Tag:Mediation
Posted on: June 9, 2011 11:36 am
Edited on: June 9, 2011 12:10 pm
 

Judge moves NFL's motion to dismiss up to Aug. 29

Posted by Ryan Wilson

The NFL filed a motion Monday to dismiss the original antitrust complaint from the players in Brady v. NFL. The scheduled date of the hearing? September 12.

Yep, that's one day after the first Sunday of what would be the 2011 NFL season. But as CBSSports.com's Will Brinson pointed out earlier this week, the greater purpose of the motion is that "it pushes back the deadline for the NFL to file an answer in response to the players' complaint."

According to the Associated Press, the September 12 date has been changed. The hearing has been moved up to August 29.

"U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson issued Wednesday an amended notice on the league's motion to dismiss the lawsuit," the AP reports. … "Owners and players met Wednesday for a second straight day in New York, talks toward a new agreement to end the impasse and put the NFL back in business for 2011."
NFL Labor

As Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio notes, the new date doesn't mean much since "it’s unlikely that there will be a quick decision, unless Judge Nelson decides to summarily deny the motion from the bench."

In related, happier news, CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman wrote this morning that the owners and players met again Wednesday night and while there's still a ways to go, the two sides are making an effort to work together. Perhaps even more encouraging: Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith are on their way to becoming BFFs. (Or, at the very least, they can now tolerate being in the same room. Hey, it's a start.)

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Posted on: June 6, 2011 8:15 pm
Edited on: June 7, 2011 5:40 am
 

NFL files Motion to Dismiss, hearing set for 9/12

Posted by Will Brinson

On Monday, the NFL filed a motion to dismiss the original antitrust complaint from the players in Brady v. NFL. More interestingly, this motion will now be heard on September 12, 2011.

Yes, that does happen to be one day after the first Sunday of the NFL's regular season, thanks for asking.

The motion to dismiss in and of itself was brief -- just two pages -- but the purpose that the motion serves is a greater one because it pushes back the deadline for the NFL to file an answer in response to the players' complaint.

Now that answer won't be due until after the motion is heard, which is after the season begins. This is beneficial for the NFL, the players and the fans because it allows the two sides to continue negotiating without being obstructed by a public legal document, especially one in which the NFL responds -- perhaps in a personal manner -- to serious antitrust allegations.
NFL Labor

And then there's the fact that if both sides have to actually end up going to court for this hearing, it will occur one day after 9/11, when the NFL and the players have decided to skip the first week of the season.

Whether or not memorials for fallen Americans should veer into the realm of public relations is beside the point; missing the first week of the season would be an abject PR disaster.

Hopefully, this would-be extension of time allows the two sides to avoid that nightmarish scenario.

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Posted on: June 6, 2011 6:40 pm
Edited on: June 6, 2011 7:15 pm
 

NFL season ticket sales now down from last year

Posted by Will Brinson

Late in May, we inked a story about the increase in NFL season-ticket sales relative to this time last year.

Well, the league has reversed course, according to Daniel Kaplan of Sports Business Journal. The NFL is now reporting that sales are behind the pace at the same time in 2010.

Yes, it seems like odd timing, considering the league's report that sales were up came just seven days ago. However, Kaplan notes that the timing of the report could make sense; the NFL's data during the previous report was thru May 7. Now the data is current through the end of May.

What makes this a bit bizarre is the fact that it took 24 days to generate the data thru May 7, and yet the current data took less than seven days to generate.

It's also entirely possible that the NFL felt the news about the ticket sales was off-base with their current state of financial affairs (after all, Roger Goodell openly lamented the state of the NFL's business) and wanted a more current assessment.

Kaplan notes as well that the league informed him "suite and club seat renewals [are] at a crawl."

The flummoxing state of affairs from the first report -- after all, there isn't any guaranteed football for next year -- was only really explainable by tickets going on sale earlier than previous years as well as earlier deadlines for getting tickets applications in.

