Blog Entry

John Mara pens essay, says game is at risk

Posted on: May 19, 2011 7:12 pm
MaraPosted by Josh Katzowitz

Giants CEO John Mara has written an essay for describing for fans why a player victory in this labor dispute would be bad for the game of football – and most importantly, for its fans.

The headline of the story is “Time to get back to football,” which strikes me as an odd title for a story penned by the NFL's side (since, um, the owners are the ones locking out the players, preventing football from, you know, being practiced right now).

Anyway, here are a couple portions of his essay, without commentary by me (the owners have their side of the story, I figure, and they should be allowed to tell it).

There was no reason for the situation to come to this. The NFL's business model needs to be fixed. Of that, there is no doubt. The 2006 collective bargaining agreement was not balanced. Players have readily acknowledged they "got a great deal." Then the economy went south, adding to the problem.  A fair adjustment must be negotiated in a new CBA.

I participated in two of three weeks of federal mediation in Washington. We made progress. We closed the gap on economics, offering to commit almost $20 billion to player costs over the next four years with a 14 percent increase from 2011 to 2014. We addressed other important player concerns in our March 11 offer. It was made in an effort to continue negotiations and reach agreement.

Instead, the NFL Players Association walked away from mediation. It put a litigation strategy in play and filed a lawsuit declaring virtually all league rules relating to player employment as being violations of antitrust law. The union said many times it had no plans to dismantle the core elements of the collectively bargained system that has been in place since 1993.

And this:

The NFLPA lawyers want to wipe away fundamental elements of the NFL's appeal to fans, including the draft, "the Salary Cap, ‘franchise player' designation, ‘transition player' designation, and/or other player restrictions," according to their lawsuit. 

This strategy is no doubt designed to gain economic leverage in negotiations. But it has delayed the process of reaching an agreement and, more importantly, it threatens players, teams, and fans with very negative consequences. Without a CBA, we could be forced, as Mr. Kessler says, to come up with our own system that we think complies with antitrust law, knowing that each and every aspect of it is potentially the subject of years of litigation and uncertainty.

The likely changes would be great for NFLPA lawyers, but not for players, teams, or, most importantly, fans. For example, there could be no league-wide minimum player salaries, with many players making less than they do today, or no minimum team player costs, with many clubs cutting payrolls the way some teams do in other sports. Other bedrock components of the NFL's competitiveness, such as the draft, would be called into question and assailed as antitrust violations. A steroid testing program is a must, so we would have to consider an independent administrator such as WADA. There could be varying player benefit plans from team to team, and limits on the ability to enforce other league-wide rules that benefit players, especially rank-and-file players that do not go to the Pro Bowl.

 Even a settlement of the Brady lawsuit, in which the plaintiffs agree to certain rules, could be challenged by other players – now or in the future. The league and individual clubs would likely be hit with a barrage of lawsuits. We could end up with an unregulated system in which a disproportionate amount of money goes to "stars" and where teams in small markets struggle for survival. The very concept of a league with 32 competitive teams would be rendered virtually inoperable.

Mara goes on to write the owners’ standard line about how the only solution is at the negotiating table, and to be fair, Mara used to work for a law firm that represented unions in labor disputes. And he seemingly is one of the more moderate guys representing the NFL right now.

But’s own Mike Freeman took issue with the essay (I said I wouldn’t make commentary on the letter; I didn’t say I wouldn’t allow my colleagues to do so).

On his Twitter page, through numerous status updates, he wrote the following

“John Mara is a good dude, but his letter to fans is highly disingenuous … One of the highlights of it is how the economy hurt revenue. Problem is, NFL has made record profits. … The NFL has been immune to the economy... This fight is about revenue sharing. Not the economy. Not any of this other stuff owners are claiming. IT's...ABOUT...REVENUE SHARING! … The owners want the players to give back more money to fix the owners' revenue sharing problems... That's it. You can believe the players are greedy. Or whatever you want to believe. The truth, the truth, is revenue sharing. … The owners want the players to fix their revenue sharing problems. The players don't want to do it. So here we are... I don't blame the players for not wanting to fix the owners' problems. … Again, John Mara...honorable man. Good man. Just flat out misrepresenting what this is about.”

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Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: May 20, 2011 10:13 am

John Mara pens essay, says game is at risk

I'm going to be pizzed if there's no season.  I'm in a keeper league and I have 2 first round picks!

Since: Mar 15, 2011
Posted on: May 20, 2011 8:50 am

NFL more balanced than MLB?

pyshie, you say "The NFL will become MLB and the imbalance will kill it." I've heard this expressed by others as well.

I did a quick check and see that 16 of the 32 NFL teams have earned themselves trips to the last 12 Super Bowls.  Regarding the last dozen World Series, 16 of 30 teams have been represented.  So I don't see the legitimacy of pointing towards MLB as imbalanced.

