Tag:DeMaurice Smith
Posted on: June 3, 2011 3:49 pm
Edited on: June 3, 2011 5:40 pm

DirecTV: No Sunday Ticket cost til after lockout

Posted by Will Brinson

UPDATE: Turns out that the customer service person we spoke with was wrong -- DirecTV will NOT be charging you until the lockout is resolved.

"In years past, we typically do start billing in July, but this year, due to the uncertainty around the NFL labor dispute, there will be absolutely no charge for your NFL SUNDAY TICKET subscription until it is confirmed that the 2011 NFL season will begin," Charles Miller, Director of Digital Care at DirecTV, told CBSSports.com. "What you and other customers will see on your July bill is a balance of $0.00 for the NFL SUNDAY TICKET portion and this will remain at $0 until the NFL dispute is resolved."

So, NFL fans have that going for them -- don't bother cancelling your subscription just yet.

DirecTV's "Sunday Ticket" package has become a staple for the hardcore NFL fan over the past few years. Whether it's the Red Zone channel or just an excuse to buy six more televisions, there's always a great reason to shell out $53.99 in six monthly installments to watch piles of football.

This year? Yeah, not as much, since the we're less than 100 days away from the NFL's season beginning and the lockout is still firmly in place.

Here's DirecTV's latest statement on the issue, posted on their website:
We at DIRECTV love football. That's why for over 15 years, DIRECTV has been the exclusive home for NFL SUNDAY TICKET™, the only way to watch your favorite teams no matter where you live. And DIRECTV will continue to be the exclusive home for NFL SUNDAY TICKET™. Like all football fans, we are hoping for a positive resolution to the current NFL labor negotiations. And when the NFL is ready to play, we will be ready to bring you every game every Sunday.

If the NFL negotiations result in a shortened or canceled season, rest assured that DIRECTV has you covered. Your subscription to NFL SUNDAY TICKET™ is risk-free: You will not pay for any game that the NFL does not play.*

Please return to this page for the latest updates and news concerning your NFL SUNDAY TICKET™ subscription.
Now, this SOUNDS pretty "risk-free," right? There's just one problem: DirecTV starts billing for Sunday Ticket in July. And, come July, the NFL will still have a concrete start date: September 8, 2011. The schedule won't change until the labor situation actually impedes on the season. And, sure enough, a quick call to DirecTV customer service confirmed this.

"We are going to start to charge for the NFL Sunday Ticket by … probably July 3 but there is no specific date," a DirecTV customer service representative told CBSSports.com. "But it will be in July."

See, that means if you had Sunday Ticket last year, per DirecTV's policy, you will have Sunday Ticket in 2011, unless you cancel. Making this infinitely more difficult is the fact that you can't cancel online. And because you're renewed, you will be charged beginning in about a month.

This is made even more confusing because on your June bill, you'll see a zero dollar charge for your Sunday Ticket automatic renewal.

That might seem to indicate you'll get it for free until the NFL season starts, but it doesn't.  Because the reality is you'll be charged for Sunday Ticket from now until the season is actually cancelled and/or moved.

It's nice of DirecTV to love the NFL and to [claim to] care about fans, but it would be a whole lot nicer if they waited until the labor dispute is actually resolved before charging the people who foot the bill for this entire football operation.

And, yeah, suddenly it's a lot harder to feel sorry for DirecTV getting strong-armed by the NFL in television negotiations.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: June 3, 2011 12:50 pm
Edited on: June 3, 2011 1:12 pm

Court: NFL decision to come in 'due course'

Posted by Will Brinson

On Thursday the NFL and the NFLPA argued in front of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals over the legality of a lockout in football. And by noon CST, court had adjourned and the 8th Circuit had let the NFL know that a ruling would come in "due course," but that both sides were free to settle their dispute.
NFL Labor

"We wouldn't be all that hurt if you go out and settle that case," Judge Kermit Bye said, with a smile, to each side's respective attorneys.

Bye was the dissenting judge in the when the 8th Circuit twice ruled 2-1 in favor of keeping the lockout in place, first temporarily and then in a more permanent fashion.

The questions from the panel of judges, as we noted earlier, seemed to focus on the issue of whether or not the NFLPA had "actually" decertified. The NFL contends that the union's decision to decertify is simply predicated on the goal of gaining legal leverage.

