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Every year in every sport, it becomes more and more clear that players associations cannot match ownership pound for pound in revenue contract negotiations. Very rarely do these battles turn into full-blown work stoppage wars, but when they do, it’s always evident that ownership and their league partners can weather the storm longer and harder than individual players. Collective bargaining, in theory, is supposed to even those scales a bit, but for whatever reasons, players seemingly always end up fighting for scraps while the valuations of franchises steadily grows.
NFL golden boy Tom Brady recently took to social media to point out some of these numbers, perhaps paving a lane for a leadership role in the future.
“The salary cap dropped by 20% … and the new media deals were announced the day after (the) 2021 salary cap was set,” Brady wrote on his Instagram Story. “NFL players better wake up @NFLPA. NFL players are ignorant.”
Brady is an elder statesman at this point with very little need to prove himself in any capacity, so his diatribe makes you wonder what his endgame may be. If anything, you could see Tom being welcomed warmly into the NFL ownership elite upon his retirement, so his parting shots are interesting to say the least.
He’s certainly right, though: the NFL knows how to maximize its leverage over the players. The league recently announced a staggering 11-year media deal worth a whopping $111.8 billion, which will pay its teams hundreds of millions per year. For perspective, the salary cap is now $182.5 million, so tidy profits are essentially baked in without any real business sense needed. Thanks to bulldog negotiations from the league over the years, they’ve basically made a product that cannot fail.
Perhaps Brady has a few secret axes to grind with the league, or maybe he was just feeling sorry for teammates who got released because of the cap reduction. Whatever his true intentions might be, it will be interesting to see where he transitions after retirement in a couple years. The NFL is notoriously stingy when it comes to any player transcending the ‘shield’ and becoming bigger than the league itself, but Brady may be there in a sense already. If he truly wants to tango on behalf of the players, he could theoretically apply more pressure than any other player on the planet.