Tag:Labor
Posted on: July 18, 2011 2:41 pm
Edited on: July 18, 2011 3:12 pm
 

Study: NFL players more vulnerable to Alzheimer's

Posted by Will Brinson

A study presented on Monday by the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Paris revealed that ex-NFL players are more susceptible to developing mild cognitive impairment (MCI) than non-football-playing men of the same age.

MCI is, as Time's Alice Park notes, a form of dementia that leads to Alzheimer's and, unsurprisingly, the development of MCI relates directly to the number of violent hits and jarring shots to the head that football players take during the course of their career.

"The players who were impaired looked exactly like the typical clinical MCI patient in terms of their profile," Christopher Randolph, a professor of neurology at Loyola University Medical Center who led the study, said. "That supports our hypothesis that what we are dealing with is an earlier expression of MCI or AD in these players than would be expected otherwise."

The most terrifying aspect of the study (in which researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill also assisted)? Helmets won't prevent this brain damage.

"The harder the stop, the more movement you have in the brain tissue; you stretch nerve fibers, tear fibers and bruise things," says Randolph. "So helmets are not going to protect you."

Player Safety

Randolph believes that changing practice habits could reduce the damage done to players' heads but that it could be difficult to reduce the amount of stress in games.

Regardless of the scientific evidence relating to reducing stress in games, though, it's obvious that decreasing the number of helmet-to-helmet hits that occur will significantly impact players' brains in a positive manner.

As will, hopefully, the league's ability to enforce a safer concussion policy that keeps players from returning to games too soon.

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H/T: MDS at PFT
Posted on: July 16, 2011 11:14 pm
Edited on: July 17, 2011 12:26 pm
 

Issues remain before a labor deal is finalized

Posted by Will Brinson

Saturday was a "great day" as far as the NFL labor situation was concerned; there weren't serious issues to bridge, because, after all, the "legal and financial teams" could handle everything that remained.

Right? Well, maybe. Now it appears there might be a little more ground to cover than initially thought.

CBSSports.com's own Mike Freeman reported  on Saturday that "there are still points to be resolved" with respect to a new CBA. Freeman noted two in particular: workman's comp and rollback benefits (those that were lost last season). Turns out there might be more.

There are also issues relating to whether the NFLPA will actually become a union -- it's currently a trade association -- and there are issues on how the named plaintiffs in the Brady v. NFL case will be compensated when it comes to free agency.

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As you'll likely recall, when Reggie White and other named plaintiffs fought for free agency, they were compensated by avoiding any franchise tag issues. Now, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and the rest of the plaintiffs named in the antitrust lawsuit against the NFL want the same thing to happen.

Presumably, one of the issues that needs to be resolved involves whether these named plaintiffs, which includes rookie linebacker Von Miller, will be given special consideration. They'll likely need to be given something, or else it might be difficult for them to file a Voluntary Dismissal and end the lawsuit against the NFL.

There is also a report from ESPN that the franchise-tagging system as a whole is problematic in negotiations.

According to this report, the players don't want to allow teams to continue to use franchise tags over-and-over again on a player. Obviously, teams prefer the lack of liability involved in a long-term deal to a franchise tag.

These issues aren't dealbreakers, per se, but they are problematic. Can teams live with a one-time shot at franchise tagging a player? Can the named plaintiffs deal with only having to be tagged once if it settles the lawsuit? Or will they demand perpetual freedom from such contract issues?

Making things more complicated is that while those questions are being sorted out, the NFL and players must figure out a way in which to handle the reimbursement of $320 million (lost benefits) and determine the locale for workers' compensation.

These complex issues are solvable, but they're why it's necessary to keep the champagne on ice for at least a few days and let the negotiations play out.

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Posted on: July 16, 2011 4:20 pm
Edited on: July 16, 2011 6:41 pm
 

'Virtually nothing' stands in way of CBA deal?

Posted by Will Brinson

Update (6:15 PM EST): It appears the owners and players will meet -- Jeff Pash told media members that the players and owners will meet under the guidance of Arthur Boylan in Manhattan during the early part of the week to resolve some of the remaining issues in wrapping up a deal.

He also said, per Albert Breer, that the "principles have done their job" and that progressing the CBA will be up to the lawyers.

-----

There hasn't been a whole lot of news on Saturday relating to the theoretically soon-to-end lockout. The legal and financial teams have been "grinding" in New York City throughout the day, but nothing too substantial has leaked from the talks.

