Posted on: May 13, 2011 3:54 pm
Edited on: May 13, 2011 3:54 pm

GM: '1st ACL tear' to dampen voluntary workouts?

Posted by Will Brinson

Given the current labor climate, it's been pretty impressive to see NFL players in various cities rally around the leaders of their respective teams and start firing up some offseason workouts.

But it's easy to be optimistic when nothing's going wrong -- in a piece that ran Friday, Don Banks of Sports Illustrated talked to a GM who expressed concern about the future of these workouts once a major injury happens.

"Quite honestly, I'm waiting for the first ACL tear that happens and then we'll see if anyone talks about how great this whole workout program is for these young guys," the GM said. "I just think the potential downside outweighs the benefit. I know that's probably not conventional thinking, considering the Redskins won two championships off this kind of thing. [...]

NFL Labor

"Let someone lose their quarterback for eight months because he slipped and hurt something, be it a Drew Brees, a Tom Brady or a Peyton Manning, then we'll see how fast these camps continue."

The unnamed GM is correct -- if someone who is a) extremely notable or b) angling for a new contract suffers a major injury during these workouts, they'll probably come to a quick halt.

And while freak injuries are a part of exercising (for anyone), it's worth noting that these voluntary workouts aren't exactly conducive to serious injury problems -- Brees noted that players "take a risk by being here" but also pointed out that there's "absolutely no contact."

And from the perspective of the players involved, it also helps to keep them together at a time when they appear to need unity more than ever.

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Posted on: May 13, 2011 2:58 pm
Edited on: May 13, 2011 3:02 pm

De Smith: Players 'resent being lied to'

Posted by Will Brinson

There's no shortage of vitriol coming from the NFL and the NFLPA during the current lockout. That's what happens whenever two sides are embroiled in a bitter legal battle that centers around the public's interests.

But DeMaurice Smith's comments to WFAN's Boomer and Carton on Friday morning add a whole new level of spiciness to the public chatter going on.

“The players understand the fight that they’re in,” said Smith. “Right now they don’t want to lay down and be forced to take a deal. They don’t believe that it’s fair.

"I can tell you that they resent being lied to. They resent being tricked. They resent the fact that the league has been found now twice to have violated the law. So those are the people that we’re inextricably tied to.”
NFL Labor

Yeah, that's pretty aggressive, but Smith, if you believe that the NFL purposely attempted to save up a "lockout fund" vis-a-vis television negotiations, has a point.

It's also important to note that the players -- again, if you believe what Smith says -- are as unified as they've been in the history of labor negotiations.

And that's unbelievably important when it comes to the future of football. After all, if players started caving left and right once game checks go missing, they don't stand a prayer of "winning" the labor battle. If they truly are unified to the point that they refuse to give in to the owners until they get what they deem a fair deal, we may not be seeing the end of the labor situation for some time.

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Posted on: May 12, 2011 2:20 pm

'Not a chance' NFL shuts down if lockout lifted?

Posted by Will Brinson

There's been some mention that the NFL, if it lost it's appeal on the lockout ruling, could completely shut down for business. Roger Goodell, the only real person who can answer that question, didn't deny the possibility recently.

Speaking with Mike Florio on Pro Football Talk Live!, Goodell might have even forwarded the possibility of such a shutdown.

"The only thing I’m going to say in regards to any of these rumors — there’s all kinds of reports — is that we're considering a variety of different alternatives based on the court decisions," Goodell said. "We’ll have to do that, and we’re prepared to do that, and we’re going through that process."

Of course, shutting down the NFL would go against everything Goodell and the league have pushed towards fans (caring about them, feeling confident about having a season, etc).

Which is probably why it makes sense to listen to Chris Mortensen of ESPN's report on Thursday morning that such a shutdown is not likely happening.

“As prominent NFL man says, please ignore concept being floated that NFL could shut down business if lockout lifted,” Mortensen tweeted. “Not a chance, he says.”

If correct, that's great news for everyone involved, including the NFL.

