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A CBA For The Fans


Kansas City Chiefs fans, I know we’re not really supposed to be focusing on the Collective Bargaining Agreement, this source of our collective aggravation, but we are. I have been resisting wading into the muck, not just in writing here, but in general—I have purposefully been avoiding learning too much about it. The first time I heard “CBA,” all I could picture was a bunch of tall guys with afros in too-short shorts throwing around a red-white-and-blue basketball.*

*Turns out that was the ABA.

Yesterday, I decided to get informed. For someone trying to get a basic grasp on the CBA, Google isn’t much help, as you have to wade through CBA: The Association for Christian Retail, the Commercial Brokers Association (“…the primary listings database in the Pacific Northwest”), the Christian Brothers Academy of Syracuse, the California Board of Accountancy, and the Chicago Bar Association. There’s even an Urban Dictionary entry (“CBA = Can’t Be Arsed. CBA is a severe form of laziness.”), before finally, mercifully, Wikipedia (of course) comes to the rescue with a summary of some of the major issues.

By now, I’m sure you all know what most of those basic questions are: How are the “millionaire players” and “billionaire owners” going to carve up that approximately $9 billion* of yearly revenue? Will the NFL add two regular season games? Will the league institute a rookie salary cap?

*That is more than the gross domestic product of 58 countries, according to the International Monetary Fund.

And if no deal is reached by the time the CBA expires on March 3, will there be a lockout?*

*The legal definition of a lockout is the “withholding of employment by an employer from its employees for the purpose of either resisting their demands or gaining a concession from them.” But in plain English, it means the players literally will be locked out. The Chiefs (and others) won’t be able to get into their teams’ facilities to work out, and their condition would start to deteriorate (unless, according to breaking news, Matt Cassel comes to the rescue). Shocking as it may be, not every NFL player has a $10-million crib with a state-of-the-art home gym, and many players can’t or won’t go to a “normal” gym like you or me (more often, you). So just imagine if Shaun Smith really let himself go…

Much has been made of the “two” sides—yet a rather important constituency has no representative at the bargaining table. The fans, of course, are the source—directly and indirectly—of the bulk of that $9 billion everyone is making such a fuss over. So it seems only fair that before the new deal is reached, we get to add some of our language to the final document. Here, then, are a few Fan Amendments that ought to be considered for the next version of the CBA…

I. Guaranteed Minimum
To participate in the National Football League, any team must provide its fans with a guaranteed minimum of four (4) regular-season wins annually. Any team failing to meet the guaranteed minimum will be relegated for the following season to the D-League. This is not to imply that the NFL will develop a D-League of its own; disqualified teams will be assigned to the current D-League of the NBA. Perhaps they will be better at basketball.

II. Salary Cap
Heretofore, any and every player earning more than 123% of the average league salary shall be required to wear a Salary Cap at all times on the sidelines during games, as well as for any official appearance in public, embroidered with the amount of money he is earning on average for each fumble, interception, dropped pass, or missed tackle. The Salary Cap must be worn properly, facing to the front, so that each player may witness the reaction of observers who realize just how much some players are being paid to fail at a game that children play for free.

III. Signing Bonus
Any player who arrives early or stays late at any game, practice, or other appearance to which the public is invited in order to sign autographs for fans shall receive a bonus.

IV. Additional Games
For each regular-season game in which fewer than 90% of the players and/or coaching staff of the home team fail to give 100% effort, one (1) home game will be added to the regular season schedule, for which each fan in attendance at the original game will be given a “lame check,” free of charge. For visiting teams, the standard will be at least 95% effort from a minimum of 85% of the players and coaches; failure to reach this threshold will not result in the addition of any games, but the team will be required to return home by non-luxury motor coach ( or in the case of international games, by ship, third class), during which they will be required to think long and hard about what they could have done better.

If a team fails to put forth the required effort during a post-season game, in which case it would not be practical to add a game, each fan of said team will receive a free, officially licensed T-shirt, upon which shall be emblazoned the team logo and the words, “My team went to the playoffs, but all I got was this lousy T-shirt.”

V. Booth Review
Up to three times per season, from their booth at the local sports bar, fans may challenge—and, in the face of “indisputable statistical evidence,” overturn—any questionable personnel decision made by the front office or play-calling strategy employed by the coaching staff.

VI. Free Agency
Any fan who has remained committed to one NFL team for either 15 years or one (1) childhood, whichever is less, without experiencing either a) playoff success; or b) a promising rebuilding effort, will be considered an unrestricted free agent who may transfer his or her loyalty to another team without shame. Should the fan decide to re-commit to his or her current team, he or she will be entitled to additional compensation, including but not restricted to an upgrade to Club-Level season tickets and/or unlimited vouchers for chicken spiedini.

Likewise, if, after an extended period of withering fan criticism despite consistent winning records and playoff appearances, a team may exercise its right to trade its fan base for one with more potential upside. For example, the Eagles may currently be entitled to exchange the population of Philadelphia for a selection of diehard Carolina Panthers fans as well as the still-hopeful fan base of an NFC West team to be named later.

VII. The Draft
Beginning in 2011, the NFL Draft (“The Annual Player Selection Meeting”) will function in accordance with the same rules that govern most Fantasy Football drafts. For sake of continuity—and because Chiefs fans aren’t about to give up Jamaal Charles—each team will be allowed to keep three offensive players from the previous season. All other current players, along with the top 200 incoming rookies, as graded by a panel of mock draft specialists to be chaired by Mel Kiper, Jr.*, will form the Draft Pool. Each team will then rank its preferences of players based entirely on online fan voting. Entire defenses will, of course, be drafted as complete units. The computerized Draft will then commence on Thursday, April 28, at 7 p.m. EST and conclude by 7:01 p.m.

*It’s all the man has.

Also, under the new draft policy, fans at each home game are entitled to free draft beers until either the middle of the fourth quarter, or their first loud obscenity/offensive remark within earshot of a child in the next row, whichever is earlier.

We have about two weeks to finalize this agreement and submit it for negotiation. And if the NFL owners and players refuse to meet these demands, we can always lock them all out…of our hearts.

Yeah. Right.

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