Replace the Current Unfair CBA with an Economically Fair CBA
The Current Deal
NFL players are getting a raw deal. Under the Gene Upshaw 2006 CBA, player revenue significantly outpaced owner revenue, but under the Smith 2011 CBA, owner revenue is significantly outpacing player revenue. (Owner v Player Revenue 2001.2016). Owners are making hundreds of millions of dollars more than players every year, and since 2011 owners have outpaced players by over $2.5 billion dollars. Making matters worse, the Smith 2011 CBA locks these dreadful economic terms in for 10 years – longer than any other labor deal in professional sports and exceedingly long for a labor deal in any industry. To quote the Boston Globe: “No matter how you slice it, the owners obliterated . . . DeMaurice Smith in the 2011 negotiations.”
Indeed, as owners have been outpacing players by billions of dollars in revenue, their franchise valuations have more than doubled, from approximately $1 billion per Club to $2.3 billion per Club. The current NFLPA leadership has failed to leverage this dramatic increase in team values to benefit the players, and the 10-year deal that Smith agreed to ties the players’ hands.
During the August episode of HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, Gumbel described the 2011 CBA as “grand larceny” and Smith did not deny it. Yet, when asked what he liked about the deal, Smith responded: “everything.”
Cyrus’ Vision for a New Better Economic Deal
As NFLPA Executive Director, Cyrus will start on Day 1 to initiate his 3-Point Economic Plan:
- Reclaim a large chunk of the money Smith lost through the 2011 CBA with the unified support of the players. These monies should be on the player side of the equation.
- Create a strategic partnership with the League to grow the economic pie. Smith’s relationship with the League is poisonous. His polarizing presence in the negotiating room only hurts the players. Meanwhile, the owners are developing a long-term strategic business plan and Smith has an empty seat at the table. Cyrus will make sure that the players have a seat at the table and are equal partners in shaping the business future of the Game.
- Ensure that players get a fair share of the economic pie going forward. Smith had an opportunity to get players a fair share of the pie, and he failed, taking billions of dollars out of players’ pockets. Cyrus will ensure that the next CBA is far better for the players economically than the Smith 2011 CBA has been.
Change the Market Place
Cyrus will create new pathways to guaranteed money:
- Reduce the timetable for a second contract from 4 / 5 years to 3 years. During Smith’s tenure, the average player career length has dropped from roughly 5 years to roughly 3 years. We will realign the timetable for the second contract to the average NFL career length, so that more players reach the opportunity to create wealth.
- Close salary cap loopholes. CBA provisions such as the “tolling” rule unfairly prevent players, like Teddy Bridgewater who was injured days before the start of the 2017 season, from reaching a second contract. Other rules and loopholes have made the salary cap porous, and Cyrus will eliminate them.
- Achieve a threshold percentage of guaranteed contracts. It is unfair and unprecedented in major American sport that the risk of injury falls so squarely on players. A threshold percentage will ensure that owners share some of that risk, as they should.
Cyrus Has the Experience and Skill Set to Make this Happen
The players need a paradigm shift. They need fresh energy and vision. They need new leadership. Cyrus offers all three. He is a labor and employment lawyer who has been representing workers for over 25 years. In addition, he has been involved in the NFL community, championing the Rooney Rule and successfully challenging and negotiating with the League, for 15 years. Cyrus has a multifaceted playbook and is prepared to fight for the players’ fair share of revenue using sophisticated tools from the labor movement such as an Owner Accountability Campaign, which maximizes leverage over the Clubs without requiring players to lose games.
Smith spent his career representing corporate interests and white-collar criminals. He has never represented workers, and his inexperience is evidenced by the terrible 2011 CBA. His call for a work stoppage four years from now has no credibility and strikes no fear in the hearts of the owners.
Players Deserve a Choice and Competition for Executive Director
As the next CBA negotiations near, the players stand at a crucial juncture with a critical choice. Cyrus offers the vision and game plan to achieve the economic fairness that players have lacked for the better part of a decade. Players deserve better. Cyrus can get it for them.