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Don't worry, there will be an NFL season

Steinberg Says

June 18, 2011|By Leigh Steinberg

Whether I am talking to the toll-taker on the 73 toll road, eating at the Cheesecake Factory, working out at 24 Hour Fitness or standing in the lobby of the Regal Theatres, each person approaches me with anxiety and a frown and says "Oh, it's you, will there be an NFL Season?!"

I would like to provide a community service for all NFL fans living on Don't worry, there will be an NFL season the West Coast, to help drop the anxiety level dramatically. Yes, there will be a normal NFL season!

Pigs will fly and the world will end before the NFL commits a monumental act of self destruction. Promising discussions between the players and the NFL have begun again and the lockout may end soon.

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The NFL is the dominant form of sports entertainment in this country in every poll by a two-to-one margin. It is America's passion. This popularity rests in large measure on the fact that there has been uninterrupted play since 1987.

All of the energy of owners and the NFLPA has gone into building the brand of the NFL and creating incredible ancillary revenue streams — NFL Network, Direct TV's Season Ticket, naming rights, overseas play, fantasy football. The strikes and labor hassles which have crippled other sports, driving away fans and retarding their development, is a lesson that the NFL has learned.

I have always maintained that the real battle for the NFL is not labor versus management. It is competition with MLB, the NBA, HBO, Disney World and every other form of discretionary entertainment spending, force feeding fans with an unremitting diet of economics and labor strife is suicidal.

My job in negotiations was to have players sit at press conferences announcing their signing with no controversy — emphasizing their charitable and community programs and hopes to help the team. I was always aware that with a median family income of $50,000, it made no sense to complain publicly about the size of a contract.

The "good old days" of massive economics in the NFL are now. In 1976, Seattle and Tampa Bay entered the league with a purchase price of 16.5 million dollars, in 1995 Carolina and Jacksonville entered with purchase prices of 130 dollars. Today, the average franchise is worth one billion dollars.

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