Tag:NFL Lockout
Posted on: March 15, 2011 2:52 pm

Possible draft boycott gets more interesting

Posted by Andy Benoit

While not important in the big scheme of things on the legal and business side, the issue of whether rookies will attend the 2011 Draft at Radio City Music Hall is potentially the most interesting storyline in this current labor fiasco. We’re talking about a high profile television event and an issue that all fans understand. R. Goodell (US Presswire)

Thus far, the NFLPA has received backlash for reportedly encouraging rookies to boycott the event. Thus, it’s no surprise that they clarified their side of the story on Tuesday.

“Let me also correct the record: the NFLPA is not asking anyone to ‘boycott’ anything. NFL Draft in particular,” spokesman George Atallah said. “The NFL Draft is special. Players and their families will be in NYC.  It just may be different. We will provide details when we can.”
Atallah’s comments seem to imply that the union could hold a separate draft party for players. But for right now, the public views this as just another form of boycott.

The NFL loves this backlash. And they’d love nothing more than to see the Radio City Music Hall green room full of first-round draft picks during the April 28 primetime event. Not only would player attendance make for better television, it would also be a nice PR feather in the league’s cap. You’d have future members of the NFLPA shaking hands with the commissioner. (Can’t you picture NFL executives flashing smug smiles in the direction of union executives while first-round picks embrace Roger Goodell in front of a legion of cameras?)

But the tables could soon turn in this PR battle if Sports Illustrated’s Peter King’s hunch is correct about what the NFLPA might have in store. King suggests the union event could feature rookies hearing their name called, coming up on stage and being greeted by their new teammates. If the NFLPA could pull that off, the effects could be huge.

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King quotes one high profile agent as saying, "What is the first round of the draft for the NFL? It's a TV show, a show that makes the league a lot of money. They're going to be asking young men to shake the hand of a commissioner [Roger Goodell] who is trying to lock them out. They're going to be asking young men to help the league put on this big TV production. And I can tell you this: There're a few quarterbacks who could get picked high in this draft and the NFL will invite to New York. All those quarterbacks would do by attending the draft for the NFL is giving DeMarcus Ware more incentive to knock their blocks off the first time they line up across the line of scrimmage from him.''

Think about the dilemma it would give ESPN. They’re a television partner of the NFL. Would they be willing to provide live coverage to the NFL’s competing event?

Thus, it’s no surprise that when LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson’ said he’d like to attend the draft, the league featured the story on NFLLabor.com.

“I heard about (the potential boycott),” Peterson said. “No one has contacted me to go to New York or not go to New York. I would like to go if possible. That’s what you play football for.

“That’s a big moment to go up there and shake the commissioner’s hand and get that jersey and hat. It means a lot. I definitely want to go and no one has told me not to go. So, we’ll see what happens.”

That’s something everyone is interested in seeing.

Posted on: March 15, 2011 1:48 pm
Edited on: March 15, 2011 3:09 pm

Adrian Peterson sounds off on owners

Posted by Andy Benoit

UPDATE 3:00 p.m. EST: We held off on passing along Peterson's most explosive comment from this interview because there was initially a bit of confusion regarding the validity of the quote. Farrar included it in his original interview, but removed it soon after. But he later acknowledged that Peterson said it.

And what was it he said, exactly?  Referring to the owners' business arrangement with players, Peterson said, "It's modern-day slavery, you know? People kind of laugh at that, but there are people working at regular jobs who get treated the same way, too."

Doug Farrar of Yahoo! Sports Shutdown Corner scored a one-on-one interview with Adrian Peterson  just minutes after the NFLPA decertified, which means he caught the Vikings running back in a state of high emotion. Sure enough, Farrar’s interview with Peterson produced some gold.

Here is an excerpt; the whole interview was published Tuesday afternoon:

SC: We're talking about 15 minutes after the NFLPA sent in the paperwork to decertify, so the lockout's on everybody's minds. I've talked to a lot of players about this recently, and I always ask the same question — what is the message you want to get out to the people who love the game and are tired of hearing all the labor talk?

AP: We're business-minded, also. It's not just fun and games. A lot of football players, whether it's Sunday or Monday night — we're out there on the field, competing, hitting each other. But people don't see everything else behind it. It's a job for us, too — every day of the week. We're in different states, sometimes thousands of miles away from our families and kids, and a lot of people don't look at it like that. All some people see is, 'Oh, we're not going to be around football.' But how the players look at it … the players are getting robbed. They are. The owners are making so much money off of us to begin with. I don't know that I want to quote myself on that…

SC: It's nothing that I haven't heard from other players, believe me.

