Posted on: July 4, 2011 6:46 pm
Edited on: July 4, 2011 8:35 pm

Report: Retirees to file suit vs NFL, NFLPA

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

As the NFL owners and the NFLPA prepare to return to the negotiating table after the three-day weekend, it seems their lives are doomed to become more complicated. That’s because the The New York Times is reporting that the group of retired players involved in the Brady v. NFL case is set to prepare a complaint against the players and owners.

From the Times:

The class-action complaint, to be filed in Federal District Court in Minneapolis against the teams, the league, the players named in the Brady v. N.F.L. lawsuit and DeMaurice Smith, the head of the N.F.L. Players Association, asserted that the sides were violating antitrust laws by negotiating settlement terms that improperly encompassed the rights of retired players in the time since the N.F.L.P.A. renounced its union status.

The complaint says that the current players and the association, along with the N.F.L., “are conspiring to depress the amounts of pension and disability benefits to be paid to former N.F.L. players in order to maximize the salaries and benefits to current N.F.L. players.”
And it says that while the N.F.L. is willing to commit additional money to retirees from within and outside the league’s salary cap, the union “has insisted that the sum within the salary cap be given to current players instead.”

The complaint will ask Judge Susan Nelson to issue an injunction to halt the talks between the owners and players regarding retired players’ benefits, and it asks for a declaration that the NFLPA cannot represent those retired players in a new CBA settlement or for other litigation.

Basically, the alumni want to represent themselves in these talks.

“We feel we have a seat at the table, but we’re having the chair pulled out from under us,” Michael Hausfeld, the lawyer representing retired players, told the paper. “Both sides are saying, ‘We’ll decide what’s in your best interests.’”

As the Times points out, though, Nelson might be reluctant to add a third party to the mix so late in the negotiations, partially because it seems like the two sides might be closing in on a solution and partially because bringing somebody else to the table might make matters much more complicated.

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Posted on: July 4, 2011 11:37 am
Edited on: July 4, 2011 11:48 am

Are NFL coaches communicating with players?

MorrisPosted by Josh Katzowitz

While the NFL coaching staffs and team officials are prohibited from communicating with players during the lockout, it seems rather improbable to believe that there is no absolutely no contact between the two sides while their negotiators try to work out a new CBA.

You’ll recall that Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris let slip that he talks to players “all the time” (to read the partial transcript from that radio interview last month, click this link), and there have been whispers that coordinators and assistants are talking to players under the cover of darkness (not at Woodward and Bernstein levels or anything; just a little more covertly than normal).

So, it’s interesting that Len Pasquarelli of CBSSports.com and Sports Xchange reports that an AFC assistant coach told him the idea of mail fraud has been discussed in an attempt to communicate with players.

Writes Pasquarelli: “An AFC assistant told The Sports Xchange this week he was party to a conversation just after the draft in which it was suggested that the team distribute playbooks, but with the postdate on the office mail machine manipulated to reflect a date during which the lockout was lifted for four days in late April, when it was legal, albeit temporarily, to talk to players.”

That’s … well, that’s kind of unbelievable (but props for thinking outside the box). So, did the team actually go through with it?

Said the assistant to Pasquarelli: "I don't know and I don't want to know. But I wasn't born yesterday, either. I know there's some stuff going on around the league, because (coaching) friends tell me about it."

The NFL claims to have investigated a few of the rumors, and the league, not surprisingly, has not found any violators.

But if we want to get really conspiracy-theory crazy, perhaps the NFL doesn’t mind that the teams could be surreptitiously breaking league-lockout rules. After all, the NFL doesn’t want to end the lockout and then have the players not perform well.

So, maybe if the league looks the other way while the coaching staffs aren’t so obviously communicating with players, the play will be a little stronger once practices and games begin. Knowing this, the NFL would rather hide its head in the sand, in the name of quality play, than actually punish teams during the lockout.

That’s probably not exactly the case, but what could be more American on July 4 than a nice conspiracy theory?

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Category: NFL
Posted on: July 3, 2011 3:24 pm
Edited on: July 3, 2011 10:00 pm

No preseason could mean $800M in lost revenue

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Since negotiations toward a new collective bargaining agreement started moving in the right direction several weeks ago, there has been guarded optimism in the media that a deal would be done by mid-July. Progress has come in fits and starts, but that's the nature of deliberating.

That said, if the lockout continues past July 15, there's a danger that preseason games would be lost, and more than that, the revenue that comes with it.

ESPN's Adam Schefter tweeted Saturday that the financial cost of the first week of preseason games could be roughly $200 million.

