FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- It’s fitting that the first question Thursday to NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith about a potential lockout in 2011 came from a player: Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco.
"How serious is it that football might not be played in 2011," Ochocinco asked. "Where are we right now, basically is what I'm asking."
"On a scale of one to 10, it's a 14," Smith responded. "Look, everyone wants to talk about what's the most significant dates [in the] current CBA negotiations. ... I go back to late 2007 [when] the National Football League hired as their chief negotiator the same person who locked out hockey. Right after that they negotiated television contracts that will pay them money even if the games are not played. We know that they've renegotiated some assistant coaches’ contracts to envision a lockout.
"If you look at what those steps are, all of those steps have been unilateral. For us, and for our fans and teams, we have pushed hard to first get a proposal and to now understand the justification for a roll back in player share that would put us back to 1992-93. It's that serious"
Here are the highlights from the players' perspectives:
Even though NFL owners take $1 billion off the top of total league revenue, the league wants players to reduce their share of remaining revenue from roughly 59 percent to 41 percent.
The NFLPA views the new television contract, which would pay the owners $5 billion if there is not football in 2011, as lockout insurance.
The union has been advising players to save 25 percent of their salary in anticipation of being locked out.
Teams still refuse to open up their books to show average profit margin of NFL franchises.
Smith insists it would be virtually impossible to go back to a salary cap system if 2010 is played without a cap.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will hold his annual state-of-the-league address Friday to present the owners’ side of the argument.