Tag:CBA
Posted on: December 9, 2011 9:06 am
Edited on: December 9, 2011 9:09 am
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NFL: Union 'stalling' on HGH; NFLPA wants clarity

By Will Brinson



The NFL was supposed to have Human Growth Hormone (HGH) testing by the time the 2011 season kicked off, but a difference of opinion between the league and union on the transparency of testing remains a critical sticking point.

Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the NFL and NFLPA agreed only to "discuss and develop" -- not to actually implement -- a plan for HGH testing in the NFL. So even though the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is prepared to begin testing, until the union approves the testing procedure, there's little the league can do outside of posture to make testing a reality.

The NFLPA wants to see the specifics of WADA's population studies as they relate to the organization's test. WADA believes their basic test for HGH is an acceptable standard already. And the NFL thinks the union is simply "stalling."

"There is no debate among the experts about the validity of the test," NFL VP of communications Greg Aiello told CBSSports.com Thursday. "The union is simply continuing to engage in stalling tactics."

The NFLPA's argument isn't against the validity of the test, however, but rather the transparency involved in creating the baseline standards for determining what players took HGH.

"Nobody knows what goes into the WADA standard of how they adjudicate players who have apparently or been told they take HGH," NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith said recently at NFLPA headquarters. "So if we are going to go to a system where our guys are going to be measured against a standard we can't see and a standard that we can't challenge, if you were in my job would you recommend doing that? No."


Because HGH is a naturally occurring substance within the human body, testing whether or not an individual is using the hormone anabolically isn't as simple as drawing blood and detecting a presence of HGH. It exists in the bodies and blood of NFL fans as much as it does NFL players.

The issue at hand for the NFL and NFLPA, then, is determining what the baseline level of HGH in a "normal" football players is, and then using that to move forward in testing players. One problem -- WADA not only will not provide a separate population study for NFL players, but the organization believes the NFLPA's running with ulterior motives when it comes to roadblocking the test.

"The players are making a very good go of trying to say it is a problem by not agreeing to be tested. I would have thought if there wasn't a problem, they would say, 'Hey, test us,'" WADA director general David Howman said at a recent anti-doping conference. "If you've got nothing to hide, open up."

According to Smith, however, the players did offer to "open up," and test NFL players to create a separate population study by which to judge players who test positive.

"We said, fine, if you don't want to turn over that information, here's what we'll do," Smith said. "We will test the players themselves, create our own population study, where we can know it, we can see it and we can see the standard. And then after that we can see the standard and we will know whether or not that standard is applicable and we can ensure that standard is scientifically reliable."

WADA declined the NFLPA's offer, in part, because the organization believes its current test ("in operation since 2004" according to WADA's Senior Manager Media Relations and Communications Terence O'Rourke) provides an acceptable standard by which to measure the level of HGH in any athlete, including football players.

"Based on the concept of the test, there is no reason to believe that American footballers behave any differently than the tens of thousands of athletes being subject to this HGH test," O'Rourke told CBSSports.com. "Please note that this individual information has no bearing on the validity of the test. That is why there is absolutely no point in conducting another sample study."

Complicating the problem is the appeals process for players who test positive for HGH. If the news is discovered (and/or the player is suspended), there's already a public backlash waiting to happen. And as we've seen with numerous instances of cycling over the past few years, positive tests can devolved into ugly he-said-type public-relations battles.

The good news is that there's an available remedy.

"Athletes do NOT appeal to WADA, they appeal either to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) or, at national level, to a suitable independent and impartial body as outlined in Article 13.2.2 of the [World Anti-Doping Code]," O'Rourke told CBSSports.com. (You can find the code here in .PDF format.)

If the parties involved were able to reach a comprimise on what might qualify as a "suitable independent and impartial body" there's a chance the implementation of HGH testing could be expedited.

But as we've seen with player discipline, finding an impartial group of people who don't have an opinion about the NFL one way or another is a pretty difficult thing to do.