To take it a step further, if, say, the lockout drags on to the point that the entire preseason is lost, that means lost revenues in the neighborhood of $800 million. But those losses don't solely fall to the owners; players would be taking a hit, too.

PFT provides the breakdown:
Assuming that the players get a 48-percent share of all revenue under a new CBA, a lost preseason would equate to $384 million in losses for the players, and $416 million in losses for the owners.

The losses begin soon, if/when the NFL is required to scuttle preseason games. And because the players are now focused more on total dollars and less on percentages, the dip in total dollars resulting from lost preseason games necessarily will impact the deal that the parties are discussing.
So there's one more reason for the two sides to come to an agreement in the next 12 days -- $800 million. But if the last month has taught us anything, it's that posturing gives way to actual negotiations when the specter of losing billions of dollars is imminent. If this doesn't motivate the owners and players to figure things out soon, the season is already lost.

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Posted on: July 2, 2011 8:05 pm
Edited on: July 2, 2011 9:09 pm

Newton knows 90 percent of Panthers' playbook?

Posted by Will Brinson

Cam Newton has a tough task ahead of him once the lockout's resolved -- he has to learn the entirety of Rob Chudzinski's insanely complex offense, and do so in a short amount of time.

But he's been working with some former NFL quarterbacks, including Chris Weinke, and it appears to be paying huge dividends for the rookie out of Auburn.

According to Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer, these sessions have featured detailed learning of the Panthers' playbook, "about 90 percent of which Weinke has installed."

Essentially, Newton's mimicking the practices he'd be getting in the lost offseason by getting a play from Weinke, calling out the play like he was in the huddle, going through each play's cadence at the line of scrimmage, and then slinging passes to whatever receivers are there.


Per Person, some recent attendees include Michael Clayton, Alex Smith, Titus Young and a "couple small-college receivers."

Following the throws, Weinke and former Chudzinski protégé Ken Dorsey -- who we'd also mentioned as a Newton tutor -- make suggestions as to how Newton can improve his mechanics and individual tweaks and designs for each play that's being run.

"He wants to be great," Weinke said.

Newton probably does want to be great -- the issue will be whether or not he's capable of recreating the success he had at Auburn once he gets on the field for the Panthers.

But given how unsettled the NFL's situation is right now, it's pretty darn impressive to see Newton maximizing his offseason, especially when there's no enforced motivation to do so.

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Posted on: July 2, 2011 3:27 pm
Edited on: July 2, 2011 8:13 pm

Jerry Jones: Revenue sharing is 'on it's way out'

Posted by Will Brinson

The matter of sharing revenue is a big deal for the NFL and NFLPA. In fact, most people would probably agree it's the biggest deal with respect to the current labor negotiations.

However, the issue of revenue sharing between owners is also a tremendous obstacle that the owners have to overcome before finding common ground with the players.

And if you think it's not a problem, then you haven't heard Cowboys owner Jerry Jones talk about how the rest of the owners are helping to pay for the Vikings new stadium.

"Right now, we are subsidizing this market," Jones said, via the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "It's unthinkable to think that you've got the market you got here - 3.5 million people - and have teams like Kansas City and Green Bay subsidizing the market. That will stop.

"That's going to stop. That's on its way out."

As Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal noted on Twitter, there's a reason why this subject has not been written about much despite being an important matter: the owners aren't going to budge off their stance.

Well, at least the rich(er) ones anyway: Jones and the rest of the owners with extraordinary deep pockets were talked into revenue sharing for the first time in the last CBA deal.

And such distribution of money, along with the revenue split given to the players, was precisely why they opted out of the deal that they agreed to back in 2006. (Ironically, Mike Brown of the Bengals and Ralph Wilson of the Bills were the only two owners to oppose the deal.)

It's also one of the unstated obstacles to a new CBA; you might hear talk from ownership of player factions during this process, but the notion that the owners are completely unified is just silly.

There are owners who want more money from other owners, and there are owners who don't want go hand out additional money simply because they're more committed to generating revenue by investing in their product.

From a negotiating standpoint, this is problematic, because the various factions of owners have differing viewpoints on splitting up the $2 billion pie of revenue.

But it's something that'll have to be bridged before the NFL and NFLPA can reach a deal; and Jones' hardline stance could be an indication that everyone's on the same page.

Or an ominous forewarning that there's some clear-cut dissonance amongst owners on the topic.

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Posted on: July 1, 2011 10:31 pm
Edited on: July 1, 2011 10:43 pm

Break from CBA talks needs to become a gut check

Posted by Will Brinson

The NFL and NFLPA are taking the holiday weekend off from negotiating a new CBA. Some folks might see this as a problem, because it means a break from negotiations and continued progress.

