Play Fantasy Use your Fantasy skills to win Cash Prizes. Join or start a league today. Play Now
 
Tag:Labor Talks
Posted on: April 27, 2011 10:02 am
Edited on: April 27, 2011 1:51 pm
 

Players ask for $1B bond if Nelson grants stay

Posted by Will Brinson

The plaintiffs in Brady v. NFL have filed their response (CBSSports.com has obtained a copy) to the NFL's request for a stay from Judge Nelson, and it's pretty spicy. They're asking for -- if Judge Nelson grants the stay the NFL requests -- a $1 billion bond.

Yes, that's "billion" with a "b."

The thinking on that large sum of money, based on the players' response, is thus: it's one-quarter of what the players' received in compensation during the 2010 season, and it's the baseline guesstimate for what sort of "irreparable damages" would be done if the stay was granted and lasted through the time it will take for the league to appeal.

What makes their request pretty interesting, is whether or not the NFL would pay $1 billion to the players (likely in some sort of trust account, I presume) in order to get the stay they want.

Part and parcel of the NFL's legal request for a stay involves the fact that they currently must either a) impose old rules or b) allow chaos to reign. The problem with (a) is that, according to the league, they risk violating anti-trust laws (they do). The problem with (b) is "unrestricted free agency."
Latest on Lockout

The players' attorneys point out in their response that any "alleged predicament is of their own making" and that it's entirely possible for the NFL to "implement a new player system that does not violate antitrust laws."

Based on the various responses to Judge Nelson's original ruling, and her tendency thus far to lean, legally, towards the players, it seems unlikely that she will grant the NFL a stay. That's not because she "favors the players," but as the plaintiffs' response points out, if she rules in favor of the NFL's stay, she's essentially leaning against her own ruling that she issued on Monday when lifting the lockout.

Such a backtrack within a week doesn't seem like Nelson's style.

UPDATE 1:51 p.m. EST: Judy Batista of the New York Times reports that the NFL has written a letter to Judge Nelson asking for an opportunity to respond in writing to players' request for NFL to post $1 billion bond if stay issued.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: April 25, 2011 8:14 pm
Edited on: April 28, 2011 12:07 pm
 

7 questions to ask now that lockout's lifted

Posted by Will Brinson

On Monday, Judge Susan Nelson lifted the NFL's lockout, in a hefty, 89-page ruling that ended simply with the words "the 'lockout' is enjoined."

But what to make of a situation that could end up being even more chaotic than the initial period following the lockout itself ?

How about we answer that question with the old, seven-question format? Good? Good.

1. So we're getting football in 2011????
Not so fast, my friend -- despite the fact that the lockout being lifted is huge and breaking news and all that, this what everyone expected. When Judge Nelson spoke during the April 6 hearing, all reports indicated that she favored the players in terms of how she viewed the legal positions in this case. And, clearly, that was the truth, because Nelson lifted the lockout and didn't directly grant a stay for the owners despite doing so.

One thing's clear from Judge Nelson's ruling though: she understands that the public just wants football . While she recognizes that the players are suffering "irreparable harm" because of the lockout, she also titled a chunk of opinion as "The Public Interest Does Not Favor The 'Lockout'." This is good to keep in mind when wondering whether or not anyone has the public in mind amid all this, because Judge Nelson clearly does.

And that's good news when hoping for football to happen in 2011.

2. Okay, but what happens next?
The NFL's already said it will request a "stay" of Judge Nelson's ruling. That means the league will ask her to hold off on her lockout ruling so that the defendants in this matter can file an appeal with the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. If Judge Nelson grants that stay, we go back to the state of limbo we were in before Monday's ruling.

If Judge Nelson denies that stay, the NFL will request a stay from the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Same deal applies here: if the Court of Appeals grants that stay, it's limbo time until the court rules as to whether or not Nelson correctly lifted the lockout.

If the Court of Appeals denies that stay (following Nelson's theoretical denial), the NFL would likely be forced to open its doors and impose some rules for the current players. Except for the fact that, per Daniel Kaplan of the Sports Business Journal , the Eighth Circuit could actually rule on an emergency stay by Friday. 

NFL Draft
NFL Draft Coverage More NFL Draft Coverage
Mock Drafts | Risers/Fallers
Prospects | Full Draft Coverage
3. There's still going to be a Draft on Thursday, though, right?

How nice that you still care! But, yes, there will still be an NFL Draft and, barring something really, really, really odd from happening, it'll still kick off on Thursday and teams will still make selections (though, as you'll see below, they probably won't be making some of the deals you've seen in the past).

