Sunday, March 22, 2009

Living La Vida NFL

The annual NFL owners' meetings kick off Monday at a swanky resort in California. And when people with that much money get together to talk about a league that brings in more than $8 billion in annual revenues, the failing economy has got to be a major point of conversation.

According to many, including USA Today's Jim Corbett (who outlines the issues to be discussed in a very fan-friendly way), that's absolutely true. At the Super Bowl, Commissioner Roger Goodell acknowledged that the league is not immune to the economic pressures facing the world. In fact, he's taking a pay cut on his scheduled $11 million salary (and he's not even giving it to Anquan Boldin).

But it's not simply an issue of rich people sitting around a table and talking about how poorly their 401k's are doing. Much of the business to be discussed is directly related to the economy. The current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) is set to expire after the 2010 season. If they don't come to a new agreement before the next free agency period, there will be no salary cap for the 2010 season.

In an era where it's hard to know how much they can sell a nose-bleed seat for, how are owners going to be able to set the market for a Pro Bowl wide receiver without a salary cap.

DeMaurice Smith was just elected as Executive Director of the NFLPA after a period of instability following the passing of longtime representative Gene Upshaw. According to an NFL spokesman, the owners will discuss "preparing and planning" for a new CBA. Hopefully, that means getting all the owners (who voted 30-2 last year to opt out of the old agreement) on the same page in moving forward quickly. The time is now for owners and players to get together and make some stability on the CBA, so there is one less thing to worry about in these uncertain times.

Then there is the issue of just running franchises. It would be interesting to hear what the owners have to say to Redskins owner Dan Snyder about laying off dozens of members of his operations staff one day and then shelling out $100 million to Albert Haynesworth the next. When there is this much money involved, all the math can't really add up logically, but it's important for the league to have a united plan for moving forward.

As Goodell said, the NFL isn't immune to the economy. Let's just hope the NFL owners can realize that while kicking back in luxurious Dana Point, Calif.

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