Posted on: March 7, 2011 9:56 am
Edited on: March 7, 2011 11:46 am

Union was within '5 minutes' of decertifying?

Posted by Will Brinson

The NFL and NFLPA agreed to a week-long extension of the CBA on Friday. That week is actually five days, however, because of the weekend. Which means Monday (aka today) is one of five days left on the calendar -- barring an additional extension -- to save football.

And it nearly never happened. According to Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated, an anonymous member of the NFLPA Executive Committee walked into the mediation workroom and informed union president Kevin Mawae -- in the presence of Roger Goodell, Jeff Pash and DeMaurice Smith -- that the union was decertifying.

"We're done! We're decertifying," the anonymous player said, according to Trotter.

Oh yes, and that player added a throat slash while doing so, which is a pretty aggressive negotiation tactic, to say the least.

Matt Jones and I covered this extensively in the labor podcast that dropped earlier today -- decertification would have some serious implications in terms of how it could harm the owners' pockets if things ended in the NFL's worst-case scenario. (As Matt put it, it would basically become like European soccer.)

NFL Labor

Whether or not the throat slash/declaration combo actually caused the owners to blink and sign off on the 7-day extension would be fun to find out, but it won't guarantee a labor deal getting done this week. The only thing that will guarantee it is if the two parties get down to business Monday and crank through every issue. 

So, naturally, the CBA mediation between the two sides will begin at ... 3 PM EST?

Apparently so -- Albert Breer of the NFL Network said the because "folks [are] traveling in the AM to get" to Washington, D.C., things aren't getting kicked off as promptly as they could.

This is rather odd -- both sides took a weekend break from these very negotiations knowing they'd need to be back at the bargaining table for a hard week's worth of figuring out the future of America's most popular sport.

Everyone involved knew they'd need to be in the nation's capital today for the talks. Which means that everyone involved could have likely figured out a way to align their travel plans in such a manner as to make sure that mediation was able to start at least by noon.

That being said, a 3 PM start time can always equate to an all-night mediation session. But given how much is at stake over the next week (again, barring an additional extension), everyone who cares about the NFL would probably prefer seeing the two sides maximizing their ability and time to negotiate.

UPDATE 11:45 a.m. EST: Judy Batista of the New York Times says negotiations will go into the evening hours Monday night. Both sides will take a dinner break and then resume talking. Batista also says that it was NFLPA lawyer Jeffrey Kessler who delivered the decertification threat.

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Posted on: March 7, 2011 8:06 am

Podcast: What happens if NFL mediation fails?

Posted by Will Brinson

The NFL and NFLPA are set to begin a week's worth of mediation on the heels of Friday's seven-day extension. This series of non-binding negotiations could very well decide the future of professional sports in America, so I hopped on the horn with Matt Jones (of CBSSports.com's Eye on College Basketball Blog, but, more importantly, a lawyer who specializes in labor negotiations) to talk about the current labor climate.

Matt's the one who inked our lockout primer, so he knows a thing or two about how things will go down. We break legal aspects of a potential lockout into layman's terms, discuss what would happen under the "nuclear" option of a lockout, debate whether or not this mediation is working, hypothesize about the possibility of an NFL world with no salary cap or draft, and criticize the current political landscape for NFL owners.

Just hit the play button below and don't forget to Subscribe via iTunes.

If you can't view the podcast, click here to download .
Posted on: March 6, 2011 2:25 pm

Revis: A lot of guys are going to get hurt

D. Revis says a lockout would be bad for the players' health (Getty). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Jets CB Darrelle Revis has a unique perspective on timing and how a disruption in it can lead to injuries. Just like last season when Revis held out from training camp, only to be stricken with an injured hamstring when the regular season began, he’s worried that, if the owners and NFLPA can’t come to an agreement next week and the owners lock out the players, the players’ health will be compromised.

Especially if the stoppage extends into the months where players and teams are supposed to be participating in training camps.

"It won't work," Revis told ESPN.com. "Just looking at my situation of holding out and me trying to hurry up and come back and play -- say this thing carries on until July, I think a lot of guys are going to get hurt because we haven't been to OTAs, we haven't been in that mode of football. Yeah, you can work out, I was working out when I held out, but it's a different level."

For the past month or so, we’ve read all about how groups of teammates plan to work out together during a lockout, so they can keep as sharp as possible. But who’s to say how well that could work? Who’s to say the NFLPA would even allow that to happen?

That’s why, Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald said (speaking for just about everybody in the universe), it’s probably best for the NFL and the NFLPA to come to a deal next week.

"Hopefully the collective bargaining agreement is reached next week and we'll be able to do everything the same as we always have," Fitzgerald said.

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Posted on: March 6, 2011 12:04 pm

Do NFL fans actually support owners in dispute?

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

CNBC.com is running a poll that asks the question: whose side are you on in the NFL’s labor dispute? Are the players at fault, or is this all the doing of the owners?

The poll results are, well, interesting.

