Tag:DeMaurice Smith
Posted on: May 25, 2011 12:33 pm
Edited on: May 26, 2011 6:26 am
  •  
 

Goodell: Lockout 'clearly had an impact' on fans

Posted by Will Brinson

The NFL wrapped its spring owners meetings in Indianapolis on Wednesday, and afterward, as is customary, Roger Goodell took the stage to talk about rule changes, the state of football and this lockout thing.

Though Goodell sidestepped a couple of issues -- the window needed for free agency, most notably -- he was refreshingly candid about the damage done by the lockout

"I think it's clearly had an impact on our fans," Goodell said. "You can see that in the various metrics that we have -- whether it's ratings or for traffic on NFL.com. We see that.

"And that is a reflection on the uncertainty and frustration of our fans. And we all understand that. There are also financial consequences because of that, but clearly -- if we're not successful, that's clearly to come."

Asked as a follow-up if the lockout had affected season-ticket sales, Goodell didn't hesitate to point out that the respective clubs were all suffering when it came to locking down ticket sales.

"It clearly has an impact [on season ticket sales]," Goodell said. "Fans want certainty. I don't think you can ever underestimate -- fans are still going through challenges, just in the general economy. And those challenges continue to impact on their decisions. And rightfully so.
Owners Meetings/Labor News

And that's something they have to balance when they want to put down money for a season ticket or a club seat or whatever else. And so we have to keep that in mind. The ownership has been reminded of that during the past couple of days, and they don't need reminding, because they're on the front line."

Most interesting was Goodell's response to a request for "specific data" about the impact of the lockout. He seemed absolutely amenable to providing the requested information, if only because it clearly showed the problems that the lockout is causing around the league, from the standpoint of keeping fans interested and generating revenue.

"It's a noticeable change," Goodell said. "I think you guys are aware of it -- our ratings were down in the draft for example. Roughly four million people -- that's a noticeable decrease ... about a 10 percent decrease as I recall."

While no fans want to hear about the revenue that the league, its teams and the players are currently losing, it is a significant point of interest, because money that gets thrown out the window during a labor impasse directly correlates to the difficulty in finding an agreement down the road.

"The longer it goes the more damage is done to the game and the more revenue's down and that means less money that can be divided between the parties," Goodell said.

Owners were presented the full range of plans for opening weekend, from the first game on Thursday night at Lambeau Field to commemorations of the Sept. 11 attacks on the first full Sunday of games. Those dates are not in jeopardy yet, but the longer the impasse, the more in danger they would become, particularly with the league's marketing partners, sponsors and advertisers who must commit dollars to those events well in advance.

"We're not at an Armageddon date," Eric Grubman, executive vice president of business operations for the NFL, told the Associated Press. "We're not staring that in the face this week."

But like any event looming on the horizon, the theoretically non-existent drop-dead date isn't actually that far off. But, apparently, it won't impact the way Goodell and the NFL head into the next season.

"We're approaching 2011," Goodell added, "as we would any other season."

The Associated Press contributed to this report. For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: May 24, 2011 11:14 am
Edited on: May 25, 2011 6:30 am
 

League approves three rule changes at meetings

Posted by Will Brinson

All the NFL news today isn't necessarily bad. The league addressed, as expected at the owners meetings in Indianapolis, several rule changes. Three rules aimed at protecting defenseless players were approved 32-0.
NFL Labor

The biggest change appears to be the definition of a defenseless player. Now included in that definition, per Albert Breer of the NFL Network, are players who are "not clearly a runner yet" (wide receivers), kickers and punters during a return and quarterbacks following a change of possession.

There was a change made to the "launching" rule too. A player will be considered to have launched himself if he leaves his feet prior to contact in order to spring forward into another player and using "any part" of the helmet.

Finally, there's a change with respect to the "blow to the head" rule on quarterbacks. It's now a judgment call when a defender grazes the quarterback's head, as opposed to an automatic penalty with any touching.

Rich McKay, head of the NFL Competition Committee, is expected to speak at more length about the new rules later in the day. And yes, it is refreshing to deal with real football news even if the lockout is still looming large enough to make any rule changes irrelevant.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: May 24, 2011 10:19 am
Edited on: May 24, 2011 10:58 am
 

NFL cancels Rookie Symposium amid lockout

Posted by Will Brinson

The NFL lockout hasn't been fun but at least it had not caused the cancellation of anything on the league's calendar -- until now. The NFL has cancelled it's rookie symposium in Canton, Ohio, a league source told CBSSports.com.

The symposium, which was originally scheduled to begin June 26, will likely be "officially" cancelled on Tuesday. Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com reported several months that the symposium was in danger as a result of the lockout.

The symposium is designed to bring all the NFL rookies together to try and teach them about life in the NFL, how to better manage their finances, and give tips on general transition to life as a professional athlete.

