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NFL Lockout 2011: Explaining The Issues From Both Sides

On Day 1 of NFL Lockout 2011, which began at midnight, both sides issues statements essentially basically trying to blame the other side for the breakdown of negotiations between players and owners.

In a statement e-mailed to the media, the NFL wrote, in part:

The union left a very good deal on the table. At a time when thousands of employees are fighting for their collective bargaining rights, this union has chosen to abandon collective bargaining in favor of a sham ‘decertification’ and antitrust litigation. This litigation maneuver is built on the indisputably false premise that the NFLPA has stopped being a union and will merely delay the process of reaching an agreement.

In a statement released Friday night on NFLLockout.com, NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith had this to say:

We asked the owners two years ago to consider two basic tenets to getting a fair deal: financial transparency and the health and safety of our players. Financial transparency would help us reach a compromise. Even until the last moment, we were rebutted.

The NFL statement gave some details as to what was in its most recent offer to players:

- An offer to narrow the player compensation gap that existed in the negotiations by splitting the difference
- Guarantee reallocation of savings from first-round rookies to veterans and retirees without negatively affecting compensation for rounds 2-7
- Ensure no compensation reduction for veterans; implement new year-round health and safety rules
- Retain the current 16-4 season format for at least two years with any subsequent changes subject to the approval of the league and union
- Establish a new legacy fund for retired players ($82 million contributed by the owners over the next two years).

The players, for their part, listed the issues preventing a new CBA as follows:

- The NFL demanded a multi-billion dollar giveback and refused to provide any legitimate financial information to justify it.

- The NFL’s offer on March 7 to give the NFLPA a single sheet of numbers was NOT financial disclosure. The players’ accountants and bankers advised that the "offered" information was meaningless: only two numbers for each year.

- The NFL wanted to turn the clock back on player compensation by four years, moving them back to where they were in 2007.

- The NFL offered no proposal at all for long-term share of revenues.

- NFL demanded 100% of all revenues which went above unrealistically low projections for the first four years.

- The NFL refused to meet the players on significant changes to in-season, off-season or pre-season health and safety rules.

- The NFL kept on the table its hypocritical demand for an 18-game season, despite its public claims to be working toward improving the heath and safety of players.

- The NFL wanted cutbacks in payer workers’ compensation benefits for injured players.

- The NFL sought to limit rookie compensation long after they become veterans — into players’ fourth and fifth years.