This new report makes much more sense, even if the timing of the various pieces of released information is a bit odd.

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Posted on: June 5, 2011 11:11 pm
Edited on: June 5, 2011 11:12 pm
 

How does a ruling 'neither side will like' occur?

Posted by Will Brinson

Following the now-infamous June 3 hearing in front of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Kermit Bye indicated to the NFL and the NFLPA that the court wouldn't be insulted if the two sides reached a settlement before the court reached a ruling.

And Bye also said that if the two sides couldn't find common ground, the court wouldn't exactly be opposed to rendering a ruling that "neither side will like." That seems like a difficult proposition, but it's not entirely out of the question.

In fact, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk (who's an actual licensed attorney) put together a pretty good explanation of it on Sunday.

Basically, the Court of Appeals can rule that 1) the lockout is still on and that the lockout can last for a full year, and 2) there is a six-month limit on the non-statutory antitrust exemption.
NFL Labor

And what that means is while the lockout could last throughout the entire 2011 season, the antitrust exemption would end on September 11. And what that means is that if the lockout did last for the entire year, the owners would potentially be liable -- in the Brady v. NFL antitrust suit -- for triple the entire 2011 NFL payroll.

Obviously, that's a LOT of cheddar; such liability creates a highly unfavorable scenario for the owners even as the idea of missing a year's worth of paychecks would create some substantial panic amongst all the NFL's players.

Which is precisely why, as our own Mike Freeman reported recently, that it actually makes a ton of sense for the two sides to get together and hammer out a deal before the 8th Circuit has to issue a ruling.

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Posted on: May 31, 2011 11:04 am
Edited on: May 31, 2011 11:23 am
 

NFL somehow ahead of 2010's ticket sales pace?

Posted by Will Brinson

There's one thing we're sure of: NFL fans are less happy right now than they were a year ago.

Or maybe the fans are unhappy -- but they aren't going away. Daniel Kaplan of the Sports Business Journal reports that the "NFL [is] ahead of last year's pace for season ticket sales despite the lockout."

Kaplan also reports that the league is considering "changes to blackout policy."

Let's address the ticket sales issue first. Because, frankly, that seems absolutely impossible, given that there is no promise of football in 2011.

Of course, it's always easier to sell tickets when you a) start selling them sooner and b) provide an earlier cutoff for season-ticket holders to renew; I believe the NFL used both practices this offseason.

This news is surprising given that Roger Goodell recently took to the podium and pointed out that business across the NFL is down, and that the league is absolutely seeing the impact of the lockout on season-ticket sales.

This is the likely logic for the phrase "on pace." It's good news for some clubs if their sales are exceeding the sales from this point last year. And even if it's good news for the league as a whole,  some teams must be suffering a negative impact.

What will really matter is where these numbers are in August, when the season is about to -- or, should I say supposed to -- start.

Because if there's no football, there's no amount of sold tickets that will justify the problem facing the NFL.

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Posted on: May 26, 2011 1:03 pm
Edited on: May 26, 2011 5:44 pm
 

2011 NFL Lockout Issues

Posted by Will Brinson

Because you need reminding, there's a lockout going on. Just kidding -- we did think it'd be helpful to break down all the lockout-related issues for you.

Revenue Sharing: Surprise, surprise, but money is the biggest issue between the NFL and the NFLPA. Imagine you and your business partner have a really large pie that’s worth $9 billion. Would you have trouble figuring out who got how much pie? Probably.

Size of the ‘Pie’: The owners have proposed taking $2 billion off the top of revenue -- as opposed to their current $1 billion -- thus shrinking the pie. The smaller the pie, the more contentious the debate to divide it, unless the players are satisfied with a chunk being taken out before anyone starts slicing it.

Financial Information from Owners: The players want to know what the owners are spending all their money on, since they say that the NFL’s profits are declining. The owners don’t want to offer them. This isn’t a dealbreaker ... if the owners are willing to take less pie.

