Now that Super Bowl XLV is over, the main focus as it relates to the National Football League is whether a new collective bargaining agreement will be reached before March 3, when the current CBA expires. The NFL and the NFL Players Association were scheduled to meet today but today’s session of talks was canceled after an extended session yesterday. While much of the talk of Super Bowl XLV centered on the game and the two teams, the discussion of impending labor issues that could affect the 2011 NFL season seeped into Super Bowl week at times.
Most fans are aware that the NFL and NFL Players Association are apart when it comes to some key issues in developing a new collective bargaining agreement. However, it is unclear to the public which issues remain major differences between the two parties. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell recently outlined major sticking points in labor talks such as revenue division, rookie salaries, and benefits for retired players. One of major issues between the NFL and the NFLPA is thought to be the NFL owners pushing for an 18-game regular season. Commissioner Goodell has been vocal in the recent past about how much NFL fans want an 18-game regular season while the NFLPA has been publicly against the 18-game schedule. Commissioner Goodell is making a good decision in acknowledging the importance of the fans to the NFL, even though he may be misguided about the 18-game regular season, acccording to Sports Illustrated’s Peter King.
The NFL fans are among the most dedicated and passionate of any sports fans in the world and both the NFL and NFLPA must be cognizant of that. NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith had a public misstep when he compared the NFL and NFLPA’s negotiations to war. Fortunately, the NFLPA has already attempted to gain public support through advertisements like their “Let Us Play” Ad. Both the NFL and NFLPA must be careful that any disagreements involving vast amounts of money and revenue between the NFL and the NFLPA must not be made public. The average fan has awareness that the labor negotiations are about money but they also do not want to hear about relatively wealthy players arguing about wealthier owners about money affecting their football season.
Super Bowl XLV was reportedly the most watched television program in American history with over 160 million viewers. While much of that is due to the national event that the Super Bowl has become, an important reason for the vast audience of the Super Bowl is how much the NFL means to America and how many fans the NFL has. The NFL and the NFLPA should heed the words of 2010 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Rickey Jackson when he said, “I think right now the National Football League, needs to get together and make sure that we keep the game what it is today. Don’t let it get away because we got a great product. When you got a great product, you need to keep it going. Hard to keep stuff going in America. When you got something good, try to do the right thing with it so you keep it going.”