So as it stands right now, there's little chance that the NFL sees HGH testing in the immediate future, with the 2011 season almost entirely off the table at this point.

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Posted on: September 13, 2011 9:39 pm
Edited on: September 13, 2011 10:15 pm
 

Retired players file lawsuit against NFLPA

Carl Eller is one of the plaintiffs suing the NFLPA (US Presswire).Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Just because the NFL lockout is over and the owners and players have signed a new CBA (without, mind you, agreeing to HGH testing), that doesn’t mean the lawsuits have stopped.

No, not in regards to the former NFL players who believe they helped make the current NFL what it is today and also feel like they’re getting screwed in the aftermath.

Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel reports the latest, as a group of 28 former players, including Hall of Famers like Carl Eller (pictured at right), Chuck Bednarik and Elvin Bethea, have filed a lawsuit against the NFLPA, union executive director DeMaurice Smith, and Tom Brady and Mike Vrabel, two of the plaintiffs from the lockout lawsuit.

The suit -- filed in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis -- states that when the NFLPA decertified last March, the players were in no position to bargain for and agree to the benefits for the retired players, and as Wetzel writes, the players want a declaration that “the ‘right to negotiate with the League the rights and benefits for NFL retirees’ rests with the Eller plaintiffs.”

The veterans’ attorney Michael Hausfeld said this lawsuit does not affect the current labor peace but that the former players want to readjust the benefits they’ve received in the new CBA.

Said Hausfeld: "The retirees rights were sacrificed for the benefit of the active players.”

Why this continues to come about, I think, is a general feeling of disrespect from the current players to those who came before them. That’s the sense I got from former Oilers quarterback Dan Pastorini when CBSSports.com spoke to him recently. Even with the $620 million Legacy Fund created by the NFL and the NFLPA in the new CBA, the players obviously feel that doesn’t adequately compensate them for their sacrifices in the past.

“I think it’s a travesty the way they treat the older players,” Pastorini said. “I’m part of that group. They’re throwing us a bone with the $620 million. By the time they get to a new CBA after 10 years, they won’t have to worry about us pre-(19)93er’s. It’s sad, but it’s their M.O. They want to wait for us to die.

“What they’re talking about now is to give us a bone and to shut us up. It’s just wrong. It’s damn wrong. And the players association is just as greedy as the owners are, if not more so. The players don’t go to bat for us, which makes us ashamed.”

Although some current players, like Saints quarterback Drew Brees, have advocated for the retirees, the general feeling of discontent still lingers. Now, the former players are hoping the court system will bestow upon them the relief they feel the NFLPA hasn’t given to them.

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Posted on: August 31, 2011 8:26 am
 

Dan Pastorini feels let down by NFL, NFLPA

Dan Pastorini is upset with the way he feels been treated by the NFL and the NFLPA (US Presswire).Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Dan Pastorini is mad. He’s mad at the NFL owners. He’s mad at the NFL Players Association. And he’s mad at Drew Brees.

“F--- Drew Brees,” Pastorini said.

Pastorini is mad at the way he feels he and his former NFL compatriots have been treated, and though Brees isn’t the true villain in this movie, he’s also an easy target for something he said two years ago.

Pastorini looks at the new CBA deal and figures out how much more money he’ll receive as a player who retired before 1993. He remembers how much he made when he was playing quarterback for the Oilers, Rams, Raiders and Eagles from 1971-82. Then, he thinks about the NFL Players Association and the NFL owners -- and the labor fight for which he couldn’t participate -- and his blood boils.

He gets mad, really mad, and he lets loose on a rant in which he places blame on both sides who he believes simply doesn’t care about the men who helped build the NFL into what it is today.

The $620 million “Legacy Fund” added to the new CBA for the players who retired before 1993 that will be used to increase pensions? And the $300 million in other benefits, including those for health? It’s simply not good enough for Pastorini. Not good enough for how much he says he sacrificed.

