Owners Meetings Begin … Monday Cup O’Chiefs

It’s called the Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes Hotel (left) and let me assure you, this ain’t no Motel 6.

It’s the land of luxury and it’s one that the owners and management of the NFL and its 32 teams have come to expect when they get together for their annual March meeting that began on Sunday.

The No. 1 item on the agenda for the owners in their four days in Orlando, Florida is the labor situation between the league and its players. The NFL says the current system is flawed and is making the economics of the game impossible for the owners. But there’s not going to be a lot of folks feeling sorry for these guys when they are hangin’ at a place like the Ritz.

The resort is part of 500 tropical acres just outside Orlando with a Greg Norman designed golf course, an area to learn fly fishing, a zip line for those adventurous enough to fly through the pines of central Florida. Let’s not forget the 40,000 square foot spa, with 40 different treatment rooms and various therapy pools. That doesn’t even include the regular pools.

Obviously things aren’t so bad that clubs can’t dump a couple hundreds of thousands of dollars into a few golf scrambles, Swedish message, tiny little hot dogs and crab cakes for the cocktail parties and dinner tabs with wine and other beverages that will easily rack up tabs that finish the night with a total that includes a comma.

Hey, it’s their money and they can spend it however they like. But it doesn’t jibe with their claims of impending poverty because of the most recent collective bargaining agreement that was shoved down their throats by former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue some five plus years ago. Only two owners stood up at that time and said the deal was bad: Buffalo’s Ralph Wilson and Mike Brown of Cincinnati. They were painted as an old coot owner and a cheap owner. Turned out they were just smarter and quicker on the uptick than some of the other men in the room.

Those guys eventually caught up and today the world of football sits in this ugly limbo where there is no salary cap and there is no agreement between owners and players. The league is expected to lock its doors next season without a deal that they like.

There’s a lot of ground to cover, negotiations to happen, threats to make and posturing for the public to come. Publicly, the owners say they are united in their situation to straighten out the economics of pro football.

“I just think everyone understands we have something special,” New England owner Robert Kraft (right) told the Boston Globe. “We’ve got to get it right, so it works long-term. And it’s amazing now, the small-market teams, the big-market teams, the middle range, there’s a consistency in thought. I’ve never seen that kind of unity. That’s good for the game. We’re not together for confrontation. We want what’s best for the NFL.”

There will be many comments like this one that we will hear in the coming days. There really isn’t anything of major importance on the labor front that the owners will decide on during their meetings. So they will talk about the future, and always with the word “but” attached, pronouncements like “We’ve got a great game and we love the money the fans shovel into our ticket offices, but …”

One of the subjects tied to the labor deal that could cause all sorts of consternation is revenue sharing among the teams. It’s become a real internal battle between the teams that generate a lot of revenue – clubs like Dallas, Washington, New England – and those that do not – clubs like Cincinnati, Arizona, Jacksonville, Oakland. Just a few years ago, the Chiefs were part of that first group; they actually had to kick money into the pot that would end up in Al Davis’ pocket. But given the last two seasons with gate receipts down, suite sales down, sponsorships dollars down, etc., etc., the Chiefs may have fallen out of that top group all the way to the bottom group.

The high earning clubs are chafing at sharing revenue with teams that are not nearly as aggressive as they are in pursuing dollars. This battle will be huge to making an economic package work in the league. Expect no hard-core agreement on this subject coming out of Florida.

So what else will go down at the Ritz this week? All the pre-meeting attention has been on whether the league will change the rules for overtime in the playoffs. The NFL’s powerful Competition Committee has approved a change that they’ve sent forward to ownership. The rules have always been sudden death for overtime, so if a team wins the extra coin toss and goes down and scores a field goal or touchdown, they win and the other team never gets its hands on the ball.

The change will be this: if the team that wins the toss and goes down and kicks a field goal, then they’ll have to kick off to the other team. The team receiving the kickoff must score a field goal to tie the game or score a touchdown to win the game. If they tie, the next team that scores wins.

The Competition Committee voted 6-2 in favor of the proposal, which the owners should see Tuesday or Wednesday. Voting against were Baltimore GM Ozzie Newsome and Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis. Those supporting the change were Atlanta President Rich McKay, Tennessee head coach Jeff Fisher, Indianapolis GM Bill Polian, NY Giants co-owner John Mara, Houston GM Rick Smith and Dallas V.P. Stephen Jones. The chances of the change getting 24 votes among the owners seem slim this year. Generally, it takes several years for enough clubs to get used to the idea before they will ratify a formal change.

One planned league change became public on Sunday; the game official working as the umpire will now stand in the offensive backfield, rather than standing about five yards behind the defensive line. This is a change that does not require a vote of the owners, simply the approval of Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Safety is the reason for the move, as last season two umpires suffered concussions and three others had surgery for knee and shoulder injuries suffered during games. NFL officials say the umpire was knocked down 100 times last season alone. More and more teams started working the umpire into their short passage game, using him as a pick on defensive players trying to cover a shallow crossing route.

Other items that should come out this week:

OTHER RULES CHANGES: there were anywhere from 12 to 15 items on the competition committee’s agenda for the owners. Several of those items will involve limiting physical contact in hopes of making the game safer. For instance, one a ball carrier has lost his helmet, the play is dead. In the past the guy with the ball could continue to run without his head gear.

SUPER BOWLS: the vote on awarding the next Super Bowl site is set for the league’s meeting in May. This is the championship game that some in the league – including Goodell – are pushing to be played in the new stadium in the Meadowlands. There will be a great deal of lobbying at this meeting from Jets and Giants ownership to make the first cold weather-outdoors Super Bowl happen.