AP: People kind of laugh at that, but there are people working at regular jobs who get treated the same way, too. With all the money … the owners are trying to get a different percentage, and bring in more money. I understand that; these are business-minded people. Of course this is what they are going to want to do. I understand that; it's how they got to where they are now. But as players, we have to stand our ground and say, 'Hey — without us, there's no football.' There are so many different perspectives from different players, and obviously we're not all on the same page — I don't know. I don't really see this going to where we'll be without football for a long time; there's too much money lost for the owners. Eventually, I feel that we'll get something done.

But this crazy idea about an 18-game season … I'm sure they want more entertainment and more revenue, but we're not going to see a pinch of that (the increased revenue), and it's just the business we're in.

SC: It seems to most of the players that if the owners had nothing to hide financially, and if the current business model was as unsustainable as they claim, they'd have no trouble opening the books and showing audited profit and loss per team. Is that your impression?

AP: Exactly! It's like … 'Well, show us.' We want more information, and they want to bull****, going around, saying this and that, just open it up and give us the information we want. If they have nothing to hide, just give us the information. Why not? Obviously, there's a lot to hide -- these guys are professionals, and they're maximizing what they do. But they know that if all this information comes out, the information the players want, it'll be right out there for everyone to see. It's a rip off — not just for the players, but for the people who work at the concession stands and at the stadiums. The people working at the facilities, you know?

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Posted on: March 13, 2011 10:14 pm
Edited on: March 13, 2011 11:19 pm

2011 could wind up being an uncapped year

Posted by Andy Benoit

At some point in the near future, the NFL is going to establish some rules for doing business in 2011. That point could be fairly soon if the injunction request issued by players in their antitrust lawsuit is granted.

In that case, league-wide business would resume (not quite business as usual, but business nonetheless). Most importantly, free agency would begin.

Mark Maske of the Washington Post writes, “Sources from throughout the sport on both sides of the dispute said over the weekend that the system the league would enact at that point would be very likely to be the same system that was in effect last season, when there was no salary cap in the final year of the just-expired labor agreement between the NFL and the players’ union.”

The 2010 uncapped rules would mean no salary floor, as well. Players with expired contracts would need six years of NFL service in order to reach unrestricted free agency, which means a significantly dwindled free agent class. Each team would also have an extra transition tag (in addition to the one franchise tag and transition tag) and teams that reached the divisional round of the 2010 postseason would have limitation places on their ability to sign free agents.

Maske writes, “The reason that system would be used, sources said, is that it might have a better chance of withstanding an antitrust challenge by the players, given that the union previously agreed to those rules for an uncapped year in collective bargaining.”

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Category: NFL
Posted on: March 13, 2011 2:03 pm

Broncos say they're willing to open their books

Posted by Andy Benoit

Well, it might be a moot point now (or at least for now), but the NFLPA knows it can access at least two teams’ books: the Green Bay Packers (a publicly owned team whose books were opened months ago) and the Denver Broncos.

The union likely knew it could view the Broncos’ books during negotations last week; team president Joe Ellis told Mike Klis of the Denver Post that the club offered to show its financial data, but the union didn’t want to take a look.

NFL Labor

"We offered to show the union league-wide and club profitability data," Ellis said. "Not only that it can be verified by a mutually agreed upon third-party auditor. This is the type of information we don't share with each other. In other words, we aren't allowed to see how other teams are doing specifically in terms of revenues and expenses. Everything is very formalized in terms of information we get from other clubs. Now the union didn't even want to look at it."

"If the league decides they want to open up the books of the Denver Broncos to present them to the union — I don't know if the league is into identifying individual clubs because they're private businesses," Ellis said. "But with a neutral (auditor) to verify the fact that certain teams haven't been operating as effectively as they did in the past, we're a willing and able participant.'”

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Posted on: March 8, 2011 10:07 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2011 10:14 am

CBA talks from Tuesday: books not opened enough

Posted by Andy Benoit

Negotiations between the NFL and NFLPA on a new CBA may have hit a snag Tuesday. Or, better stated, they remained snagged. Judy Batista of the New York Times says that the union has rejeS. Fujita (US Presswire)cted the NFL’s offer to share more financial data.

This is nothing new. The NFLAP has been pining to see the owners’ financial books for two years. On Monday, owners indicated for the first time that they might be willing to share more financial information with union officials than what is required.

