One of the biggest obstacles to coming to an agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement for the NFL owners and NFL Players Association is the idea of the books. "Open the books," NFLPA folks will say to the NFL. They want to know more detailed information about each team than the current CBA provides but they're essentially asking the league to prove that the financial model doesn't work and they're not making enough money.
I spoke with Andrew Brandt of National Football Post recently and he noted that the biggest problem with opening the books is the idea of trust. The NFL doesn't feel that sensitive financial information would be worth showing to the union due in part to their lack of trust in the NFLPA and what they would do with that information.
Peter King of SI.com wrote on Monday that he expects the league to show the union more financial information than they have hoping that that will provide a spark in the negotiations to get something done.
Brandt writes that whether the league shows the books or not, he doesn't consider it a deal breaker, but he does think they should negotiate to see more information in the future.
The has had rights to "see the books" as per the current CBA, and the NFL maintains that they have seen plenty. Those financials are league financials as opposed to team-by-team financials. Either way, I don't see it as a deal breaker, but something the union should try to focus on getting -- more data -- in the next agreement.
What we want to know right now is if the two sides can get a deal done. But to avoid this sort of thing in the future, I think Brandt makes a great point in suggesting the union negotiate more financial information in the next CBA.
We'll see if the league does "open the books" this week and what kind of difference that will make in negotiations.