The NFL owners
have always been fearful that the Players' Association would abuse its union
power, as some unions have done in other industries, and were thus reluctant to
give any ground. Both sides were convinced of the merit of their respective
positions. The AFL Players' Association, undoubtedly aided by the situation in
the NFL, was able to negotiate a settlement with the AFL owners without
resorting to strike tactics. The only way matters can be permanently and justly
resolved is by the players of both leagues jointly negotiating with an owner
group from both leagues.
By terms of the
NFL-AFL merger, player benefits and financial arrangements between the various
clubs are to be standardized by 1970. Therefore, whatever is transacted between
either group of players-owners affects the other group.
Those who oppose a
merged Players' Association negotiating with a merged owners' group cite the
fact that different financial situations exist in the two leagues. The AFL
owners, whose teams earn smaller revenues than their NFL counterparts, claim
that they would be unable to meet the demands of the NFL Players' Association;
the NFL players, knowing this, do not wish to be burdened with the AFL Players'
Association and have refused to pursue the formation of a merged players'
The solution is
going to be found only when the players and owners in each league develop an
understanding of the problems of the others. To wit:
The AFL owners
have always told their players that they would not suffer financially by
playing in the AFL. Thus the owners should not expect their players to accept
less than NFL players. The AFL owners must consider the increased financial
burden as an additional admission cost of merging with the NFL.
The players of the
NFL should appreciate the position of the AFL owners and should have tempered
their demands accordingly. After all, all football players have benefited by
the formation of the AFL and, I believe, will benefit by the merger.
divergent views. And, until they all get together in one room, controversy is
likely to continue. For instance, now that the NFL dispute has been settled the
AFL players will complain about the superior preseason pay and higher minimum
wage existing in the NFL.
The agents of
rookie football players will attempt to bring an antitrust action, claiming
that players drafted by AFL teams are forced to receive less in the way of
financial benefits than they could realize if drafted by an NFL team.
trouble—and all because four groups with similar interests will not sit down in
leadership is shown, resulting in a single meeting of all interested parties,
strikes by athletes are likely to become commonplace.