RUSH: Here's Mike in Cool, California. Welcome, sir, to the EIB Network.
CALLER: Thank you, Rush. My question is on this NFL thing. These players sign million dollar contracts. Now, not all of them get multiple millions every year.
CALLER: But they do really well. And they want a piece of pie, too? It's like... I don't know. (sigh) I'm a former firefighter. I wish I could have a contract that gives me a paycheck and, "Oh, you've got some extra money over there? I want that, too." What is at the root?
RUSH: Well, now, interestingly you have swerved in (whether you know it or not) to what the really stumbling block is in these negotiations. Very briefly, the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the players and the owners was updated in 1986, and the owners hated it. They made a mistake signing it. It's a long story as to why. Paul Tagliabue was the commissioner. The owners universally HATED it because it gives the players about 60% of the gross.
CALLER: This is after they signed the contracts?
RUSH: Yeah. Well, no, it... The way it works is that the NFL is a $9 billion industry. The first billion is taken by the owners for stadium maintenance, the various infrastructure aspects of the game -- you know, practice facilities and this kind of thing. So after you take away that billion, the actual revenue split is about 50-50.
RUSH: But it's 50-50 of everything that the League brings in. But the owners don't like the 60-40 arrangement. The owners want that one billion off the top to be $2 billion. They'll not get that. Maybe 1.3 is where it will end up or 1.4. But the owners' proposal that was rejected took away any percentage of the total no matter what it might be. The owners offered instead definitive dollar amounts every year, like every year the salary cap will be $141 million per team year, $151 million the next year, and escalate throughout the years of the contract, regardless what the league generated.
The players are saying, "No, no, no, no. We want a percentage of anything above what is projected to be earned," and the owners are trying to take away the percentage. In other words, the owners are offering the players an increase. It's moderate, but it's hard-and-fast dollars based on nothing. I mean, if the owners lose money, they still have to pay it. But if they earn twice as much as they expect the players would get nothing more than what was guaranteed. The players don't want to give up the percentage arrangement that they have now. This is a... (interruption) No.
Well, they don't... (interruption) No, they will not go percentage on the downside. They don't want to talk about the downside; they only want to talk about percentage of the upside. This is the thing. This is really the stumbling block now: The owners want to change the whole structure here of the way it has been. In addition, the percentage the players get will end up being less than what they're getting now, but the owners are trying to tell 'em it's gonna be more money even though it's a smaller percentage -- and they're not buying that. So now the players are saying, "Well, let us see your books. Let us find out how much you could pay us," and the owners were willing to do that -- have a third party come in and audit whatever the owners gave -- and the players said, "No, no, nope," and they walked away when that proposal was made.
RUSH: Because I don't think they really... That's a bargaining point. At the end of the day the players know that an "ability" to be paid something doesn't mean you're gonna get paid what you want. The owner's gonna pay what they want to pay when this is all over. If I have the ability to pay Snerdley $2 million, that doesn't mean I'm gonna pay him $2 million. The players are saying... (laughing)
RUSH: Snerdley is now begging for it. You can't hear it.
RUSH: But the players are saying, "We want to see how much you can afford to pay us," and the owners say, "That's irrelevant. What we're talking about is what we're willing to pay you, and this is it -- and if you don't like it then you can go work for the UFL or you can go work for a college or whatever, like anybody else in life."
CALLER: Yeah, that seems fair.
RUSH: I've told a bunch of owners, too. I said, "You guys, do not think that it's good for the fans to hate the players in this. The players are who you sell. At the end of the day, you're gonna want the fans to love those players. That's who they pay to see. So don't speak out against 'em."