Posted on: March 11, 2011 6:34 pm

Wild wild west for agents now

Posted by Andy Benoit

Agents are part of the NFLPA. So what happens to the when the NFLPA decertifies? In short, agents are on their own.

Pro Football Talk obtained a copy of a memo sent by the NFLPA to agents:

“By now you are aware that members of the National Football League Players Association renounced the NFLPA’s status as the collective bargaining agent for NFL Players. Going forward, the NFLPA will instead be operating as a professional association committed to promoting, protecting and enhancing the careers of professional football players – past, present and future.

“By becoming a professional association, the NFLPA has changed its relationship with agents who represent NFL players. Since the NFLPA no longer is the collective bargaining representative of NFL players for wages, hours and working conditions, it is no longer a requirement that Contract Advisors be certified by the NFLPA in order to represent players in individual contract negotiations with NFL clubs.  In other words, the NFLPA is discontinuing its agent regulation system.”

This all means that any Joe off the street can now be an agent.

CBA, Decertification, DeMaurice Smith, Labor Talk, Labor Talks, Lockout, Mediation, NFL, NFLPA
Posted on: March 11, 2011 6:21 pm

NFLPA's letter to Roger Goodell and NFL clubs

Posted by Will Brinson

Or perhaps a better title would be "Dear, Roger." Because that's how DeMaurice Smith's letter to Roger Goodell -- informing him that the NFLPA planned to decertify -- began.

Perhaps it's not that amusing, considering the state of the NFL right now, but it still at least seems odd. (As transcribed from NFL Network.)
Dear Roger,

This is to advise you that, pursuant to a vote in which a majority of the players indicated that they wished to end the collective bargaining status of the NFLPA, the NFLPA is renouncing its status as the players' collective bargaining representative and disclaiming interest in continuing as the collective bargaining agent of the players as of 4:00 p.m. eastern time today. It is the players' intention to instead operate hereafter as a professional association dedicated to improving the business conditions of professional football players in the National Football League, including the enhancement and the protection of the contracting rights of its members. By copy of this letter to each member clubs of the NFL, I am also informing them of this important change in our status.

Sincerely, DeMaurice Smith
Now, it's worth noting that this is typical of a letter from a lawyer, and probably one that wasn't actually written by De Smith himself. (One has to assume that he has a secretary and/or legal assistant for such matters.)

Much more interesting is that the NFLPA claims to have decertified at 5:02 PM EST. But Smith's letter clearly indicates the players' intent to decertify at 4:00 PM EST.

Given that the owners will likely attempt to file some sort of legal motion that claims the decertification is a sham, it'll be interesting to see whether or not the timing difference there factors in. The principle there being that the NFL would attempt to prove the players were negotiating in bad faith based on their intent to decertify from the beginning.

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Posted on: March 11, 2011 6:04 pm
Edited on: March 11, 2011 7:23 pm

Nine players file lawsuit against league

Posted by Andy Benoit
D. Brees (US Presswire)
The NFLPA decertification has taken place, and the aftermath is already underway. 

Superstars Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees are among nine plaintiffs who have filed antitrust claims against the NFL in the 8th Circuit Court. The other plaintiffs are Giants DE Osi Umenyiora, Chargers WR Vincent Jackson, Pariots G Logan Mankins, Chiefs LB Mike Vrabel, Vikings LB Ben Leber and Vikings DE Brian Robison. Also, among the players is Texas A & M first-round rookie prospect Von Miller, who is representing the rookies. (Nice -- and gutsy -- way to introduce yourself to the league.)

The players allege that the NFL conspired to deny the players' ability to market their services. This has been the players' silver bullet all along. After the American Needle vs. NFL case in May determined that the NFL consists of 32 separate entities, the league became vulnerable to antitrust laws. Separate entities cannot bind together to prevent players from working.

Expect the league to file a counter suit claiming that the NFLPA’s decertification is a sham. Per the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the NFLPA could only sue the league after decertifying.

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Posted on: March 11, 2011 5:19 pm
Edited on: March 11, 2011 5:31 pm

The unspoken common sense of lockout drama

Posted by Andy Benoit

Something to keep in mind amidst all the teD. Smith (US Presswire)nse labor negotiations between “millionaires” and “billionaires” is that these millionaires didn’t become millionaires by being flexible and willing to settle for less, and these billionaires for darn sure didn’t become billionaires by doing that.

Throughout their entire lives, these players and owners have grown accustom to not just winning, but winning with authority. We’re talking about alpha male athletes vs. alpha male businessmen, with a few alpha male lawyers sprinkled in.

Yet people remain surprised that these two sides continue to bicker. How is it these rich guys can even risk letting their greed kill the golden goose? Because it’s their innate “greed” that created the golden goose in the first place. What most people see as greed, the individuals see as justice.

The biggest myth from all the CBA talk is that fans aren’t interested in this fight between millionaires and billionaires. Hogwash. Fans ARE interested. Fans might prefer to have games played, but at this point in March, the drama of labor strife has made for great entertainment.