There's too much at stake in terms of broadcast partners and timing and travel and whatnot to alter the Draft; plus, it was going on whether or not the lockout was lifted in the first place.

Perhaps now hopeful fans will simply be more interested.

4. So players can't go to the stadium and start working out yet?
Actually, they can, at least between Nelson's ruling and her decision Tuesday on the stay. Or, at least, they can try  to go work out. After all, the lockout no longer exists, and it would be a murky labor situation for teams to deny their non-unionized employees access to facilities provided by an employer for team activities.

In fact, reports have begun to surface that agents are telling their players to go to team facilities and work out so as to make sure they can't be denied any offseason workout bonuses that are included in their contracts. Our own Mike Freeman has reported he's heard some agents telling their players NOT to show up, so it could be a mixed bag.

Adding fuel to that fire is Steelers' player rep Ryan Clark, who said on television Monday night that he's "telling guys to go [to team facilities]" and "telling guys to get to work." Yes, things could get awkward when/if players show up and aren't allowed into the team building.

5. What about free agents -- can my team sign them?
Theoretically, it would be possible. But remember, the players in Brady v. NFL  aren't just suing the NFL, they're also suing the individual teams. Don't expect Marty Hurney to run out and ink Matt Hasselbeck to a deal just because the Panthers desperately need a quarterback.

His boss, Jerry Richardson, probably wouldn't be too thrilled with him breaking rank and signing a free agent. Besides, there are no rules for the current NFL season that hasn't started yet, so it's kind of impossible to even determine who is and who isn't a free agent until the NFL decides to impose those rules. (Although, if you want to see who who will most likely be free agents, my colleague Andy Benoit did an excellent job of compiling such a list right here .)

Which it won't do until it's exhausted all opportunities to receive a stay. Where this gets interesting, though, 

6. I really want the Eagles to land another first-rounder? Can they trade Kevin Kolb?
Same rules apply as with free agents: nothing until the NFL exhausts its options in seeking a stay of the injunction and imposes a set of rules.

The issue of trades might be a bit less murky than with free agency, because trades, theoretically, can benefit teams more so than they do the players (obviously a lot of teams would like a crack at the aforementioned Kolb BEFORE the draft). But, if the league decided to allow trades, they'd probably be conceding that a stay doesn't matter and would need to start signing free agents.

Since not signing the big pile of available free agents would amount -- or at least appear to amount -- to collusion, it's unlikely you'll see either one happen until the issue of a potential stay gets sorted out.

7. You keep saying a "set of rules" -- what rules will those be?
The common belief is that the NFL, if it cannot get a stay, will impose the 2010 rules on the new league year.

That means that there won't be a salary cap and it'll take six years to get to free agency. As referenced above, that dramatically changes the players who will be available to other teams, and you should reference Andy's post to see who will likely be available. But, we can't know what set of rules are actually applied until their applied.

Which means, as with much else, we're stuck waiting on the courts once again.

-----
Which leaves us right back where we started, really. Remember back when we did "7 Questions fans should ask about the lockout " thing? (Seems like YEARS, doesn't it?) Well, I closed by saying that "leverage" was critical for both sides.  

And that's still the case. Leverage just happens to have shifted (heavily, I might add) in the direction of the players right now. Should the NFL receive a stay, though, that leverage tilts back in towards the league's direction, at least for the moment.

For now, we sit back and wait for the legal system to make rulings on the issues at hand. Once they do, things will be somewhat clearer, but thinking that the NFL labor issues are behind us is a little more naive than anyone should be, even in the face of the positive emotions coming from some corners following Judge Nelson's ruling.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed .
Posted on: April 5, 2011 12:08 pm
Edited on: April 5, 2011 12:17 pm
 

No cellphones, cameras allowed in Minny courtroom

Posted by Will Brinson

On Wednesday, Judge Susan Nelson will hear arguments on a Motion for Preliminary Injunction filed by the plaintiffs (read: players) in the Brady v. NFL case. It's a huge deal, because if the players win the motion and then win the almost guaranteed appeal from the owners, the lockout will be lifted.

But that's getting ahead of ourselves, because we need to see how things shake out on Wednesday first. Unfortunately, when Judge Nelson hears the case, we won't know precisely how things are going in "real time" because there will be no video cameras or cell phones allowed in the courtroom, per Daniel Kaplan of Sports Business Journal.

Which, of course, means no live news reports from inside the court and no tweets about what's taking place; in such a motion, Judge Nelson would give each side an equal time to argue and likely ask questions from both the plaintiffs and defendants as well.

This could be a good thing, for a couple of reasons.

