Tag:NFL lockout
Posted on: May 27, 2011 7:14 pm
Edited on: May 27, 2011 7:32 pm
 

Saints coaches 'appalled' by NFLCA appeals brief

Posted by Ryan Wilson

A brief recap of This Week in Lockout News:

Wednesday: The NFL Coaches Association filed an amicus brief with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in support of the players' request to lift the lockout.

Thursday: The Redskins' coaching staff issued a statement clarifying their position relative to the NFLCA brief: "We stand united with our ownership and the brief does not reflect our thoughts on the matter." NFL Network's Albert Breer reported that 17 members of Washington's staff signed the letter, although head coach Mike Shanahan wasn't one of them.

Friday: The Saints became the latest team to speak out against the NFLCA brief, this time without the PR filter written statements usually provide.

New Orleans linebackers coach Joe Vitt said Saints' assistants were "appalled" by the NFLCA's decision to file a brief, the Times-Picayune's Mike Triplett writes.
"It was awful presumptuous on their part that they would represent all the coaches on our staff," Vitt said of the NFLCA, which is led by former NFL assistant Larry Kennan, who served as the Saints' tight ends coach in 1995.

"We're supporting the owners," Vitt said. "I've said this a million times, our organization has been built on trust. (Owner Tom) Benson has been great to us. Unequivocally, we support our ownership."
Therein lies one of the problems with the NFLCA not representing all NFL coaches. As Triplett points out, coaches can choose to belong to the union, and Vitt said that Saints' assistants collectively agreed not to join back in 2006. So just because the NFLCA issues a statement (or in this case, files a brief), there's no reason to expect solidarity among the coaches. There's no executive director in the mold of the NFLPA's DeMaurice Smith who, like him or not, has the players mobilized behind the "decertify and let the courts sort it out" strategy.

Another, bigger problem: communicating clearly. Kennan, appearing Friday on Sirius XM NFL Radio, told co-hosts Jim Miller and Alex Marvez that "I emailed all the coaches to tell them we were going to do this. However, I didn’t do a very good job of communicating with the Redskins. … It kind of caught them blindsided. Before they had a chance to read the Amicus brief and see that it was strictly about being for coaches, they panicked a little bit and maybe got some outside pressure to do something.”

Also worth noting: Kennan made his comments before Vitt spoke out against the NFLCA to the Times-Picayune.

Kennan continued: “If there were a whole bunch of teams [protesting], I’d be concerned. I’m not concerned about one. I know what happened there. They didn’t have all the facts. A lot of us make decisions because we’re in a pressure situation and get caught up reading about something and don’t have all the information.”

Perhaps. But in two days since the filing, two coaching staffs have come out in support of their owners. If the 'Skins and Saints are any indication, it's reasonable to think other staffs will be coming forward soon, too.

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Posted on: May 27, 2011 4:25 pm
Edited on: May 27, 2011 4:32 pm
 

Warner: players will 'have to give in'

WarnerPosted by Josh Katzowitz

In statements that will surely not make his former teammates (and the rest of the league’s players, for that matter) very happy, Kurt Warner told USA Today that eventually the players will have to cave in to the owners in order to end the labor strife.

"I'm still optimistic that they're going to find a way to make sure there's football," Warner told the paper. "The players have too much to lose. And as much as I hate to say it, at some point, the players have to give in. And, hopefully, they can gain some other things on their side.

"But ultimately, they have too much to lose."

Warner makes an interesting point, and I think he might very well be correct, though some players have questioned why Warner would even say this now. As the summer months roll into fall and players still aren’t receiving paychecks, I certainly could see a huge crack in the foundation of the NFLPA’s supposed solidarity. The owners obviously have larger chunks of money to lose, but they’re also much better equipped to handle it.

You won’t, for instance, see an owner trying to secure a $500,000 loan with 23 percent interest. Instead, they force one-week furloughs on their lowest level employees in order to save money in tough times.

Said Warner: "I always hope, 'Let's get something that's good for everybody.’ (But) just because we have leverage doesn't mean we just screw the people we have leverage on.

"Let's come together and say, 'This is what we need. We need you guys to pull back here, and we want to make it so you can get benefits and you can be taken care of long term.' … That's what I hope gets done. The players have to give a little, and the owners have to give a little, and it's good for everybody in the end. And let's go play some football."