Bye also added that the ruling could be one "that neither side will like."

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Posted on: June 3, 2011 11:50 am
Edited on: June 3, 2011 12:21 pm

Lockout hearing focuses on state of the union

Posted by Will Brinson

A couple weeks ago, we mentioned that the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals decision following the lockout hearing would directly relate to whether or not the judges on the court's panel believed the union "actually" decertified or not.

That suspicion was confirmed within the first few minutes of the oral arguments from each side, as the NFL and the players were grilled on whether or not the NFLPA's decertification was a ploy to generate legal leverage.

Per Albert Breer of the NFL Network, the judges asked the players attorneys -- specifically Ted Olson -- about "tactical disclaimers" in decertification. The clear-cut indication is that the court, known as pro-business, is concerned about exactly what we believed they were concerned with: unions disbanding simply in order to generate leverage.

In fact Judge Benton apparently got "aggressive from the bench" and proceeded to read part of the LaGuardia-Norris Act to Olson and the players' attorneys.

"Doesn't that make the district court completely wrong?" Benton asked, per Breer.
NFL Labor

According to Andrew Brandt of the National Football Post, the two judges who sided with the owners previously asked "many questions" to the players' side. Judge Bye, who was the dissenting judge in the stay rulings each time, didn't say a word early on.

Of course, the players' argument doesn't really center around their decertification -- they believe what they did is legal and very much real. In fact, their focus was on the antitrust issues facing the players now that they have decertified.

"[The] League deperately wants these players to continue to be in union so it can continue to violate antitrust laws," Olson said, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune.

And that's the crux of the players' argument. The only problem is, it might not matter at all if the Court of Appeals doesn't believe the union decertified.

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Posted on: May 31, 2011 11:04 am
Edited on: May 31, 2011 11:23 am

NFL somehow ahead of 2010's ticket sales pace?

Posted by Will Brinson

There's one thing we're sure of: NFL fans are less happy right now than they were a year ago.

Or maybe the fans are unhappy -- but they aren't going away. Daniel Kaplan of the Sports Business Journal reports that the "NFL [is] ahead of last year's pace for season ticket sales despite the lockout."

Kaplan also reports that the league is considering "changes to blackout policy."

Let's address the ticket sales issue first. Because, frankly, that seems absolutely impossible, given that there is no promise of football in 2011.

Of course, it's always easier to sell tickets when you a) start selling them sooner and b) provide an earlier cutoff for season-ticket holders to renew; I believe the NFL used both practices this offseason.

This news is surprising given that Roger Goodell recently took to the podium and pointed out that business across the NFL is down, and that the league is absolutely seeing the impact of the lockout on season-ticket sales.

This is the likely logic for the phrase "on pace." It's good news for some clubs if their sales are exceeding the sales from this point last year. And even if it's good news for the league as a whole,  some teams must be suffering a negative impact.

What will really matter is where these numbers are in August, when the season is about to -- or, should I say supposed to -- start.

Because if there's no football, there's no amount of sold tickets that will justify the problem facing the NFL.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: May 27, 2011 1:41 pm
Edited on: May 27, 2011 1:50 pm

Will the NFLPA choose not to recertify?

SmithPosted by Josh Katzowitz

You know how we’ve talked over and over again about how the owners think the NFLPA’s decertification is a sham because everybody just kind of assumes that the trade union will recertify after this labor fight ends?

Well, the NFLPA might not recertify after all. In fact, Yahoo! Sports’ Mike Silver is reporting that executive director DeMaurice Smith said he’s come “full circle” – from the ultimate union man to a man who thinks a union-free existence might be the way to go.

“When I went into this, my attitude was that the only way you have power is collectively, and I believed in unions as vehicles for employees asserting their rights,” Smith told Silver. “But looking back on what Gene (Upshaw, former NFLPA executive director) experienced and understanding this particular situation, I’ve now come to appreciate the value of decertification in our particular circumstance. And I don’t see why we’d want to go back to being a union.”

If the players don’t reform – and Upshaw apparently didn’t want to reform in the early 1990s after the association decertified the first time and won unrestricted free agency (he was coerced into doing it by the owners) - that potentially could be a big problem.