EARLY PRIME-TIME SCHEDULE: generally early in the meeting the league announces the early season prime-time matchups, including the first game that traditionally features the Super Bowl winning team. They will also announce the Monday night games for that first weekend and likely the Thanksgiving triple-header. We already know that the Jets will host the prime-time game on Turkey Day, with the other games going off at the traditional sites in Detroit and Dallas.

SALE OF ST. LOUIS RAMS – while approval of the sale of 60 percent of the Rams to Illinois car parts manufacturer Shahid Kahn, there will be a good bit of networking going on in the meeting rooms and lobby. While Kahn’s presence may not be visible, he’ll be on the grounds and hoping to meet with as many of the other owners as possible. A vote on his attempt to buy the controlling interest of the Rams from the children of the late Georgia Frontiere is expected in May.

COMPENSATORY PICKS: based on a formula that few know, let alone understand, the league will release the list of compensatory picks based on free agency losses from 2009. The picks start in the third round and roll through the seventh. Teams receive choices based on free agents they lost compared to free agents they signed and the size of the contracts for all players involved. Expect Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Carolina and New England to receive the most choices. If the Chiefs qualify, and it doesn’t appear on the surface that they do – it would likely be for nothing higher than a seventh-round choice. But again, that’s just a guess.

Here’s a list of the previous compensatory picks the Chiefs have received over the years:

Year

Round

Pick

Player

  Pos.

College
2009

7

256

Ryan Succop

K

South Carolina
2005

3

99

Dustin Colquitt

P

Tennessee
2003

7

252

Willie Pile

S

Virginia Tech
2001

7

243

Terdell Sands

DT

Tenn.-Chattanooga
2000

5

162

Pat Dennis

CB

Louisiana-Monroe
1998

7

224

Ernest Blackwell

FB

Missouri
1997

6

195

Isaac Byrd

WR

Kansas
1996

7

245

Darrell Williams

DB

Tennessee State

8 Responses to “Owners Meetings Begin … Monday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • March 22, 2010  - Tracy says:

    Meeting in a plush setting serves only to further insulate the decision makers from the economic realities of the millions of football fans who have made the NFL so profitable.

    It seems to have been customary that the NFL has raised the price of its broadcast rights every time it could while at the same time the individual teams have raised ticket prices, parking costs, concession stand costs, etc. on an annual basis.

    However, not all season ticket holders can keep on plunking down more each year and the number of advertisers who can afford to buy air time is likely diminishing.

    The right answer does not include an 18 game season–that is simply too dreadful a physical toll on the players; it makes even less sense than a 96 team Final Four field, But the common factor–more money–will likely rule the day.

    If somebody spiked the coffee of Jerry Jones and Dan Snyder with LSD, some realistic thinking about how many golden eggs they can expect their goose to lay might evolve.

    However, a better approach would be to seek the intervention of somebody like Jimmie Carter or Bill Clinton make peace with the NFLPA before the 2011 season goes the way of KU’s 2010 basketball championship aspirations.


  • March 22, 2010  - Mad Chief says:

    Too bad the game we all love just comes down to one simple thing…business. Big business, at that.

    As far as the Overtime rule change? I cannot for the life of me understand the whole “sudden death” thing…or the proposed change. I have never liked it. Just play another quarter. It absolutley COULD NOT be more fair than that. Simple. Duh.


  • March 22, 2010  - Addict Roundup | Arrowhead Addict | A Kansas City Chiefs blog says:

    [...] Just wanted to do a quick review of the week ahead. Things have slowed down a bit as of late but don’t worry, with the March meeting in full effect down in Orlando (started Sunday) we are bound to be getting some interesting news. On the docket are the proposed change to the playoff overtime rules, the whole labor fiasco, compensatory picks for this year’s draft and the announcement of some early prime time games. Bob Gretz explains everything pretty thoroughly over at BobGretz.com. [...]


  • March 22, 2010  - el cid says:

    Supposedly the owners are worried about injury occurring during OT, so much BS I believe. Just drop OT and go with ties or will the owners be bothered by that also.


  • March 22, 2010  - Kesi says:

    Bob,
    Nice article bob.
    Can you write about your expectations for this year’s chiefs and what do you expect this year.


  • March 22, 2010  - Paul says:

    I’m hoping they don’t change overtime to the way I’m hearing: if you score a field goal in overtime, then the other team still gets it to try and tie to force “sudden death” or score a touchdown to win.

    I hate this proposal. I wish they either kept it the same or just have an extra quarter like what Mad Chief was saying. I absolutely can’t stand the way overtime is played in college, and it looks like that’s the way the rules are headed for the NFL.

    You have 60 minutes to win the game. If you can’t get it done in the time allotted, don’t blame the coin toss if you couldn’t even get it done in overtime. The sad thing is, is that I never hear players complain about the coin toss losing the game for them, it’s always the damn liberal media that brings it up.


  • March 22, 2010  - big vess says:

    I think they need to do more besides a coin toss. Give both teams an opportunity to play to win if a team scores a touchdown or field goal then give the other team an opportunity to score as well if they cannot score then the winning team that scores wins.Give each team 10:00 in overtime instead of the normal of the regular time of four quarters.


  • March 22, 2010  - Byzkit says:

    I think they should just play an extra quarter. In the regular season if the first OT period ends in a tie its a tie. In the playoffs if its tied at the end of the first OT play another one. Don’t change the game just make it longer in cases of ties.




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