Posted on: March 8, 2011 10:38 am
Edited on: March 8, 2011 7:41 pm

'Not $1 more' from NFLPA without books opened?

Posted by Will Brinson

One of the biggest complaints throughout the labor disagreement between the NFL and NFLPA is that the owners won't "open their books" for the players. In case that term isn't clear, the players want to scrutinize the financial records of the owners to see if the owners are making as much (or as "little," if you will) money as they claim they are.

This opening of the books may turn into a dealbreaker. In fact, Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal reports that it might become a dealbreaker beginning almost immediately.

According to one of Mullen's sources, the union has decided that they will give "not 1 dollar more [without] financial transparency."

This is in reference to the fact that there's been movement on the issue of revenue sharing between the two sides -- once $1 billion apart, they were reportedly just $750-800 million apart by the time mediation ended on Monday night.

NFL Labor

"The players really think that the NFL opening their financials has become the key to getting a deal done," Mullen's source told her early Tuesday.

The players are probably correct. As of right now, the owners keep claiming "We're making only $XX,XXX,XXX.XX." This is a problematic claim, however, because they refuse to provide any evidence to prove that this claim is true.

Given what the NFLPA was able to uncover in the most recent momentum victory -- Judge Doty's ruling on the NFL's television "war chest" contracts -- it's difficult to blame them for completely and inherently trusting that whatever the owners tell them is 100 percent true.

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Posted on: March 8, 2011 10:08 am
Edited on: March 8, 2011 10:10 am

Chiefs' owner Lamar Hunt at Tuesday mediation

Posted by Will Brinson

Monday's mediation between the NFL and NFLPA took an optimistic turn -- despite the two sides only actually working for about five hours -- because of John Mara joining the ownership group at the bargaining table.

Tuesday's mediation, the 13th day of such talks, saw a similar spike of hope, as Chiefs owner Clark Hunt pulled up a chair to the league's side, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.

This is good news for a number of reasons. First of all, Hunt's family isn't exactly known for being stubborn in NFL-related negotiations (his late father, Lamar Hunt, did a few important things with the NFL, like merging it and whatnot) and every reasonable observer considers Hunt's presence a good thing in terms of seeking a compromise.

Additionally, Hunt is the owner of two Major League Soccer teams. That seems irrelevant until you remember, via Peter King's Monday column, that the mediator in these negotiations recently handled the MLS labor talks.

NFL Labor

Ergo, it seems safe to assume that at some point, George Cohen has dealt with Hunt on the league/ownership side of a professional sports labor negotiation (Hunt was actually an MLS founding investor as well as an owner, as was his his father).

That's not to pain Hunt as Superman or anything. Because he's not.

But Hunt joining the mediation talks on Tuesday means that the NFL ownership group is exploring all its options, and, hopefully, trying to make progress before the CBA set to expire on Friday night/Saturday morning.

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Posted on: March 8, 2011 12:51 am

NFL, NFLPA adjourn early from mediation Monday

Posted by Will Brinson

The NFL and NFLPA, as of 12:01 AM Tuesday, have one less day to solve the NFL's labor situation.

Fortunately, both sides are still heavily embroiled in negotiations, fighting through the night to make sure that the fans get ... WAIT, WHAT? They went WHERE? To dinner? And they never came back?!?!

Alright, I knew they left already. But they really did go to dinner and never come back, after only mediating for five hours.

Which is totally fine, if the entire fate of the NFL weren't hanging in the balance of this coming week (and, possibly, any time that's added onto the current CBA extension).

There is some good news, though -- our own Mike Freeman reports that there's no additional "acrimony" during the talks, and there are reports circulating that the two sides have narrowed the revenue gap from $1 billion to $750 million (or thereabouts).

It's also possible that the two sides will be meeting later in the evening if called by the mediator, but at this point in time (nearly 1:00 AM EST) that seems pretty unlikely. Plus, everyone probably had a long day traveling and they should all really rest up for the coming days of heavy mediation.

