Carolina Panthers' owner Jerry Richardson, one of the labor hawks during negotiations, praised Mike Brown for his vision that the current Collective Bargaining Agreement wouldn't work for the owners when the Bengals president voted no in 2006 to extend the agreement.
"When I speak for myself, I was for labor peace at any price and I always have been," Richardson said during a break at the annual league meetings last week in New Orleans. "In hindsight Mike was right and I wasn't. He wants to get it right and do the right thing."
"I don't know why he voted against it (in '06). Maybe he was right," the Steelers' Art Rooney said. "At this point we've got to get the economics straightened away for the players and for the teams. At a critical point? I think it's fair to say that."
While we often joke that Mike Brown was, indeed, a visionary, let's not get ahead of ourselves. Sure, one of the primary reasons Brown voted against the deal was because it favored players. But he also voted against it because the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (that's now expired but could be used if the lockout is lifted through the courts), is that the agreement favored high-revenue teams. Mike Brown said at the time:
"It is a very good deal for players. It's good for high-revenue teams," he said. "It's a challenge for low-revenue teams. We didn't feel it was in the best interest of our team financially."
The problem, as Brown saw it, is that player revenues for low-revenue teams like the Bengals are much higher than the high-revenue teams.
Brown said low-revenue teams, such as the Bengals, pay 70% of their revenue toward player costs. High-revenue teams, such as Washington, Dallas, New England and Philadelphia, pay about 40%.
High-revenue teams, Brown said, export about $45 million to $50 million in costs to other teams in the league. The new revenue-sharing plan calls for those teams, he said, "to share in the range of $6 million."
Bills owner Ralph Wilson, the other "no" vote to the CBA extension in 2006, specifically argued that the agreement left "small-market teams dependent on locally generated revenue to pay expenses dictated by clubs in bigger-market cities such as New York, Philadelphia or Dallas." While people were ripping Wilson, Brown said:
“If you do it artfully, you can come out at the back end with, guess what? No money gets paid out, or very little does,” Brown said. “And it just accumulates there to be distributed to guess whom? The guys who paid it in.”
So while there's gushing praise going around for Mike Brown voting against the current collective bargaining agreement, let's just remember that one of his biggest motivations for voting against the agreement in 2006 was that he felt screwed.