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Answering some key questions

March 4, 2011

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Some questions and answers regarding the NFL’s labor negotiations with the players’ union:

Q. If the union chooses to decertify, what does that mean? What is the impact on negotiations?

A. If the union decertifies, it is dissolving and giving up its rights to negotiate with the league for certain things, such as the amount of time players work and how much they are paid. The union can’t sue the league for such mechanisms as free agency if it agreed to them as a union. The players can only sue individually after decertification.

Q. What does “grow the game’’ mean, and why is it a bad deal for the owners?

A. Investing in the game. Those new stadiums cost a lot of money and generate a lot of revenue. Public money has dried up in the past decade, forcing owners to take out sizable loans to pay for stadiums. They feel they’re not getting nearly enough money to cover those costs and the ones needed to help the game — and revenue — grow into other markets (Europe, Asia, Mexico). The owners think the players should pay more of these expenses, from which they also benefit.

Q. What is the impact of the federal judge’s ruling to potentially block television revenue?

A. The owners were counting on having $4.2 billion at their disposal in the event of a lockout — they wanted it so bad they forced it into those contracts — and now it’s gone. That’s huge because the owners won’t be able to hold out as long as previously thought. That war chest was the owners’ major weapon.

Q. Is there a good guy/bad guy scenario?

A. Not many people will side with the owners since none of them, with their private jets and hiring and firing of multimillion-dollar coaches at a whim, are going broke. No owner has sold an NFL team because they were losing money. And it was their decision to opt out of a collective bargaining agreement they approved in 2006, not the players. But maybe they’re right that the margins are shrinking. No one really knows because most financials are private.

Greg A. Bedard

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