- The Washington Times - Friday, February 24, 2006

Houston’s Bob McNair, an owner of one of the NFL’s high-revenue franchises, said yesterday the dispute between the owners over revenue-sharing pales in comparison to the chasm between the league and the NFL Players Association on talks to extend the collective bargaining agreement, which is a year from expiration.

“The collective bargaining agreement is more in the hands of the Players Association and their willingness to be reasonable,” McNair said. “No agreement is better than a bad agreement.”

McNair pooh-poohed the idea reported earlier this week that he and such fellow high-revenue owners as Washington’s Dan Snyder would sue if a revenue sharing plan not to their liking was passed. McNair noted that “80 percent” of league revenues are currently shared.

However, like the NFLPA, lower-revenue teams have been chafing at their wealthier brethren for not sharing profits from such sources as permanent seat licenses, luxury suites and local advertising. McNair and Co. don’t believe they should be penalized for their aggressive marketing efforts.

“I don’t see that happening,” McNair said of a lawsuit involving owners on opposite sides. “There’s really not any opposition to revenue sharing. Nor is there any opposition to helping small-market clubs that might need help on a temporary basis. Everyone in the league wants all of the clubs to be competitive. When it goes beyond any requirement to be competitive, and it’s just a redistribution of profits, that’s a different issue.”

While there has been seemingly little progress on revenue-sharing since last spring — when Pittsburgh’s Dan Rooney, a leader of the lower-revenue franchises, said there was more of a gap within the ownership ranks than between the league and the NFLPA — McNair said, “The big problem is between the Players Association and the owners. In reference to differences between the owners, I’m confident we’ll resolve those differences.”

In any event, McNair said he didn’t see any reason why the CBA couldn’t be extended before the NFL solved revenue-sharing. Players Association Executive Director Gene Upshaw has said if free agency begins March3 without a CBA extension, as appears highly likely, “the price of poker goes up.” In that case, Upshaw will recommend to his executive board on March9 that it starts the process of decertifying as a union in order to prevent a lockout during 2007. The salary cap would disappear in 2007 if there’s no CBA.

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