NEW YORK (CBS4) – National Football Player’s Union executive director DeMaurice Smith told Bloomberg News that a player lockout by NFL owners in 2011 is a “near certainty.”

Smith made the comments on Bloomberg TV and said a player lockout would cost the U.S. an estimated $5 billion in lost wages, taxes, and other money if the entire season is cancelled.

While no one expects the entire season to be cancelled, the public posturing from both the NFL owners and the NFLPA is leaning towards a projected lockout that could jeopardize the beginning of free agency and the NFL Draft in 2011.

The likelihood of a lockout or strike began in May 2008 when the NFL owners voted to opt out of their labor contract with the players union at the end of the 2010 season.

Owners want players to reduce the pool of money used to calculate their salaries by $1 billion, according to the NFLPA.

The union responds by asking for the owners to open their books and show them the money. Much like in the dispute between Miami and the owners of the Florida Marlins, the owners are refusing to open their books.

There are other issues that are sticking points including: extending the regular season by as much as two games, health care for retired players, and the insane money paid to rookies entering the league.

Smith has been warning players for over a year that they needed to save their money in case of a prolonged lockout. Smith also said that the league has the financial leverage thanks to the $4 billion in television revenue that will be paid regardless of whether games are played or not, according to Bloomberg.

The NFL has not had a work stoppage since 1987 and has enjoyed unparalleled success as the other leagues have collapsed into labor chaos multiple times.


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