Chat with Andrew Brandt
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, ESPN's business analyst Andrew Brandt stops by to chat about NFL business as well as the ongoing NBA labor issues.
Brandt, who has over 25 years of experience in professional football, both from the management and player representation side, runs NationalFootballPost.com, where he gives fans an insider's view on the business of football. His Twitter is: @ADBrandt.
He is also a lecturer at the Wharton School of Business, teaching Sports Law, Sports Business and Negotiations. He has written for Forbes, the Huffington Post and Sports Business Journal, while also appearing across all ESPN TV, radio and online platforms. In his time in the football business, Brandt as served as a player representative, a World League GM and a VP with the Packers.
Send your questions now and join Brandt Friday at noon ET!
Buzzmaster (12:00 PM)
We're getting Andrew!
Andrew Brandt (12:02 PM)
Welcome everyone. Looking forward to answering your questions, with news from the beginning of the NFL season, the NBA lockout, tonight's launch of the movie "Moneyball" and anything else that's on your mind. Fire away!
How much do you think the cancellations of NBA training camp will effect negotiations?
Andrew Brandt (12:04 PM)
I think that was expected. I think we're at a position now in the NBA where we'll start slowly seeing things come off the calendar. It's expected that at least the first two weeks of camp/preseason will come off the books. It's safe to say that we'll look for drips of more cancellations to come. Having said that, I still don't think we're at the point of reckoning for the NBA negotiations. Again, the NFL settled their dispute on the eve of training camp at the end of July. If under the same calendar that would mean the NBA would settle at the beginning of October. It may not happen then, but I wouldn't rule out a resolution prior to the beginning of the season in November. But, back to your question, the NBA has now surpassed the NFL in terms of cancelled preseason games. The NFL only had one cancelled game, the Hall of Fame game.
It's hard to read inbetween the lines on the NBA negotiaions reports....I've read that the meetings have been productive....yet nothing has been decided on....but at least the sides are talking......but they won't be meeting again until next week. What is the status of the talks, in your mind?
Andrew Brandt (12:06 PM)
My sense is they're still playing cat and mouse until we reach a true deadline. Again, I'm not even sure the start of training camp in early October is a true deadline in either party's mind. The players have made concessions on the split of revenue. It still does not appear to be enough for the owners. My sense is the owners will soften their position to make a deal, but we're not there yet.
Is there any language or part of the new NFL CBA that accounts for economic issues? If the TV deals change or if teams in-stadium revenues fall, etc?
Andrew Brandt (12:08 PM)
I think that is accounted for in the way that the salary cap is calculated. Early in the negotiations, the NFL was trying to limit the players' share to a fixed number. Later in the negotiation, that changed to a variable number, depending on revenues, good or bad. The cap calculation, meaning the share of revenue going to the players, is from dollar 1 and will reflect the game's finances, good or bad. Even with an economic drop off, as you suggest, the bulk of NFL revenues come from broadcast networks and there does not appear to be any forecast of reduced revenue there.
Now that the NFL labor situation is settled for the next 10 years, what is the next big business issue facing the league?
Andrew Brandt (12:10 PM)
That's a good question. On an immediate scale, the league has to protect their integrity with issues such as players faking injuries and whether players experiencing concussions and punctured lungs, such as Michael Vick and Tony Romo, should return to the field the next week. While these are not strictly business issues, they are issues effecting the image of the product. The Vick and Romo issues are business issues because the business of the NFL is not the same without these two stars on the field. However, their long term health may be better served by their not playing this week.
Andrew Brandt (12:11 PM)
On the macro scale, as I mentioned, the biggest business deals ahead are renegotiations with NBC, CBS, Fox and/or other networks ahead, now that the ESPN deal is settled. They will provide more than half of the revenues coming into the NFL over the next 10 years.
We saw moneyball work in mlb....anything like that in the NFL?
Andrew Brandt (12:13 PM)
In my time with the Packers, I really tried to marry the player personnel with the business/contract side of the operation. It wasn't exactly what you call Moneyball or Sabermetrics, but we knew which players on our team and around the league were providing the most value to the team. We always looked for players that were undervalued on the market.
Andrew Brandt (12:14 PM)
Just like the war room that you see during NFL drafts, I had a "cap room" that had information on every player in the league and a valuation from a business point of view. So, yes there is some infiltration of Moneyball in a bit of a different twist.
You gotta feel for a guy like Fred Jackson, don't you? With two years left at a bargain rate, he's got no leverege with the Bills, does he?
