MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 17: NFL owners Mike Brown of the Cincinnati Bengals and Jerry Richardson of the Carolina Panthers arrive for court ordered mediation at the U.S. Courthouse on May 17, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As the NFL lockout remains in place mediation was ordered after a hearing on an antitrust lawsuit filed by NFL players against the NFL owners after labor talks between the two broke down in March. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
I ran out of the chalk that I have been using to make hash marks on the walls of my room to count the days of the NFL lockout around day 90. I've been using my fingernails since then. We're on day 105 now and my fingers really hurt and I swear that the football I've had since high school that I keep on my shelf is starting to talk to me. I think I'll name him Wilson. I really hope that I don't lose him in some sort of nautical accident.
If you've been paying attention, and I know you have, then you know that many are optimistic that the lockout will come to an end in the coming weeks, allowing the NFL to get back to normalcy. Now that July is knocking and the NFL owners and players are realizing that if they don't come to an agreement soon, they could lose minicamps and even the preseason, they seem to be working harder and harder to come to a new deal.
Nothing can stop them now.....
As I say that, Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown rises from the deep like the Cloverfield monster -- or Godzilla, if you've never seen Cloverfield. He eyes his target, the possibility of a new CBA before mini camps, and destroys it with his fiery breath, or his lazer eyes, or a tail whip, or whatever you want.
Why would Mike Brown do this, you ask? He did this -- or could be doing this right now -- because he doesn't want to spend very much money.
We reported a few days ago that, in an effort to make a deal with the players, the owners decided to make a new salary rule. That new rule would state that there is a minimum percentage of the salary cap that owners must spend. During their meetings, the owners pushed the number from 86 percent to 93 percent. During negotiations with the players, though, that number has gone up close to 100 percent.
This has caused a problem.
Now, instead of there being two sides to the lockout -- the owners versus the players -- there are three sides. Now it seems as though the owners are fighting amongst themselves about the new proposed salary rules.
If these negotiations fall apart now, it will be because of a contentious class warfare among the owners. It could be a struggle of wills and business priorities between high-revenue owners such as Jerry Jones and Daniel Snyder and lower-revenue owners such as Ralph Wilson and Mike Brown.
"This owner-vs.-owner issue reared its ugly head earlier this week," Webster University associate professor Patrick Rishe said. "It's the small-market guys who are at the bottom of the league in franchise value, who could cause this thing to fall apart, and the squawking has been there for a while."
Owners like Jones and Snyder have endless pockets and have been known to spend as much as they felt they needed to win games. Of course, that approach doesn't necessarily work all the time. Owners like Brown and Wilson, on the other hand, have made a reputation for themselves as being cheap, which also doesn't necessarily work either.
For the lockout to end, the owners will have to come together before they can make a deal with the players. That may not happen, though, especially if owners of large market teams are getting sick of small market team owners pocketing the money that they get from the revenue sharing from large-market teams.
"It's just like in baseball where ownerships like the (big-spending) Yankees and Red Sox complain that lower-revenue teams collect on revenue sharing they get from the pockets of the big-money teams but don't re-invest it on the product," said Rishe, who teaches economics at the George Herbert Walker School of Business at Webster University and writes about sports business for Forbes.com. "Remember the stories of teams like Florida and Pittsbugh in baseball were pocketing all the money that they were getting from the revenue sharing from big-market teams? Well now in the NFL you have guys like (Washington's) Daniel Snyder and (Dallas') Jerry Jones who are fed up with some of the smaller market teams not spending what they should."
I didn't think Mike Brown could be hated in the city of Cincinnati any more than he already is. However, if he leads some sort of penny-pinching owners charge against larger market owners that causes the lockout to extend further than it already has, I could see the hate meter going from 10 to 12 or 13.
Let's hope this doesn't have to happen.