ESPN's new NFL business analyst Andrew Brandt will be here in a few minutes to chat about the NFL's CBA dispute.
What are these labor negotiations like? Does it get heated behind closed doors?
They can. The role of the mediator is to make sure that they don't. Take away the emotion and make sure they focus on the issues. My sense is that they have the parties in different areas and brings them together when there's an issue.
Mr. Brandt, I have been following the CBA since the issue of a lockout first became public last year and understand it is a complex process. But put me in a room with D. Smith and the owners and I would have it signed, sealed and delivered at the end of the day. If they are whining about how to split 9 billion, imagine how much belly-aching is going to go on when they loss truck loads of money by not having 1 to every game this year?
It certainly seems like a good problem to have in splitting $9 billion. The bottom line is the players have asked for a 50-50 split. It's not as clear where the owners last proposal is. They're trying to close that gulf some how with a lot of other issues that come with it. Whether they get close to that today is looking less likely, but we can always hope.
What's the point of delaying the deadling if they're not going to make a deal?
I think the extension was to see if the progress made last week on Thursday and Friday could be advanced. I said at the time that the key to an extension was to make Monday and Tuesday as important as Thursday and Friday. It does not appear that progress was made early in the week. My sense is the owners are making a push today but the players have a grenade of decertification. That's a real threat to the owners.
Why have we waited until the last minute to do these talks? Why was there no reports on the two sides even talking until the deadline was near?
That's an excellent question. It just always appears in negotiations that nothing really creates movement except for deadlines. These talks have been sporadic for two years. When the push came last week, there was hope. I think both sides are leary of each other and their strategies of what happens after today. But I'm trying to focus on the glimmer of hope we still have in the next couple of hours.
Okay, if there is a lockout and decertification, what will it take for the sides to get back to the bargaining table, and what would be a reasonable timeframe for doing so?
They can still negotiate while in the process of decertification and lockout. The issue now is they're negotiating a series of lawsuits rather than a collective bargaining agreement. The first lawsuit would be by the players to stop an NFL lockout. If they're successful NFL business would continue. That would probably be easier to negotiate a new deal rather than having both a lockout and decertification. Either way, if the players decertify, it moves from a negotiation to a litigation, which no one wants.
What is the latest you believe a deal can be signed, and still not have it impact the start of the season? Some people think that as long as a deal is signed before the opening night Thursday game, then the season wont be affected, but obvioulsy that isnt the case as teams will still need training camps and at least 1 or 2 preseason games.
Negotiations can do anything, meaning that if a deal is made at a late hour, they can decide on however long a preseason they want and however long a season they want. As long as the networks have time in mid to late February. Everything is negotiable. But of course if you get past a certain date, it makes it hard to play a full season. My sense is that if we get to a point in September that we have a settlement, they'll make it work.
Do the owners really want an 18 game schedule, or is t just a bargaining chip they will let go of for more money?
I think the owners are looking under every rock to try and find new revenue streams. An obvious one is playing more games. They have admitted that an 18-game season would add $500 million of revenue to the league's bottom line. That would be shared with the players with depending on the money split. The owners have made it clear that this would solve the problem of no one paying attention to the preseason. I think it's more than a negotiating ploy. I think it's a point of emphasis for the NFL.
If you're the federal mediator, what's your role?
My role is to strip the negotiations of the rhetoric, Twitter fights, public statements, posturing, etc. and look each party in the eye on each issue and ask them "can you live with this?" Also, clearly there's a number that both Goodell and Smith have in their pocket that they would do a deal for. The mediator has to find out that number. Once he knows that number, he can suggest a deal to both sides. Today is the day that George Cohen can be a hero.
Let's cut to the chase: What's the likely hood we will get a deal today? What about another extension?
I would say it's unlikely we have a deal today. The hope is for another extension. A player source said to me "why would we do that?" There's a hesitance on their side. My hope is that we have a short extension to really focus the numbers and perhaps we get one through Monday.
We keep hearing that the talks were for only 4 hours a day....why aren't they locked in a room to hammer something out?
Good question. When you watch the clips of people walking into the building, there are lots of people. I know many of those people and know many of them are lawyers. With many lawyers in the room, sometimes things can get off track. There seems to be times of the day when the NFLPA recesses off to its offices a couple of blocks away. From an outsider point of view, we wonder why they don't lock the door and hammer it out, but everything done is done for a reason.
Do you feel to many people are involved with the NFL CBA negotiations. And really what does mean for us fans if the players union decertifies as a union?
On the first point, I think it's fine that they have many people involved. I just hope that there are times when the principles are meeting privately in a group of as little as 2 or 4 people. Small numbers may produce more.
It would mean that this negotiation would turn into a ligitation. There would be no union. Players like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees would file lawsuits and those lawsuits would challenge the lockout. They would also challenge free agency, franchise tag, draft, etc.
If they do get a deal, do you see perhaps a longer term deal than normal, just to avoid this situation again, or shorter if one side believes they can do better the next time around?
Good question, because this deal that we are now seeing expire was supposed to run until March 2013, but an opt out was done by ownership to get out of it 2011, which they exercised. That's a possibility for this deal as well, an opt out for both sides. Without that exception, I would see this deal running 5-6 years.
Why are billionaires and millionaires fighting? What do the players want that owners can't agree with, and what do owners want that players can't agree with?
Players want two things: status quo - the deal that was negotiated in 2006; and improved safety and health benefits. The owners want to bring a deal back to account for the fact that over the last 5 years player cost is outpacing revenue. So they want to curb the pace of player compensation more level to the rate of revenue growth. Ultimately, there is a solution here, they have to find it. But I think there's a deal to be made.
According to Back to the Future II, all lawyers were abolished in 2015. Would that speed up a deal?
It would only speed it up if lawyers were abolished in 2011.
Is Roger Goodell "dropping the ball" in regards to this negotiation? They had 2 years to plan things out, and they seem very unprepared!
Well, I think we've known for two years, since they opted out in May 2008 that they wanted a new system. What has stalled the negotiations is the players want to know closer why the system isn't working. But to the owners defense, the appetite for public stadiums and practice facilities is no where near it was before. They are looking for "credits" which would come off of revenues before the players share is calculated.
I enjoyed the chat. I'll be on ESPN all day covering this. You can follow me on Twitter: <a href="http://twitter.com/adbrandt">@ADBrandt</a>.