But that’s still not enough for the NFLPA. Batista writes, “One person involved in the negotiations called full financial disclosure a potential “silver bullet” in the negotiations.”

Reviewing the books is not necessarily common practice in labor negotiations. But since taking over, union leader DeMaurice Smith has argued that the uncommon circumstance of owners asking the players to take $1 billion less in revenue warrants such transparency.

NFLPA executive committee member Scott Fujita (Browns linebacker) said in a conference call that the data owners have offered up thus far has not been sufficient.

“It’s tough when you’ve got basically just a brief summary or a snapshot of all the information. That doesn’t satisfy what any competent business person would want to see.”

Both sides remained at the bargaining table on Tuesday and are expected to resume discussions Wednesday.

The negotiations Tuesday were said to center more around drug testing policy and offseason camps. Thus, the issue of dividing up that $9 billion in revenue remains, well, the most dividing issue.

NFL Labor

The NFLPA is dead serious about their demands to see the owners’ books. They’ve even gone so far as to hire an investment bank for a potential audit. That investment bank (which has not been specified) has gotten a glimpse of the past two years worth of financial statement summaries from owners but is said to need more information.

Make no mistake: splitting up the $9 billion in revenue is the key issue in these CBA talks. From the union’s perspective, financial transparency is the only avenue to those talks going further.


UPDATE Wednesday 10:15 a.m. EST: On his way into Wednesday’s negotiations, NFL lead negotiator Jeff Pash said to NFL Network reporter Albert Breer that the league has made more financial info available to the union than ever before, and more than is even available to the clubs.

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Posted on: March 7, 2011 10:38 am

Matt Birk responds to Obama's remarks

Posted by Andy Benoit

President Obama has essentially indicated that he will not be choosing sides in the NFL’s labor negotiations. Asked about it last week, he said, “You’ve got owners, most of whom are worth close to a billion dollars. You’ve got players who are making millions of dollars. People are having to cut back, compromise and worry about making mortgage [payments]. . . . The two parties should be able to work it out without the President of the United States intervening. . . . [F]or an industry that’s making $9 billion a year in revenue, they can figure out how to divide it up in a sensible way.”

Matt Birk, the Ravens’ Harvard-educated center, took a little exception to the President’s words. “He talked about the NFL being $9 billion, which is correct, but he kind of said it a little bit sarcastic,” Birk said, via the Baltimore Sun. “I mean, the U.S. government brings in a couple trillion [dollars], don’t you think they’d know how to balance the budget? . . . .

“And ‘millionaire players’ isn’t really correct.  Most NFL players are not millionaires.  They don’t make millions of dollars.  But that’s OK.  You know what, that kind of right there is the general feeling. . . .  Billionaires and millionaires and nobody really cares about their problems. ‘Work it out.’”

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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 5, 2011 1:37 pm

One hidden impact of a lockout

Posted by Andy Benoit

One of the many hidden consequences of a lockout would be the loss of offseason workout programs for players (not referring to minicamps here, though those would go to; referring to simple everyday lifts and cardio activities sanctioned by the team). The loss of these programs is often trumpeted as a plus. (Players get a break! There are too many scheduled workouts anyway!)

The reality is, the players are professional athletes, and a big part of being a successful professional athlete is, you know, actually being in shape. Nine times out of ten, the best way for a player to be in tip top shape is to workout at his team’s facility. Working out on your alma mater’s campus with former college teammates is great, but NFL clubs have copious resources and employ some of the best strength training experts in the business.

Tim McMahon of ESPN Dallas shrewdly pointed this out in a recent article listing three reasons the Cowboys can’t afford to endure a lockout this offseason. McMahon’s third reason was the lost opportunity for players to work with strength and conditioning coach Mike Woicik. (If you’re curious, Dez Bryant’s development and the installation of Rob Ryan’s defense were the other two reasons.)

McMahon writes, ”The six-time Super Bowl champion strength coach’s return to Valley Ranch might have been the most underpublicized major move in the NFL so far this offseason. This is a man who helped build the teams of the last two decades, winning three titles with the Cowboys in the ‘90s and three more with the Patriots since 2000. He was recently voted the NFL’s top strength coach by his peers. But his credentials are irrelevant if he can’t work with the players this offseason.”

There are a handful of players in the NFL, Cowboys and non-Cowboys, who have enough trouble as it is staying in shape during the offseason. A lockout would only exacerbate their issues.

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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