First of all, though the media's role is to be objective, oftentimes it's difficult to report on a charged event like this -- using a real-time method like Twitter -- without providing some hint of opinion as to what's just occurred. (A perfect example of this is the Bonds trial, which is being more-or-less live-blogged thanks to Twitter.)

Secondly, while quotes will inevitably come out from the proceedings, it's still nice to see the legal process actually play out without too much fear as to how certain statements or decisions will play out on camera.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: March 12, 2011 4:15 pm
 

NFL hires big legal guns for antitrust battle

Posted by Will Brinson

A large contingent of NFL players filed suit against the NFL on Friday afternoon, and the NFL has responded by hiring a pair of pretty big legal guns -- David Boies and Paul Clement -- to represent them against the players in the antitrust case.

Clement was the 43rd Solicitor General for the United States from 2005 until 2008 and worked in the Solicitor General's office for seven years. In that time, he argued more than 50 (!) cases in front of the Supreme Court.

Boies represented this fella named Al Gore back in 2000, in a little case (Bush v. Gore) that involved some votes in Florida and had a little to do with who ended up being the 43rd President of the United States of America. That netted him Time's "Lawyer of the Year" award in 2000, as well a runner-up spot in their "Person of the Year" award that year.

Boies also recently scored a $1.3 billion verdict for Oracle, is in the middle of a Constitutional case on same-sex marriages and is on the team of attorneys that's representing Jamie McCourt (wife of Dodgers' owner Frank McCourt) in her divorce proceedings. In short, he's one of the most famous lawyers in the country.

Those two will join Gregg Levy, the NFL's primary outside counsel for over a decade, in representing the NFL against a slew of really famous players.

There is a strong chance you will be seeing their names on a large number of documents filed in Minnesota District Court over the coming months.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: March 12, 2011 3:43 pm
Edited on: March 12, 2011 3:45 pm
 

'Lockout Letter' from NFL to players made public

Posted by Will Brinson

You'll recall that some time during the blur of Friday evening, we posted the context of the letter from DeMaurice Smith to Roger Goodell that advised him of the union's decision to decertify (aka The "Dear Roger" letter).

Well, there's one from the NFL as well, in which Dennis Curran, Senior VP of Labor Litigation & Policy, advised Smith that the league would be locking out the players.

It's just like Smith's letter -- a piece of correspondence that's required to make things official. And it was posted on NFLLockout.com. The best part, though, is that it begins with "Dear De."
Dear De,

Please be advised that, assuming the National Football League ("NFL") and the National Football League Players Association ("Union") have not agreed upon terms for a collective bargaining agreement by 11:59 p.m. on March 11, 2011 (when the parties' current agreement expires), the NFL's member Clubs will institute a lockout of members of the Union's bargaining unit immediately thereafter.

In the event of a lockout, Clubs will be delivering letters to their players in the form attached hereto. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely yours,
Dennis Curran
So, yeah, nothing crazy about that, although it does kind of prove the point that a lockout was never really a "decision" that was made following the end of mediation. The NFL knew what route it was taking all along. What's much more interesting is the letter "form attached hereto" that the players were sent, presumably by some sort of certified mailing that likely left team offices today.

In lieu of going back to the blockquote machine (I suggest you click here for the first page and here for the second page), here's the main points:
  • Players aren't allowed at "any Club facility or the stadium" unless they're there for a "non-Club event or Club charitable event.
  • No paychecks
  • No health insurance (though the Club advises players about COBRA)
  • An odd clause stating that the players "aren't permitted to perform any services under your Player Contract," which apparently means they can't practice football or exercise. 
  • No steroid testing!
  • No talking with coaches
  • No agents at the facility either (same rules apply to them)
  • No information on how to exercise from the team
  • Injured players get some treatment from the team
  • No legal assistance from the club
  • Any "activities" that a player engages in during the lockout is done so at their own risk, and the team isn't liable in the event that someone becomes a professional cliffdiver or something
And, I think, that about covers it. The NFLPA's stance on this is pretty clear: the league was planning a lockout all along. And, thusly, never really negotiating in good faith with the players.

The NFL will inform everyone that this is "standard protocol" for such a procedure, and that it doesn't demonstrate their desire to keep the players from showing up at work in 2011. But even with a strong PR push regarding the players' decision to "walk away," it's a pretty sell to ask people to ignore that a lockout was almost always in the cards for the owners.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: March 11, 2011 9:52 pm
 

Report: NFL expected to announce lockout tonight

Posted by Andy Benoit

Hours after the NFLPA went nuclear and decertified, Gary Myers of New York Daily News reports that the NFL is expected to announce a lockout tonight. If that’s the case, it will be up to the courts to decide what happens next.