“I’m going to get an extra $1,000 a month. Big f------ deal,” the 62-year-old Pastorini told CBSSports.com recently. “I think it’s a travesty the way they treat the older players. I’m part of that group. They’re throwing us a bone with the $620 million. By the time they get to a new CBA after 10 years, they won’t have to worry about us pre-93er’s. It’s sad, but it’s their M.O. They want to wait for us to die.

“What they’re talking about now is to give us a bone and to shut us up. It’s just wrong. It’s damn wrong. And the players association is just as greedy as the owners are, if not more so. The players don’t go to bat for us, which makes us ashamed.”

And what Brees said in 2009 when discussing retired players who complained about their benefits -- as recounted here by CBSSports.com’s Mike Freeman -- really upsets Pastorini.

“There's some guys out there that have made bad business decisions,” Brees said then. “They took their pensions early because they never went out and got a job. They've had a couple divorces and they're making payments to this place and that place. And that's why they don't have money. And they're coming to us to basically say, 'Please make up for my bad judgment.' In that case, that's not our fault as players."

It might have seemed Brees was talking directly to Pastorini, who’s had to declare bankruptcy twice and has been divorced after ending his one-time Pro Bowl career. Clearly, Pastorini feels that Brees -- who is making $7.4 million this year and could be the next quarterback to win a $90 million contract -- made it personal.

“My first year’s salary was $25,000, then $30,000, then $35,000,” Pastorini said. “These guys make my first contract in a game. Look at (former NFLPA executive director) Gene Upshaw and what he left his wife when he died? How did he leave her $15 million? They’ve been screwing us from day one. My pension was $1,100 a month, then $1,200, then $1,400, and now it’ll be $1,750. No medical, no disability -- $1700 doesn’t even pay for my rent.”

Not surprisingly, the NFL has a slightly different opinion.

Said NFL spokesman Greg Aiello in a statement to CBSSports.com: “We respectfully disagree with Dan.” The NFLPA declined comment on the issue.

But let’s look at the other side of the story. Before the newest CBA, the Legacy Fund didn’t exist. The NFL and the NFLPA are both contributing at least $300 million over the next 10 years to add more money for former players. If it’s $1,000 more a month for a retiree, that’s $1,000 more than that former player had before.

And though Brees’ statement continues to backfire on him and the union, those close to Brees says he was one of the retired players’ biggest advocates in trying to give back to the players who came before him -- and to get everybody to understand the importance of doing so. Witness a radio interview he gave last April to XX 1090 in San Diego.

“I know that I’m fighting for so many people here, for former players in the form of improving their pensions and disability benefits to take care of those guys that built this game for us and future players too,” he said. “To be honest with you, this is one of those things that when a settlement is reached, that settlement is something that I’m probably never going to benefit from. It’s guys before me, it’s guys that are going to come after me. So for me, there’s so many guys that made sacrifices before us to make this game better.”

Dan Pastorini with Bum Phillips, Wade Phillips and Bob McNair (Getty). Pastorini (second from the left in the photo to the left) has good reason to want better medical benefits as well. With so much newly emerging information about chronic traumatic encephalopathy, Pastorini is worried that he’s going to be suffering from the dementia-like condition if he lives long enough.

“I’ve been to clinics. I’ve been put on vitamin regimens. I find myself not remembering people’s names,” said Pastorini, who said he sustained at least a dozen concussions when he played. “I’ll go to the kitchen for a cup of coffee, and I can’t remember why I went in there. It’s possible I have that. I won’t know until they cut my brain open.”

Pastorini isn’t alone in his thoughts. During Super Bowl week in Dallas, the NFL Alumni held a press conference that featured former players who were fighting -- and outspoken in their demand -- for better pension benefits and long-term health care.