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Category: NFL
Posted on: May 27, 2011 1:41 pm
Edited on: May 27, 2011 1:50 pm
 

Will the NFLPA choose not to recertify?

SmithPosted by Josh Katzowitz

You know how we’ve talked over and over again about how the owners think the NFLPA’s decertification is a sham because everybody just kind of assumes that the trade union will recertify after this labor fight ends?

Well, the NFLPA might not recertify after all. In fact, Yahoo! Sports’ Mike Silver is reporting that executive director DeMaurice Smith said he’s come “full circle” – from the ultimate union man to a man who thinks a union-free existence might be the way to go.

“When I went into this, my attitude was that the only way you have power is collectively, and I believed in unions as vehicles for employees asserting their rights,” Smith told Silver. “But looking back on what Gene (Upshaw, former NFLPA executive director) experienced and understanding this particular situation, I’ve now come to appreciate the value of decertification in our particular circumstance. And I don’t see why we’d want to go back to being a union.”

If the players don’t reform – and Upshaw apparently didn’t want to reform in the early 1990s after the association decertified the first time and won unrestricted free agency (he was coerced into doing it by the owners) - that potentially could be a big problem.

As Silver explains, “Absent a union, players would be free to assert their legal rights under the Sherman Antitrust Act, and accepted institutions such as the NFL draft and rules governing free agency would be vulnerable to courtroom challenges. It’s also possible that a non-unionized workforce could gain legal protection from a lockout, as the players did in April in successfully obtaining an injunction from U.S. District Court Judge Susan Nelson.”

According to Smith, NFLPA lawyers in 1993 “met with Gene for five hours and tried to talk (recertifying) through with him, but he wouldn’t budge. So they went back to the owners and told them: ‘Gene won’t do it.’ That’s when they came up with the idea of writing up the affidavit that was included in that CBA [and all future CBAs] saying that if he ever wanted to decertify again they wouldn’t challenge it. That was the only way they could get Gene to agree to recertify.

“So given that history, and where we are now, let me ask you a question: What could they possibly tell me that could get me to agree that recertifying is a good idea?”

It’s a good question with no clear answer. In fact the answer is so unclear that a Georgetown law professor interviewed by Silver described the possibilities of a union-free NFL as “very messy.”

Still, you can bet on this: if the NFLPA doesn’t recertify and it challenges the NFL again in court, this labor strife might be here to stay for years to come. Then you might see a sport changed forever. And not necessarily in a good way.

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Posted on: May 27, 2011 9:38 am
Edited on: May 27, 2011 10:41 am
 

Goodell still says fans want 18 games

GoodellPosted by Josh Katzowitz

As an outside observer, it seems that hardly anybody wants the NFL to move to an 18-game schedule. With the exception of 33 people – the 32 owners, plus commissioner Roger Goodell – it comes across to me that people are cool with the 16 games.

Yet Goodell, according to the (Nashville) Tennessean, continues to use the line that fans just can’t stop shivering in anticipation of two extra games.

“We do think it is attractive to season-ticket holders. I hear that all of the time from our season-ticket holders,” Goodell said on a conference call with Titans season ticket holders. "We have not abandoned our position on that. We do think it is the right thing for the game. It improves the quality of what we do, and it improves the value for you as season-ticket holders. … We do think it is a benefit for everybody, but we want to do it the right way, and we want to do it responsibly. That includes the players’ perspective.”

Hardly anybody likes the preseason schedule and yeah, I can see why Goodell thinks it’s in the fans' best interests to give them more real games for the money they’re spending on season ticket packages.

But I just don’t get the sense the fans are all that keen on the idea (and we KNOW that the players don’t want it), mostly due to injury concerns.

Yet, Goodell just won’t stop, and it's getting laughable.

But here’s the thing, and Yahoo! Sports’ Doug Farrar points it out: Goodell has participated in 19 conference calls like this, and after reading transcripts of the talks, hardly any fan has mentioned wanting what Goodell says the fans want.

And here’s what I don’t understand. The 18-game schedule is off the table for these labor negotiations, so why is Goodell STILL talking about it? Especially when it seems somewhat clear that the fans aren’t all that interested in the idea.

