With the NFL beginning preparations to celebrate its 100th season, questions are circulating over whether or not the centennial anniversary will be marked by labor strife. The league was reported to have been invested in getting a new Collective Bargaining Agreement set up in time for the start of the 2019 season, though that has been walked back a bit since then.
The current CBA will expire after the 2020 season, but significant implications will already come into effect by March, so the league will in all likelihood be shooting to get something done by then, especially in the aftermath of the lockout from the last round of negotiations.
One can’t help but think to how different it will be without the presence of former Pittsburgh Steelers President Dan Rooney, who had been one of the central figures in just about any league-wide issue for roughly half a century.
It’s something that I wrote about two years ago following Rooney’s passing. He was a primary confidant to each of the past three commissioners, including the current, Roger Goodell, who said of Rooney, “you couldn’t ask for a better mentor than Dan Rooney on a professional level. He had the insight, had the knowledge and he was willing to share it with you. That was an extraordinary experience for me and I am so grateful for that opportunity”.
He also said that all three of the previous commissioners “relied on [him] so much thinking through difficult issues. He was a voice of reason, a confidence that helped us all through a difficult period of time”. Former commissioner Paul Tagliabue called him “enormous” in labor negotiations.
This is the first major league moment for which he will be entirely absent. And in the meantime, reportedly, a new face is trying to emerge—or rather an old one in Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
Mike Florio reported earlier this month that Jones “wants to be the one who gets the credit for getting this one hammered out”, referring to the current CBA negotiations that are already underway. The NFL and NFLPA have already met to discuss issues four times, and will do so again on the 29th.
With that said, Rooney’s son, Art Rooney II, is and has been one of the principle voices on a number of issues. He has been the team president since 2003, as a matter of fact, and was actually an even bigger voice in the previous round of negotiations, while his father was serving as ambassador to Ireland.
Art Rooney II was named as one of the prominent members who attended the most recent meeting discussing the state of the next CBA, during which the most significant issues, such as revenue sharing, were discussed. This will be the first real opportunity for him to make his mark since his father’s passing.