Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Fans' Perfect Deal: Six Wishes for the New CBA

Whether it's keeping the four miserable preseason games or another billion dollars going to the owners, one thing will be true about the eventual deal that wraps up the NFL's current labor unrest: it will be unfavorable to the fans in some way.

This is billionaires and millionaires dividing up more hundreds of millions of dollars. The interests of the fans have gone, and will be, without direct representation in the final rounds of bargaining between the NFL and the NFLPA. 

So in the spirit of what-would-happen-if-I-had-a-strangely-particular-magic-ring-that-granted-me-NFL-wishes, I thought I (as a simple fan) might make a list of what I'd like to see happen with the new CBA.

In no particular order, here are my wishes:

1. Let's have it happen soon, so that there isn't a lockout.
Duh. Why not? Too much money and sides that don't like each other.

2. Get rid of two preseason games without adding two regular-season games.
Wouldn't it be great for season-ticket holders not to have to pay for lousy entertainment along with the good? And wouldn't it be great if we didn't expand the season and see more players wind up on injured reserve? (The answer is yes, but two preseason games make the NFL money.)

3. Extend the post-career health care coverage for retired players, and require every team (if they don't do it already) to have rookies meet with a financial advisor.
This is just sensible. Playing a violent game requires better health coverage, and players should be better advised not to spend their money now if at all possible.

4. Limit the salaries of first-round rookies to something reasonable, say $15 million guaranteed, but leave the rest of the rookie wage scale alone.
Aside from JaMarcus Russell-type contracts, the scale works pretty well the way it is; why fix what works?

5. Create an in-season injured reserve list. 
This idea isn't mine, I first read it at the National Football Post. But it makes sense. With roster size as the determining factor, the Packers had to place Ryan Grant and Jermichael Finley on IR this year, when their injuries could've healed in time for the playoffs (Grant did, Finley would've been tentative). With a reserve list for players who will heal over the course of the season, owners could perhaps mitigate the damage of an 18-game schedule.

6. The league could open its goddamn financial records already, and the players could judge fairly the owners' contention that player costs are eventually going to outpace revenue.
This won't happen. The first one might, the second one won't, and who knows if it's an honest contention anyway?

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