Tag:Roger Goodell
Posted on: July 18, 2011 5:28 pm
Edited on: July 18, 2011 5:49 pm
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Vrabel doesn't think NFL should punish Harrison



Posted by Ryan Wilson

Steelers linebacker James Harrison probably isn't much of a poker player. The man is primarily known for two things: being one of the NFL's most tenacious linebackers, and for speaking his mind, even when it's not in his best interest. The most recent evidence for the latter came last week when Harrison unloaded on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and teammates Ben Roethlisberger and Rashard Mendenhall in an interview with Men's Journal.

That led to the inevitable media backlash promptly followed by some Harrison backtracking and PR damage control. To Harrison's credit, he wasted little time telling Roethlisberger that his words were misconstrued, and shortly thereafter issued a statement apologizing to Goodell, too.

So that happened. And now that we're all done parsing Harrison's every word, the conversation has turned to whether Goodell is within his rights to fine or suspend Harrison once the lockout ends. (We've had similar conversations about Kenny Britt, who can't seem to stay out of trouble.)

It's an issue that will likely be negotiated as part of the new collective bargaining agreement.

While we wait for that eventuality, however, soon-to-be free agent Darren Sharper said on Fox Sports Radio recently that Harrison shouldn't face league sanctions.

"At this point, with the lockout, I think James looked at it as his liberty and knew that he had the perfect time to say what he wanted to say and not have to face any repercussions because they can’t do anything because there is no CBA agreement," Sharper said, according to Sports Radio Interviews. "He can’t get fined and it might be something at the end of the road where they can go back and fine him at a later date, but right now he’s in the clear to say whatever he wants to."

Harrison's Busy Week

Recently retired Chiefs linebacker Mike Vrabel echoed Sharper's sentiments. During a Friday radio appearance on Boston's WEEI, he said that the NFLPA "would have an issue if (Harrison) were suspended or fined."

Vrabel elaborated: "I know that James Harrison is a heck of a player and one the Pittsburgh Steelers and their fans and their coaches probably really enjoy and are glad that he's on their team," he said. "As long as his teammates are fine with it, we support him as an association."

Vrabel also thinks that Goodell is a big boy and can handle the criticism.

"Roger's got big shoulders, Roger understands," he said. "I would say to Roger or anybody else that had a problem with it, I would say what Bill (Belichick) said to us: 'To (those who) much is given, much is expected. And Roger is given a lot in form of compensation and being in the situation that he's in, so there's a lot expected of him. And if that means taking the higher road and calling James and trying to figure out how to get this thing settled between them or whatever issue they have going on."

Whether that happens remains to be seen. First things first: the owners and players have to agree on an new CBA.

PFT's Mike Florio writes that "one source with general knowledge of the dynamics recently suggested that Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA* executive director DeMaurice Smith already have come to an understanding on the point."

Florio adds: "But we’ll have trouble understanding any understanding that allows the NFL to punish players for arrests occurring during the lockout. Indeed, a decision by the NFLPA* to expose players retroactively to responsibility for violations of the personal conduct policy could open the door for a fairly potent lawsuit alleging breach of the duty of fair representation, which could open a fairly significant can of worms given that the labor deal will have been negotiated at a time when, technically, the NFLPA* has the power to represent no one."

Finally, Florio points out that the players who have run afoul of the law aren't getting away with anything by escaping NFL-related sanctions. They still have to answer to the legal system, the media and the fans. Obviously, this doesn't apply to Harrison, who broke no laws when he called Goodell a "clown" and the "devil," and it could be another reason the league chooses not to discipline him.

Then again, arbitrarily meting out punishments has been a criticism (hallmark?) of Goodell's enforcement strategy. It's impossible to predict what he might do. 

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Posted on: July 16, 2011 11:14 pm
Edited on: July 17, 2011 12:26 pm
 

Issues remain before a labor deal is finalized

Posted by Will Brinson

Saturday was a "great day" as far as the NFL labor situation was concerned; there weren't serious issues to bridge, because, after all, the "legal and financial teams" could handle everything that remained.