But in reality, what can the NFL and the NFLPA say to fully satisfy the league’s alumni? Probably nothing, and to their credit, both sides feel like they’ve tried to improve the conditions for the retirees. But to Pastorini, it’s just not good enough.

“There’s a lot of greed in this business,” Pastorini said. “We’re the guys on the outside looking in, and we’re never going to be compensated for what we do. We built the game, and these guys should be kissing our ass now. But they’re not.”

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Posted on: August 25, 2011 9:06 am
Edited on: August 25, 2011 10:40 am
 

Still no agreement on HGH testing

Goodell, SmithPosted by Josh Katzowitz

Lost in all the hubbub of the preseason (We’ve got football back, y’all!) and the back-patting that came out with the emergence of the new CBA was that there were still some unresolved issues that the owners and the newly-reformed players union would have to negotiate and agree upon before everybody could truly move forward.

One of those issues is the introduction of HGH testing.

The NFL has thought along that the testing for human growth hormone was necessary, and Roger Goodell was touting all the way back in March that the owners were “going to ensure it gets done.” The NFLPA, on the other hand, has gone on record as far back as 2006, saying testing for HGH (involving taking blood from players) was too invasive.

On Wednesday, the two sides met with the World Anti-Doping Agency in Montreal, and as the Washington Post writes, the NFLPA was unsatisfied with how blood testing on players would be conducted. Naturally, no agreement has been reached, and the union still has questions about the reliability of the tests and what kind of rights the players have not to be stuck with needles.

HGH Testing
“We have an obligation as a union to protect the integrity of the game,” said George Atallah, an NFLPA spokesman. “But we are disappointed in the lack of transparency related to the fundamental information required to begin HGH testing … As soon as there is a fair, safe and reliable testing protocol that’s rooted in science” the union will agree to testing.

The “rooted in science” quote is interesting, considering David Howman, the WADA director general, told the Post that “all the scientists in the room” thought the testing process was clear-cut and that the union was taking “a very strange approach” to the issue if the players, in fact, want HGH testing.

As CBSSports.com’s Mike Freeman writes today, “For a system to be inserted it had to be done by the season opener. Well, according to one official close to the talks, that seems unlikely. Things could easily change and the two sides still have several weeks to work something out but the union remains unconvinced, I'm told, about the accuracy of the test.”

Do the players even want testing? I’m not sure. The union might talk a good game about having to clean up football and making sure nobody is gaining an unfair advantage by using HGH. But the NFLPA has been very slow to come around on this issue, and you have to wonder what exactly it will take for the union to give its OK to HGH testing.

If the World Anti-Doping Agency can’t convince the NFLPA, what will?

UPDATED (10:33 a.m. ET): To answer that question, perhaps we can glean the answer from this passage in an APstory (emphasis mine).
Among those representing the union were outside counsel Maurice Suh, who represented disgraced cyclist Floyd Landis, who was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France win for doping, and scientists Paul Scott, Tim Roberts and Dennis Crouch of Aegis Lab in Nashville.

The NFLPA had asked WADA for information on how the testing works, the rate of reliability and for data on the safety of the HGH test. The person said none of that information was made available Wednesday.

Another person familiar with the talks, however, said Scott, Roberts and Crouch were given an opportunity to ask questions after getting a summary of data from WADA, but did not.

According to a CBSSports.com source, the NFLPA asked for this information (how the test works and other data points) weeks ago but has yet to receive an answer. That apparently is the big reason why the NFLPA is still hesitant to agree to this kind of testing right now.

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Posted on: August 18, 2011 5:33 pm
 

Owners haven't forgotten about 18-game schedule

BisciottiPosted by Josh Katzowitz

In case you thought the owners were just going to forget about a proposed 18-game schedule simply because the players successfully tabled that discussion from the recently-signed CBA, that doesn’t mean the issue still isn’t on at least one owner’s mind (and probably on the mind of every owner and commissioner Roger Goodell).

