Posted on: December 4, 2010 2:15 pm
Edited on: December 4, 2010 2:16 pm

Union: 'Internal deadline' for new CBA has passed

Posted by Will Brinson

So, as it turns out, there IS some sort of deadline involving the NFL labor strife -- and, according to NFLPA Union leader DeMaurice Smith, it's passed.

Except it's just an "internal deadline," and it was discovered by the Associated Press on Saturday, in the New England Patriots locker room, in the form of a letter and written by Professor Plum Smith himself to the players, urging them to save now that a lockout is all but certain, as the time has come and gone for negotiating a new CBA.

"That deadline has now passed," he wrote. "It is important that you protect yourself and your family."

According to the AP report, the letter was dated Wednesday and just happened to be "strewn across a table" in the Pats locker room in the middle of Saturday media availability. When a reporter inquired as to, you know, what the hell the letter was doing out in the open, a Pats employee "flipped the copies face-down."

A couple of things: first, football players should be saving money anyway, regardless of the labor situation in the NFL. Irrationally plowing through millions of dollars with nary a thought to the future is just begging for Chapter 7.

Secondly, it's worth noting that the union claimed in the letter that the league plans to cancel healthcare for the union and they'll file a grievance with the NFL over the cancellation because of language in the CBA specifically requiring teams to provide health insurance "through the Plan Year in which they are released or otherwise sever employment." Healthcare plans typically refresh at the start of the calendar year, meaning teams would technically owe through the end of 2011 when it comes to health coverage, unless there's an argument that the CBA is negated and therefore it's not a requirement (or something along those lines). Either way, healthcare coverage will be a sticking point for friendly negotiations once this gets heated.

"You're going to cancel somebody's health insurance and maybe they've got a baby that's due in the offseason?" Patriots offensive lineman Matt Light said. "Yeah, it gets personal."

Finally, are we really supposed to bite on this as being a legitimate "accidental find"? That's not to say the AP reporter didn't actually discover the letters, but the players want us to believe that a ton of copies distributed from the union to the players just happened to get left on a table in a locker room (frequently inhabited by the press, mind you) for five days without anyone thinking "Hey, maybe we shouldn't let the world know about our internal deadline?"

Because that seems about as plausible as the notion that these two sides can't figure out a way to split up a ton of money before the 2010 season ends so that fans can go on their merry way and keep caring about football as the NFL's popularity continues to reach new heights.

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Posted on: November 18, 2010 6:15 pm

DeMaurice Smith: Owners 'just don't get it'

Posted by Will Brinson

Recently, Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross made a lot of comments about changes in the NFL and the ongoing labor dispute. Most notably may have been his assertion that increasing the NFL's schedule to 18 games won't increase player injuries.

In not-so-shocking news, the NFLPA, and it's executive director DeMaurice Smith, completely disagree.

"Comments like that tell me that they just don’t get it," said Smith of league management and ownership, via NFLLabor.com. "Their teammates lost two franchise quarterbacks in the same game … and the message is we shouldn’t worry about adding two more games? Men are not expendable and neither are their families."

While Smith's statement is pretty broad sweeping, and probably not an accurate portrayal in terms of the the opinion of all owners, Ross' comments did provide a pretty substantial opportunity for some NFLPA PR.

After all, you don't have to be a physics/math/statistics major to understand that if more starters are playing more plays in more games at full speed, there's a greater chance for injury on the field.

Unfortunately for everyone hoping there'll be football without interruption in 2011, the public war isn't going to increase progress on negotiations -- it'll take both sides actually sitting down with each other and working through the issues to really make a difference.

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Posted on: September 24, 2010 1:08 pm
Edited on: September 24, 2010 3:13 pm

Jets vote for decertification, Bears to vote soon

Posted by Will Brinson

Eight teams in the NFL have now voted to decertify from the union with the news that the Jets unanimously agreed Thursday and according to a report, the Bears will be voting soon as well.

The Jets, according to Jane McManus of ESPN , joined the Bills, Saints, Cowboys, Colts, Eagles, Redskins, and Giants as the list of teams to  unanimously vote to decertify

And Brad Biggs of Chicago Breaking Sports reports that the Bears will vote soon as well, with a similar result likely to occur.

"It's necessary because the legal process of decertifying is not an overnight deal. We need to have the wheels in motion," said Hunter Hillenmeyer, the Bears' representative to the NFLPA.

Decertification, for those wondering, is a good thing. At least for fans anyway -- a union can't sue the NFL, but a huge group of wage-earning individual players can (this is the result of the American Needle case that the NFL lost at the Supreme Court level).

If every single team (as in, all of the individual players) votes to decertify, it means that if the NFL owners decide to lock out their employees, they can quickly strike to actually decertify and then sue the NFL for antitrust violations.

Theoretically, then, lining up all the teams now, in preparation for actually decertifying, gives the NFLPA greater leverage in working to negotiate a new labor agreement.

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