RENO, Nev. (AP) — According to two former professional athletes, the current labor turmoil in the NFL and NBA can be directly tied to the players having the upper hand in previous eras.
Ex-NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer and NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley say the players unions took the owners to the cleaners in their era and now the current crop of multimillionaires probably will have to pay the price in the form of givebacks or run the real risk of extended lockouts into their regular seasons.
“I think it will be devastating but I think there is going to be a [NBA] lockout,” Barkley said Thursday.
“I personally think in football and basketball, the owners are going to win this,” he said. “We have been kicking their butt for a long time in the last couple of collective bargaining agreements. I think the owners, they are going for the jugular this time.”
The two television analysts had few encouraging words for current players Thursday while talking to reporters during a teleconference promoting the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship that runs July 15-17 at Lake Tahoe.
“I do not see any chance the [NFL] players win this negotiation outright,” said Dilfer, who led the Baltimore Ravens to a Super Bowl victory over the New York Giants in 2001. “I think they can lose to a lesser degree than they may have in March. But no matter how you cut it now, the owners are going to win.”
“We as players in both leagues have been just destroying the owners in the last couple of collective bargaining agreements,” said Dilfer, who retired in 2008 and now works for ESPN.
Dilfer remembers talking about the last contract extension while at Lake Tahoe with Gene Upshaw, the longtime executive director of the NFL Players Association who was a regular competitor in the celebrity tourney before he died in 2008. He said neither could believe how well the union had done.
“We knew at that time that when it expired, it would be a battle royal — that the owners would figure they had gotten beaten up in negotiations,” he said. “The owners are determined to get back their piece of the pie.”
“Unfortunately for the players, once you get somewhere, it is very hard to go backwards…. The players have to go backwards pretty significantly.”
Dilfer said the lockout has had little impact to date but as the regular season grows closer, the players will lose what little leverage they currently enjoy.
“It is the time to deal now,” he said. “If we get into the middle of July and we still are locked out I think there will be less motivation to do a deal. … If it goes into the season, the players will get a much worse deal.”
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