Right? Well, maybe. Now it appears there might be a little more ground to cover than initially thought.

CBSSports.com's own Mike Freeman reported  on Saturday that "there are still points to be resolved" with respect to a new CBA. Freeman noted two in particular: workman's comp and rollback benefits (those that were lost last season). Turns out there might be more.

There are also issues relating to whether the NFLPA will actually become a union -- it's currently a trade association -- and there are issues on how the named plaintiffs in the Brady v. NFL case will be compensated when it comes to free agency.

Latest on Labor

As you'll likely recall, when Reggie White and other named plaintiffs fought for free agency, they were compensated by avoiding any franchise tag issues. Now, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and the rest of the plaintiffs named in the antitrust lawsuit against the NFL want the same thing to happen.

Presumably, one of the issues that needs to be resolved involves whether these named plaintiffs, which includes rookie linebacker Von Miller, will be given special consideration. They'll likely need to be given something, or else it might be difficult for them to file a Voluntary Dismissal and end the lawsuit against the NFL.

There is also a report from ESPN that the franchise-tagging system as a whole is problematic in negotiations.

According to this report, the players don't want to allow teams to continue to use franchise tags over-and-over again on a player. Obviously, teams prefer the lack of liability involved in a long-term deal to a franchise tag.

These issues aren't dealbreakers, per se, but they are problematic. Can teams live with a one-time shot at franchise tagging a player? Can the named plaintiffs deal with only having to be tagged once if it settles the lawsuit? Or will they demand perpetual freedom from such contract issues?

Making things more complicated is that while those questions are being sorted out, the NFL and players must figure out a way in which to handle the reimbursement of $320 million (lost benefits) and determine the locale for workers' compensation.

These complex issues are solvable, but they're why it's necessary to keep the champagne on ice for at least a few days and let the negotiations play out.

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Posted on: July 16, 2011 4:20 pm
Edited on: July 16, 2011 6:41 pm
 

'Virtually nothing' stands in way of CBA deal?

Posted by Will Brinson

Update (6:15 PM EST): It appears the owners and players will meet -- Jeff Pash told media members that the players and owners will meet under the guidance of Arthur Boylan in Manhattan during the early part of the week to resolve some of the remaining issues in wrapping up a deal.

He also said, per Albert Breer, that the "principles have done their job" and that progressing the CBA will be up to the lawyers.

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There hasn't been a whole lot of news on Saturday relating to the theoretically soon-to-end lockout. The legal and financial teams have been "grinding" in New York City throughout the day, but nothing too substantial has leaked from the talks.

Except perhaps this: the NFL Network's Albert Breer reports that the players and owners have "no plans … to meet again unless necessary."

Yes, normally that would be terrible news. In this case, however, it's fantastic -- the sides are apparently close enough that, per Breer, all future negotiations/handling of details can be sorted out via email, telephone and via the wonderful channels that are lawyers.

Breer adds that there is "virtually nothing standing in the way right now" of a new deal getting done and getting done soon.

Additionally, the conversation/meeting/talk between Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith that was referenced on Friday appears to have taken place (or is taking place) today, as NFL spokesman Greg Aiello noted as much while pointing out that today is "a great day." (Though Aiello may just be excited to be hanging out by a pool.)

Latest on Labor

This all should result in final copies of a settlement agreement and new CBA coming before the two sides early next week. And, as Breer notes, the owners "are likely to vote on a deal" when they head to Atlanta on Thursday for their meetings.

Does this mean we should drop all caution and proceed blindingly into a new world free of a lockout? Um, no. There are still some things that have to get sorted out. Like, most importantly, signatures.

And for those of who've seen our optimism shattered by previous negotiations that fell apart and/or those of us who understand the concept of a deal not being a deal until it's done, every single party needs to sign before it's time to pop the proverbial bubbly.

But if all this holds the course over the next few days, we'll all be firing up our fantasy leagues before we know it.

