Posted on: March 1, 2011 2:44 pm

NFL, NFLPA resume mediations in Washington

Posted by Will Brinson

The NFL and NFLPA resumed mediation in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday and this time around, there were a few more parties present.

Giants co-owner John Mara accompanied Roger Goodell's entourage into the session along with Falcons president Rich McKay (who's also the new head of the Competition Committee) and Redskins GM Bruce Allen.

Another difference: someone was willing to talk to the media! In this case, the NFL's lead negotiator and VP of labor, Jeff Pash.

"I don't think you could have a greater sense of urgency," said Jeff Pash, the league's lead labor negotiator. "We all know what the calendar is, and we all know what's at stake for everybody. And that's why we're here. We're going to be here as long as it takes and work as hard as we can work to get something done."

Whether something can get done remains to be seen -- there's not a tremendous sense of optimism surrounding the negotiations, particularly after the NFLPA's reported decision to decertify before the owners can lock the players out once the March 4 deadline for a new CBA occurs.

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Posted on: February 28, 2011 6:07 pm

Report: NFL owners could survive 2-year lockout

Posted by Will Brinson

There's always reason for cautious optimism surrounding an NFL work stoppage because, at some point, one of the sides is going to need some and eventually cave.

A report from CNN Money, which cites a Standard and Poor's rating agency note, pushes that point, at least for the owners, a little further out than folks would like to hear. Just how far? Two years far.

The S&P claims to have "confidential debt ratings on various stadium bonds" and "tracks teams' finances," and the primary logic behind the 2-year timeline is that the NFL owners will continue to collect revenue from television contracts.

That revenue will need to be paid back (plus interest!) if games are missed, but saving up for that payback doesn't necessarily preclude the owners from sitting tight on the cash they're bringing in and/or investing it.

Remember too that the NFL's said teams will reimburse season ticket holders for the cost of games not played. This is pretty nice of them, but it's also a pretty smart method of generating income that can be invested and/or create interest that results in, basically, free money to offset the losses needed to pay back fans and networks for games lost. (Yes, this assumes a wise investment of said money.)

Additionally, the S&P factored in a potential $900 million fund that the owners can tap into to assist clubs in surviving a prolonged lockout in the event football isn't being played.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: February 26, 2011 7:25 pm

Players will meet next week in Washington

Posted by Mike Freeman

INDIANAPOLIS -- The NFL players union does plan to decertify next week, CBSSports.com has confirmed with a variety of sources. But that is only part of the news.

Next week numerous NFL players will be at the union headquarters in Washington, D.C. as a sort of high profile union gathering. Players are expected to come into Washington from all across the country.

There are both practical and emotional reasons for this. If a deal is struck before the CBA expires on Thursday the union needs its executive members in town to ratify it. But since the chances of an agreement being reached are same as "Road House 3" being made the players will mostly come to Washington as a sort of union rally.

The union can present these players to the media once mediation, well, fails to broach a deal. The union hopes to humanize their fight. It's actually a smart strategy.

You could easily have faces like quarterback Drew Brees speaking for the union cause daily much of next week.
Both sides will resume mediation on Tuesday.

This was cross-posted from Mike Freeman's FreeStyle blog. For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed .

Category: NFL
Posted on: February 26, 2011 5:31 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2011 5:40 pm

Report: NFLPA plans to decertify Thursday

Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith (Getty) Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Even after seven days of negotiations with those representing the NFL owners and with another session scheduled for Tuesday, the NFLPA today raised the ante in the labor fight.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen are reporting that the players union, assuming there’s no progress in reaching a new CBA, plans to decertify the NFLPA on Thursday, which would preempt the owners’ ability to lock out the players.

According to Schefter and Mortensen, the union couldn’t decertify for six months if the current CBA expires, so from that aspect, it makes perfect sense why the union would make this move BEFORE the CBA is finished March 3.

A decertification also means that the NFLPA would no longer be a union, meaning the National Labor Relations Board would hold no sway over the NFL players. The owners, who have already claimed that the expected decertification meant the NFLPA was not bargaining in good faith, would challenge the decertification – which has been in the works for the past several months as each team unanimously voted for it during the season.

Decertifying also allows the players to file an injunction to keep the owners from locking them out, as well as allowing them to file an anti-trust suit against them (the latter of which could be the make-or-break moment in this labor standoff).

This was an expected leverage move by the NFLPA, and it’s not surprising in the least. But for anybody who thought the owners and the players were close to an agreement with the current CBA about to expire – though I doubt you could find ANYBODY who actually believed that – this should dispel that notion pretty quickly.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: February 24, 2011 12:17 pm

CBA mediation adjourned, 'some progress was made'

Posted by Will Brinson

The NFL and NFLPA vowed to meet in Washington, D.C. and mediate their differences for seven days. They've done just that and have now adjourned from the final day of negotiations with plans to resume the talks on Tuesday.

