The NFL is the most successful of our sports league because (a) the teams have a pretty level playing field which makes (b) everyone having a shot to win. It is nearly foolproof. The NFL has a high and low cap and everyone must abide. The players get their money via signing bonuses and several contracted years.
But all that could go away very soon. Ya see, there is no labor agreement between the owners and players. And it really isn't the players fault.
It's the owners.
There is a new breed of ownership in the NFL that doesn't like sharing. Sharing is "the" thing in the NFL....all the money gets thrown into a pot and everyone gets the same amount. That allows Jacksonville to stay with New York....and not like the MLB where Tampa Bay and New York are on different planets spending wise. I mean, how else does Green Bay still keep getting free agents?? Well, those rich owners don't like it.
Owners like Washington's Dan Snyder and Dallas' Jerry Jones sit atop the two most lucrative franchises in American sports. Snyder's Redskins are worth a cool billion dollars....more than anyone. He can charge insane prices for tickets, advertising, parking and consessions because, well, his customers will pay it.
In the NFL, television rights, merchandise and ticket sales are all thrown into the pot to share. But, luxury suites, local advertising, stadium naming rights and parking are not in the share. That means a team like the Redskins, Cowboys and Patriots can pay out big signing bonuses to get those big free agents because they have more income than teams in Charlotte, New Orleans and Arizona.
Those smaller market owners want a cut of that....saying location is the reason for them not being able to get that kind of money.....not their business savvy. This is one of the few times where the players are rooting for the owners to crumble. If the circle of "me-first" owners get their way....there is no cap in 2007. That will most likely get rid of the cap....or the cap as they've known it....forever.
And that could turn the NFL into what Major League Baseball has become: a league where you have a decisive split between the "haves" and "have-nots". You could have the Redskins, Cowboys, Patriots and Giants with more resources at their disposal than many of the other teams.....and choke away all the talent. Then the greatest thing about the NFL....the belief in all fans that they can be good pretty quickly....would be gone. Those smaller teams would just be training grounds for young guys until they mature mentally, physically and financially and take off for the Big City.
I am a Redskins fan, so to me this wouldn't be a totally bad thing. But, I understand that it is for the entire league. I hate what baseball has become. This was a league that had Kansas City, Cincinnati, Oakland, Milwaukee and Minnesota in the World Series in the 1980s. Those franchises now need to hope that their young talent with develop and do so on the cheap for them to compete now. And usually it's only a one-shot deal.
The current way allows all teams with a legit shot to make it. No team is over stacked. No team is talent-less. There is money out there everywhere....so New York has the same contract allowance as Seattle. You can be 1-15 then go to the Super Bowl two years later [Carolina] or be 4-12 and win the Super Bowl the very next year [St.Louis].
I think a deal will get done, one way or the other. The NFL has shrewdly put some bad clauses in their expiring deal that forces them to get a new one done. If an agreement isn't reached, then
(a) there is no minimum or maximum salary cap
(b) players must wait 6 years to be unrestricted free agents [currently it is 4]
(c) the final eight playoff teams cannot sign any free agents but their own [or waived players]. This is known as the Final Eight Rule.
Everyone involved in the NFL should realize what it has right now and should strive to maintain it.