As Silver explains, “Absent a union, players would be free to assert their legal rights under the Sherman Antitrust Act, and accepted institutions such as the NFL draft and rules governing free agency would be vulnerable to courtroom challenges. It’s also possible that a non-unionized workforce could gain legal protection from a lockout, as the players did in April in successfully obtaining an injunction from U.S. District Court Judge Susan Nelson.”

According to Smith, NFLPA lawyers in 1993 “met with Gene for five hours and tried to talk (recertifying) through with him, but he wouldn’t budge. So they went back to the owners and told them: ‘Gene won’t do it.’ That’s when they came up with the idea of writing up the affidavit that was included in that CBA [and all future CBAs] saying that if he ever wanted to decertify again they wouldn’t challenge it. That was the only way they could get Gene to agree to recertify.

“So given that history, and where we are now, let me ask you a question: What could they possibly tell me that could get me to agree that recertifying is a good idea?”

It’s a good question with no clear answer. In fact the answer is so unclear that a Georgetown law professor interviewed by Silver described the possibilities of a union-free NFL as “very messy.”

Still, you can bet on this: if the NFLPA doesn’t recertify and it challenges the NFL again in court, this labor strife might be here to stay for years to come. Then you might see a sport changed forever. And not necessarily in a good way.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: May 26, 2011 1:33 pm
Edited on: July 25, 2011 3:37 pm

2011 NFL Lockout Timeline

Posted by Eye on Football Staff

Because you need reminding, there's a lockout going on. Just kidding -- we did think it'd be helpful to break down the full lockout timeline.

July 25, 2011: And then ... there was football. The NFLPA voted unanimously to approve the deal. Now the issues of recertification, settlement approval and some collectively bargained issues will take place. But football's back.

July 22, 2011: NFLPA releases a statement that "leadership is discussing the most recent written proposal with the NFL, which includes a settlement agreement, deal terms and the right process for addressing recertification."

July 21, 2011: NFL owners vote to approve the proposed CBA, outlining key terms and including a tentative schedule for the 2011 season. Players decline to vote to ratify the proposal, prolonging the lockout, which is now 128 days old.

July 8, 2011: The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals handed down a surprise ruling -- in terms of timing, not the decision -- that the lockout is legal. It was a surprise because the owners and players were in the midst of such positive negotiations and both sides seemed to make progress up until the ruling came out.

June 3, 2011: The NFLPA and NFL argued against and for, respectively, the lockout in front of the Court of Appeals, and the three-judge panel said a decision would come in "due course." Judge Kermit Bye, though, said he wouldn't be hurt if the two sides negotiated a new deal, especially since the court's ultimate decision could be one neither side likes. Also, in a somewhat strange twist, NFL lawyer Paul Clement charged the players with acting like a union while negotiating with the owners. Strange, because the NFL is actually the one who encouraged the union to negotiate with the owners.

June 2, 2011: Judge Boylan cancels the previously scheduled June 7-8 mediation session in Minneapolis because "the Court has been engaged in confidential settlement discussions." Also, reports confirm that a series of meetings took place that week, between NFLPA representatives, Goodell, and a small group of owners.

May 24, 2011: A league source tells CBSSports.com that the NFL will cancel the Rookie Symposium. Not that this news should surprise anybody.

May 17, 2011: The two sides returned to mediation, but by 2:15 p.m., the talks Whad ended. Mediation will not resume until June 7.

May 16, 2011: The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals issues a permanent stay on the injunction ruling by Nelson. The lockout is back on, and the majority opinion questions the validity of Nelson’s ruling. Suddenly, the owners have big-time leverage.

May 16, 2011: Per court orders, mediation resumes. Neither side publicly expresses any interest in getting a deal done.

April 29, 2011: The lockout is reinstated during the middle of Day 2 of the draft after two of the three judges in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals grant the owners’ request for a temporary stay.

April 27, 2011: Owners request that Nelson issue a stay on her ruling while they begin working on their appeal to the conservative Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis. That request, surprisingly, is denied. The lockout is lifted.

April 25, 2011: Nelson rules in favor of players in Brady v NFL, temporarily lifting the lockout.

April 20, 2011: Citing scheduling issues on Boylan’s end, bargaining is put on hold until May 16.

April 14, 2011: Bargaining begins in front of Boylan after two days of preliminary meetings.

April 11, 2011: Nelson mandates court-ordered negotiations between players and owners to begin in front of Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan.