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Posted on: July 15, 2011 4:59 pm
Edited on: July 15, 2011 11:55 pm
 

NFL, NFLPA statement: Things 'in a good place'

Posted by Will Brinson

The NFL and NFLPA have wrapped up their Friday session of negotiations and the primary parties involved -- DeMaurice Smith and NFLPA reps, Roger Goodell and NFL reps, and retired players -- have left for the weekend.

However, Smith, while departing, said he and Goodell would meet and/or talk during the weekend, according to Albert Breer of the NFL Network.

Additionally, the NFL and NFLPA issued a joint statement about the progress of negotiations through Friday.

"The discussions this week have been constructive and progress has been made on a wide range of issues," the statement read. "Our legal and financial teams will continue to work through the weekend. We will continue to respect the confidentiality orders of Chief Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan and will therefore refrain from commenting on specific issues or aspects of the negotiations.

We will provide additional information as developments in this process continue."
Latest on Labor
Additionally, per Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post, the NFLPA said that "things are in a good place" following the negotiations.

"We don't disagree," was the NFL's response.

Though the clarity of the statement is about what you'd expect in this situation (read: opaque as all get-out), it's been quite clear all day that the two sides are making tremendous strides towards a new CBA.

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Posted on: July 15, 2011 1:40 pm
Edited on: July 15, 2011 6:10 pm
 

Report: Rookies will get '40-50%' less in 2011

Posted by Will Brinson

At the beginning of the lockout (in the long, long ago), the rookie-wage scale wasn't something too many people worried about. After all, lowering the amount of guaranteed money given to risky rookies was a sensible move for both sides.

The wage scale, however, popped up as an issue in later stages of negotiations. Fortunately, both sides found common ground and, as our own Mike Freeman reported on Thursday, worked out the "basic parameters of a rookie-wage scale proposal."

Those basic parameters, according to ESPN, involve four-year deals for rookies with team options for a fifth year.

There would be an approximate decrease in money to rookies by "40-50" percent, with that money directed to veterans and retired players. But Adam Schefter's report indicates that during the fifth, optioned year the player would receive "a salary equal to the average of the top 10 player salaries" at that player's respective position.

Yes, this is similar to the calculations for the franchise tag and, yes, it gives clubs a reason to re-negotiate with third- and fourth-year players ahead of time if they're performing at an elite level.

Latest on Labor

Picks 11-32 under the reported system would receive a fifth-year salary equal to the average of the No. 3-25 salaries at their respective positions. And, finally, Schefter reports that the money involved would be guaranteed if the fifth-year option was "exercised after the third year" of the deal.

You can argue up-and-down about who won (and who lost; though it's pretty obvious that the rookies did and it's pretty obvious why no one was telling them anything) this area of negotiating, but the truth is that it presents a fair way in which to reward players whose talent shines early in their career without penalizing teams too drastically for a failure to evaluate talent at the top of the draft.

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Posted on: July 15, 2011 12:05 pm
Edited on: July 15, 2011 1:13 pm
 

Report: Economics portion of a new CBA are 'done'

Posted by Will Brinson

On Thursday night, CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman reported that the NFL's labor situation was close to an end and that the NFL and players' efforts at getting a new CBA in place were at the "half-yard line."

On Friday, the information relating to the lockout's been flowing in at at a breakneck pace that's so optimistic it would make a scientology recruiter blush.

Two bigger pieces of news stand out. Primarily, there's a report from the NFL Network's Albert Breer, who notes that "the economics of a deal are done." That's something that echoes what Freeman's been hearing, and is particularly awesome to hear. If the money's figured out, everything else will fall into place.

Breer does note that there are "plenty of other hoops" for the respective sides to jump through, including retiree benefits, "player safety, worker's compensation and injury guarantees, and also litigation entanglements."

Latest on Labor

Lest anyone think differently, those are indeed potential dealbreakers, especially if the "litigation entanglements" involve "how to solve future litigation issues" and "what to do with the current lawsuit hanging out there."

But his report on NFL.com, in addition to being a nice place to hear a report that a deal is done on the NFL labor situation, is laced with optimism.

