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Concerns of both sides need to be heard in NFL labor talks

Seahawk Aaron Curry.jpg
John Froschauer
Seahawks linebacker Aaron Curry talks with fans at the end of the playoff game against the Saints Jan. 8, 2011, in Seattle. Curry's $60 million/5 year rookie contract is a reason why NFL owners want a wage lid for rookies.

The NFL may want to keep celebrating a successful 2010 season and profitable Super Bowl, but it must now turn its attention to a more unpleasant topic: a new collective bargaining agreement with players. The contract of a popular Seahawks player factors into one of the issues at play.

The current collective bargaining agreement expires March 4. All-day meetings scheduled for Thursday were abruptly canceled – raising doubts the two sides were any closer to reaching a compromise. KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel says there are legitimate issues on both sides that need to be hammered out.

Rookie Wages

The owners want a cap on rookie wages.  Art says Seahawks linebacker Aaron Curry is a prime example of why. Curry was the fourth pick overall in the 2009 draft and signed a $60 million/5 year contract. Art calls that "ridiculous" and says Curry will never live up to that kind of money. He says the rookie wage issue needs to be resolved or it will ruin player payroll scales.

Longer Season

The players are fighting the owners' plan to extend the season by two games (from 16 regular season games to 18, taking away two exhibition games). The players say the season is grueling enough - both mentally and physically - and they don't want to play any additional games.

Fund for new stadiums

NFL owners want to get cost certainty on the labor front because they're putting a lot of their money into a fund to help subsidize the building of new stadiums, so they don't have to ask the public for money. Art says this is the way it should be.

"The stadiums are getting so expensive that the owners need some player salary relief if they are going to continue to fund stadium construction. Anything that takes the burden of building stadiums off the taxpayers' backs, I'm for. But the owners have got to do it in a very difficult economic environment. Nobody wins if the players walk out or are locked out."

Art thinks if a work stoppage were to happen, it wouldn't have a huge immediate impact since we're in the offseason. He expects a resolution before training camp or the start of the new season would be put in jeopardy.

You can now find Art Thiel's work at the website Sportspress Northwest.

Kirsten Kendrick has been hosting Morning Edition on KNKX/KPLU since 2006. She has worked in news radio for more than 30 years. Kirsten is also a sports lover. She handles most sports coverage at the station, including helping produce a two-part series on the 50th anniversary of Title IX and the ongoing series "Going Deep."
Art Thiel is a co-founder and writer for the rising sports website Sportspress Northwest. In 2003 Thiel wrote the definitive book about the Seattle Mariners, “Out of Left Field,” which became a regional bestseller. In 2009, along with Steve Rudman and KJR 950 afternoon host Mike Gastineau, Thiel authored “The Great Book of Seattle Sports Lists,” a cross between and Mad Magazine that has become mandatory reading for any sports fan who has an indoor bathroom.