The prevention of players from playing is the NFL’s ultimate leverage. The players’ ultimate leverage is decertification, which they enacted earlier. The antitrust lawsuit filed by nine players Friday evening aims at preventing a lockout.

It’s possible, perhaps even likely, that the league’s lockout effort will be blocked by the courts. That’s when appeals will be filed.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.

Posted on: March 11, 2011 8:45 pm
 

Roger Goodell writes letter to fans

Posted by Andy Benoit

After the disappointing conclusion to Friday's labor talks, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wrote a letter to fans. Here it is (via NFL.com, of course):

Dear NFL Fan,

When I wrote to you last on behalf of the NFL, we promised you that we would work tirelessly to find a collectively bargained solution to our differences with the players' union. Subsequent to that letter to you, we agreed that the fastest way to a fair agreement was for everyone to work together through a mediation process. For the last three weeks I have personally attended every session of mediation, which is a process our clubs sincerely believe in.

Unfortunately, I have to tell you that earlier today the players' union walked away from mediation and collective bargaining and has initiated litigation against the clubs. In an effort to get a fair agreement now, our clubs offered a deal today that, among other things, was designed to have no adverse financial impact on veteran players in the early years, and would have met the players' financial demands in the latter years of the agreement.

The proposal we made included an offer to narrow the player compensation gap that existed in the negotiations by splitting the difference; guarantee a reallocation of savings from first-round rookies to veterans and retirees without negatively affecting compensation for rounds 2-7; no compensation reduction for veterans; implement new year-round health and safety rules; retain the current 16-4 season format for at least two years with any subsequent changes subject to the approval of the league and union; and establish a new legacy fund for retired players (US $82 million contributed by the owners over the next two years).

It was a deal that offered compromise, and would have ensured the well-being of our players and guaranteed the long-term future for the fans of the great game we all love so much. It was a deal where everyone would prosper.

We remain committed to collective bargaining and the federal mediation process until an agreement is reached, and call on the union to return to negotiations immediately. NFL players, clubs, and fans want an agreement. The only place it can be reached is at the bargaining table.

While we are disappointed with the union's actions, we remain steadfastly committed to reaching an agreement that serves the best interest of NFL players, clubs and fans, and thank you for your continued support of our league. First and foremost it is your passion for the game that drives us all, and we will not lose sight of this as we continue to work for a deal that works for everyone.

Yours,

Roger Goodell

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.

Posted on: March 11, 2011 7:07 pm
Edited on: March 11, 2011 9:11 pm
 

NFL statement on players decertifying

Posted by Will Brinson

The NFL issued a statement following the players' decision to decertify as a union . It's really long and kind of awkward, because it calls the players out and puts what the NFL says is its last offer out to the public.

"The fastest way to a fair agreement is for both the union and the clubs to continue the mediation process," the league's said in a statement. "Unfortunately, the players’ union has notified our office that at 4pm ET it had 'decertified' and is walking away from mediation and collective bargaining, presumably to initiate the antitrust litigation it has been threatening to file. In an effort to get a fair agreement now, the clubs offered a deal that would have had no adverse financial impact upon veteran players in the early years and would meet the players’ financial demands in the latter years."

"The union left a very good deal on the table. It included an offer to narrow the player compensation gap that existed in the negotiations by splitting the difference; guarantee reallocation of savings from first-round rookies to veterans and retirees without negatively affecting compensation for rounds 2-7; ensure no compensation reduction for veterans; implement new year-round health and safety rules; retain the current 16-4 season format for at least two years with any subsequent changes subject to the approval of the league and union; and establish a new legacy fund for retired players ($82 million contributed by the owners over the next two years).

"The union was offered financial disclosure of audited league and club profitability information that is not even shared with the NFL clubs.
NFL Labor

"The expanded health and safety rules would include a reduction in offseason programs of five weeks (from 14 to nine) and of OTAs (Organized Team Activities) from 14 to 10; significant reductions in the amount of contact in practices; and other changes.

"At a time when thousands of employees are fighting for their collective bargaining rights, this union has chosen to abandon collective bargaining in favor of a sham 'decertification' and antitrust litigation. This litigation maneuver is built on the indisputably false premise that the NFLPA has stopped being a union and will merely delay the process of reaching an agreement. 

"The NFL clubs remain committed to collective bargaining and the federal mediation process until an agreement is reached. The NFL calls on the union to return to negotiations immediately. NFL players, clubs, and fans want an agreement. The only place it can be reached is at the bargaining table."

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed .
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com