The NFL lockout is over and we are going to very quickly move on to the business of football that we've been "deprived" over these many months. Free agency and trades will dominate the headlines for the rest of the week and then we will immediately be in full training camp mode with the first preseason game scheduled for the Arizona Cardinals on August 11.
That's less than three weeks away which is very little time for a team with no starting quarterback (no offense intended to John Skelton or Rich Bartel).
But before we rush (pun intended) headlong into the season, we are morally obligated to opine as to the winners and losers of the longest labor stoppage in NFL history.
Some quick deal points of the new agreement as we know them today before they've been officially approved and announced but why should that stop us from pretending they are true and final and therefore passing judgement on them:
- The new CBA is for 10 years with no opt outs. 10 years means 10 years before we have to go through this again. My five-year-old daughter who was oblivious to the NFL Lockout of 2011 will be 15 when the next argument kicks off (pun intended) with sides disputing flying car revenue and how to split the broadcasts rights fees for Mars.
- The Players agreed to a drop from 50 to 46 percent in revenue share but they get 55 percent of future national media deals (which we assume also includes extraterrestrial rights as well).
- The Owners get a much needed rookie scale that slots the draftees into four-year deals that prevent them from buying their own private jets or small islands until after they've survive their first contract. Of course, the average career length is just 3.4 years so that was kind of clever on the part of the owners.
- To help the rookies survive long enough to cash in, there will be five fewer weeks of work in the offseason, no 18-game schedule, more days off and far fewer full-contact practices. Just like mama said, hitting your friends isn't nice.
- The 2011 salary cap ($120 million) is at about the 2009 level but will increase with 10 percent raises for players each year and a salary floor of 90 percent of the cap.
- The Players get health care for life under the NFL's plan where as before they were kicked to the curb (with the rest of us) after five years of retirement.
- The pension plan gets a $1 billion bump with $620 million going to increase the pensions for the players who retired before 1993.
It all seems infinitely fair to both sides. There was some give and some take and even the most whiny fans can't claim to be losers in the lockout since they didn't actually miss anything.
Even before all the legal mumbo jumbo started, most observers felt that the NFL Owners and Players would reach an agreement on how to split the NFL Golden Cash Cow before anyone actually lost any money and that's exactly what's happened.
The lasting legacy of this work stoppage on the game and its relationship with the fans will be a giant "meh" and barely a footnote in the history of the league. The only real loser is the NCAA who was hoping and praying that they would have the only professional football going this fall.