At about 11 a.m. ET on Sunday, 49 percent of the 4,456 respondents said they sided with the owners, 35 percent sided with the players and 17 percent weren’t sure.

You can look at the results in two ways:

1) CNBC.com is a business website where much of the readership, we assume, are people in the business world who might be programmed to side with management, rather than the workers and unions, in these types of scenarios.

2) People don’t understand that the owners are actually locking out the players. Perhaps, instead, they believe the players are going on strike.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: March 5, 2011 5:48 pm

Something to consider about this next week

Posted by Andy Benoit

The first day of free agency is always a busy day in the NFL. The first day of free agency after a one week delay to the beginning of the new league year could be busy plus one.

Let’s say the labor situation gets figured out sometime on March 11. And let’s say the NFL declares that March 12 is the start of the 2011 league year. Teams could finally start signing free agents (and resume cutting existing roster members). In this instance, you’ll likely either see a flurry of roster moves, as well as a few savvy, unexpected moves.

Teams cannot make any roster transactions until a new CBA is signed. But, as Mike Sando of ESPN reminds everyone, teams are allowed to negotiate with players and agents.

So over the next few days, owners will be keeping tabs on the labor talks and ostensibly relaying updates back to their front office. The front offices that have the firmest grasp on what the new CBA might look like will have a head start in negotiating contacts with free agents. Really, the business of the NFL is not on hold for the next week – only the culmination of said business is on hold.

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Category: NFL
Tags: CBA, NFL lockout
Posted on: March 4, 2011 3:35 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2011 3:39 pm

De Smith, Goodell looking forward to next week

D. Smith and R. Goodell are still talking. Posted by Josh Katzowitz

About an hour after the NFL owners and the NFLPA agreed to a one-week extension , commissioner Roger Goodell and union executive director DeMaurice Smith addressed the media (at dueling times, no less!).

Based on the recommendations of mediator George Cohen – who inexplicably referred to himself in the third person at least twice when he briefly addressed the media – neither official discussed the negotiations, how far they’ve come or how far they still have to go.

But the words that emanated from their mouths seemed somewhat positive (the owners, after all, already could have locked out the players, and the union could have decertified).

“We’ve continued to work,” Goodell said, “and the fact we’re continuing this dialogue is a positive thing.”

Smith talked a little bit more about the NFLPA’s motivations – not surprisingly, he meant the players and the fans.

“I think it's very important to recognize and never forget what we've talked about over the last two years what the league has demanded back and what the players have responded to. I'm not going to talk about what's going on in the mediation session, but when you look at the case caption that Judge Doty just ruled on, the 4th name on that caption is Dave Duerson.

“That's our history. He signed on to benefit players he knew would come after him. what we do is hold firm and keep close to our chest the history and legacy we have. We believe that's the legacy that has to carry us through that defines what "us" is.”

If you want to watch Smith’s full presser, click right over here.

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Posted on: March 4, 2011 1:58 pm

Report: NFL, NFLPA agree to 7-day extension

Posted by Will Brinson

On Thursday, the NFL and NFLPA ran up to the deadline, but eventually walked out of CBA negotiations with a 24-hour extension of the agreement's expiration. It was widely believed those 24 hours would be used to negotiate a new extension, and it appears that's what has happened, with the owners and union agreeing to extend the CBA for an additional seven days.

That's according to both Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated and Adam Schefter of ESPN, the latter of whom has it "confirmed" that the two sides will extend the deadline to next Friday, with "talks" continuing through 5 PM EST.

Mediation is expected to resume Monday, however, which means that the 7-day extension is technically only one "work week," which is the equivalent of five days, because both sides will adjourn talks during the weekend.

That's not a guarantee, of course, and it's not necessarily negative, as it gives each side the chance to really evaluate their willingness to face a work stoppage and prepare for the coming week of mediation.

All of it remains in the realm of "cautious optimism," because mediation isn't binding, reports are still lingering that the two sides aren't necessarily close to an agreement, and according to Trotter, the union executive committee still needs to approve the extension.

But both sides -- and, more importantly, the fans -- find themselves in a better place Friday than they were Thursday at the same time.

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Posted on: March 4, 2011 12:45 am
Edited on: March 4, 2011 1:12 am

Union already agreed to 7-10 day extension?

Posted by Will Brinson

It's widely believed that Thursday's 24-hour extension in CBA negotiations is merely the first step for a longer extension (both Clark Judge and I wrote that very notion earlier on Thursday).

And, reportedly, the union has already hopped on board with such an extension -- Chris Mortensen of ESPN reports that George Cohen, the Director of the Federal Mediation Counseling Services, has already convinced the union to agree to a 7-to-10-day extension.

Provided that's true, the league only needs to consent, and then the two sides can stop bargaining about how long they should extend the talks, and get down to the nitty gritty.

That's not a given, of course, but the recent momentum swing seems to favor the players -- particularly given Judge Doty's decision on television contracts. And with the risk of a late-afternoon Friday decertification play by the union forcing things to a head, it certainly seems prudent for both sides to push the deadline back even further.

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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