"I think it became such a flashpoint, that our negotiating team figured that it wasn't worth pushing," said Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, via the Carroll County Times. "What we did as a show of faith was to go from what we had as a unilateral opportunity to impose 18 games in the old CBA, we agreed to let it become a negotiating point with the union going forward. Nobody likes things being forced on them, and the fact that the old CBA made it clear that we could impose it on them, I think that it kind of made them angrier that they didn't feel like they were getting heard.

"We felt that it was in our players' best interests to leave it out of this fight and open it up for negotiation a year or two from now and see what the additional revenue would be so that they're making a decision with eyes wide open."

As CBSSports.com’s Clark Judge pointed out last month, an 18-game schedule could begin by 2013 if the players agreed to it. Even if it seems like hardly anybody, but the NFL, is interested in pursuing it or watching it.

Obviously, this is an issue that has been hovering over the labor negotiations for the past few years, and the players were adamant about not getting a new schedule included in the latest CBA. Here was my interview with Bengals T Andrew Whitworth way back in June 2010 about this very subject:

CBSSports.com: Lots of talk today and yesterday about the 18-game schedule. What are your thoughts?

Andrew Whitworth: We want to do anything to make the game better for the fans. If an 18-game schedule will do that, that would be great. But there’s also some things player-wise and health-wise that might be an issue. We feel like if we’re going to have to do that, there has to be some things that change as far as the offseason and training camp.

CBS: Are you talking about just the offseason stuff, or are you also talking about increased health care?

AW: You have to do one of two things; you have to improve the situation now with improving the OTAs or during the season where there’s less contact or you’ve got to attack the health-care issue and give the guys better health care when they’re done. Right now, with most players, even if they play 15 years, they only have -- at the most -- five year of health care. That’s kind of ridiculous what guys go through.

CBS: Do you think the 18-game schedule will happen?

AW: I think the owners definitely want it. I know they’ve prepared for it in their future schedules from what I’ve seen. It’s something they’ll go forward with. But there has to be other things that improve for that to happen.


In the new CBA, the owners gave the players health care for life, and they’ve lessened the offseason workout schedule as well, all in the name of player health. So, it’s not like the players can say the owners don’t care about the well-being of their employees (they even changed the kickoff rules!).

But at some point, it seems inevitable that an 18-game schedule will be part of the NFL season. Remember, Colts president Bill Polian called an 18-game season “fait accompli.” But, like Judge points out, we still can’t figure out how the league can claim to care so much about player safety and then add two more games to the schedule. It doesn’t make sense.

Unless, we’re discussing what the NFL really cares about: money. Then, it makes all the sense in the world.

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Posted on: August 4, 2011 6:40 pm
Edited on: August 4, 2011 8:00 pm
 

NFL players ratify new CBA: We have football

Posted by Ryan Wilson

After a brief scare Wednesday, when it appeared that the new collective bargaining agreement wouldn't be ratified on time, CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman reports that the players ratified the agreement with the owners as planned Thursday afternoon, which (theoretically) guarantees labor peace for the next decade.

"While Roger Goodell had some of his on-field control curtailed, a high ranking union official told me, he maintains his power over the personal conduct policy," Freeman wrote Thursday.

"Also, the two sides agreed to implement an [human growth hormone] testing policy making the NFL the first professional American sports league to test for HGH with union consent. It is expected that testing will begin once the season starts."

We mentioned previously that the league was on board with HGH testing even if NFLPA spokesman George Atallah said as recently as Tuesday that “The players have not agreed to any comprehensive drug testing proposal.”

Clearly, the two sides found middle ground.

In terms of what a ratified CBA means for actual football, those players who signed contracts on or after July 26 (and were subsequently forced to watch practices from the sidelines until the new league year officially began with the ratification), finally joined their teammates on the field Thursday afternoon.

