Vikings and Saints Share Moment of Solidarity at NFL Season Opener

For the few who missed the 2010 NFL regular season-opening game between the Vikings and the Saints, the game began with all the players from both teams raising their index fingers, the universal sign for Number One, in a show of solidarity against NFL owners. The players were showing that they stand together in the upcoming negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement(CBA). The current agreement between the NFL owners and the NFL Players Association ends in March, and, with the two sides miles apart on a handful of key issues, there has been much speculation about a lockout taking away the 2011 NFL season.

Some of the key issues being debated in the media are the share of league profits that goes to each side. The current CBA promises 57 percent of net profits to the players, but players argue that they actually only get around 50 percent because some owners to not spend their allotted salary cap. The biggest question surrounding the new CBA is how much the players receive, and whether or not that money is guaranteed regardless of the salary cap.

Another key topic of debate is the implementation of a rookie pay scale and where the money saved will go. Both sides agree there should be a rookie cap, but they differ greatly on where to use the money saved. The players want half of the money a rookie cap would create to go to retired players and the other half to veteran salaries. The owners would like to take control of the money to reinvest it to expand the league’s overall profits, which they say would find its way into players’ pockets anyway. Estimates say the rookie cap would create around $200 million a year in savings for the league.

The final issue, which is being debated heavily, is the proposed addition of two regular season games. The owners are proposing to expand the regular season to 18 games, but dropping two preseason games. They say that the move would increase the value to fans, while still keeping the total season, excluding playoffs, at 20 games. Players, of course, argue that most regular starters play very little in the preseason, so eliminating the exhibition contests will not make up for the extra wear-and-tear two extra regular season games would cause.

A spokesman for the Players’ Association said the show of solidarity on the field was intended as a move to gain fans’ support in the impending battle. What they failed to realize, however, is that fans do not care where the hundreds of billions of dollars created by the NFL go. All we care about is that wonderful day at the end of a rough work-week when we can sit in our easy chairs, crack open a beer, and watch some overpaid, incredibly entertaining athletes bust each other in the mouth. Players should keep their focus on the game when they’re on the field; and find a way to come to terms with owners to prevent a 2011 lockout. Not that we side with the owners, either; we just want the two sides to assure us that we are important enough to them that they won’t take away a whole season.