April 6, 2011: Judge Susan Nelson begins hearing arguments in Brady v NFL.

March 12, 2011: The lockout officially begins. The players file a lawsuit with Eighth Circuit Court in Minnesota (Brady v NFL) seeking an injunction for the lockout to be lifted.

March 11, 2011: After rejecting the owners’ final proposal, the NFLPA decertifies.

March 4, 2011: CBA deadline is extended by one week, an unprecedented move in NFL history.

March 3, 2011: With owners and players having bargained in front of Cohen for 16 days, CBA is set to expire, but the deadline is pushed back 24 hours.

March 1, 2011: U.S. District Judge David Doty rules that owners won’t have access to $4 billion in television revenue in the event of a lockout. This compromises a significant amount of the owners’ leverage.

February 17, 2011: With talks moving slowly, both sides agree to bring in federal mediator George Cohen.

February 15, 2011: Goodell writes an op-ed that appears in newspapers nationwide saying an agreement is needed.

January 31, 2011: Smith and Goodell agree to a series of meetings over the course of "a few weeks."

December 4, 2010: After months of public posturing from Goodell and owners and Smith and key players from the union, Smith writes a letter to the NFLPA saying the “deadline has now passed.” It’s an informal deadline but aggressive public posturing by Smith.

March 5, 2010: The 2010 League Year begins with no salary cap.

February 2010: At Super Bowl XLIV, Smith is asked about the chances of the NFL being shut down before the 2011 season. He says, on a scale of 1-10, it’s a “14”.

February, 2010: With the CBA stipulating that the salary cap be abolished in the final year of the deal (an idea initially meant to motivate both sides to extend the deal sooner than later), the NFLPA proposes to extend the salary cap system for another year. The owners reject.

March 16, 2009: DeMaurice Smith is elected as new executive director of NFLPA. Smith’s campaign platform centered on him being an outsider who, unlike Upshaw, did not have warm relationships with the league and owners.

August 21, 2008: NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw dies unexpectedly of pancreatic cancer.

May 20, 2008: In a unanimous vote, owners exercise their opt-out clause. CBA is now set to expire March 3, 2011.

September 1, 2006: Roger Goodell replaces Paul Tagliabue as NFL commissioner.

March 8, 2006: With CBA expiring, commissioner Paul Tagliabue passionately implores the owners to extend the agreement through the 2012 season. Every owner except Mike Brown of Cincinnati and Ralph Wilson of Buffalo votes to do so. But a stipulation in the CBA extension is that owners can opt out in ’08 and cut the CBA’s length by two years.

2003: CBA extended until 2006.

March 23, 1998: Owners vote to extend CBA until 2003.

June 29, 1993: Players and owners approve Collective Bargaining Agreement for first time since 1987 strike. CBA is set to last until 2000. This brings about the creation of free agency and the salary cap.
Posted on: May 26, 2011 1:03 pm
Edited on: May 26, 2011 5:44 pm

2011 NFL Lockout Issues

Posted by Will Brinson

Because you need reminding, there's a lockout going on. Just kidding -- we did think it'd be helpful to break down all the lockout-related issues for you.

Revenue Sharing: Surprise, surprise, but money is the biggest issue between the NFL and the NFLPA. Imagine you and your business partner have a really large pie that’s worth $9 billion. Would you have trouble figuring out who got how much pie? Probably.

Size of the ‘Pie’: The owners have proposed taking $2 billion off the top of revenue -- as opposed to their current $1 billion -- thus shrinking the pie. The smaller the pie, the more contentious the debate to divide it, unless the players are satisfied with a chunk being taken out before anyone starts slicing it.

Financial Information from Owners: The players want to know what the owners are spending all their money on, since they say that the NFL’s profits are declining. The owners don’t want to offer them. This isn’t a dealbreaker ... if the owners are willing to take less pie.

Rookie Wage Scale: Remember when JaMarcus Russell got $60 million in guaranteed contract money? Well, no one on the owners' side wants that to happen again. Repeat: NO ONE. The problem is, the players don’t want to hamstring themselves too much in terms of earning potential and don’t want this to affect veterans either.

18-Game Schedule: Well, it’s an “issue” in that the NFL wants it. But the NFLPA says it won’t even consider the addition of games without boosts to player safety, and maybe not even then. The NFL appears willing to concede 18 games for the immediate future. Players do NOT like the idea unless it means increased paychecks.