Our source says NFLPA officials and current active players spoke to rookies at the NFL PLAYERS’ Rookie Premiere about business aspects of the game. We're told that a portion of the meeting touched on some of the issues normally discussed at the Rookie Symposium.
NFL Labor

The timing of the decision in pretty indicative of where we stand on the lockout. The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear arguments from both the NFL and the players regarding the injunction of the lockout on June 3. It is not believed the Court of Appeals will rule on that hearing until at least July.

The cancellation of the symposium makes it pretty clear that the expected timing of the court's decision is accurate.

It also means expecting any sort of settlement and/or conclusion of the labor situation before July might just be a fool's errand.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: May 21, 2011 1:41 pm
Edited on: May 21, 2011 3:50 pm
 

Appeal ruling boils down to recognition of union

Posted by Will Brinson

The NFLPA filed their brief in the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals case just before midnight Friday, and led with a strong statement: "The NFL is a cartel."

But for as many zingers and strong language that exists in the brief, the argument that the panel of judges in St. Louis are really considering is this: "Are the players still a union?"

In their brief, the players argue that the NFL has not actually proven that the nonunionized players are arguing their case in the wrong place.

"The NFL does not cite any case that has ever held that disputes between employers and individualized nonunionized employees fall under the [Norris LaGuardia Act]," the players' attorneys wrote.

See, the Norris LaGuardia Act (NLGA) basically says that if there's a dispute between a employer and a group of employees in a union, that such a dispute needs to be resolved by the NLRB, and not by the court system.

So this -- "Are the players still a union?" -- is the dispute, legally speaking, that will decide whether or not we continue to have a lockout. If the Appeals Court believes/rules that the NFLPA truly disbanded, they'll lift the lockout. If they don't believe that, they'll leave the lockout in place, because, in their eyes, no court has jurisdiction over such a labor-related matter.

Here's the biggest problem, for those hoping the lockout will end: if the Appeals Court rules that the NFLPA broke up in good faith and is truly no longer a union (versus simply disbanding for legal leverage), they will establish a nightmarish precedent for themselves.
NFL Labor

Here's an example that may or may not simply be for the purpose of referencing The Wire, which is all the rage these days: If the Baltimore Union of the International Brotherhood of Stevedores decides it's being treated unfairly and wants to pursue litigation against its employer, Hypothetical Widget Shipping, Inc., it cannot dissolve the union, file a lawsuit and re-unionize later. At least not right now.

But it could -- potentially anyway -- do such a thing should the Appeals Court rule in favor of the players. (Edit: There is a difference between the status of sports leagues and other places of employ re: anti-trust status. But the point remains that the court would open itself up to a different interpretation of the law. Also, a better example could be: the NBA.)

This is problematic for the courts because it completely flips the jurisdiction of all labor disputes, if a union is willing to disband.

Remember, the Court of Appeals is pro-business; they're not "pro Roger Goodell." They don't care about this case in the sense of "How can we keep the players from winning?" They care about this case in the sense of "How does this effect future legal proceedings?"

Which is why it seems quite unlikely that the 8th Circuit will favor the players, regardless of how strong their arguments are.

Are there more issues? Yes. Are some of them stupidly complex? Absolutely.

But if you're going to boil the legal battle of the lockout down to one singular thing, it's whether or not a group of judges want to believe that the NFLPA has deunionized. Because of what they'd be setting themselves up for in the future, it's highly unlikely they'll rule that way.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: May 20, 2011 8:07 pm
 

DeMaurice Smiths' somewhat awkward speech

Posted by Andy Benoit

NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith was the commencement speaker at the University of Maryland graduation ceremony earlier this week. Smith grew up rooting for the Terps and attended the school for a few semesters in the mid-80s.

During the event, some of the Maryland crowd cascaded on Smith the same “we want football!” chants that Roger Goodell heard at Radio City Music Hall.

“I want football, too,” Smith said.

The theme of Smith’s speech revolved around comparing the NFL players’ lockout fight against the owners to the detractors the students will face in their future lives. He incorporated several football labor themes into his speech, including mentioning how much he “digs” players like ex-Terp and current NFLPA executive committee member Dominique Foxworth (who was in the stands) and ex-Terp Boomer Esiason, whom Smith noted once sat down in front of a bus full of replacement players during the 1987 strike.

There was an awkward moment late in the speech when Smith wrapped things up by incorporating Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll (Part 2)” as background music and encouraged everyone to clap along while shouting the mildly profane term that Maryland students have made a tradition of incorporating into the song:

"To anybody who thinks for one minute that passion is something that is cheap and futile, I have two words for them: You suck," Smith said, according to the Associated Press. "And for anybody who would ever think that it is the wrong thing to do to care so much that you're willing to risk everything because it is right, reserve those two words for them."

Driving the awkwardness was the fact that the music was not very loud and the students were essentially unresponsive to Smith’s implorations.