Additionally, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that a new CBA "will be 7 to 10 years." Though that's a reasonably broad spectrum -- it was widely assumed that eight years was the floor with 12 years as the ceiling -- it's still fantastic news that the progress made by the owners and players hasn't necessitated a shortening of the CBA to five years, simply for the sake of knocking a deal out.

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Posted on: July 15, 2011 9:54 am
Edited on: July 16, 2011 9:17 am
 

Free-agent right of first refusal not an issue

Posted by Will Brinson

As Mike Freeman reported yesterday, the end of the lockout/close of a new CBA is close. Like the "half-yard line" close, thanks to everyone moving past the obstacle that was the rookie-wage scale.

But it still appears, based on various reports from around the web, that there's another issue hanging around in the negotiations: right of first refusal on the big old crop of free agents that will theoretically emerge under the new collective bargaining agreement.

We've covered this particular issue before, and it's an interesting request from the owners. Essentially they want to get a shot at signing the guys who went from restricted to unrestricted status because of the change in the CBA terms.

Latest on Labor

We've also been repeatedly told that it ain't happening. (And heard that the owners aren't actually pushing too much on this issue.) It now appears that it's off the table entirely; owners have reportedly decided they won't pursue first-right-of-refusal clauses.

There's good reason for that. By most accounts, the players sacrificed a big chunk of change, in terms of revenue sharing to push this deal along.

The owners have also made sacrifices, and one of those is allowing a group of 500-plus players to "graduate" into free agency earlier than they would have under the the expired CBA rules.

Plus, the owners are the one who put themselves in the position of having this group of players out on the market by opting out of the CBA a few years back. Thus, any leeway from the players on this issue would indeed be a surprise.

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Posted on: July 14, 2011 9:33 pm
Edited on: July 14, 2011 9:58 pm
 

Harrison's agent: 'A lot of it is bravado'

Posted by Ryan Wilson

On Wednesday, we learned not only how James Harrison feels about Roger Goodell but also his thoughts on teammates Ben Roethlisberger and Rashard Mendenhall. None of the remarks were laudatory.

While this would have been a news story no matter the time of year, that we're four months into a lockout guaranteed it would be the lead news story for several news cycle.

So here we are some 36 hours after the initial story broke … still talking about Harrison. Except now, it's less about what he said and more about how those around him can help stuff the genie back into the bottle. (Frankly, it might be easier to just build a time machine.)

Harrison said that his comments on Roethlisberger were taken out of context (and Thursday night he released a statement apologizing for, well, everything), teammate Lawrence Timmons came to his defense, and even the author of the Men's Journal piece that started it all tried to provide Harrison some cover.

It was only a matter of time, but Harrison's agent, Bill Parise, has weighed in as well. And to hear him tell it (via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), "A lot of [what Harrison said is] bravado."

Parise continued: "I think people have to be careful not to read that and think those statements are anything more than expressions of feelings, particularly in regard to the commissioner. The commissioner fined James $100,000 last year. What do you want him to say, he's my best friend? James is a tough individual, and that's the type of language he uses."

Wisely, Parise didn't make Harrison available to the Post-Gazette. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told the paper: "We are not commenting on any aspect of the story."

Harrison's Big Day

Not until the lockout ends, anyway.

CBSSports.com's Gregg Doyel thinks the commissioner (who Harrison referred to as a clown and the devil) should suspend the Steelers linebacker for a game and fine him $250,000.

"I don't think we should get caught up in his cultural language," Parise said. "I think people will read that for what it is and move on. I don't think anyone truly believes James thinks the commissioner is the devil."

Neither Roethlisberger nor Mendenhall said they were concerned about Harrison's criticism of them, and Steelers President Art Rooney II didn't provide much in the way of details in a statement issued Wednesday. "I have not yet seen the article in Men's Journal nor have I spoken to James Harrison about his comments," he said. "We will discuss the situation at the appropriate time, when permitted, once the labor situation is resolved."

The sooner the lockout ends the better for the Steelers, an outfit that can't seem to steer clear of trouble in recent offseasons. If anybody in the organization is glad to see Harrison hogging the spotlight, it's probably Hines Ward, who was arrested for DUI in Georgia last weekend.

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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