I don't mean to sound dramatic but the stakes are really that high. While the heart of this labor dispute is how players and owners will split the 9 billion in annual profits, both sides have adopted strategies that lead to this business dispute being put into the American court system.
As such, both sides are now maneuvering for favorable (and binding) rulings in the Tom Brady case to increase their negotiating leverage.
Now I don't particularly back one side or the other but if the NFLPA's lawyer Jeffrey Kessler has his way and is successful in this case, then football as we've known it for the past 75+ years will end.
So what exactly is Mr. Kessler arguing? He basically believes (and is trying to convince Judge Susan Richard Nelson) that with the Player's Union's decertification, the non-union NFL can no longer act as a single business entity and impose uniform rules upon the 32 teams.
What do this mean for you, me, and the Falcons?
- No Salary Cap or Salary Floor
- No Minimum Salary (save for the state and federal minimum wage)
- No Free Agency Restrictions
- No Franchise Tags
- No NFL Draft
- No requirement to be "X" amount of years out of High School (i.e. High School players could be recruited by Colleges and Professional Teams)
- No League-wide Conduct/Drug Policy
We would still have professional football but it wouldn't resemble the institution we've all come to love. It would resemble Baseball and Basket ball far more than it does today with only a few team truly competitive from year to year. We would face the risk of where (as others have pointed out) that 5% of the superstar players could be getting paid 95% of the money. Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and a few others would see their pay skyrocket while everyone else fought over what little is left.
Is this a likely outcome? No one can know because the Owners and Players have shown such amazing greed and stupidity that this matter has been taken out of their hands to a degree.
I don't know who Judge Nelson will side with ultimately, but unlike a deal between the Owners and Players which could be renegotiated and amended at a later date, we are going to have to live whatever she and the Appeals Courts decide for a very long time. I just hope both sides come to their senses before its too late.