That's because trying to sell a complete shutdown of football would be an absolute public relations nightmare. Can you imagine trying to take the stance of "Well, if a lockout won't work, we're just taking our toys and going home!" and spin it in a positive fashion? It'd be impossible.

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Posted on: May 12, 2011 12:12 pm
Edited on: May 12, 2011 2:21 pm

No ruling on TV damages yet, players want $707M

Posted by Will Brinson

UPDATE (1:00 PM): According to attorney Tom Heiden, the players are seeking $707 million in damages ... as a starting point. That doesn't include treble damages or their maximum request.

Additionally, per Albert Breer of the NFL Network, Judge Doty began the hearing none too happy about actually having the hearing, as he expected a settlement by now.

"To be honest, I didn't think we'd have this hearing," Doty said."And I'm a bit disappointed we're having it."
Thursday was supposed to bring some sort of resolution regarding the current state of the NFL, as Judge David Doty was set to hear arguments from both the players and owners sides on the "TV money case" and then rule on what sort, if any, of damages to award the players.

Lest you forget, Doty recently ruled that the NFL couldn't keep the money from TV contracts negotiated in a manner that would have gotten them paid during a locked-out season.
NFL Labor

Alas, Doty, after hearing the arguments, will simply take them "under advisement" for now, meaning no ruling on the TV damages will come Thursday.

It's believed that Doty will rule some time next week -- it's also believed that Doty will rule in favor of the players, as is his modus operandi.

That doesn't make it guaranteed that he'll favor the players, and getting a ruling by next week isn't guaranteed either.

In fact, the only guarantee might be that, once Doty rules, the NFL will appeal to the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals, where the fate of the lockout currently resides. 

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Posted on: May 10, 2011 11:31 pm

'NFLPR' files odd Motion in NFL lockout appeal

Posted by Will Brinson

Perhaps the most bizarre thing to come out of the lockout yet happened on Tuesday afternoon, when an "organization" named the National Football League Players' Reserve (NFLPR) filed a Motion to Intervene in the NFL's appeal with the 8th Circuit.

This is odd because no one really seems to know what the NFLPR is, although it's described in the filing as a "separate single entity nominative fair use organization whose reference and interests pertain to collegiate rookie football players entering the ranks" of the NFL.

This is strange because, insofar as anyone can tell, there are no collegiate rookie football players associated with this organization that no one knows about.

It's even more strange because, if you try to find out about the organization, the only things you'll really run into are a suggestion to Google "NFL PR" (like NFL public relations), NFL "Power Rankings" links and a link to NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy's Twitter page (@NFLPRGuy).

Things get even weirder, though, as this motion was filed by David R. Flood, President, National Football League Players' Reserve (as well as a US Army veteran apparently). Flood, who is representing the NFLPR pro se in this matter, could not be reached for comment.

There are some odd things in the case, but for the moment they probably don't matter too much, as most reports circulating indicate that this motion is frivolous at best and will likely be either a) ignored or b) dismissed. The only reason it warrants mentioning? Because it somehow became the weirdest thing to happen in this already weird NFL labor dispute.

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Posted on: May 9, 2011 7:21 pm

Goodell personally called an unhappy Colts fan

Posted by Will Brinson

It's pretty easy, if you're a football fan or an NFL player, to be kind of upset with Roger Goodell these days. Even if it's -- as my colleague Pete Prisco wrote earlier -- not necessarily his fault.

But I tell you what -- it's impossible not to give Goodell credit for a move he pulled recently, personally calling an unhappy Colts fan/blogger.

After listening to Goodell on a conference call with Indianapolis Colts season-ticket holders, Nate Dunlevy, proprietor of Colts' blog 18to88.com, voiced his complaints about the nature of the call quite publicly.

Paul Kuharsky of ESPN wrote about Dunlevy's complaints, and that entry prompted NFL PR guy Brian McCarthy to reach out Dunlevy, got his cell phone number, and then a bit later, Goodell rang him up.

