The NFLPA has already said that there will be no statements regarding the ongoing labor discussions Friday in memory of the late Myra Kraft, but on the owners' side, statements have been made in many different formats. While most owners and commissioner Roger Goodell were in Boston at Mrs. Kraft's memorial service, many other team executives were in Atlanta, going over the details of a new league year, based on the ratification of a collective bargaining agreement that hasn't yet been ratified, and may not be done so Friday by the players.
Green Bay Packers president Mark Murphy put forth more pointed commentary as the players review the agreement ratified by only the owners — at this point, further negotiations are probably out of the question.
"We've put our pens down," Murphy said in a Thursday night conference call with local media. "We've negotiated in good faith with the union. We've reached an agreement on all the key points. They know what we ratified and they're voting to ratify the same thing."
Murphy, a former player and union rep, has become one of the more notable voices on the owners' side — he's in charge of the league's only publicly held franchise, and the only team required to release annual financial statements. He's said all through this process that the idea was to get more revenue for all sides, though he's been less than forthcoming on certain back-door proposals. At one point a few months ago, he went on the NFL Network and spun the tale that the possible 18-game schedule would be a boon to the players from a revenue perspective, while conveniently forgetting about the 18 percent annual give-back in gross revenue the owners were trying to facilitate to increase their expense credits.
On the Thursday call, Murphy was more conservative in his rhetoric, sticking with the new proposed salary cap, estimated to be $120.4 million for each team.
"The salary cap, the mechanics of it, work the same way," Murphy said on the call. "From a Packers perspective and the league as a whole, one of the really good things of this agreement is we continue to have a hard salary cap. That's one of the real positives that distinguishes the NFL from other sports leagues and is one of the main reasons we've had the success that we've had.
"The biggest change is how the cap is calculated."
According to the proposal ratified by the owners, and beginning with the 2012 league year, the salary cap would be based on a combined share of "all revenue," with no reductions for expense credits. Players would receive 55 percent of national media revenue, 45 percent of NFL Ventures (merchandising) revenue, and 40 percent of local club revenue, and those cap numbers could not be lower.
"There was certainly an agreement that revenue sharing would not be part of the collective bargaining process," Murphy said. "There was an internal process that we spent time on today and were able to reach an agreement among all 32 of the teams. To me, this is one of the cornerstones of the league. … It's been one of the reasons the Packers have been so successful historically. It's the combination of the revenue sharing system and the salary cap that has worked so well for us."
In the end, everything, including all current proposed season schedules, are in the hands of the NFLPA and its ability to finish this process to everyone's satisfaction.
"I would be surprised if they don't ratify," Murphy concluded. "That's really our hope, that they do. If they don't, we'll deal with that when it comes. We certainly want to have a full preseason and not miss any preseason games."
That's the one thing everyone involved has in common. However, the directions to that happy place remain a point of contention.