Here’s what the NFL should have said to the players:
You may think, because of the last 20 years of history, that the League is an unassailable machine that prints money. That may have been true in 1990. It is not true now.
Today you can walk into Walmart and buy a 65″ Ultra-HD TV for $470. Meanwhile, if a fan wants to go see a Steelers game, the average ticket is $93 and parking is $40. Do the math: Technology is going to put downward pressure on stadium revenue from here to the horizon and it’s only going to get worse.
Which means this League is going to become ever more dependent on television revenue. Our TV ratings were down 8 percent in 2016 and 9.7 percent in 2017. If ratings keep dropping, the next time we negotiate a TV contract—which is just three years from now, so many of you will still be playing—we’re going to take a haircut. Which means less operating revenue for teams. Which means less money for players. Which means: You.