in mind that 70% of the players are African American. Which means that whatever the agreement or lack of agreement the MAJORITY of players who will feel the effects are Black.

That said the facts are 1) the likelihood is that the owners are going to get what they want (see above for the reasons), but TWO and here is why it is so so important to read the Box EVERY day 2) the NFL Players Union has an historic opportunity to get something PIVOTAL in return. IF they are Smart and Innovative and Persuasive as they can be.

That is why UPSHAW MUST GO.

NOTHING innovative will happen in the negotiations with Upshaw still leading the Players Association. Here is what can happen with UPSHAW GONE and with a dynamic NEW leader for the NFL Players Association replacing him.

Give the Owners what they think they want sort of 1) because they are going to get it anyway, 2) with 55% of revenues and the ever increasing revenues the players will do just as well as with 60%, 3) although the Owners could benefit without any agreement they dislike even more uncertainty and disarray so better to have an agreement, and 4) lowering the collective bargaining agreement more than 5% is not realistic.

So here is the Other Point

the most Important Point

With the NFL Players Association willing to negotiate a lower revenue percentage 5% at most THE PLAYERS CAN WIN BIG TIME by demanding other provisions in return. Any and all of those provisions will largely and officially provide the players a serious role in the NFL decision making process. WOWWWWWW !!! Anybody who doesn’t get it you are FORBIDDEN from ever reading the Box again. NEVER again !!

While the NFL Owners have effectively blocked BLACK ownership of teams which prevents African Americans from being part of the decision making process at the NFL – with the right NEW collective bargaining agreement they will accomplish the same goal but better. Much much better.

Rather than one lone Black Owner having very little impact on the decision making of the other 31 Owners – a labor agreement that REQUIRES that player representatives sit on ALL key NFL committees, have votes on each and have FULL access to all NFL data and deliberations just as Owners do now will REVOLUTIONIZE the relationship between Owners and Players in the NFL specifically but as a model for ALL Sports.

The implications are staggering even if they will have to evolve over time. But the PLAYERS having say about management hiring policies and decisions, and yes how the League determines who should be allowed to buy teams when they are sold, and YES who the next Commissioner will be , and so many other decisions BIG and small that the players are completely EXCLUDED from now. WOW !!!

So you say the Owners will

NEVER agree well yes they

NEVER will with Upshaw

“leading” the players but

with someone else their

choice will effectively

be NO justice

NO peace

Roger Goodell ” WE’LL NEVER AGREE BUT ….”