ESPN.com’s Gregg Easterbrook: “There will be a new NFL collective bargaining agreement”

In a recent ESPN.com column, Gregg Easterbrook discusses the NFL labor situation, writing “there will be a new collective bargaining agreement, hence no strike or lockout.”

“Players’ reps are claiming there is something sinister to the fact that the networks are on the hook to pay the NFL about $5 billion in 2011 even if there are no games,” Easterbrook notes. “Supposedly, this means the owners actually desire a strike/lockout, because they’d received $5 billion yet have no player costs. But the $5 billion that would be paid to the NFL in 2011 if there are no games must be repaid to the networks via lower future broadcast fees. So there’s no incentive for the NFL to have a dark year.

“A canceled season in 2011 would surely make future NFL broadcasting rights deals much less valuable,” Easterbrook continues. “A reason payments from networks to the league — and in turn, payments from the league to players — have skyrocketed since 1993 is that labor peace makes broadcast rights to NFL games more valuable.”

“In the first regulated year, 1994, the salary cap was $49 million in today’s dollars; last year it was $128 million. That’s a 160 percent pay increase for players in just 15 years, and more like a 175 percent increase in total monies to players, when expansion is taken into account,” Easterbrook concludes. “NFL contributions to pension instruments for current and retired players also have skyrocketed. Labor peace (networks and fans assured of games) and a salary cap (rendering all teams competitive) have translated into a spectacular increase in money for NFL players and owners alike. Both parties would be fools to kill this golden goose, so a new deal will be worked out and there will be pro football in 2011.”

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