LABOR TALKS Owners agree to extend agreement through 2011
The new NFL labor deal forces those making the most to give the most.
GRAPEVINE, Texas (AP) -- Regardless of how they were affected by the NFL labor deal accepted Wednesday night, everyone from those hit hardest to those who will benefit most agreed on one thing: They're glad to have it.
"I'm pleased," commissioner Paul Tagliabue said, "and more than pleased, I'm relieved."
After several delays and deadline extensions, owners who had been fighting among themselves more than with the players union overwhelmingly agreed to extend their collective bargaining agreement through the 2011.
The new parameters include a revenue-sharing formula forcing the 15 highest-grossing clubs to subsidize the other 17, with those making the most also giving the most.
Yet even Dallas' Jerry Jones and Washington's Dan Snyder, two of the owners who will have to fork over the most money, went away pleased with the fact something was worked out.
"We couldn't walk out of this building and not have a deal," said Jones, who helped hammer out the final compromise. "I expected to come out of this without having my Christmas list intact and I met my expectation."
Already cutting big checks
Snyder noted that the top-grossing teams already have been cutting big checks to keep up the league's competitive balance.
"Some of us had to give and take a little more than others, but things have a way of working out," he said. "We just wanted to get this done for the sake of the league."
Although the start of free agency is being pushed back another day or two, players looking for new teams can finally get ready for their phones to ring.
"I've just been waiting for all this to get settled," said Rocky Bernard, who led Seattle with 8 1/2 sacks last season. "I didn't understand what was going on in depth until I looked at it closely. It's all business, you know?"
Salary cap going up
Better yet for players, the salary cap is going up to $102 million, $7.5 million more than it would have been without a deal. It jumps to $109 million in 2007. While that otherwise would've been an uncapped year, the stability provided by knowing the boundaries for 2008-11 should keep the nation's top pro sports league running smoothly.
"I'm extremely excited," Raiders middle linebacker Danny Clark said. "I don't see too many problems with the way the CBA was run the past 13 years. Now, it benefits the players as well as the owners. Nobody wanted to see it go the other way. Everybody benefits. I'm excited about it getting done. I was confident everybody would get it done in time. Better late than never."
As soon as the deal was done, owners rushed from the Dallas-Fort Worth airport hotel where they were meeting to catch flights home. After all, they have work to do, from building their rosters to bolstering their budgets.
"I think all of us feel good that we got something done," New York Jets owner Woody Johnson said. "We look forward to working a lot harder to try paying for it. It's a very expensive deal."
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