There is a chance that this is there will not be football next season. This is because the collective bargaining agreement expires in April. They player's union and the NFL have been negotiating for several months, but currently they seem to be very far apart. The average sports fan does not want to worry about this, but I think it is important to understand where both sides are coming from. The worst part of this is that both sides are right, which is what is making this agreement hard to arrange.
Keep in mind that the work stoppage would be a lockout and not a strike. This means that as a whole the players union is happy enough with the way things are that they would continue to play. It is the owners who opted out of the CBA. It is the owners who would stop football from being played.
However, since the CBA is being renegotiated the players do have things that they would be willing to change.
The Owners (AKA the NFL):
18 Game Schedule - The owners are taking a loss in the preseason because season ticket holders have to pay the same price for preseason games that they do for regular season games. And in order to keep season tickets you have to buy the preseason. Also much fewer people watch the preseason so TV revenue goes down. By moving to 18 games, everyone makes more money. This is going to happen whether the players want it or not.
Rookie Wage Scale - Rookie pay has skyrocketed in the last 10 years. Sam Bradford, this year's first overall pick in the draft got more guaranteed money in his rookie contract than Joey Harrington (the third overall pick in 2002) got in his whole contract. The NFL has proposed a rookie wage scale similiar to that in the NBA, with consession that the first $100 million saved under the wage scale would go to the player's retirement plan and to help retired veteran players.
Player's Percentage - Under the current CBA the players get 60% of the NFL's shared revenue (which is a misleading figured due to the fact that the owners get a BILLION dollar cut of the revenue before the players 60% is taken out.) The owners want to change that cut to 50% (while still keeping the billion dollar cut)
Debt Relief - Over half of the league has had new stadiums build within the last twenty years. Someone has to pay for those stadium, you know besides the the tax payers I mean.
Retirement Plan Protection- The NFL does not want to have to pay for the medical bills and retirment plans of retired players. They argue that taking care of retired players is the players union's job.
Recovery of Guaranteed Money- The owners want to be able to take money back from players who are unable to meet the terms of their contract due to stupidity, irresponsibility, or criminal behavior. (AKA the Michael Vick rule)
Drug, Steroid, and HGH testing
The Players Union (AKA the Players):
Fewer Games - Keep the season at 16 games and eliminate two games from the preseason. More games mean more injuries. The owners can avoid taking a loss and the players can be healthier and put a better product on the field.
Player's Percentage - At least stays at 60% after the billion dollar cut, or becomes a true 60% cut.
Retirement - The players want the league to pay for retirement and disability, not just the player's union.
Shorter rookie contracts/incentive pay - The players want shorter rookie contracts (max 3 years) with accelerators included in them to pay players more if they play better.
There are many other issues included in this discussion. However these seem to be the main sticking points. Where do you agree with each side?