Andrew Brandt (12:16 PM)
Good question. He has little leverage in terms of his contract having years left. But as you saw in the media this week, he's making comments that could provide him some leverage. With all of the positive buzz about the Bills, he's putting a bit of a damper on that in expression his frustration about his contract. His goal may be to provide enough angst in the Bills' front office to get them to address the situation. Unfortunately for him, not only does he lack leverage, but he has to get in line behind Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has 15 games left on his deal.
We see Harvard guys becoming GMs in baseball.....but the NFL seems to be more "football guys"....will we see a change there?
Andrew Brandt (12:18 PM)
Good question. I think the NFL has been not quite as early an adapter as MLB and the NBA with analytics. However, 15 years ago, most of the people doing contracts and managing the cap for NFL teams were football guys with a player personnel background. Only in the late 90s did teams start hiring people like myself with legal and business expertise to handle the business side of football. Similarly, we're in the early phase of that adaptation to analytics. Teams are starting to use it for scouting, but ultimately it comes down to the decision maker whether the coach or GM in terms of how and to what extent that information is used.
What do you feel is the biggest negotiation point in the NBA deal?
Andrew Brandt (12:20 PM)
Two things. The split of revenue, as it was with the NFL. The players have been at 57% and have offered to go as low as 53, perhaps to 52. Meanwhile the owners seem committed to bringing the revenue split to their slight favor, perhaps looking to the NFL, which was able to get 52-53 on their end.
Andrew Brandt (12:21 PM)
The second issue is the cap. The players are not asking for the dissolution of the cap, but they would like the exceptions to continue, exceptions that have allowed teams like the Lakers and Mavericks to pay close to 90 million on a 58 million cap. The owners are desperately trying to harden the cap and eliminate the exceptions. That's a fundamental issue.
Players always complain about the nature of the non-gauranteed contracts, yet did not bring it up in the CBA negotiations. Is it because they know owners have to spend a certain amount anyway and deep down they really know it should be for the ones on the field and not the ones who can't play (for injury or skill)?
Andrew Brandt (12:23 PM)
That's a great question. For whatever reason, gauranteed contracts didn't become a priority issue. Perhaps because the loophole of the signing bonuses is still there. There is still the opportunity to have $30 million signing bonuses that only count 6 million per year against the cap on a 5-year deal, allowing teams to pay over the cap. The Panthers' payroll is approaching 180 million on a 120 million cap. The players probably thought that as long as they had the loophole, they wouldn't push the guaranteed issue.
Does the Colts failure show that it may be time for front office / coaching changes in Indy?
Andrew Brandt (12:26 PM)
I think it's still early, before that discussion. But it is curious what happened with the Peyton Manning situation. He was rewarded with a major contract after two neck surgeries and prior to a third. He was also taken off the PUP list to practice during training camp, before the team realized that he could not play. To their credit, the Colts protected themselves with Manning's contract, where they can get out after this season. Right now it doesn't look good, but let's give more time before we bury the Colts.
Jeff (NY, NY)
In these labor disputes, what % of the issues are really between the owners themselves rather than the players and the owners?
Andrew Brandt (12:27 PM)
If you talk to the players 90% of their issues are among the owners themselves. If you talk to the owners, these are all players issues. The bottom line is the owners do have issues among themselves, because they all come from different levels of market place and funding. However, they seem to be universal in their feeling that their best way of achieving profitability is to reduce their labor cost. But you have identified the No. 1 issue for players in all of these labor disputes.
Shane (Los Angeles, CA)
Mr. Brandt, does the NFL have any real jurisdiction to penalize players for their actions during the lockout? Seems to me a player like Cedric Benson & the NFLPA would have a real case against the NFL for suspending him. I just cant see how the NFL can assert its jurisdiction/authority during a lockout.
Andrew Brandt (12:29 PM)
This seems to be an area that is still left unresolved from the final CBA negotiations. I have not been able to get a firm answer on whether commissioner discipline during the lockout is or is not allowable. There seems to be some distinction on whether he can discipline first time offenders or repeat offenders. Benson would be a repeat offender. While we watch Talib and Britt continue to play, it appears that the commissioner is not too vigilant about the lockout conduct. But we'll see on the Benson case.
Andrew Brandt (12:31 PM)
I enjoyed it. As always great questions. Look for me across all ESPN platforms. And, as always check me out on Twitter: @ADBrandt. Talk to you soon.