NFL Labor

During combine week in Indy, Peter King and a handful of other NFL writers hosted what amounted to a town hall meeting where fans could ask any football question to the room. For the first 50 minutes, every question was about labor issues. Every question. It helped the NFLPA spokesman George Atallah and NFLPA executive committee members Chester Pitts and Fabian Washington were in the room. But even after they left, the interest in the subject remained palpable. Several times the conversation was jerked to football, only to naturally drift back to labor.

The NFL is as much a reality TV show as it is a professional sports league. Labor unrest is scary to think about from a long-term perspective, but the deadlines, rhetoric and doomsday threats make it compelling entertainment in the short-term.

If you don’t believe it, you weren’t following the events live as Friday’s 5 p.m. EST approached.

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Posted on: March 11, 2011 4:50 pm

NFLPA wants 10 years of financials for extension

Posted by Will Brinson

At 4:45 PM EST Friday, NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith addressed the media and informed them of what the union was requiring from the owners in order to agree to an extension of the CBA: 10 years of audited financial documents.

"We met with the owners until about 4:00 today. We discussed a proposal that they had presented," Smith said. "At this time, significant differences continue to remain. We informed the owners that significant differences remain.

If there was going to be a request for an extension, we asked for 10 years of audited financial documents to accompany any extension and we told them to please let us know by 5:00 PM today."

With that, Smith might as well have slammed the mic and walked off, because the gauntlet was firmly thrown down and the ball placed in the owners' court.

But once again, it all comes down to whether the owners are willing to provide financial documents now or risk the possibility that such documents would be produced in legal discovery anyway. And they have about 10 minutes to make that call before the NFL as we know it disappears for a while.

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Posted on: March 11, 2011 4:32 pm
Edited on: March 11, 2011 4:36 pm

Did union flip-flop on decertification Friday?

Posted by Will Brinson

In fairly surprising news, the NFL-owned NFL Network reported at 4:02 PM EST Friday that the NFLPA had decertified at the "four-o-clock hour" ... and then a few seconds later, reported that the union had NOT decertified.

Kara Henderson -- who nailed the report of the extension last week -- was in the midst of reporting the decertification and discussing the ramifications with Jason LaCanfora when she looked down at her phone, looked back to the camera with an almost terrified look, and backed out of the report.

It was a very bizarre moment, and particularly odd to see on the NFL Network, considering that such a report seems to favor the players (and not, you know, the league) in terms of leverage.

Of course, it also all but guarantees a reasonably large ratings spike for the NFL Network for the hours leading up to the end of business, so perhaps, if you want to indulge in a conspiracy theory, it's not such a bad thing after all.

For now, though, it appears the owners and players are continuing to meet, and the chance that a new deal or extension could be reached is still in play. And that's at least some kind of good news.

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Posted on: March 11, 2011 3:14 pm
Edited on: March 11, 2011 3:23 pm

Report: Smith tells players plan is to decertify

Posted by Will Brinson

An update was expected from NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith at 2:00 PM EST Friday, but as it turns out, that update was only for the players.

And, on a conference call Friday afternoon, Smith has reportedly informed players that "the plan is to decertify," according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

As we mentioned earlier, the NFL reportedly presented a "revised" deal to the union on Friday.

And, most likely, that deal would either cause the players to decertify today (if it didn't provide enough concessions) or hammer out an extension (if it did).

Ergo, it seems likely that the NFL's proposal didn't meet what the union was looking for in terms of concessions on the "core issues."

Well, either that or the players do truly believe that decertification, and the resulting antitrust case that will result -- gives them the greatest opportunity to land the best deal out of the labor negotiations.
NFL Labor

They may be right. Or they may be crazy. And there might even still be time left before it actually matters -- as more and more reports of the decertification plan leak out, there's also a very guarded sense of optimism that things could still change between now (3:00-ish EST) and the deadline for decertification.

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Posted on: March 11, 2011 1:23 pm
Edited on: March 11, 2011 1:50 pm

Report: NFL gave 'revised' proposal on Friday

Posted by Will Brinson

The clock is, obviously, ticking on the NFL's labor situation. Friday afternoon an update is expected from the NFL and NFLPA, who are meeting in a theoretically final day of mediation in Washington, D.C. today.

Multiple reports -- from both Jason LaCanfora of the NFL Network and Gary Myers of the New York Daily News -- indicate that the owners are about to give one more proposal to the union. Myers calls it a "revised proposal" and LaCanfora echoes that sentiment but also adds that it is "likely a final one."

In other words, if the NFLPA feels that whatever is offered by the league doesn't adequately indicate their willingness to concede certain issues, it could mean that the union will proceed with decertification.

Alternately, the owners' proposal could, potentially, be seen by the union as an indication that they're willing to find some common ground. That would mean the likelihood of a CBA extension past Friday would increase substantially.

The best guess is a coin flip, though, because reports from Friday's labor talk indicate a less negative tone at the bargaining table, but Thursday evening, as we noted earlier, was enough of a PR mess that it drained most of the optimism out of any possibility for a successful conclusion to the talks.
NFL Labor

Daniel Kaplan of the Sports Business Journal also reports that the owners made "revised offers on core issues this morning" -- that means that they likely changed their stance on some combination of the rookie wage scale, revenue sharing and an 18-game schedule.

Time will tell, however, if it's enough of a change to warrant the two sides considering an extension past Friday.

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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