Also worth noting: the Steelers voted "no" to CBA ratification "to make statement," according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette, and it wasn't a complete surprise. On Wednesday, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Scott Brown reported that "Steelers players, frustrated over the lack of movement on the NFL conduct policy, may not ratify" the CBA due to "several issues, including the latitude NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has in levying fines, which could not be negotiated until the players re-certified as a union."

The Steelers player representative, Ryan Clark, was outspoken on the matter Wednesday.

"A big issue for us is Roger Goodell having absolute control over the fines system, judge, jury and appeals," Clark said. "I think for a lot of teams it wouldn`t be as big a deal but for us it is. We`re the team that gets fined the most and we play a brand of football that, sometimes, subjects us to his opinion. That`s something that really hasn`t been talked about this. "For us, with Roger Goodell having total control over the fine process, that`s a deal breaker for us in that situation."

And if the CBA hadn't been ratified today? "The settlement of the players’ antitrust lawsuit against the owners would have been voided and the owners could have shuttered the league again," writes Bloomberg's Curtis Eichelberger.

So, yes, welcome back, football. We missed you.

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Posted on: August 4, 2011 11:52 am
Edited on: August 4, 2011 11:57 am
 

Top 10 CBSSports quotes from insane NFL 10 days

Posted by Tim Cary

(Ed. Note: Tim's our social media editor here at the Eye and he did a fantastic job of compiling the 10-best quotes from our stable of stupendous NFL writers over the past 10 days. His post -- and the collection -- is below. But, Tim, really, No. 9?)

Has there ever been a crazier time in NFL history?

CBSSports.com has been bursting at the seams the last couple of weeks as football came back with a bang – from lockout stakeouts…to the free agency frenzy…to training camps opening with half-full rosters…the NFL beat has been anything but slow since the CBA vote.

Unless reading our site is your full-time job, I can pretty much guarantee that you weren’t able to read everything our NFL staff wrote. (Actually, reading CBSSports.com is my full-time job and I’m sure I missed a story or two somewhere.)

So to help you out, we recap the wildest 10 days in NFL history (starting after the owners approved the CBA in Atlanta) with the top 10 quotes from the dozens of articles, blogs, and columns we published between July 22 and August 1.

Without further ado…

10. Story: Randy Moss retires. Hall of Fame awaits, hopes to avoid full moon on induction night.
Quote (Pete Prisco): “Once again I have to remind my righteous peers that it isn't the Life Hall of Fame. It's the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and there is no denying [Moss] should be there, no matter what you think about him.”

9. Story: Jets enlist movie star to recruit Nnamdi Asomugha. Asomugha apparently doesn’t like movies, signs with Eagles.
Quote (Will Brinson): “Is Adam Sandler really the most famous Jets fan that Ryan could call on?”

8. Story: Decade of guaranteed labor peace makes everyone except UFL commissioner happy.
Quote (Pete Prisco): “Lockout is now officially the most-hated word for NFL fans, surpassing officiating.
It's also a word that doesn't have to matter for another 10 years. By then, Peyton Manning will have broken all of Brett Favre's records, DeMaurice Smith might be running for the Oval Office and the NFL might have rules fining players just for tackling.”

7. Story: After more than a month of hearing that “a deal is close”, the deal is finally done. Merriam Webster immediately and permanently removes all synonyms of “close” from the dictionary (including “near”, “almost”, “on the verge”, “virtually”, “on the cusp”, “practically”, “imminent”, “around the corner”, “basically”, “at the brink of”, and 206 other variations).
Quote (Mike Freeman): “Do the owners and players deserve credit for saving themselves? I don't know. Does a man deserve credit for throwing himself into a swimming pool knowing he can't swim?”

6. Story: NFL owners approve deal. NFL players take their good old time. Because they can.
Quote (Pete Prisco): “After scanning the details of the NFL owners' proposal for a new labor deal, I have some advice for DeMaurice Smith.
Race to get that thing approved.
When [the deal gets done], Smith should put on the championship belt. He knocked the snot out of the owners with a nasty right hook to the head.”

