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The Brewery

A gathering place for sports analysis and opinion with Seattle Times sports columnist Jerry Brewer.

March 1, 2011 at 5:41 PM

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N.I.N.E.: Tips to help the NFL find labor peace

Posted by Jerry Brewer

Later this week, a frighteningly inevitable thing will happen. The NFL's collective bargaining agreement will expire, and the owners and players association will officially commence an ugly labor dispute.

The fight has already begun, of course, but it's about to get real nasty, and the stakes will be tremendous as the league will have six months to avoid the loss of regular-season games.

Players are owners wrestling over how to split $9 billion in revenue? Joy. Can't wait. Regardless of which side you're on, can we all agree that neither is a victim in this manner? I only feel for the fans and the injured players who will have some difficult insurance problems to solve.

It always stuns me that negotiations for expiring labor deals don't begin until the last minute. Everyone is a procrastinator, huh? No one ever gets serious until forced to do so.

Now both sides are sitting in a room with a mediator, and they're merely pretending like they want to hash out a deal. What a joke. This could be a long process in which the negotiations don't get serious until training camps are set to open in July. The fans deserve better, but in every pro sport, this is what they get.

Which is why we should give the NFL -- and other leagues, for the matter -- a little (somewhat) friendly advice on how to deal with labor issues.

1. Make the owners stop hiding behind the commissioner.
NFL commish Roger Goodell will damage his reputation, all in the name of serving the owners. Meanwhile, those greedy billionaires hide in their mansions and don't have to answer for anything. I so wish they could be held more accountable. It would be a lot more difficult to order a player lockout if these owners had to explain themselves.

2. Act like adults in negotiating sessions.
Word is that the players and owners don't even agree on one significant issue. Really? They've been in talks off and on for most of a year, and they can't even hash out one thing. Pathetic. That tells you that neither side is taking this seriously. They're like doodling students. Be a grownup for once, please.

3. Bring intellectual intelligence to the bargaining table.
It seems like these negotiations go like this: One side makes asinine requests, and the other spends the rest of the time getting offended and making veiled insults and, ultimately, storming off. That's not a negotiation. That's a travesty of intellect. Respect each other and stop attempting robbery.

4. Fear the public.
The players and owners should know that they're like any other business. They have to keep the customer happy. Acting like idiots doesn't keep the customer happy. They should fear testing the public's patience too much.

5. Acknowledge how good you have it.
$9 billion in revenue? That's called excelling. Business isn't just good; it's phenomenal. Remember that. Everyone wants to get a fair share of the revenue, but have a little perspective while trying to broker a deal.

6. Don't procrastinate.
We talked about this during the introduction. A CBA is the most important thing in the NFL. There are no games without one. So, why don't these things ever get resolved sooner? Why play Last Minute Larry with the league's well being on the line?

7. Don't insult the public's intelligence.
Goodell is the worst offender. Look, people are following this closely. They know the key issues. And they understand when one side is trying to get over on the other, or when one side is saying dramatic things simply to negotiate through the press, or when one side is misrepresenting the facts. Stop it. If you're going to speak, speak honestly. And definitely don't put yourself in a position to be called a liar.

8. Stop proclaiming how hard you're trying.
Now that we're getting closer to the inevitable, representatives from both sides can't stop telling you how hard they're trying to get a deal done. Well, first of all, they got serious way too late, as we've been saying. Secondly, no one wants to see a bunch of rich people patting themselves on the back for doing what they're supposed to be doing. Try harder. Get a deal done.

9. No stupid jokes, please.
From Goodell's comment that he'll cut his pay to $1 if there's a lockout to NFLPA president DeMaurice Smith's witty retort before the Super Bowl to glib Twitter comments from players, there's too much being said in jest for my tastes. America's most popular sport is about to experience a work stoppage. Once again, get serious. Please. Too much is at stake.

Note: N.I.N.E. stands for Not Important, Nevertheless Entertaining. This feature is part of The Brewery's new programming schedule. Read about it here.

Fed up with my long-winded ways? Follow me on Twitter: @Jerry_Brewer. Sometimes, I don't even use all 140 characters there.

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