Salary Cap: The NFL proposed an 18-percent rollback of the cap during pre-lockout negotiations. You won’t believe this, but the players didn’t really like that idea. Naturally, this is a pretty big point of contention, because the less teams are allowed to spend on players, the less the players can actually get paid.

Player Safety: A sticking point for DeMaurice Smith, player safety is naturally pretty important. The NFLPA doesn’t want players’ careers shortened any more than they already are, and while the NFL does often talk about keeping players safe, there’s a certain hypocrisy with trying to tack on two more games at the same time.

State of the Union: This is actually the lynchpin for both sides in terms of their legal argument. If the courts believe the NFLPA has truly dissolved as a union, they have to lift the lockout. If they don’t, they will not be very likely to lift the lockout. 

Semantics: You will hear NFL/owner-folk use the phrases “negotiate” and “collectively bargain” a lot as we continue down this path. You will not hear NFLPA people saying stuff like that. This goes back to whether or not the union actually exists (it does not, technically). The players will take special care not to say anything that could make them appear to really be a union that is collectively bargining. 

Longevity: This isn’t mentioned as much, but it might be the most important point, because no one wants a “band-aid deal” that gets the NFL, the NFLPA and the fans back into this position in another five years. A fair deal that spans a decade would be stupendous.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.

Posted on: May 25, 2011 4:34 pm
Edited on: May 25, 2011 9:10 pm

NFL Coaches Association brief: 'End the lockout'

Posted by Will Brinson

On Wednesday, the NFL Coaches Association became the newest party of interest to file an Amicus Brief with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

And, despite the stance of the people who cut their checks, the NFLCA cited numerous issues -- as well as CBSSports.com's own Mike Freeman! -- that the lockout would cause for coaches before urging the court to "end the lockout."

"The burdens of little job security and frequent moves mean that a prolonged lockout would inflict significant economic harm and career risks on the coaches," the NFL Coaches Association attorneys wrote in the brief.

Additionally, the NFLCA cited an aspect of the coaching business (or, at least, the business of negotiating coaches' contracts) that hadn't really been made public up to this point.

Namely, that teams were planning ahead when it came to how they wanted to pay their respective coaching staffs.

"Anticipating a lockout, the NFL teams for the past several years have been demanding a provision in the coaches employment contracts (which are negotiated individually with each coach) that authorizes the employing team to withhold part of a coach's salary in the event that league operations were suspended," the Coaches Association attorneys wrote.

There's nothing ethically wrong with negotiating such clauses into contracts. And the resulting money saved isn't part of the players' pie, like the "war chest" fund that was created as a result of television contract negotiations.
Owners Meetings/Labor News

But it still kind of leaves a bad taste to think that the NFL had been planning ahead for this summer and doing so at the expense of the men who put the finished product on the field.

"The Coaches Association offices with the Players Association in Washington," the NFL said, per Albert Breer of the NFL Network. "So this comes as no surprise."

Those men, however, went unnamed in the NFLCA's suit. No individual coach, as was the case with Brady v. NFL, was a named plaintiff in the suit.

But there is a reference to numerous coaches who are being particularly damaged by the lockout as a result of their inability to work with their new teams.

"The lockout, if left in force, will prevent the coaches from meaningfully preparing and readying themselves for the season," the brief reads. "While all the coaches will be exposed to greater risk of failure, the eight teams with new coaching staffs are at particular risk."

In a citation for that portion of the brief, the NFLCA also points out that "there are also three additional coaches who have only spent one season with their teams (Mike Shanahan, Chan Gailey, and Pete Carroll)" who will be significantly affected by the lockout.

Jack Del Rio and Gary Kubiak are specifically mentioned as coaches who "reportedly received an ultimatum from their team's owner that their teams must make the playoffs to keep their jobs."

In short, the NFLCA believes that close to half of the coaches in the NFL are being put at a systematic disadvantage by the the court's decision to continue the lockout.

"The NFLCA therefore urges the Court to grant the petitioners equitable relief and end the NFL lockout," the NFLCA's lawyers wrote in their conclusion. "Granting equitable relief will also permit the NFL’s coaches to avoid the irreparable harm that comes with delaying the start of preseason preparations and will give the coaches a fair chance to preserve their employment and advance their careers."

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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