Rookie Wage Scale: Remember when JaMarcus Russell got $60 million in guaranteed contract money? Well, no one on the owners' side wants that to happen again. Repeat: NO ONE. The problem is, the players don’t want to hamstring themselves too much in terms of earning potential and don’t want this to affect veterans either.

18-Game Schedule: Well, it’s an “issue” in that the NFL wants it. But the NFLPA says it won’t even consider the addition of games without boosts to player safety, and maybe not even then. The NFL appears willing to concede 18 games for the immediate future. Players do NOT like the idea unless it means increased paychecks.

Salary Cap: The NFL proposed an 18-percent rollback of the cap during pre-lockout negotiations. You won’t believe this, but the players didn’t really like that idea. Naturally, this is a pretty big point of contention, because the less teams are allowed to spend on players, the less the players can actually get paid.

Player Safety: A sticking point for DeMaurice Smith, player safety is naturally pretty important. The NFLPA doesn’t want players’ careers shortened any more than they already are, and while the NFL does often talk about keeping players safe, there’s a certain hypocrisy with trying to tack on two more games at the same time.

State of the Union: This is actually the lynchpin for both sides in terms of their legal argument. If the courts believe the NFLPA has truly dissolved as a union, they have to lift the lockout. If they don’t, they will not be very likely to lift the lockout. 

Semantics: You will hear NFL/owner-folk use the phrases “negotiate” and “collectively bargain” a lot as we continue down this path. You will not hear NFLPA people saying stuff like that. This goes back to whether or not the union actually exists (it does not, technically). The players will take special care not to say anything that could make them appear to really be a union that is collectively bargining. 

Longevity: This isn’t mentioned as much, but it might be the most important point, because no one wants a “band-aid deal” that gets the NFL, the NFLPA and the fans back into this position in another five years. A fair deal that spans a decade would be stupendous.

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Posted on: May 25, 2011 4:34 pm
Edited on: May 25, 2011 9:10 pm
 

NFL Coaches Association brief: 'End the lockout'

Posted by Will Brinson

On Wednesday, the NFL Coaches Association became the newest party of interest to file an Amicus Brief with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

And, despite the stance of the people who cut their checks, the NFLCA cited numerous issues -- as well as CBSSports.com's own Mike Freeman! -- that the lockout would cause for coaches before urging the court to "end the lockout."

"The burdens of little job security and frequent moves mean that a prolonged lockout would inflict significant economic harm and career risks on the coaches," the NFL Coaches Association attorneys wrote in the brief.

Additionally, the NFLCA cited an aspect of the coaching business (or, at least, the business of negotiating coaches' contracts) that hadn't really been made public up to this point.

Namely, that teams were planning ahead when it came to how they wanted to pay their respective coaching staffs.

"Anticipating a lockout, the NFL teams for the past several years have been demanding a provision in the coaches employment contracts (which are negotiated individually with each coach) that authorizes the employing team to withhold part of a coach's salary in the event that league operations were suspended," the Coaches Association attorneys wrote.

There's nothing ethically wrong with negotiating such clauses into contracts. And the resulting money saved isn't part of the players' pie, like the "war chest" fund that was created as a result of television contract negotiations.
Owners Meetings/Labor News

But it still kind of leaves a bad taste to think that the NFL had been planning ahead for this summer and doing so at the expense of the men who put the finished product on the field.

"The Coaches Association offices with the Players Association in Washington," the NFL said, per Albert Breer of the NFL Network. "So this comes as no surprise."

Those men, however, went unnamed in the NFLCA's suit. No individual coach, as was the case with Brady v. NFL, was a named plaintiff in the suit.

But there is a reference to numerous coaches who are being particularly damaged by the lockout as a result of their inability to work with their new teams.

"The lockout, if left in force, will prevent the coaches from meaningfully preparing and readying themselves for the season," the brief reads. "While all the coaches will be exposed to greater risk of failure, the eight teams with new coaching staffs are at particular risk."

