“In the middle of a gold rush, no one wants to be the party that kills the golden goose,” Steinberg said. “Players’ salaries are at an all-time high. Revenues are at an all-time high. The NFL is America’s passion.
“The good old days in football economics are right now.”
The league generated $9.3 billion in revenue last season with Super Bowl XLV, the most watched TV show in U.S. history with 111 million viewers.
The two sides seem determined to capitalize on a shrinking window of opportunity if they are to avoid losing all or part of the preseason and the millions in revenue that accompany those games.
Agent and sports law professor Ralph Cindrich saw it as a promising sign that legal teams spent Wednesday and Thursday working on critical language that would be part of a new agreement before NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL players association executive director DeMaurice Smith resumed face-to-face talks Thursday.
A conference call was scheduled Thursday night to update the plaintiffs in the players’ antitrust suit against the league on the status of the negotiations, the Associated Press reported, citing a person with knowledge of the talks. Among the players expected to be updated were Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, Logan Mankins, Osi Umenyiora and rookie Von Miller.
“If, in fact, they are getting close to a deal, it’s imperative that they close it and not let anything get in the wayof that,” Cindrich said. “It’s all doable. You have a business that is the most successful business in the U.S. in the last 20 or 30 years.”
Goodell was accompanied in talks at a Manhattan law firm by influential NFL owners such as the New England Patriots’ Robert Kraft, the Dallas Cowboys’ Jerry Jones, the New York Giants’ John Mara and Pittsburgh Steelers President Art Rooney II. Smith was joined by NFLPA President Kevin Mawae, Indianapolis Colts center Jeff Saturday, Baltimore Ravens cornerback Domonique Foxworth, Steelers reserve quarterback Charlie Batch, and former special teams standout Sean Morey.
It is widely thought a deal must be reached by July15 for the preseason to remain intact. The Chicago Bears and St. Louis Rams are due to report to training camp July 22 to prepare to meet in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 7.
Cindrich noted that any setback at this point would be significant. “If you are close to a deal and something happens to get in the way, it always takes a lot longer to get back to where you were,” he said.