Our latest podcast takes us off the field for a few minutes and allows us to catch up with George Atallah, the Assistant Executive Director of External Affairs for the NFL Players Association (that's him on the left, next to Indianapolis Colts center Jeff Saturday). Some may think that the NFLPA has been in a holding pattern since the end of the lockout, but nothing could be further from the truth — now that there's an assured 10 years of labor peace, there are numerous new challenges for the league and the players.
In this conversation, George runs through several subjects, including various misperceptions about the economics of the new collective bargaining agreement, and how the new Monday Night Football deal is the first step to an entirely new financial picture for the owners and players.
If you'd like to read along, you can find many of the misperceptions about the new CBA in this recent article. George and I used this piece not to pick on the author (who we both respect), but as a jumping-off point to de-mystify certain aspects of the NFL's new economy.
We have a few quotes from the podcast below, but if you'd rather jump right in and listen, just click the link below, or check for the new audio in our iTunes feed (and subscribe if you already haven't!) It's a good overall wrap-around of where the NFL is right now from a business perspective.
On the importance of digital rights fees to the NFL's new TV deals: "They're huge, and we've discovered that it's not just important [now], but a revenue generator in the future. One of the pressure points during negotiations was that we're the only sports league that has group licensing rights for players. And that means things out there for fans like Madden — you can't play Madden unless EA Sports works a licensing deal with not just the league, but with the players' association. Or, more precisely, the for-profit arm of the players association, Players, Inc. Going forward, as you know, with the rise in social media and a lot of the online content that's available, it's really going to be an important part of revenue generation."
On Terrelle Pryor, and extending college suspensions to the NFL: "We're a membership services organization, and we have certain things that we do to protect our members. If our members feel that they have been aggrieved or done wrong, we have an obligation to protect them … In Terrelle Pryor's case, he made a decision along with his representatives that he wasn't going to fight his suspension. And now, we're in a situation where he changed his mind.
"I can tell you where we stand [on forwarding college suspensions] … our firm belief has always been that there isn't a precedent. There is no continuum, and college sports are college sports. We can argue about whether it's truly amateur athletics, or a big business, but that's not the issue … our executive committee and our players don't necessarily agree with a lot of the rules and regulations in the NCAA."
On the future of the NFLPA, now that nobody has to play defense from a labor perspective: "Well, it changes our ability to serve our players, and not having to literally defend our existence. You go from a mindset of defensive our existence and our well-being and everything we've fought for, to advancing our agenda and working in sync with the league, and not against them. To improve the overall quality and profitability of our game."