Shortly after practice ended Tuesday, Spokane Shock players gathered in the end zone as majority owner Brady Nelson detailed the Arena Football League’s latest proposal that he hopes will settle a labor dispute.
Owners offered a seven-year agreement. If accepted, player pay would go from $400 per game this season to $500 in Week 16 (next week). Per-game salaries would be $825 in 2013, with an additional $25 each year to reach $975 in 2019. Players would pay for housing – it’s currently provided by teams – at a to-be-determined “average market rent.”
Starting quarterbacks who currently receive a $1,275 bonus per game would see that figure drop to $500. Team rosters would go from 21 active players and three on practice squad to 19 active players and six on practice squad.
“We’ve listened to what they wanted and we want to make a long-term deal,” Nelson said. “We have to have a partnership with the players and owners or we have nothing.”
The AFL made its latest offer public Tuesday in an open letter on its website, an unusual move during contentious negotiations between the two sides over the past four months. Fearing a walkout, Pittsburgh’s and Orlando’s ownership fired their players hours before the season opener. Several players on both teams then opted to sign a new contract and participate in the game.
On Friday, Cleveland players went on strike, resulting in the Gladiators forfeiting to Pittsburgh. Both work stoppages impacted the Friday game of the week on NFL Network. Future NFL Network games will be aired tape-delayed at 3 p.m. on Saturdays until further notice.
“Both sides are kind of frustrated and it came to a head where sometimes you get caught up trying to win the fight but you lose the war,” Nelson said.
“What everyone is worried about is irreparable damage.”
Tweeted AFLPU executive director Ivan Soto: “Wow so that is what it takes to get the Bargaining moving? Thank you Gladiators, True Gladiators in our book.”
According to Nelson, even if a player pays $400-500 a month for rent, the salary boost next season to $3,300 over four games compared to the current $1,600 (potentially $200 more with four wins) would still represent a sizable raise.
“It looks good from the outside,” veteran Shock defensive back Terrance Sanders said. “They’re trying to meet some of the things we’re asking for, (but) not all things were met.”
Nelson hopes the players vote on the proposal in the next 24 hours.
Sanders was wearing a cast after dislocating his left wrist during Saturday’s win over Kansas City. There is a chance he could play with the injury. Season-ending surgery is also an option.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” a dejected Sanders said. “It’s not something I want to be dealing with going into the stretch of games we have coming up.”
Defensive lineman Jonathan Williams (shoulder) appears ready to come off injured reserve. Offensive lineman Palauni Ma Sun (knee) will probably participate in practice today to determine if he’ll be activated. … Receiver Brandon Thompkins, who has been battling a hamstring injury, sat out Saturday’s game. “He was upset, but he needed it,” coach Andy Olson said. “He looked great” at practice.