Every time the CBA comes up, players get screwed.
Is it because players are stupid?
No, at least it’s not just that.
The short answer is that owners can think long-term while players, on the whole, have to think short-term and owners know how to take advantage of this.
The long answer is a little more interesting. Let’s explore deeper.
The NFLPA needs a majority vote of all players to approve a CBA.
“All players” includes mega-millionaires like Aaron Rodgers and JJ Watt, but it also includes guys on the practice squad like Evan Baylis, who make $136k (if they make it the whole season).
Since the CBA that is voted on will last for 10 years, and professional football players have one of the shortest careers of any profession in the world, it’s safe to say that most of the players voting on it won’t be around by the time it ends.
This is why the players, as a collective, keep getting screwed.
If they took a hard-line and fought for the things they should have (a 50-50 revenue split, a great retirement health care plan, and no additional games, for starters), they would probably end up missing some games and, therefore, some money.
Guys like Aaron Rodgers and JJ Watt have more than enough money to miss some game checks, even if they never played another game. It’s the major masses of guys at the bottom of the pyramid that would suffer.
Let’s look at it from their perspective.
I’m a borderline special teams player on a middling squad making the league minimum.
I’m hoping I can just hang on with the team next year, but if we changes coaches, change coordinators, draft someone at my position, I get hurt, or any other of a number of bad things happen, I’m done.
My career might be over. When other teams have the choice between picking up a low-rung veteran like me, or going with a cheap, homegrown undrafted free agent, the almost always go for the latter (they’re cheaper, are more familiar with the system, and are usually believed to have more potential).
My whole goal is to last three or four years in this game so I can scrape together enough money to supplement my future income doing something like selling used cars so I can have a better life than the guy who has to live solely on the income from selling used cars.
In short, I need to scrape up whatever wages I can. If owners wanna throw an extra game in to get me more money now, I’m in! I don’t have long, so I’ll take what I can get. The one thing I can’t afford is to miss any part of this season – if we hold out, I’m probably done.
Owners know this.
Owners are thinking longer term – their career earning window if ten or twenty times as long as that of most players.
Owners are also rich, meaning they don’t care if they miss a few games. Every owner either made a sh!t ton of money before they bought their team or they inherited the team from parents who made a sh!t ton of money.
And when I say sh!t ton, I’m talking big.
Shahid Khan bought the Jaguars in 2011 for $770M, the same year that his company had revenue of $7.5B – which was twice as much as the salary cap for all 32 teams that year.
Think about that.
The newest owner, a self-made billionaire with the newest money of them all, had a company that made more than twice as much as all of the players in the entire league combined.
And he’s not the richest owner by a long shot.
Guys like that, guys who own a football team as a little side hustle, can afford to miss football income a lot more than some 23 year old fringe long-snapper.
But those low-end players, the little guys, have a vote that counts just as much as Aaron Rodgers’s vote. And there’s a lot more of them.
So owners negotiate accordingly.
They offer some crappy terms and tell the players to vote.
The players could either:
A) Vote for the long-terms benefit of all players in the future
B) Vote to get a some money now before it’s too late – after all, if they don’t play this year, they may never play again and all that’s waiting for them is a job selling used cars or stocking grocery shelves
They go with B, every time.
It’s hard to fault them. It’s hard to fault the owners for negotiating from the high ground.
This is what happens every single time.
It happened last time.
It’s happening this time.
It’s what will happen next time.
Let’s just accept it as a natural progression of the evolution of the sport.
Maybe the only thing that could possibly disrupt it is a rival league offering better benefits and rising in popularity to such a level that it threatens the NFL.
Give the barriers to entry (established fan bases and lucrative TV deals and sponsorships), it may never happen.
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