In the NFL collective bargaining negotiations, do you side more with the owners or the players?
Jason: I'm anything but a union man, but I am sympathetic to the players during this whole lockout fiasco (or at least as sympathetic as one can feel for players earning, at minimum, an annual salary that could get me completely out of debt and buy me a new house by 2012). I think the whole argument that the owners need an extra billion dollars to help "grow the game" is laughable, especially when they aren't willing to disclose any of their financial information. If they really need that money, why not ask a few small-market teams like the Jaguars or Vikings to open the books and demonstrate that need? The silence from the owners on that issue is deafening. The players union has expressed a willingness to compromise and offered proposals to serve as a starting point, but the owners haven't budged. From what I've seen, it's more of a hostage situation than a true negotiation.
Derek: When you have billionaires and millionaires fighting over a mountain of money, it's hard to be sympathetic to either side. However, I'm going to go with the owners on this one. People forget that the owners have invested hundreds of millions of dollars into purchasing their teams and so it's within their rights to try and maximize the profits of their businesses. It's not like the players are currently being paid sweat-shop level wages. By and large, the last CBA was far more favorable to the players than the owners, so it's not unreasonable for the owners to try and swing things back toward the middle, or even their side of the table. There are definitely some items like the 18-game schedule and retired player benefits that I agree with the players on, but overall, I'll stick with the owners.
Rick: As far as the CBA situation, I am siding with the players on this one. The 18 game schedule idea is great for the fans, but bad for the players. Unless they can expand the roster spots, this is a bad idea for a league that is trying to promote player safety. The rookie wage scale situation should get done, but that's really the only situation they agree on. The owners make enough money as is, so I will side with the players who need the money in some cases to pay their bills because now the rookies that come in this year might basically be off of football for an entire season.
Stephen: I definitely side with the players. The owners are money-hungry and are not looking out for the best interest of the league like they claim to be. Players deserve to be heard and protected, especially after their playing days are over. The only thing that I support from the owners is the need for a rookie wage scale. No first-year player should be the highest-paid guy at his position. I hope there is some sort of compromise because a year without football would be a travesty.