Tag:NFL Lockout
Posted on: April 6, 2011 8:44 am

What could happen after today's hearing

Goodell Posted by Josh Katzowitz

If Judge Susan Nelson, who will hear arguments in a preliminary injunction hearing of the Brady v NFL case, eventually rules in favor of the NFLPA, the lockout would be lifted (temporarily at least) and players could go back to work.

Obviously, that would be ideal for fans.

But Albert Breer of NFL.com argues that a decision like that, assuming it’s held up in the appellate court system, might not be great for the state of the game. He writes, “the momentum the game has built over the last two decades in becoming to America what soccer is to Great Britain, or hockey is to Canada, could be slowed significantly.”

He writes that if Nelson grants the injunction, the NFL could conduct business without a CBA (or, at least, use the same guidelines that were in place for the 2010 season), and considering the NFLPA and the owners still will be embroiled in anti-trust litigation, that will hamper the ability for anybody to fully take advantage of the NFL’s popularity.

"It would be almost impossible to operate under those circumstances," one league executive told Breer. "Teams couldn't make any significant investments for the future. There would be no way to build stadiums, expand into new markets, increase television coverage, bring new technologies into play.

"There would be no way to do any joint marketing with the players. There would be no basis for improvements in retired player benefits. Conflict would be the norm."

D. Smith Of course, you have to remember that the NFL operated for years without a CBA after the players won their anti-trust suit against the NFL in 1987. And it's not like the league collapsed. Could a similar event happen this time?

Writes Breer:

The NFLPA contends that the G-3 fund -- which loaned money to clubs for stadium construction -- and other incentives to build new venues can be reinstituted by owners without player involvement. But the likelihood of that happening in the described conditions isn't good, which would leave the future of the league in places like Minnesota and San Diego on hold, and put those franchises on standby.

On top of that, AEG CEO Tim Leiweke told NFL.com two months ago that his project in downtown Los Angeles was contingent on the "right CBA." So without an agreement to speak of, the future of the NFL in the nation's second-largest market would also likely be delayed, putting the Staples Center project in peril.

Then there's the trickledown to the players. Last offseason, the Patriots, Colts and Saints all cited the uncertain labor future as a major obstacle to extending the contracts of their franchise quarterbacks (Tom Brady got his; Peyton Manning and Drew Brees didn't get theirs). Dozens of lower-profile players found themselves in similar situations, with a similar message from teams. On top of that, hundreds of fourth- and fifth-year players were hit by the change in free-agency rules during the uncapped year. It's likely those rules would carry over.

What is up for debate is how the league's growth in two areas -- sponsorship and advances in technology -- would diminish without a CBA. An NFLPA source put it bluntly in saying, "People invest in profitable businesses, and the NFL is highly profitable." The source also took the idea that spending was down as a result of the looming labor problem to task.

Of course, it’s impossible to know how everything will play out based on the way Nelson and, eventually, the appellate court rule. But the process begins today, and for both sides, it has to be a scary proposition as they step into the unknown of courtroom litigation.

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Posted on: April 4, 2011 12:13 pm
Edited on: April 4, 2011 12:25 pm

Goodell: HGH testing is coming to NFL

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Commissioner Roger Goodell told the Baltimore Sun today that the NFL is going to insist that HGH testing be part of the next CBA and that it was discussed in labor negotiation meetings with the NFLPA before the lockout ended all talks.

NFL Labor
“The integrity of the NFL is critical,” Goodell said after he spoke to 700 Baltimore-area high school football players about performance-enhancing drugs (and about how drugs are bad, mmkay). “We have to make sure that we’re doing everything possible to have the best drug program in sports. Making changes to our program is critical. We have done that over the years and we have to do more, including the inclusion of HGH testing.”

Goodell wouldn’t say how the players reacted to that – though they’ve been uninterested in HGH testing in the past because that would require a blood test, rather than simply a urine test – but he also said the NFLPA knows the importance of doing it.

“You always have to modify your testing program to stay ahead of the people who are going to cheat the system,” he said. “We would be naïve to think that people aren’t going to cheat the system. But we have to have the best drug testing program to be able to offset it.”

It’s interesting to ponder how much of a wedge issue that might have been between the owners and the players, because we didn’t really hear anything about it before today. It probably landed somewhere between how to split up the $9 billion and how to split up the $9 billion.

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Posted on: April 4, 2011 8:46 am
Edited on: April 4, 2011 2:38 pm

Did the owners refuse a meeting with players?

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

According to ESPN.com’s John Clayton (via Pro Football Talk) , the NFL players wanted a meeting with the owners scheduled for March 28, but the owners balked at the idea and it never happened.

And why was that?

Clayton writes it’s because the NFL’s owners refuse to meet with the NFLPA’s settlement lawyers unless the trade association identifies itself as a union. Obviously, the NFLPA has decertified itself as a union, and it has sent letters to the NFL owners asking for the NFL to go through the settlement lawyers in order to negotiate.

The NFL has tried to get around that request – Roger Goodell, for instance, sent letters to each of the players asking them to return to the negotiating table – but in reality, nothing will change until Wednesday when the players and owners go to court to argue for and against a preliminary injunction in the Brady v NFL case that could immediately lift the lockout (temporarily, at least).

UPDATE (2:37 p.m.):
Not surprisingly, the NFL has denied this report.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: March 31, 2011 5:14 pm

Von Miller will attend the NFL Draft

Posted by Andy Benoit

There is now no excuse for any invited rookie not to attend the 2011 NFL Draft. After all, Von Miller, the only rookie plaintiff in the players’ lawsuit against the owners, will be at Radio City Music Hall.

