Despite nearly eight months of sporadic bargaining, the National Football League and the NFL Players Association will resume negotiations today without having reached agreement on a single major issue.
Both sides say they are seeking a $1.6 billion collective bargaining contract, but those numbers are misleading. The union wants the money over a four-year period, the owners over a five-year span, a difference of $400 million.
The bargaining positions of both sides on key issues: Contract Funding
The union wants the contract funded in part by using 50 percent of the league's television revenue and in part by using club revenues from other sources. In 1982, for example, the union proposal would cost $325 million. Of that, $165 million would come from television money and $160 million from other club revenue.
The league wants to fund the contract, as it has in the past, through individual club income. It has guaranteed that all $1.6 billion will be spent on player increases by the end of the contract. Wage Scale
The union wants to pay the players through a wage scale, based on years of service in the league. Thus, all six-year players, regardless of position, would receive the same base salary. Those salaries would escalate each of the contract's four years.
Players who have been in the Pro Bowl would add $7,000 per appearance onto their base salary; players in future Pro Bowls would add $11,800. Any player currently making in excess of the scale for his years of service would get the higher amount and would continue to receive that amount after expiration of his contract, along with a cost of living raise. The wage scale would be administered through a trust fund.
The league wants to pay players through individual negotiations between player and club, based on minimum salaries outlined in the contract. The league estimates that, based on past figures, players will receive at least a 15 percent per year raise through these negotiations over the span of its five-year contract proposal, accounting for $1.2 billion of its proposal. But that 15 percent in increases is not guaranteed. Incentives and Bonuses
To counter the league argument that a wage scale eliminates the players' incentive to perform, the union has devised an elaborate performance incentive program accounting for $186 million of its $1.6 billion proposal. Incentives will be much smaller the first year of the contract and then increase dramatically the next three years. The incentives are divided into four categories: 272 top performers in the league broken down by position, as voted by players ($24,000 per man); team performance bonuses calculated on statistics in such catagories as rushing yards, sacks, most field goals blocked, etc. (maximum per man is $20,000 on offense and defense, $14,000 on special teams); downs played ($32,000 if player was in for 100 percent of unit's total downs), and Pro Bowl selection (averages out over four years to $75,000 for member of winning team, $50,000 for loser).
The league has no specific incentive program, leaving individual teams to negotiate them with each player. The league has proposed bonuses that would be paid to each player for past service. Players would receive $10,000 for each year of credited service earned under the retirement program from 1977 to 1981, payable within 15 days of the date a new collective bargaining agreement is executed. Players also will get another $10,000 for the 1982 season. Severance Pay
The union wants each player to be paid $15,000 for each year's service in the league.
The league wants to pay each player $10,000 for every season played between 1983 and 1986. Signing Bonus Pool
The union wants each club to set aside up to $500,000 per year to use for bonuses, on top of the wage scale, to sign rookies and free agent veterans. This fund, the union says, is to counter the league argument that a wage scale places the NFL at a competitive disadvantage when bidding with other leagues for players.
The league has rejected the signing bonus pool. Free Agency
The union wants total free agency for all players after three years of service.
The league has proposed a revised first refusal/compensation system based on the one included in the last collective bargaining agreement. The league believes the liberalized system makes the compensation a new club would be required to give up to sign a veteran free agent more realistic in relation to current salary levels. Under the old agreement, only one player changed teams. Pension
The union wants annual pension funding increased from $8.1 million to $15 million, with yearly breakdowns to be negotiated along with other benefits. The union also wants to lower the pension-eligible age from 55 to 50.
The league has upgraded yearly pension credits, adding on from $5 to $10 per year, while also increasing disability and survivor benefits. Insurance
The union wants all active players insured with a $500,000 policy. It wants all player medical, dental and eye care costs paid for completely, without a maximum. It wants to add well-baby care to the contract.
The league wants rookies to be insured for $50,000 (up from $30,000) and veterans up to $100,000, depending on years in the league (up from $50,000). The NFL would put a maximum cap of $500,000 on medical payments per person and $1,500 on dental benefits. It has not proposed eye-care or baby-care benefits. Preseason Pay
The union wants players to be paid on a 20-game basis, instead of the current 16-game regular-season standard. Training-camp pay has to be negotiated, especially for rookies.
The league wants to increase rookie pay from $350 per week in 1982 to $450 in 1986 and veteran pay from $400 to $500. Players would receive $200 per exhibition game (up from $150 in current contract). Postseason Pay
The union wants wild-card participants to receive $6,075 each; divisional games $12,150; conference $18,255; Super Bowl winners $29,160, and Super Bowl losers $15,000. Pro Bowl winners would average, over the length of the contract, $75,000 and losers $50,000.
The league wants to pay wild-card participants $5,000; divisional $7,500; conference $13,500; Super Bowl winner $30,000; Super Bowl loser $15,000; Pro Bowl winner $7,500; Pro Bowl loser $3,700. Other Proposals
The union wants joint committees to determine rules, discipline and team doctors. The union wants to abolish the waiver system, eliminate minicamps and not allow drug testing.
The league has rejected all joint committees. The NFL has proposed that players be allowed to select a surgeon. It wants to maintain the waiver system and minicamps and wants mandatory drug testing.