Who holds the key to 2011? Easy …

Here’s a hint, it’s not the guy to the left.

Think about this … The median NFL player’s salary is $770,000. The average career lasts 3.5 years. Contracts are not guaranteed.

That’s why today’s talk of labor unrest, and the fate of the league’s 2011 season really rests on the union’s rank-and-file. It’s no secret that pro athletes live extravagant lifestyles. And once those paychecks start coming off the table, that’s when the pressure starts coming, which is where the owners have been able to break the union in previous work stoppages.

Now, the union has advised its membership to hold back 25 percent of their salaries next year, to prepare for a lockout. That’s to combat an ownership that has $5 billion coming in TV revenue, even if there is no football.

So can the PA count on its players to establish the financial wherewithal to make it through a lockout? The answer could determine who wins this battle.

“The majority of the guys in this league are those third-, fourth-, fifth-, sixth-year guys who are making probably minimum wage or just above minimum wage, and we look out for those guys,” said union president Kevin Mawae, after the presser. “The stars are the one’s that are going to worry about the lockout, those are the ones you know are going to have money in the bank. An eight-week or 16-week isn’t going to hurt me, but it is going to hurt a younger guy.”

And as far as the union goes, if the younger guys feel that hurt, it could deliver a crippling blow to the entire group as it readies for this fight.


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