Power 100: Looming Lockouts Threaten Player Stats

In addition to wreaking havoc on revenue, salaries, and fan sentiment, NFL and NBA lockouts would damage players' on-field metrics

Imagine waking up on the first Sunday in September and not finding a single football game on TV. No Joe Buck and Troy Aikman calling plays. No Football Night in America to signal the weekend's close.

The same goes for the end of October, when basketball season should be starting.

It's an apocalyptic scenario that's enough to send a panicked sports fan running for a supersize bag of cheese puffs. The NFL's and NBA's collective bargaining agreements expire in March and June, respectively. To date, neither league is remotely close to reaching an extension with its players association.

The NFL is meeting resistance on plans for an 18-game regular season and an 18 percent reduction in player compensation. The NBA is trying to recoup more than $350 million in annual losses; apart from salary cuts, the league is floating the idea of creating a franchise player tag to protect each team's best player from free agency.

Aside from work stoppages wreaking havoc on fans' leisure time and throwing a greater percentage of spendthrift athletes into eventual bankruptcy, the potential labor Armageddon would also throw the Power 100 a metaphorical curve ball.

On-field metrics make up 50 percent of an athlete's total Power 100 score (weighted 80 percent for the most recent season and 20 percent for the one before that). Since the league-index multiplier adjusts that score based on a sport's popularity, football and basketball players currently have a greater chance of making the Power 100 on the basis of on-field stats than do athletes in most other sports. That's why the NFL and NBA, two of America's three most popular sports leagues, placed a combined 45 players on this year's Power 100.

It's also why a season lost to labor unrest is so problematic.

Stats Are Most Players' Life Blood

Of those 45 football and basketball players, only eight would have cracked this year's Power 100 based solely on their off-field score. That list is a Who's Who of the athlete-endorser world—Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Shaquille O'Neal, Drew Brees, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Brett Favre and Donovan McNabb—even if many are in the sunsets of their careers.

Since basketball players have more lucrative, higher-profile endorsement deals than their football counterparts, a lockout would have a much more negative impact on NFL players. Top-ranked Peyton Manning would maintain his status because of deals with DirecTV (DTV), MasterCard (MA), and Sony (SNE), but players such as Arian Foster, Greg Jennings, and Philip Rivers—who made the list only because they enjoyed stellar seasons—would have no chance to maintain their lofty rankings.

In the absence of their football and basketball brethren, baseball players, golfers, and race car drivers would benefit most from NFL and NBA lockouts (not to mention college sports, which are not included in the Power 100). During any lockout lull, the active athletes' on-field scores would compensate for their lower-than-average off-field scores. And the dearth of football and basketball games on TV would give figures in MLB, the PGA Tour, and motor sports a big opportunity to boost their public profiles and likability scores.

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