"I'm honored to get an invitation and I plan on being there," Miller said via ESPN.com. "It's always been a dream of mine, having my name called and being able to walk across the stage and shake the hand of the commissioner."

That’s the same commissioner that Miller’s soon-to-be union/trade association has been publicly censuring the past few weeks. Miller will be in St. Paul next Thursday to attend the NFL hearing before Judge Susan Nelson in U.S. District Court.

The one DeMaurice Smith called “a brave young Aggie” did not express any concern about whether his presence at April’s draft will ruffle the feathers of his future peers.

"It doesn't change my stance with current NFL players," Miller said. "This is just separating the personal from the business. Personally, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fulfill a dream that my mom and dad, myself and my family can enjoy a very emotional day. But I still plan on being there for the players in trying to get this lockout lifted."

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Posted on: March 30, 2011 7:28 pm

NFL owners will make large payment to players

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

NFL owners will make a rather large payment to their players Thursday, completing their obligations for the 2010 season. In a release, the NFL announced it will deposit $177 million for players’ benefits into a BNY Mellon bank account, bringing its total contribution to $245 million.

NFL Labor
Among those benefits include “the pension plan, group medical insurance, the disability plan, and the ‘88’ program for retired players with dementia or related conditions.”

“NFL ownership is proud of the outstanding benefits that NFL players have enjoyed in recent years and the improvements that have been made for retired players,” said Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, a former NFL player, in a statement. “We have more work to do, especially for the retired players, and look forward to further improvements being part of the new NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement.”

It seems like this is just another release intended for positive PR, as if the owners’ generosity compelled them to spontaneously give a ton of money to the players. But, under the terms of the CBA that expired earlier this month, owners paying players this money was part of the deal.

As the statement released by the NFLPA reads, "NFL players would like to thank the NFL for issuing a press release touting their contractual and legal obligations.”

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Category: NFL
Posted on: March 30, 2011 11:56 am

Players, owners rethinking salary cap structure?

Posted by Andy Benoit

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk brought up one of the most interesting ideas in the issue of revenue sharing: a pegged salary cap. In other words, instead of the salary cap being determined by a certain percentaJ. Richardson (US Presswire)ge of revenue (which is the current model), it is a predetermined set amount.

Florio’s sources tell him that this is an idea the players brought up in the meeting the day before the Super Bowl (that was the meeting where Jerry Richardson reportedly demeaned Peyton Manning).

The pegged cap would be based on revenue projections. It’s attractive to the players because it makes for simpler auditing and guarantees they will still get their money even if revenue comes in lower than expected.

Florio writes, “As of right now, the two sides are $10 million apart per team on the ‘pegged cap’ approach . . . The owners have offered $141 million per team in salary and benefits, and the players have requested $151 million.  If they can bridge the gap and devise a procedure for handling any excess growth, they should be able to do a deal fairly quickly.

NFL Labor

As to 2012, it’s our understanding that the gap in the respective cap proposals is only $5 million per team, with the league agreeing to pay what the players have requested in 2013 and 2014.”

A pegged cap would presumably be easier on NFL front offices, as they would be able to structure players’ contracts long-term with knowledge of the exact budget they’re working with.

The last capped year was 2009. The salary cap that season was $130 million.

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Posted on: March 30, 2011 8:51 am
Edited on: March 30, 2011 9:58 am

College football on Sundays?

Posted by Andy Benoit

If, heaven forbid, the NFL lockout carries over into September, Sundays in fall could be gruesomely boring. But maybe the PAC-12 would step in and fill the void.

Tom Dienhart of Rivals.com writes that college football could take advantage of the opportunity to cash-in by playing games on the Sabbath.

“We certainly are monitoring the situation,” PAC-12 commissioner Larry Scott said. “We have no plans in place at this time, but you want to be prepared and consider all options. Still, these labor situations have a way of getting done the closer they get to a critical situation.”

From the sounds of things, Scott has not actively pursued Sunday scheduling yet (it’s early, of course).

“We haven’t had anybody approach us with that,” Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne said. “Thursday night football hasn’t been around forever, and we adjusted to that. Sunday is a day a lot of people look to watch football. You would get good exposure.

“But Sunday games would be something we would have to think long and hard about before we jumped into.”

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Category: NFL
Posted on: March 28, 2011 3:41 pm

NFLPA releases letters to NFL's counsel

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Where is federal mediator George Cohen and his pleas for a labor negotiations media blackout when you really need him?

The owners have been busy writing letters to their fan bases detailing how the NFLPA walked away from what was a pretty fair deal (the NFLPA’s response: it was the WORST DEAL IN THE HISTORY OF THE ENTIRE WORLD). Today, the trade association linked on its website two letters (dated March 21 and 22) to one of the NFL’s lawyers, detailing that the players actually want to make a litigation settlement. They just don’t want to do it in the way the owners want.

I advise you to take a look for yourself on NFLlockout.com, but the gist of the letters is that the NFLPA is telling the NFL that if the owners want to settle, its representatives should consult its counsel, James Quinn and Jeffrey Kessler (since, you know, the union has decertified and can’t negotiate a deal).

Then, a day later, Quinn and Kessler expressed disappointment in commissioner Roger Goodell’s letter to the players and the NFL’s unwillingness to engage in settlement talks unless “the players form a union and give up their antitrust rights.”

Quinn and Kessler also … kind of … um … you know … question lawyer Gregg Levy’s ethical conduct.

You can perhaps punch a hole or two in the NFLPA’s logic, but it’ll be hard for the owners to say now that the players ONLY are interested in litigation (that might be true for all we know, but these letters say otherwise). There’s also this: the fact the NFLPA made these letters public almost assures us that the NFL will respond in kind.

Which doesn’t help anybody get closer to a new CBA and the end of the lockout.

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Category: NFL
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