Pittsburgh Steelers

Stadium: Heinz Field | Coach: Mike Tomlin
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Offense4th104.2 (19th)273.8 (3rd)
Defense5th105.8 (9th)201.1 (7th)

Clark scoffs at owners' tactics

The Sports Xchange
Clark scoffs at owners' tactics · Strategy And Personnel · Notes, Quotes

Pittsburgh coaches and scouts are fanning out across the country for pro day workouts in a business-as-usual stand for them. Having played in the Super Bowl, Steelers players normally would be taking it slow about now anyway - Mike Tomlin set up a later schedule for workouts in 2009 after they won the Super Bowl.

The back-and-forth between owners and players have taken root on both sides in Pittsburgh as well.

Art Rooney II, president of the team and son of past labor peacemaker Dan, said he was surprised the players walked out of their final mediation meeting and did not extend the CBA by another week so they could continue talking.

"To me, that sort of was the tipoff that they weren't really interested in getting serious," said Rooney, a member of the 10-man NFL management council executive committee involved in the negotiations. "What we offered them, there's no reason why they wouldn't take it and look at it. They could have said, 'That's not enough, we need more.' That wouldn't have been surprising. But, to not even take it, I'm not sure what purpose that served.

"That was probably another indication they weren't that interested. It made us think this was their plan all along."

Safety Ryan Clark, the Steelers' player rep, did not cite that quote but responded sarcastically to it the next day.

"That's exactly what we wanted to do -- not have a union," Clark said. "C'mon, that's ridiculous. It's kind of hypocritical for owners to say that when you have a plan with the TV networks for when the games aren't even played. If that doesn't show that was your plan all along, I don't know what does."

Clark had a more incendiary quote that hit home personally in Pittsburgh. He said his daddy did not give him his job, he had to work for it. Ouch. Art Rooney Sr. founded the Steelers and was succeeded by his son Dan Rooney as president and now HIS son Art Rooney II is president.

Rooney, a lawyer who was general partner in his own firm before joining the Steelers fulltime about 10 years ago, said he was baffled by the union's decertification.

"If you look at the way labor unions conduct themselves, this is a very unusual way to conduct business," Rooney said. "It's usually not encouraged by the courts. The idea is to encourage people to get to the table and bargain. That's not what this is."

Clark stood by the union's position that it had little choice.

"Decertification was a reactionary measure, something you have to be forced into doing," Clark said. "If that's what we wanted to do, if that was our first choice, why haven't we done it all along? I think that's the owners just trying to form public perception.

"Anyone who looks at it rationally will see that everything comes out of their camp is for a lockout. If we were striking, that's on us. But we're not striking. We're locked out. We didn't opt out of the CBA. How's it decertification when we never made a move before that we wanted to decertify? (The owners) want to take $650 million off (the top) this year and $800 million the next, and we're going to keep giving you the money when we don't know why you need it?"

Rooney also reiterated management's position that the decertification by the union was a "sham" and hoped the NLRB will rule favorably on the owners' filing of an unfair labor practice against the union because of it.

"Obviously we'd like the deal to get done. No one wants to miss any part of the season." - Defensive end Nick Eason.

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