If you want to view Smith’s speech, fast forward (or click and drag forward) to the 4:15 mark in this video.

To view Smith’s awkward “you suck” cry, go to 26:59.

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

Category: NFL
Posted on: May 19, 2011 4:38 pm
Edited on: May 19, 2011 5:00 pm
 

Hot Routes 5.19.11: Beck's mullet retrospective

Posted by Will Brinson



Got a link for the Hot Routes? Hit us up on Twitter (@CBSSportsNFL).
  • I don't know why, but I just can't quit John Beck. Whatever the Redskins would-be starter is doing is just making me wish more and more that he DOES end up starting. Of course, Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post isn't exactly doing much to kill my mancrush by posting a retrospective look at Beck's mullet. Which probably tells you worse things about me than it does Beck, but whatever.
Posted on: May 17, 2011 5:40 pm
Edited on: May 17, 2011 5:41 pm
 

NFLPA memo details nearly 2 years of CBA talks

Posted by Will Brinson

The NFLPA's negotiations and collective bargaining with the NFL during the past four years has centered squarely around avoiding a lockout through the implementation of a "pegged cap," according to a five-page NFLPA memo obtained by CBSSports.com.

This document sheds perhaps the most light to date on the specifics of back-and-forth -- formal or otherwise -- between the two sides through the current labor negotiations.

According to the document, the NFLPA and NFL discussed -- either in a bargaining session, meeting or via telephone -- the "pegged cap" issue nine times from June 2010 through March of 2011.

A September 2010 meeting with Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL lead counsel Jeff Pash is specifically detailed, in which the pair reviewed "in writing" the pegged cap concept.

The document also notes that during a Super Bowl bargaining session the NFL stated a need to "examine the pegged cap concept in more detail" and later respond. The Super Bowl bargaining sessions were cut short; per the memo the "NFL walked out, claiming a fundamental misunderstanding."

It was later reported that the now-infamous exchange between Panthers owner Jerry Richardson and Drew Brees/Peyton Manning may have caused the split.

The document, recently distributed to players to simplify the chain of labor-related events over the past years, also focuses on the inability of the NFLPA to procure financial details from the NFL.
NFL Labor

According to the document, the NFLPA requested "audited financial statements and other financial information from the clubs and the League" at least a dozen times between May 2009 and November 2010.

The NFL responded, per the memo, by sending one page of "limited cost data" in November of 2009, and four pages of "League-wide cost information" from 2007 and 2008. In contrast, Pash said in March 2011 that the union had received unprecedented financial data from the league.

During the November 2009 session in which the NFL provided the single sheet of financial information, they also introduced the rookie wage scale and "18% rollback" of the salary cap, per the memo.

This 18% rollback was deemed necessary again at the Super Bowl negotiating meetings -- based on the document, the owners deemed such a rollback necessary to give "additional incentive" to invest in their teams.

Among all these discussions, however, the biggest issue at hand seems to be the difference in the split of revenue. The NFL repeatedly claimed a "70/30" split, while the NFLPA reiterated, according to the memo, that "it is closer to 50/50 after [the] $1 billion deduction."

It also seems that the "pegged cap" issue provided the most movement of any issue within the realm of labor negotiations. Several back-and-forths occurred, per the memo, and multiple proposals were exchanged, before the decision from Special Master Stephen Burbank that awarded the players damages in the television contracts case.

Whether or not the television contracts became the actual breaking point in negotiations can't be completely ascertained. The only thing that's clear from the document is that there was a chance -- at one point in time -- to avoid a lockout and the situation all parties, including fans, are in now: without football.
Posted on: May 17, 2011 2:37 pm
Edited on: May 17, 2011 5:00 pm
 

Mediation recesses Tuesday ... until June 7

Posted by Will Brinson

Mediation between the NFL and NFLPA resumed Tuesday, under the awkward cloud of the NFL's recent win at the Court of Appeals. But it didn't last long. DeMaurice Smith, Roger Goodell and U.S. Judge Magistrate Arthur Boylan left for lunch in the early afternoon (and returned quickly -- take that for what it's worth), and shortly thereafter, at about 2:15 pm EST, mediation adjourned for the day.

NFL Labor

Per Albert Breer of the NFL Network, the two sides were not returning for a Wednesday session. However, don't let that fool you into thinking negotiations are totally dead. 

NFL general counsel Jeff Pash told Breer that the two sides would return for further mediation on June 7, after the June 3 Court of Appeals hearing.

"We owe it our game, we owe it to our fans we owe it to ourselves, the league and players, to sit down and talk," Pash said, per Breer.

Neither side discussed any specifics, though Hall of Famer Carl Eller said he believes this week's session included progress. Eller represents retired players.

As mentioned earlier, much of the remaining available leverage hinges on Judge David Doty's ruling on the TV lockout fund.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com