Labor News
I took an unscientific Twitter poll this morning to gauge the fans’ reaction to the idea of adding two more games, and here are my results: 83.9 percent of the respondents said they like the 16-game format fine, thanks very much (psst, I guess they must not be season ticket holders, right?).

Here are a few of their responses:

From @L7Panda: “NO to an 18 game season, just like the previous polls had said, 80% of fans do NOT want an 18 game season. NO NO NO NO NO.”

From @CJ_Camisa: "Yes!!!! As a Packer fan I want even more of my players to miss time to injuries!!! They don't take enough hits!" #sissies

From @Preine_PtR: "As a Browns fan, I'm usually begging for the season to be over with by week 5."

From @manicsocratic: "18 game schedule is fine. Make it fair to the players and change regulation to 48 minutes though."

So, that seems pretty clear to me. Fans don’t want it, and season ticket-holders don’t want it. I just wish Goodell would stop pronouncing it like it’s some kind of fact.

By the way, you can check out the labor timeline and the labor issues of the day. You know, in case you need a refresher.

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Posted on: May 19, 2011 8:34 pm
 

NFL finds no evidence of improper contact

Posted by Clark Judge

The NFL's investigation into reports of improper contact between players and NFL coaches has turned up no evidence of wrongdoing, a league spokesman said Thursday.

"Not at this point," said Greg Aiello, the league's senior vice president of public relations. "It's not an investigation, per se. We're monitoring what's taken place and follow up on various reports, then follow up on any specific information."

But there has been no evidence of improper conduct, said Aiello.

NFL Labor
NFL clubs and their coaches are prohibited from contacting players during the lockout. Recent reports indicated that some coaches weren't following that procedure and were in contact with players conducting informal workouts. However, Aiello said the league found no evidence to support those reports.

In one instance, three teams were alleged to have made improper contact with undrafted free agents, but Aiello said that when the league launched an inquiry, nobody could detail specifics. In another instance, he said, it was discovered that a club contacted an undrafted player before the three-day draft had ended -- which was within the guidelines for that weekend.

"It was a misleading report," said Aiello. "At that point, there could be contact."

Bottom line: Thus far, there have been no misdeeds ... or, at least, no evidence of wrongdoing.

"Correct," said Aiello.

This post was cross-posted from Clark Judge's Punt, Pass and Judge blog. For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Category: NFL
Posted on: May 19, 2011 7:12 pm
 

John Mara pens essay, says game is at risk

MaraPosted by Josh Katzowitz

Giants CEO John Mara has written an essay for giants.com describing for fans why a player victory in this labor dispute would be bad for the game of football – and most importantly, for its fans.

The headline of the story is “Time to get back to football,” which strikes me as an odd title for a story penned by the NFL's side (since, um, the owners are the ones locking out the players, preventing football from, you know, being practiced right now).

Anyway, here are a couple portions of his essay, without commentary by me (the owners have their side of the story, I figure, and they should be allowed to tell it).

There was no reason for the situation to come to this. The NFL's business model needs to be fixed. Of that, there is no doubt. The 2006 collective bargaining agreement was not balanced. Players have readily acknowledged they "got a great deal." Then the economy went south, adding to the problem.  A fair adjustment must be negotiated in a new CBA.

I participated in two of three weeks of federal mediation in Washington. We made progress. We closed the gap on economics, offering to commit almost $20 billion to player costs over the next four years with a 14 percent increase from 2011 to 2014. We addressed other important player concerns in our March 11 offer. It was made in an effort to continue negotiations and reach agreement.

Instead, the NFL Players Association walked away from mediation. It put a litigation strategy in play and filed a lawsuit declaring virtually all league rules relating to player employment as being violations of antitrust law. The union said many times it had no plans to dismantle the core elements of the collectively bargained system that has been in place since 1993.

And this:

The NFLPA lawyers want to wipe away fundamental elements of the NFL's appeal to fans, including the draft, "the Salary Cap, ‘franchise player' designation, ‘transition player' designation, and/or other player restrictions," according to their lawsuit. 

This strategy is no doubt designed to gain economic leverage in negotiations. But it has delayed the process of reaching an agreement and, more importantly, it threatens players, teams, and fans with very negative consequences. Without a CBA, we could be forced, as Mr. Kessler says, to come up with our own system that we think complies with antitrust law, knowing that each and every aspect of it is potentially the subject of years of litigation and uncertainty.