Actually, mediation will resume at 9:00 AM EST on Tuesday, and hopefully some headway will be made early in the morning when everyone's well rested.

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Posted on: February 15, 2011 3:57 pm

Was Richardson exchange with players even worse?

Posted by Will Brinson

On Sunday, a report leaked out that Panthers owner Jerry Richardson had some, um, interesting words for NFL stars Peyton Manning and Drew Brees during a meeting of NFL and NFLPA personnel in Dallas.

Turns out, he might have said some more stuff, too -- according to Yahoo! Sports' Mike Silver, Richardson had a little advice for Sean Morey when the retired player tried to cite some statistics about player safety.

"You guys made so much [expletive] money – if you played three years in the NFL, you should own your own [expletive] team," Richardson reportedly told Morey.

Another player present for the sessions described them as a nightmare to begin with before taking a potshot at the performance of Richardson's Panthers in 2010.

"It was bad from the start," said one player who attended the session. "[Richardson] opened the meeting by describing how he was almost annoyed how we would ask for that meeting on their busiest weekend of the year. And I’m thinking, 'Your team finished 2-14. You shouldn’t be that busy. Why are you worrying about how busy you are during Super Bowl weekend?'"

Boam, roasted, etc. But what does the guy who originally got dogged, Drew Brees, think about Richardson's comments? (Those comments, by the way, were classified as "" by the Panthers PR staff.)

Well, he appeared on Mad Dog Radio on Sirius XM recently, and downplayed the significance of Richardson's comments.

"Well, I mean, this is all I can say is, yeah, I was in that meeting and obviously anytime there’s negotiations I think there’s some back and forth to those," Brees said on Mad Dog Radio, via Pro Football Talk. "And I wouldn’t say that things were disrespectful but what I would say is that there’s are a lot of issues to get through and we’re obviously not going to agree on everything and so it's a process and there are a lot of things to consider here. So hopefully we can continue to make progress here from now until that March fourth date. I think we're all hopeful that a deal will get done but if it doesn’t then we will deal with that."

The NFL has Richardson's back too -- Greg Aiello told the Herald Online's Darin Gantt that "absolutely nothing has changed" with respect to Richardson playing the role of lead negotiator for the league.

That sentiment was echoed by his colleagues.

"There is no more respected owner in the league than Jerry Richardson," New York Giants president and CEO John Mara said Tuesday. "In his role as the co-chair of the owners' negotiating committee, he brings integrity, the desire to always do the right thing and he has the full respect of all the owners."

Richardson's role probably won't change, but it's fairly obvious that he's not exactly making the NFLPA and its members too happy with negotiations (to say the least). Perhaps that's part of a longer-tailed plan to improve the league's bargaining position, or perhaps it's simply putting the most stringent negotiator at the forefront of the labor talks.

Either way, Richardson doesn't appear to be stepping back from the negotiations and that could mean things get a little ugly before we even get a glimpse at the light at the end of the labor tunnel.

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Posted on: February 15, 2011 11:25 am

NFL: Report on scheduled CBA talks 'pure fiction'

Posted by Will Brinson

On Sunday, a report leaked out that the NFL and NFLPA had scheduled another set of bargaining sessions for this week after the disastrous first set of negotiations fell apart last week.

While the two sides could certainly still sit down this week, hearing NFL spokesman Greg Aiello's dismissal of the report doesn't lend much hope to that possibility.

Originally, Chris Mortensen of ESPN broke the story about the negotiations gearing back up this week. Mortensen followed up Tuesday by reporting that the NFL has "not re-confirmed" the negotiating sessions.

Aiello responded by tweeting, "Mort: This is complete fiction. Someone is making it up."

Considering that Aiello will typically "no comment" anything that seems to have much substance (i.e. he won't deny something that has a strong likelihood of actually happening), this shouldn't provide much hope that the two sides are getting together this week.

Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal added some fuel to that fire Tuesday as well, citing sources who say the two sides "planned to meet at least two days every week" but "scratched" those plans when the negotiations blew up last week.

So, yeah, the negative vibes everyone's been getting from the recent CBA discussions appear to be completely and 100 percent warranted. Unless Aiello's pulling a fast one and publicly declaring the complete opposite of what's true (he's a spin guy, not a liar), then it seems pretty unlikely we'll see some positive movement from the CBA talks any time soon.

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Posted on: February 10, 2011 9:22 am
Edited on: February 10, 2011 9:43 am

Report: Thursday CBA meeting cancelled

Posted by Will Brinson

During the Super Bowl, the NFL and NFLPA scheduled some "intensive" meetings for this week. Now, Thursday's meeting -- the second of the week -- has reportedly been cancelled.

That's according to ESPN's Adam Schefter who reports that things went so poorly on Wednesday that the two sides decided not to meet again Thursday.

"We are not confirming, denying or commenting on CBA meetings at this point," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in response to the report. "We are focusing on getting an agreement."

As if that weren't damaging enough to the potential for actually seeing football in 2011, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports that next week's ownership meeting has been cancelled as well.

The assumption of his source -- and it seems like a good one -- is that Roger Goodell has no need to meet with the owners as there won't have been any new developments in the CBA discussions thanks to the cancellation of the meetings.

"The commissioner canceled the meeting because he did not see a need for it right now," an NFL rep confirmed to Daniel Kaplan of the Sports Business Journal.

But why was Thursday's CBA session cancelled? Well, that's not exactly clear.

Theoretically, it could have been cancelled for good reasons -- too much progress? -- but when two sides walk away from the negotiating table, it's typically not good news.

And it seems more likely that the sides are far apart, and that whatever sense of urgency to negotiate that the week in Dallas brought on has since been discarded as they stare into the future and try to bridge a very long gap.

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Posted on: December 7, 2010 5:45 pm

NFL, NFLPA give a little encouraging news

Posted by Andy Benoit

The NFL and NFLPA released a joint statement late Tuesday saying the Wednesday deadline for the NFLPA to file a collusion claim has been pushed back. "We are continuing to work toward a new CBA that will be good for players, owners and fans,” the statement said.

The agreement does not prevent the NFLPA from filing a collusion claim at a future date. What it essentially means is negotiations continue.

Expect more of these CBA deadlines and deadline postponement stories over the next few months.

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Category: NFL
Tags: labor, NFL CBA, NFLPA
Posted on: December 5, 2010 4:09 pm
Edited on: December 5, 2010 4:10 pm

Report: NFLPA to file collusion case vs owners?

Posted by Will Brinson

Remember how only one of the 216 restricted free agents signed with a team during the offseason? (Mike Bell, signed to an offer sheet by Philadelphia that New Orleans didn't match, was the lone guy inked.)

Well, the NFLPA didn't like it much, and now Chris Mortensen of ESPN is reporting that the NFLPA is "on the brink of filing a collusion grievance" against the owners because the union based on information they've been gathering.

Mortensen reports that DeMaurice Smith, the NFLPA executive director, is reviewing the case and the documentation gathered by the union's legal team and is "expected to approve" the filing before Wednesday's December 8th deadline (90 days after the start of the season).

Here's the catch, though: while it's problematic that just a single restricted free agent was signed, it's not that problematic, because only four of 55 RFA's in 2009 were inked to deals.

The overall RFA number is substantially higher because of the uncapped year and cases like Vincent Jackson, et al, but the NFL is making a case that the lack of movement -- down from 7 percent to 1 percent in terms of total signings -- is a direct result of uncertainty in labor negotiations and owners not wanting to hand out tons of contracts to guys who might not be playing in 2011.

Perhaps the biggest benefit to the collusion case for the union would be, as Mortensen notes, the NFLPA's ability to gather, via legal discovery, documents relevant to the owners' financial status, which have been previously difficult to uncover.

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Category: NFL
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