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Top 3 Reasons the NFL Strike Ended in Agreement

I’ve been in business long enough to know what it takes for a business deal to end in compromise. I know that temperatures are at all time, sweltering highs in locations across the United States…but I’ve got to say…Are you ready for some football?!! Yeah! Bring it on! I know that you’ve been following the NFL strike like I have. It was a long, drawn out four months…but they did it. They finally reached an agreement.

Their disagreement was a textbook labor/management dispute. The business (team) owners claimed they were not making enough of a profit and the employees/players wanted raises and a better benefits package. I was confident that the owners and the players would reach an agreement. How was I so sure? The owners and the players needed each other and the money they generated, more than they needed to be ‘right’ in principal. This reality left the door open for compromise.

1. What the players knew:

The players knew that they were getting the shit kicked out of them…literally. There had been a league-wide increase in concussions and debilitating injuries which needed to be addressed. The solution was to limit the number of field workouts and the number of contact workouts. Every time the players took the field and took a ‘hit,’ they increased their chances for injury, which could temporarily sideline them or take them out of the sport forever.

What the owners knew:

The owners knew that the players were getting the shit knocked out of them too; and that in the court of public opinion, the fans sided with the players. The owners knew that as the equipment got lighter, and the players got faster and stronger, the rate of injury would increase. The owners also knew that if the star players were sidelined, the fans wouldn’t come, and if the fans didn’t come, it would have a dramatic, negative affect on ticket sales and commercial revenues.

2. Time is money.

What the players knew:

The players knew that if they reached a ten-year collective bargaining agreement that allowed them to grit their teeth and sign, most of them would be out of the league before the issue ever came up again. In other words, future disputes wouldn’t affect them. The players also knew that most of them aren’t trained to do anything other than football. The longer they stayed away from the game, the more likely they would lose their homes, cars, and quality of living because they didn’t have a lucrative ‘Plan B.’

What the owners knew:

The owners knew that if they got a ten-year ‘no opt out’ agreement, they could continue with business as usual without an ongoing looming threat of strikes and renegotiating. For them, a ‘done deal’ was ultimately a financial savings over the long term. The owners knew that without players…they were screwed. The owners couldn’t do anything without the players, and the fans would shift their loyalty to other sports. The owners knew that every day an agreement wasn’t reached, their financial stability was in jeopardy. After all, what can you do with an empty stadium?

3. Money ‘talks,’ regardless of the form it takes.

What the players knew:

Forcing the owners to sweeten the players’ medical coverage and retirement benefits was an attractive component of the players' side of the agreement. Like most Americans, football players are better in the moment than with investing and planning for the future.

What the owners knew:

The owners knew that the players were more concerned about their future employee benefits than present salaries. While the owners knew that as entrepreneurs they were focused on the current operating expenses of each franchise, the cost of player benefits could be spread out over future seasons.

The agreement...a tie after overtime…like the Bengals/Eagles in November 2008.