The likely changes would be great for NFLPA lawyers, but not for players, teams, or, most importantly, fans. For example, there could be no league-wide minimum player salaries, with many players making less than they do today, or no minimum team player costs, with many clubs cutting payrolls the way some teams do in other sports. Other bedrock components of the NFL's competitiveness, such as the draft, would be called into question and assailed as antitrust violations. A steroid testing program is a must, so we would have to consider an independent administrator such as WADA. There could be varying player benefit plans from team to team, and limits on the ability to enforce other league-wide rules that benefit players, especially rank-and-file players that do not go to the Pro Bowl.

 Even a settlement of the Brady lawsuit, in which the plaintiffs agree to certain rules, could be challenged by other players – now or in the future. The league and individual clubs would likely be hit with a barrage of lawsuits. We could end up with an unregulated system in which a disproportionate amount of money goes to "stars" and where teams in small markets struggle for survival. The very concept of a league with 32 competitive teams would be rendered virtually inoperable.

Mara goes on to write the owners’ standard line about how the only solution is at the negotiating table, and to be fair, Mara used to work for a law firm that represented unions in labor disputes. And he seemingly is one of the more moderate guys representing the NFL right now.

But CBSSports.com’s own Mike Freeman took issue with the essay (I said I wouldn’t make commentary on the letter; I didn’t say I wouldn’t allow my colleagues to do so).

On his Twitter page, through numerous status updates, he wrote the following

“John Mara is a good dude, but his letter to fans is highly disingenuous … One of the highlights of it is how the economy hurt revenue. Problem is, NFL has made record profits. … The NFL has been immune to the economy... This fight is about revenue sharing. Not the economy. Not any of this other stuff owners are claiming. IT's...ABOUT...REVENUE SHARING! … The owners want the players to give back more money to fix the owners' revenue sharing problems... That's it. You can believe the players are greedy. Or whatever you want to believe. The truth, the truth, is revenue sharing. … The owners want the players to fix their revenue sharing problems. The players don't want to do it. So here we are... I don't blame the players for not wanting to fix the owners' problems. … Again, John Mara...honorable man. Good man. Just flat out misrepresenting what this is about.”

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Posted on: May 18, 2011 11:31 am
 

Players taking out ridiculously huge loans

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

More (scary) news about how the lockout is affecting those players who didn’t think to save their money when they had the chance.

This news comes from the Twitter account of Rich “Big Daddy’ Salgado of Coastal Advisors, an insurance consultant company that counts NFL players (and other pro athletes) as part of its clientele.

NFL Labor
On Tuesday, Salgado tweeted that he knew of an NFL player who just took out a $500,000 loan with an astronomical interest rate of 23 percent.

We’ve posted stories like this before, but a loan of a half million dollars with such a huge interest rate might tell you a tale of where some players’ financials currently are situated.*

*In the toilet.

The biggest problem with this: many players wouldn’t be getting paid much at this point anyway. It’s still the offseason, and though some players receive workout and roster bonuses, it’s not like players receive the bulk of their money at this point of the year.

Which means, once September rolls around and players still aren’t cashing checks (during a time in which they normally are), there might be some real trouble out there.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: May 16, 2011 11:16 pm
Edited on: May 16, 2011 11:21 pm
 

DeMaurice Smith, Pash respond to court ruling

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Obviously, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith is disappointed with today’s Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that issued a permanent stay of the lockout injunction. But that didn’t stop him from getting off a pretty nice zinger.

"As far as we can tell, this is the first sports league in history that's sued to not play its game,” Smith told NFL.com. “Congratulations.”

NFL lawyer Jeff Pash was a little more understated.

"You don't resolve things through litigation," he told NFL.com. "We've been clear on that. And what we need to be doing is focusing all our attention on the process that's going on here in this building, with the assistance of the chief judge and in serious discussions with the players.

"We have an opportunity to resolve this matter and get the game back on the field, and that really should be our exclusive focus -- not litigation, not stays or injunctions, things like that. That's not going to solve anything. I'm glad that it came out the way that it did. But it's just one step in a process and we need to focus on negotiation. That's the only way we're going to resolve this."

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com