Except perhaps this: the NFL Network's Albert Breer reports that the players and owners have "no plans … to meet again unless necessary."

Yes, normally that would be terrible news. In this case, however, it's fantastic -- the sides are apparently close enough that, per Breer, all future negotiations/handling of details can be sorted out via email, telephone and via the wonderful channels that are lawyers.

Breer adds that there is "virtually nothing standing in the way right now" of a new deal getting done and getting done soon.

Additionally, the conversation/meeting/talk between Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith that was referenced on Friday appears to have taken place (or is taking place) today, as NFL spokesman Greg Aiello noted as much while pointing out that today is "a great day." (Though Aiello may just be excited to be hanging out by a pool.)

Latest on Labor

This all should result in final copies of a settlement agreement and new CBA coming before the two sides early next week. And, as Breer notes, the owners "are likely to vote on a deal" when they head to Atlanta on Thursday for their meetings.

Does this mean we should drop all caution and proceed blindingly into a new world free of a lockout? Um, no. There are still some things that have to get sorted out. Like, most importantly, signatures.

And for those of who've seen our optimism shattered by previous negotiations that fell apart and/or those of us who understand the concept of a deal not being a deal until it's done, every single party needs to sign before it's time to pop the proverbial bubbly.

But if all this holds the course over the next few days, we'll all be firing up our fantasy leagues before we know it.

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Posted on: July 16, 2011 8:37 am
Edited on: July 17, 2011 12:20 am
 

NFL denies report Hall of Fame Game is canceled

Posted by Will Brinson

Many folks -- ourselves included -- believe the Hall of Fame Game featuring the Rams and Bears will be the first victim of the lockout, which we think is near death. (In fact, CBSSports.com's Clark Judge recently urged the NFL to cancel the game, just to make things easier.)

So a report Friday from Mike Mulligan of the Chicago Sun-Times that "word is out among key figures" of the Bears organization that the Hall of Fame Game is canceled doesn't seem too far-fetched.

“The dream is over,’’ one source said. “They had to throw one away, and everybody knew it."

The NFL, however, is denying said report.

"There has been no change in the status of any games,'' NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Friday.
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Now, even if the game was already essentially canceled, you wouldn't hear the NFL admitting as much, particularly when the thing that matters right now isn't scheduling a single preseason game, but making sure there's actually a season in 2011. Besides, if you ask Bears coach Lovie Smith, the teams don't need a full set of practices to get ready for the event anyway.

"If an agreement gets done and the NFL says we're going to play the game, we'll be ready," Smith said Friday, per Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune. "Right now, we haven't been told that anything has been canceled."

Yeah, it's pretty unlikely that the NFL's issued a memo to the Bears or Rams about canceling the game. If that were the case, a) it'd be tough to deny it had been canceled.

More likely? There's a pervading sense of pessimism about playing the preseason content, and everyone in the Bears organization is picking up on that.

That's a reasonable vibe at this point, but as we've seen, the NFL and the players can move surprisingly fast with games on the line. And if the Rams and Bears are willing to take the field on short notice, it's still reasonable to see them line up on Aug. 7.

Unlikely, but reasonable.

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Posted on: July 15, 2011 4:59 pm
Edited on: July 15, 2011 11:55 pm
 

NFL, NFLPA statement: Things 'in a good place'

Posted by Will Brinson

The NFL and NFLPA have wrapped up their Friday session of negotiations and the primary parties involved -- DeMaurice Smith and NFLPA reps, Roger Goodell and NFL reps, and retired players -- have left for the weekend.

However, Smith, while departing, said he and Goodell would meet and/or talk during the weekend, according to Albert Breer of the NFL Network.

Additionally, the NFL and NFLPA issued a joint statement about the progress of negotiations through Friday.

"The discussions this week have been constructive and progress has been made on a wide range of issues," the statement read. "Our legal and financial teams will continue to work through the weekend. We will continue to respect the confidentiality orders of Chief Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan and will therefore refrain from commenting on specific issues or aspects of the negotiations.

We will provide additional information as developments in this process continue."
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Additionally, per Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post, the NFLPA said that "things are in a good place" following the negotiations.

"We don't disagree," was the NFL's response.

Though the clarity of the statement is about what you'd expect in this situation (read: opaque as all get-out), it's been quite clear all day that the two sides are making tremendous strides towards a new CBA.