"Our time together has been devoted to establishing an atmosphere conducive to meaningful negotiations and, of course, matters of process and substance," Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Director George Cohen said in a statement. "I can report that throughout this extensive period the parties engaged in highly focused, constructive dialogue concerning a host of issues covering both economics and player-related conditions."

Cohen added that "some progress was made, but very strong differences remain on the all-important core issues that separate the parties."

Which is to say, all the problems involving the labor talks and impending lockout weren't solved.

But we knew that would happen -- and it confirms the report from CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman earlier Thursday that a lockout is still looming in full force.

Cohen's asked the two parties to "assess their current position on those outstanding issues" over the weekend in order to properly revisit them when the mediation resumes next week.

That probably won't be too difficult, as both sides are completely aware of where they stand with respect to the biggest issues.

Realizing where they stand isn't the hard part -- it's finding a middle ground. And while both parties are obviously at least attempting to find a method for that, there's not too much hope that can be gleaned from the first run at mediation.

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Posted on: February 23, 2011 11:26 am
Edited on: February 23, 2011 11:59 am

NFL calls for Thursday meeting of GMs, coaches

Posted by Will Brinson

A Thursday meeting of agents and the NFLPA was recently cancelled because of mediation talks in Washington, D.C., but that didn't stop the NFL from calling a meeting of general managers and coaches for Thursday in Indianapolis.

Presumably, the NFL wants to sit down with high-ranking members of its various teams and discuss precisely what's going on with the league as the deadline for a new CBA nears.

And, according to what NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told Albert Breer of the NFL Network, there's "nothing special" about this little powwow.

"It happens every year," Aiello said. "It's a normal part of the Combine, which always has meetings galore. It's not the first time. It's not a special meeting. An update on labor negotiations would be appropriate."

Per Adam Schefter of ESPN, the NFL will also detail to those in attendance what sort of activities will be allowed during a locked-out offseason, and what kind of contact will be allowed between agents and teams during that time as well.

And these are things that teams need to know, regardless of whether the NFL and NFLPA are making progress in their seven-day mediation or not. The question as to why the NFLPA cancelled its Thursday meeting can best be answered by a series of tweets from spokesman George Atallah Tuesday, when he mentioned that the "tiny minority of agents who click "FWD" on an email to the media faster than [Chris Johnson] can run the 40 is not helpful." In other words, the NFLPA didn't want to meet with a slew of agents on Thursday and have some news of the meeting -- which would likely include details of the mediation process -- leak to the media.

It's much less likely that a hand-picked group of coaches and GMs would let spill to the various members of the press the happenings of that meeting (they have much less to gain by doing so), and the NFL's got a clear-cut opportunity to sit down with folks that need to know the information in the form of the Combine. So, nothing to see here. Yet.

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Posted on: February 22, 2011 11:25 am

Labor negotiations see some changes on Day 5

Posted by Andy Benoit

Another day, another mediated labor negotiating session for the NFL. It’s now Day 5 in these sessions. Daniel Kaplan of the Sports Business Journal says he’s told ownership will be represented for the first time in these past five days. Thus far, only the NFLPA and NFL execs have been at the tables.

The ownership side does not mean the owners themselves. Albert Breer of NFL Network pointed out that Redskins front office exec Bruce Allen, for example, was seen walking through the door. Kaplan says no owners will be in the room.

What this all means is difficult to say. Some interpret the ownership side entering the discussion as “progress”. But others could say, Wait, we’re on Day Five and the owners themselves still aren’t in the room!? It’s possible the big issues – such as that $1 billion they’re quibbling over – still haven’t been broached.

Thus far the two sides have been good about keeping their discussions under wraps (though NFLPA PR rep George Atallah did do a live Ustream Q and A yesterday). That makes for better negotiating for the players and owners, but cloudier reporting for the media and fans.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: February 20, 2011 8:14 pm

Labor negotiations, Day III

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

The third day of labor negotiations between the NFL owners and the NFLPA came and went today, and still, nobody talked afterward.

But as NFL.com’s Albert Breer, who’s been braving cold weather and boredom while covering the behind-doors negotiations, points out, the two sides met for a combined 20 hours these past three days with the two sides planning to continue talks Monday as well.

Today, the two sides met for eight hours, the longest since they started on their seven-day stretch of bargaining.

Still, as per the request made by special mediator George Cohen, neither side is commenting.

"You know we're not going to give you any information," NFL outside lawyer Bob Batterman said, via the Associated Press. "I can't say anything, other than the fact that we are meeting."

Said Jets FB Tony Richardson: "Conversation is good.”

So, can we surmise anything from this? Other than the consensus that the fact the owners and the union are STILL meeting is a great sign, there’s no telling what’s going on inside the meetings.

But if you want to be cautiously optimistic, I doubt anybody will stop you.

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Category: NFL
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com