Since: Aug 31, 2006
Posted on: May 20, 2011 8:20 am

John Mara pens essay, says game is at risk

First, it's not "the players winning" or "the owners winning".  The whole problem with this dispute is that the owners have opened it up as a competition to see who "wins" not a matter of bargaining for a fair split.

Second, like with Goodell's ill-advised op-ed piece in the WSJ:  If you are committed to negotiating a solution, going to the press to bad mouth the other party and talk about how the game will be ruined if they "win" is not going to help the bargaining process in any way.

Third, for the owners to claim that they want to resolve things at the bargaining table, then to repeatedly try to resolve things in court (their appeal) and in the press shows the kind of untrustworthy and hypocritical guys they are.

I hope the fans aren't all as ignorant as the ones buying into the owners lame and desperate arguments.  The players have been willing to negotiate on EVERYTHING, but there is no bargaining with owners who insist that before they agree on anything, the players must take an 18% pay cut based solely on the owners' claim that they "need" it, without any data to back it up. 

Since: Jan 12, 2007
Posted on: May 20, 2011 8:13 am

John Mara pens essay, says game is at risk

I like how John Mara points out all the pitfalls of the NFL and the 'problems' it faces and how he wants and indeed "NEEDS" his businesss to be treated as a special, a one off, a seperate entity from other forms of employment. Well John, if you want that to happen you have to take the rough with the smooth. You cannot have your business given preferential treatment and excluded from litigation unless YOU create an environment for that to happen, and you pulled the rug from under that agreement to suit YOU. Now you are crying at the players blaming them.

I have news for you, you are all to blame, this argument is not about player salaries, conditions of employment, litigation, or mitigation of litigation is it purely and simply about the bottom line Dollar for owners. I love how you threw some of your fellow owners under the bus when you stated that they would not spend to the minimum and that "They" are in business for the TV revenue. You as a an owner of a "Big"frabnchise are upset that you have to share revenue with other teams.  I don't know if MIke Freemans comments are correct but his argument looks pretty sound to me.

The bottom line is you are all so greedy you cannot decide whether to have "Death by Chocolate" for dessert or a triple helping of Homemade Apple pie and you are all guilty of disrespecting the people who make that huge dessert available to you... the fans. You think the average fan who is struggling in this economy is really interested in your "problems"?  Everyone involved with the NFL is making a lot of money right now even in these tough times and its all because of the fans, No fans = No franchise, No fans = no dollars, but you just carry on disrespecting us because the botton line for fans is we can see you dont care a damn about us and you should be extremely grateful that all we care about is the game itself.

Since: Aug 16, 2006
Posted on: May 20, 2011 8:11 am

John Mara pens essay, says game is at risk

Amen to that!

Since: Mar 31, 2008
Posted on: May 20, 2011 6:41 am

John Mara pens essay, says game is at risk

There's nothing new here.  Each owner has been writing "essays" since early this year saying the same things over and over because they have nothing better to do right now.

And do they realize how dumb it actually makes them look when they keep mentioning how unfair the last CBA was for them?  Well, you guys agreed to it in the first place, shame on you for getting yourselves so "ripped off" last time. 

Since: Dec 15, 2010
Posted on: May 20, 2011 6:34 am

John Mara pens essay, says game is at risk

Are tyhe players right? are the owners right? Is Mike Freeman a 'shil;l" for the players[yes]?Does either side care about the fans? Or do they care about their money more?
I say its time to show them our clout.Our "lockout".
Its time to boycott football. If they show up to play in half empty stadiums they'll take notice. Maybe the price of tickets will come down.And other stuff.
Boycott the game!!!!

Since: Sep 14, 2006
Posted on: May 20, 2011 6:34 am

John Mara pens essay, says game is at risk

First of all I am a long time Giant season ticket holder and I respect the Mara family immensely...but i love when he states that the CBA needs to be renegotiated because the economy when south....oh when last year you moved into a new stadium and made season ticket holders pay PSLs? It seems like the fan is bares all the burden. Yeah i know the replies I will get. If you dont like it give up your tickets. Blah Blah Blah


Since: Dec 8, 2006
Posted on: May 20, 2011 6:02 am

John Mara pens essay, says game is at risk

When it's all said and done, the NFL will become MLB and the MLB stinks.  MLB stinks for all but a half-dozen teams in the larger markets or teams with deep pocket owners who spend, spend, spend.  The NFL will become MLB and the imbalance will kill it.  It was nice knowin' ya fellas. 

Since: Mar 15, 2011
Posted on: May 20, 2011 5:31 am

John Mara pens essay, says game is at risk

Mara and his fellow owners are against football players operating under the rules of a free market system but that system works fine for owners when their st
adium leases are up.  

I don't believe for a moment that the players would do without their union and a new CBA if the owners gave up their resistence to the free market system.  I believe negotiations would get serious immediately if the owners would simply call the players' bluff. 

I have a strong belief in capitalism if it's allowed to work its course.    

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