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Posted on: July 15, 2011 1:40 pm
Edited on: July 15, 2011 6:10 pm
 

Report: Rookies will get '40-50%' less in 2011

Posted by Will Brinson

At the beginning of the lockout (in the long, long ago), the rookie-wage scale wasn't something too many people worried about. After all, lowering the amount of guaranteed money given to risky rookies was a sensible move for both sides.

The wage scale, however, popped up as an issue in later stages of negotiations. Fortunately, both sides found common ground and, as our own Mike Freeman reported on Thursday, worked out the "basic parameters of a rookie-wage scale proposal."

Those basic parameters, according to ESPN, involve four-year deals for rookies with team options for a fifth year.

There would be an approximate decrease in money to rookies by "40-50" percent, with that money directed to veterans and retired players. But Adam Schefter's report indicates that during the fifth, optioned year the player would receive "a salary equal to the average of the top 10 player salaries" at that player's respective position.

Yes, this is similar to the calculations for the franchise tag and, yes, it gives clubs a reason to re-negotiate with third- and fourth-year players ahead of time if they're performing at an elite level.

Latest on Labor

Picks 11-32 under the reported system would receive a fifth-year salary equal to the average of the No. 3-25 salaries at their respective positions. And, finally, Schefter reports that the money involved would be guaranteed if the fifth-year option was "exercised after the third year" of the deal.

You can argue up-and-down about who won (and who lost; though it's pretty obvious that the rookies did and it's pretty obvious why no one was telling them anything) this area of negotiating, but the truth is that it presents a fair way in which to reward players whose talent shines early in their career without penalizing teams too drastically for a failure to evaluate talent at the top of the draft.

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Posted on: July 15, 2011 12:05 pm
Edited on: July 15, 2011 1:13 pm
 

Report: Economics portion of a new CBA are 'done'

Posted by Will Brinson

On Thursday night, CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman reported that the NFL's labor situation was close to an end and that the NFL and players' efforts at getting a new CBA in place were at the "half-yard line."

On Friday, the information relating to the lockout's been flowing in at at a breakneck pace that's so optimistic it would make a scientology recruiter blush.

Two bigger pieces of news stand out. Primarily, there's a report from the NFL Network's Albert Breer, who notes that "the economics of a deal are done." That's something that echoes what Freeman's been hearing, and is particularly awesome to hear. If the money's figured out, everything else will fall into place.

Breer does note that there are "plenty of other hoops" for the respective sides to jump through, including retiree benefits, "player safety, worker's compensation and injury guarantees, and also litigation entanglements."

Latest on Labor

Lest anyone think differently, those are indeed potential dealbreakers, especially if the "litigation entanglements" involve "how to solve future litigation issues" and "what to do with the current lawsuit hanging out there."

But his report on NFL.com, in addition to being a nice place to hear a report that a deal is done on the NFL labor situation, is laced with optimism.

Additionally, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that a new CBA "will be 7 to 10 years." Though that's a reasonably broad spectrum -- it was widely assumed that eight years was the floor with 12 years as the ceiling -- it's still fantastic news that the progress made by the owners and players hasn't necessitated a shortening of the CBA to five years, simply for the sake of knocking a deal out.

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Posted on: July 15, 2011 9:54 am
Edited on: July 16, 2011 9:17 am
 

Free-agent right of first refusal not an issue

Posted by Will Brinson

As Mike Freeman reported yesterday, the end of the lockout/close of a new CBA is close. Like the "half-yard line" close, thanks to everyone moving past the obstacle that was the rookie-wage scale.

But it still appears, based on various reports from around the web, that there's another issue hanging around in the negotiations: right of first refusal on the big old crop of free agents that will theoretically emerge under the new collective bargaining agreement.

We've covered this particular issue before, and it's an interesting request from the owners. Essentially they want to get a shot at signing the guys who went from restricted to unrestricted status because of the change in the CBA terms.

Latest on Labor

We've also been repeatedly told that it ain't happening. (And heard that the owners aren't actually pushing too much on this issue.) It now appears that it's off the table entirely; owners have reportedly decided they won't pursue first-right-of-refusal clauses.

There's good reason for that. By most accounts, the players sacrificed a big chunk of change, in terms of revenue sharing to push this deal along.

The owners have also made sacrifices, and one of those is allowing a group of 500-plus players to "graduate" into free agency earlier than they would have under the the expired CBA rules.

Plus, the owners are the one who put themselves in the position of having this group of players out on the market by opting out of the CBA a few years back. Thus, any leeway from the players on this issue would indeed be a surprise.

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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