New Labor Deal Will Bring Changes............
New NFL labor deal will bring changes
Agreement may address more than just financial terms
http://www.chicagotribune.com/media/...7/63336816.jpg Court-appointed mediator, Judge Arthur J. Boylan arrives at a Manhattan law office. (BRENDAN MCDERMID, REUTERS / July 18, 2011)
By Sam Farmer, Tribune Newspapers 9:08 p.m. CDT, July 18, 2011
What started in Atlanta could end there too.
It was in that city in May 2008 that NFL owners opted out of their collective bargaining agreement with the players, setting in motion a bitter labor fight that threatened to derail this football season.
And it's Atlanta where those owners will convene Thursday for a special meeting, almost surely to approve a new labor deal.
A clear indication of what's in the works came Monday when the league told team executives they should be prepared to be schooled on the details of a new labor agreement.
George Atallah, spokesman for the NFL Players Association, told reporters that while a lockout-lifting deal is close, there remains work to be done.
"Nobody cheers for you at mile 25 of a marathon," Atallah said.
Under the new deal, the players would receive between 46 percent and 48 percent of total revenue, and owners would not get the $1 billion credit off the top they initially requested. According to several reports, the salary cap for this season will be about $120 million per team, and — assuming the agreement is ratified Thursday — free agency will begin Monday.
The new deal will significantly reduce the money paid to rookies selected at the top of the draft and reportedly will earmark $1 billion in additional pensions and benefits for retired players.
A look at other potential changes:
Improved player safety: The league will continue to tweak rules and procedures in the name of safety, including introducing improved equipment.
Players won't do as much hitting in training camp or during game weeks, either. According to an individual familiar with the negotiations, the new rules could reduce by 33 percent the number of days allowed for organized team activities, drastically reduce the use of helmets (and therefore hitting) in practice and ban any team workouts before May 1.
More Thursday games: The current schedule features regular Thursday night games in the second half of the season airing on NFL Network. Within the next two years, watch for the league to bolster its TV money by scheduling those games throughout the season, then selling at least an eight-game package to a network.
There is a strong indication that in the coming years, Thursday night football will become as much a season-long staple as "Monday Night Football."
Los Angeles: Owners have promised all along that they know how to grow the revenue pie and intend to do so under a new agreement. One of the most obvious ways to do that is by moving a struggling franchise into the nation's second-largest market, providing Los Angeles has the right stadium deal in place.
Owners have long argued that their last labor deal, which began in 2006, wasn't good enough to justify investing in new stadiums. In fact, there were no new stadium starts during that agreement. The venues in the Dallas and New York areas were already in the pipeline.
Even if players no longer provide owners with credits against the salary cap for investing in new stadiums, an exception could be made for potential California stadium projects in Los Angeles, the Bay Area and San Diego — a shared investment by owners and players that eventually would be repaid by teams playing in those new stadiums.
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