DeMaurice Smith contends that the NFL made history as the final hour for peaceful mediation loomed last Friday. And not the good kind.
After being relatively silent for almost a week, Smith made a radio appearance on WFAN with Mike Francesa, New York’s infamously arrogant sports talk kingpin. Predictably, he reached into his bucket of mud, and hurled another sloppy handful of dirt at Roger Goodell and the league’s owners.
Smith told Francesa the CBA deal proposed by the owners was the “worst deal in the history of professional sports,” and repeated his now tired lines describing how the players are being used as a tool for profit, with little regard for health and career prosperity.
“The NFL publicly projected by 2027, they want to have revenue numbers of approximately $25 billion. If we would have taken the worst deal in the history of sports, by the time they are making $25 billion off the backs, fingers, and legs of our players, our share of all revenue would be somewhere around 25%. My simple question to you as a fan of this sport for a long time: Does that sound fair?”
Smith also repeated that instead of meeting the owners in the middle during the revenue sharing debate–you know, the one that crippled mediation–the players proposed a fair split of 50/50. It’s a split they’re still pursuing, and Smith said the league’s last offer still fell short of that split, with the players receiving 44 percent of the league’s money pit. Once the clock keeps ticking and reaches the sixth year of that deal, the players’ revenue would fall to 40 percent.
Smith asks a question at the end of his soliloquy to Francesa, and his query about fairness is certainly a fair and reasonable one to ask.
Here’s the problem: the average fan listening and later reading at home simply doesn’t care anymore about percentages, fiscal balance, or any other measures involved in dividing $9 billion between a group of men who can eat bills for breakfast. Numbers are bouncing out from both sides, and who to believe comes down to whose labour rhetoric sounds more logical on any given day. To this elusive figure known as the average fan, the posturing regarding revenue sharing and equality is becoming little more than white noise.
By using every ounce of leverage at their disposal through decertification, and maybe, probably, maybe not boycotting the draft, the players’ grip on public opinion is gradually slipping. A stubborn insistence on open books didn’t help either; ditto for slavery comparisons.
UPDATE: Earlier this week a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that no negotiations will take place between the two sides until the April 6 court date for a ruling on the players’ antitrust lawsuit. Smith told Francesa he would be open to the legal teams for both the league and players holding further negotiations prior to their next meeting in court.