Another major NFL matchup to take place this month

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Notes from our researcher, Steve Triolet

Double check the schedule all you want, no matter which team is the hottest at the moment, arguably the most important matchup is scheduled to take place in Dallas in mid-December.  That’s win the NFL and the player’s association (NFLPA) will meet to discuss their collective bargaining agreement which will expire in March 2011.  If an agreement is not reached, there is the potential for a lockout next year.

Nobody wants a lockout, but the general consensus in the sports world is that the owners are better prepared for one than the players are (the owners would still receive revenue from television contracts and merchandise sales, while the players don’t have this luxury, and they have limited years to play the game).

The current point of contention between the owners and NFLPA is expanding the regular season to an 18-game schedule (the two extra games would shorten the current pre-season schedule of 4 games to 2).  The union is concerned that the longer season could result in more injuries to players and could potentially shorten their careers.  In November, the NFLPA offered a counter proposal for two bye weeks for each team, to expand each term roster from 53 players to 56 or 57 players, to limit the amount of full contact in training camp, to reduce voluntary off-season workouts, and to reduce the number of years players need to play in the league to become eligible for post-career health benefits.

Outside of this, money is at play.  The owners want the longer season to increase stadium attendance revenue and television viewership revenue, and the players are demanding increased salaries to be prorated for the additional games.

My predictions are that both sides will agree to an 18-game schedule with the two bye weeks, but that the proposal to expand the team roster to 56 or 57 players will be rejected (owners don’t want to pay more players than they already do).  The owners look like they’ll agree to one additional roster spot.   I’m not too sure about training camp and offseason workouts.  Only the players really care one way or another about that issue as it doesn’t directly impact revenue and the average fan doesn’t care how the players prepare for the season – as long as they perform well on the field.

This whole process is sure to take a couple of turns before it’s resolved, and we’ll touch on it again as it progresses.  The possible lockout has potentially very large implications – one could argue that the Dallas Stars are still feeling the impact of the NHL lockout of 2004 – 05.

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