5. Story: Lockout ends. Much hugging ensues. David Stern purchases new best-selling book by Jeffrey Kessler entitled “How To Decertify A Union And Still Make It Home For Lunch”.
Quote (Clark Judge): [Lawyers for the NFL and NFLPA] scored a bigger haul than Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II. Based on the billing hours accrued for over 130 days of a lockout, I figure each attorney has enough money now to make a down payment on the state of Texas.

4. Story: While NFL general managers prepare for free agency to open by consuming roughly twice their body weight in caffeine, visions of dollar signs begin to dance in agents’ heads.
Quote (Pete Prisco): “Here's one of the toughest questions facing NFL general managers and coaches as they ready for the next four weeks, which will be a virginal path the NFL has not taken in August in past years: How do you truly find out if a guy's heart pumps Kool-Aid?”

3. Story: NFL players start signing mammoth contracts. NFL punters (yes, there is a difference) start signing ridiculous contracts. The national debt expands.
Quote (Mike Freeman): "If you are an NFL player, immediately do the following: Get on a plane, train or hop inside your Lexus. Head to Washington. Best possible speed. Go inside the offices of the National Football League Players Association. Brush by the secretary. Find DeMaurice Smith. Wheel him around in his chair and kiss him. On the cheek. Mouth. Ring. Whatever your comfort level. Just kiss him.”

2. Story: As a prank, Jets coach Rex Ryan sneaks into Bill Belichick’s office and replaces 2011 calendar with 2006 version. This proves extremely successful.
Quote (Pete Prisco): "New England needed speed. Not another possession receiver. My thoughts on this [Ocho-Slow-O] trade: Child, please."

1. Story: Patriots sign “Fat Albert” Haynesworth. In related news, Bill Cosby becomes a Patriots fan.
Quote (Mike Freeman): "Belichick will have his work cut out for him. Ochocinco is difficult to harness and Haynesworth is so larded up his blood type is strawberry Pop Tart."
Posted on: August 3, 2011 12:59 pm
Edited on: August 3, 2011 1:12 pm
 

Players 'doubt' CBA will be ratified by Thursday?

Posted by Will Brinson

Football's been back for more than a week now. Well, kind of -- there's still the whole pesky notion of an actual CBA getting ratified in time for the beginning of the league year on Thursday, August 4.

Per the language in the NFL's official 2011 NFL Calendar on August 4, "All 2011 contracts signed on or after July 26 become effective at 4:01 p.m. ET, assuming NFLPA has ratified the CBA." (Emphasis mine.)

Reached for comment on Wednesday, the NFL also added emphasis to the language above.

"The League Year would start after the CBA is ratified by the players," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told CBSSports.com.

It's been assumed by most folks that such a ratification is as good as done (though if you were smart and subscribed to the CBS Football Podcast, you'd already know it wasn't guaranteed after our convo with NFLPA spokesman George Atallah).

But Steelers player rep Ryan Clark, according to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, spun a different story at Steelers' training camp on Wednesday.

Bouchette notes on Twitter that Clark "doubts" the CBA will be "ratified in time for those vets not practicing to join teams" by the start of the league year on Thursday.

Clark, according to Bouchette, says the "major holdup" with the ratification of the CBA "is Roger Goodell's disciplinary power." Bouchette doesn't note whether Clark's concerned with Goodell disciplining players who broke the personal conduct policy or whether the players are concerned with the actual disciplinary process going forward, but both could be considered obstacles in negotiation.

Adding fuel to the fire? Steelers' cornerback William Gay, who signed a one-year deal with Pittsburgh this offseason after hitting free agency, tweeted on Wednesday that he "probably wont be able to practice to tomorrow as accepted."

He likely means expected, but spelling's not the issue here -- the problem is that right now the public thinks football's moving full steam towards starting the league year at 4:01 p.m. ET on Thursday and there is apparently still a speed bump or two to clear first.

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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