Part of the reason Dunlevy was upset was that he didn't feel the NFL fairly selected questions that were difficult enough. And Dunlevy wanted to inquire with Goodell -- who told Dunlevy to call him "Roger" -- about the recent television contract ruling.

"I asked him if he felt the NFL had behaved ethically in regards to the TV contracts, and he reiterated that he did believe the NFL had behaved in an appropriate manner and for the good of all their business partners including the players," Dunlevy writes. "He did not regret the contracts and felt they were conducted appropriately."

It's actually a pretty fascinating read, if only because, well, the commissioner randomly called a blogger to chat about his situation as a season-ticket holder and proceeds to answer a pile of his questions. (Though, I will say, the NFL has been good to the new voice of media, aside from making it really hard to embed video.)

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Posted on: May 9, 2011 4:04 pm
Edited on: May 9, 2011 4:06 pm

No lockout ruling coming Monday

Posted by Will Brinson

Here's what we know about the timing for a ruling from the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals on the current temporary stay that put the lockout back in place: it might or might not happen.

Actually, we also know it ain't happening Monday, either. That's because, according to Clerk of Court Michael Gans -- via Judy Battista of the New York Times -- the judges involved in the panel that could decide the fate of the NFL are traveling today.

So that means we get to wait (again!) and try to guess whether or not the Court of Appeals will side with the NFL or the players.

The best guess, I think, is to expect the court to stick with the NFL on the issue of any stay leadinup to the June 3 appeal date.

Logically speaking, it makes little sense to cut things wide open around the league before the ruling. If that happened and the court turned over Judge Susan Richard Nelson's ruling, then the league would be forced to re-lockout the players just a few short weeks/months after having the original lockout removed.

NFL Labor

That would be a public relations nightmare, for sure, but it would also create a really bizarre set of circumstances. Would you want your team to sign Matt Hasselbeck to a three-year, multi-million dollar deal when you don't even know when he'll get his 2011 playbook, much les if he'll even play this season? I sure wouldn't.

Then there's the whole matter of figuring out exactly what set of rules the league will operate by -- anything too restrictive, and they risk running afoul of antitrust issues, and there's a serious loss of negotiating leverage if they make their rules too lax.

Which is why it's entirely possible that we're starting to hear the rumors of new free-agency rules and even the old, shut-the-NFL-down when we lose number.

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Posted on: May 8, 2011 8:28 pm
Edited on: May 9, 2011 11:52 am

LaRussa, Flutie daughters are NFL cheerleaders

Posted by Will Brinson

Apparently, the hip new thing for ladies of famous sportspeople in America is to join an NFL cheerleading squad.

Or, we just have two random aberrations on our hands with the daughters of Doug Flutie and Tony LaRussa signing up for the Patriots and Raiders squads, respectively.

LaRussa's daughter, Bianca, tried out for the Raiders back in mid-April and tweeted the news that she'd made the squad, along with the photo you see to the right.

"A goal and a dream come true- I'm a 2011 Raiderette! I'm so excited to rep an organization that does so much good," Bianca tweeted.

Flutie's daughter, on the other hand, will be suiting up for the Patriots -- as Chris Chase pointed out at Shutdown Corner , it's kind of surprising that Flutie has a 23-year-old daughter.

Not because 27-years-old is a weird age to start having kids (it's not), but because for those of us who remember Wade Phillips yanking him just in time for the "Music City Miracle" suddenly feel old as hell.

Of course, that's not as bad as working on this post mid-airplane-flight and having the passengers around me wondering and/or judging whatever semi-creepy thing I do for a living. (A: Blogging!)

But I digress -- here's a pic of the lovely young Ms. Flutie, the reigning Miss Massachusetts, with the rest of her fellow Patriot cheerleaders, courtesy of Boston.com .

And now you see why my fellow passengers were glaring, which is exactly the same thing that many an NFL fan will do next year, probably to the chagrin of LaRussa and Flutie.

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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