What The Players And Owners Got In NFL Deal
STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
The two sides got together, talked over their differences about money and finally came to an agreement. I suppose we should specify we're talking here about pro football. One hundred and thirty-six days after being locked out by owners, NFL players agreed yesterday to a 10-year labor agreement. Teams can start signing rookies and some free agents today. And some training camps open as early as tomorrow. NPR's Mike Pesca reports.
MIKE PESCA: But just as you and your fellow fans are about to bite off your foam fingers the opposing quarterback throws an interception. It takes only a few seconds to totally forget the angst and worry of the prior moments. That's kind of the case with the NFL labor negotiation that just played out.
GABE FELDMAN: It went according to script.
PESCA: Gabe Feldman is the director of Tulane University's sports law program.
FELDMAN: We knew all along if this deal didn't get done by March 11th it likely wouldn't have gotten done until it wound its way through the courts and we were just on the verge of missing games, and that's where we are today.
PESCA: That's not to say that every part of the deal is unexceptional. While it's true that the average salary will go down, it could also be the case that the average player could be paid more. Andrew Brandt, founder of the National Football Post and a former team executive and player agent, explains how that works.
ANDREW BRANDT: That's the unsung hero of this deal - minimum salaries. It doesn't sound like a lot, but they're all going up by $55,000. About 900 of the 1,900 NFL players are making minimum salaries. So you add all that up, that will bring up the low into more of a middle tier than we've had before.
PESCA: Also consider that the very top draft picks will be making far less money. Another boon to players is that the smaller market, or to put it nicely, thriftier teams like the Bengals, Bills ands Jaguars will have to maintain a payroll of at least 89 percent of the big time teams. Andrew Brandt says this means that the players in the smaller cities won't necessarily receive smaller paychecks.
BRANDT: This is a new part of this agreement we've never had in the NFL before. They will spend and that will rise all boats from the player angle.
PESCA: However pleased both sides are with the deal, everyone knows that players and owners are not the games most important constituency. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell spoke at a joint press conference after the deal was announced.
ROGER GOODELL: I think we have to make sure we understand that our bond with our fans is probably the primary issue that all of us have to keep focus on, whether you're a player, whether you're an owner, or whether you're a commissioner.
PESCA: Mike Pesca, NPR News.
INSKEEP: And you hear Mr. Pesca right here on MORNING EDITION from NPR News.
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