However, there's reason to think that this weekend could be a gamechanger, provided that both sides remember exactly what "negotiating" means.

As CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman reported over the past few days, the owners are presenting scenarios that don't fit in line with what they'd previously offered, and the NFLPA lawyers are refusing to budge on the issue of retired-player benefits. That, folks, is not negotiating, unless the word suddenly became a synonym for "being stubborn."

This weekend shouldn't be a time to sit around and gripe about who said what in which room, and whether this or that proposal was insulting. This is a weekend to realize that America is sitting around enjoying the summer, not really complaining about the lack of football, and patiently waiting for the two sides to strike a deal.

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This weekend needs to be the two sides talking apart from one another and understanding that now is a time for a negotiation gut check.

The NFL needs to understand that it HAS to give in on certain areas, and the NFLPA needs to understand that it HAS to find some leeway on others.

That might sound silly and obvious, but it's -- plainly -- exactly what comprises negotiating.

We've constantly heard leaders from both sides preach about dialogue and the need for bargaining during this process. And we've constantly been told that there's ample reason for optimism despite the fact that there's not any football on the horizon.

But there's no concrete proof of any actual negotiating; there's no guarantee that either one of the sides can willingly find some room for concessions that will forward the progress of the best sport in the country.

And that's why a break is critical -- everyone involved in the negotiations of a new CBA for the NFL needs to take this time off to realize just how close we are to the beginning of the football season, to assess the goals of these negotiations, to figure out what the respective breaking points of each side on each issue are, and to find a way to hammer out a deal when negotiations resume on Tuesday.

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Posted on: July 1, 2011 10:04 am
Edited on: July 1, 2011 10:14 am

Report: new CBA target date could be July 10

Posted by Ryan Wilson

After a marathon session Thursday that included the owners playing their version of rope-a-dope and switcheroo (neither of which were well received by the players -- shocking, we know), the two sides reconvened this morning to continue to work toward a new collective bargaining agreement.

CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman summed things up in this morning's The Daily Shoutout: "So here we are .. .again. Hanging on every word and piece of news and hopefully that news will get better in the coming days."

The speculation in recent weeks is that owners and players were hoping to have a new CBA, at least in principle, by mid-July. Specifics are hard to come by, primarily because both sides seem more interested in ending the lockout than staging a PR battle through the media. And for the most part, it's been a successful plan.

Citing three people who have been briefed on the negotiations, the New York Times' Judy Battista writes that "The N.F.L. had hoped to have at least an agreement in principle in place around the Fourth of July … [and] although a resolution remained possible within the next 10 days, it was more likely that negotiations would drag on past that time, with a better chance for a settlement coming the week of July 10."

One of Battista's sources added that "…the sides were close enough to complete a deal within 72 hours with intense effort. But dynamics among the parties, the person said, could stall a deal. The league is concerned that some lawyers and agents on the players’ side will prefer to wait, perhaps for a court decision that could sway negotiating leverage, before reaching an agreement."

So what does this mean?

On one hand, it's encouraging that both sides are taking negotiations seriously, even if it took almost four months of finger-pointing and name-calling to get to this point. On the other hand, you have to wonder what the owners were doing Thursday with their "Hey, look over there while we change the terms of the agreement!" strategy.

For the most part, talks seems to be moving in the right direction. The specifics of a new deal, or the precise date when it's struck, are unimportant. What is important is that there is a 2011 NFL season, in its entirety. That's all fans want.

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Posted on: July 1, 2011 1:58 am

NFL, NFLPA meet for more than 15 hours

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

The NFL and the NFLPA finally have emerged from their 15 1/2-hour meeting, and they will return at 9 a.m. Friday morning to continue discussions, according to reports from NFL.com’s Albert Breer. The mega-bargaining session began at 10 a.m. ET Thursday and continued until about 1:30 a.m. Friday

There’s obviously no new CBA, but after such a long day of meeting face to face, you have to wonder if that announcement is coming relatively soon -- like, say, within the next week or so.

Though late Thursday afternoon, there was plenty of pessimism emanating from a number of reports after the NFLPA held a conference call for some of its members, the fact that the two sides negotiated for another eight hours after that has got to be a positive step.

Plus, with the league moving closer to a deadline when a deal would have to be done in order to begin training camps on time, both sides seem a little more energized to get something accomplished.

According to the AP, among those involved in the talks today included: U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan, Giants owner John Mara, Chiefs owner Clark Hunt, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Patriots owner Robert Kraft and, for the players, Colts C Jeff Saturday, Chiefs G Brian Waters and Ravens CB Domonique Foxworth.

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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