The future of the National Football League is uncertain according to an Wall Street Journal op-ed piece by commissioner Roger Goodell.
With U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson ordering an immediate end to the lockout Monday, Goodell thinks this could be the beginning of the end for football as we know it.
“Any league-wide rule relating to terms of player employment would be subject to antitrust challenge in courts throughout the country. Any player could sue – on his own behalf or representing a class – to challenge any league rule that he believes unreasonably restricts the “market” for his services.
Under this vision, players and fans would have none of the protections or benefits that only a union (through a collective-bargaining agreement) can deliver. What are the potential ramifications for players, teams, and fans? Here are some examples:
â€¢ No draft. “Why should there even be a draft?” said player agent Brian Ayrault. “Players should be able to choose who they work for. Markets should determine the value of all contracts. Competitive balance is a fallacy.”
â€¢ No minimum team payroll. Some teams could have $200 million payrolls while others spend $50 million or less.
â€¢ No minimum player salary. Many players could earn substantially less than today’s minimums.
â€¢ No standard guarantee to compensate players who suffer season- or career-ending injuries. Players would instead negotiate whatever compensation they could.
â€¢ No league-wide agreements on benefits. The generous benefit programs now available to players throughout the league would become a matter of individual club choice and individual player negotiation.
â€¢ No limits on free agency. Players and agents would team up to direct top players to a handful of elite teams. Other teams, perpetually out of the running for the playoffs, would serve essentially as farm teams for the elites.
â€¢ No league-wide rule limiting the length of training camp or required off-season workout obligations. Each club would have its own policies.
â€¢ No league-wide testing program for drugs of abuse or performance enhancing substances. Each club could have its own program – or not.”
Good luck trying to sell fans on this, Roger.