In a matter of days, the owners of the National Football League will decide whether to impose a lockout when the current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires on March 3. As a player in the NFL, I hope they decide not to pursue a lockout because I want there to be football next season.
It is important that everyone knows the difference between a lockout and a strike. A lockout is when employees that want to work are prevented from working; a strike is when employees refuse to work. This is a lockout. The players want to play a full NFL season in 2011, but each day brings more signs that owners are prepared to not allow that to happen.
The NFL's owners opted out of the current agreement in May 2008 -- nearly two years before the upcoming deadline -- which gives them the option of locking players and fans out of a 2011-'12 season if an agreement is not reached in the next few days. As players, we didn't want to end the current deal but we understand that with every deal, there can always be changes made to make things better for both sides.
Football has never been more successful or popular. Revenues, ratings and sponsorships are all up, and indications point to continued growth and prosperity for the NFL. Both sides have shared in the growth of our business. Did you know that 111 million viewers tuned in to see this year's Super Bowl between the Packers and Steelers, making it the most-viewed program in U.S. television history?
It is crystal clear that fans want to continue watching players playing the game we have loved our entire lives.
Despite this economic success, the owners are openly threatening a lockout, demanding that the players give up $1 billion in our portion of revenues. The owners have claimed these changes are needed to maintain the NFL's fiscal health, yet they refuse to open their financial books to let us make an informed decision about whether to agree to the request.
This is unfortunate because a lockout is not only harmful to the long-term success of league, it would have a devastating impact on local businesses. In New York/New Jersey, NFL game days are critical to the surrounding communities and workers at New Meadowlands Stadium, who rely upon games to support their families. The average NFL city could lose $160 million in jobs and revenue, and more than 150,000 jobs would be affected if there's no football in 2011.
NFL football is -- far and away -- the most popular sport in America, and players want to play next year for our teams and our fans. I hope the owners won't sacrifice a season and our fans' goodwill by imposing a lockout. However, because they opted out of the current agreement, we have no guarantee that there will be an NFL season in 2011. Owners, players and fans all win if there is professional football this year.
Take a lockout off the table and let players play.