In a citation for that portion of the brief, the NFLCA also points out that "there are also three additional coaches who have only spent one season with their teams (Mike Shanahan, Chan Gailey, and Pete Carroll)" who will be significantly affected by the lockout.

Jack Del Rio and Gary Kubiak are specifically mentioned as coaches who "reportedly received an ultimatum from their team's owner that their teams must make the playoffs to keep their jobs."

In short, the NFLCA believes that close to half of the coaches in the NFL are being put at a systematic disadvantage by the the court's decision to continue the lockout.

"The NFLCA therefore urges the Court to grant the petitioners equitable relief and end the NFL lockout," the NFLCA's lawyers wrote in their conclusion. "Granting equitable relief will also permit the NFL’s coaches to avoid the irreparable harm that comes with delaying the start of preseason preparations and will give the coaches a fair chance to preserve their employment and advance their careers."

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Posted on: May 25, 2011 12:33 pm
Edited on: May 26, 2011 6:26 am
 

Goodell: Lockout 'clearly had an impact' on fans

Posted by Will Brinson

The NFL wrapped its spring owners meetings in Indianapolis on Wednesday, and afterward, as is customary, Roger Goodell took the stage to talk about rule changes, the state of football and this lockout thing.

Though Goodell sidestepped a couple of issues -- the window needed for free agency, most notably -- he was refreshingly candid about the damage done by the lockout

"I think it's clearly had an impact on our fans," Goodell said. "You can see that in the various metrics that we have -- whether it's ratings or for traffic on NFL.com. We see that.

"And that is a reflection on the uncertainty and frustration of our fans. And we all understand that. There are also financial consequences because of that, but clearly -- if we're not successful, that's clearly to come."

Asked as a follow-up if the lockout had affected season-ticket sales, Goodell didn't hesitate to point out that the respective clubs were all suffering when it came to locking down ticket sales.

"It clearly has an impact [on season ticket sales]," Goodell said. "Fans want certainty. I don't think you can ever underestimate -- fans are still going through challenges, just in the general economy. And those challenges continue to impact on their decisions. And rightfully so.
Owners Meetings/Labor News

And that's something they have to balance when they want to put down money for a season ticket or a club seat or whatever else. And so we have to keep that in mind. The ownership has been reminded of that during the past couple of days, and they don't need reminding, because they're on the front line."

Most interesting was Goodell's response to a request for "specific data" about the impact of the lockout. He seemed absolutely amenable to providing the requested information, if only because it clearly showed the problems that the lockout is causing around the league, from the standpoint of keeping fans interested and generating revenue.

"It's a noticeable change," Goodell said. "I think you guys are aware of it -- our ratings were down in the draft for example. Roughly four million people -- that's a noticeable decrease ... about a 10 percent decrease as I recall."

While no fans want to hear about the revenue that the league, its teams and the players are currently losing, it is a significant point of interest, because money that gets thrown out the window during a labor impasse directly correlates to the difficulty in finding an agreement down the road.

"The longer it goes the more damage is done to the game and the more revenue's down and that means less money that can be divided between the parties," Goodell said.

Owners were presented the full range of plans for opening weekend, from the first game on Thursday night at Lambeau Field to commemorations of the Sept. 11 attacks on the first full Sunday of games. Those dates are not in jeopardy yet, but the longer the impasse, the more in danger they would become, particularly with the league's marketing partners, sponsors and advertisers who must commit dollars to those events well in advance.

"We're not at an Armageddon date," Eric Grubman, executive vice president of business operations for the NFL, told the Associated Press. "We're not staring that in the face this week."

But like any event looming on the horizon, the theoretically non-existent drop-dead date isn't actually that far off. But, apparently, it won't impact the way Goodell and the NFL head into the next season.

"We're approaching 2011," Goodell added, "as we would any other season."

The Associated Press contributed to this report. For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
 
 
 
 
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