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Tag:Mike Vrabel
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: July 18, 2011 5:28 pm
Edited on: July 18, 2011 5:49 pm
 

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 10, 2011 9:36 am
Edited on: July 10, 2011 1:28 pm
 

Report: Vrabel will join Ohio State staff

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Despite saying last month that he still wanted to play pro football, Chiefs LB Mike Vrabel apparently will get into another line of work -- coaching at his alma mater for his one-time Ohio State roommate.

That’s the word from the Columbus Dispatch, which reports that Vrabel is expected to be named as an assistant coach to new Buckeyes coach Luke Fickell.

Lately, Vrabel has been busy in NFLPA-NFL negotiations, and it’d be a bit of a surprise if he actually retired from his 14-year career after starting all 16 games for Kansas City last year and considering how hard he’s worked on the labor front.

Plus, after attending Fickell’s introductory news conference in June, he told reporters, “Luke knows I still have time to play.”

But the Dispatch writes that a news conference is tentatively scheduled for Monday. Vrabel probably would be added as a linebacker coach, Fickell’s old assistant position under former coach Jim Tressel.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: July 7, 2011 8:59 pm
Edited on: July 7, 2011 9:33 pm
 

Could Vrabel retire and start a coaching career?

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Despite spending much of his time helping negotiate a new CBA with his NFLPA brothers (or, um, getting arrested at casinos), there hasn’t been a ton of talk about Chiefs LB Mike Vrabel retiring.

Yeah, he’s 35 years old and a 14-year veteran. But he started all 16 games last season, and he made 48 tackles. Obviously, he can still play the game at a pretty high level, though he’s certainly begun to slow down.

VrabelYet, one report is claiming that Vrabel might be thinking about leaving behind his playing days. According to College Football Talk, “there’s a very good chance” Vrabel will take a job on the staff of new Ohio State football coach Luke Fickell.

Fickell and Vrabel are former roommates from the time they played at Ohio State in the mid-1990s, so from that aspect I guess a move like that would make sense. But is Vrabel, -- who, by the way, will be a free agent -- really done playing?

According to Vrabel last month, the answer is no.

“Luke knows I still have time to play,” Vrabel told reporters at Fickell’s introductory news conference in mid-June.

Obviously, Vrabel has the right to change his mind, and maybe he’s decided he wants to be done with football. But I wouldn’t be shocked to see Vrabel back in a Chiefs uniform next season and not in an Ohio State sweater vest.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: June 14, 2011 12:23 pm
Edited on: June 14, 2011 5:31 pm
 

NFL owners, players 'headed in right direction'

Posted by Ryan Wilson

NFL owners and players are meeting Tuesday on Maryland's eastern shore in an effort to end the 91-day lockout as soon as possible, according to reports from NFL.com and ESPN.

This is the third time this month the two sides have convened in an undisclosed location to make progress towards a new collective bargaining agreement (and this time, with lawyers). Last Friday, for the first time since the lockout began in March, hopes seemed high for a speedy resolution to a labor dispute that once appeared as if it could go on indefinitely.

"NFL owners have a one-day meeting scheduled in suburban Chicago next Tuesday, and they are planning to meet once a month until the situation is resolved," NFL.com's Albert Breer reported Tuesday. "A memo went out to owners asking that they keep their schedules for next week flexible, in case the June 21 meeting spills into Tuesday night or even Wednesday."
Latest on the lockout

ESPN's Chris Mortensen writes that "Sources have characterized the owners and players as being in a 'deal-making mode' and hope to make significant progress over the next two or three days."

The NFL estimates that canceling the preseason could cost upwards of $1 billion, which means that the longer the lockout drags on, the more likely it is that the owners will be in danger of losing serious dough. Sources tell Breer that "internal deadlines to have some semblance of a 'normal' preseason with the games preserved sit on or around July 15." That gives both parties a month to sort things out.

More background on Tuesday's gathering, via the Associated Press:
A person with knowledge of the talks told The Associated Press that the owners and players are "headed in the right direction" and that lawyers "are back in the room" after being excluded from sessions the past two weeks. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because details of the meeting are not being made public.

Two other people familiar with the talks say a framework for a new collective bargaining agreement could be in place before the owners gather next Tuesday. ... Still, it would be premature to predict that lockout is about to end, the people familiar with the talks told the AP. Yet the atmosphere of negotiations has been more positive than it was previously, creating "a sense of movement," they said.

That movement toward an agreement might be in both sides' best interest after a federal appeals court judge warned the owners and players they might not like the upcoming decisions in legal actions sparked by the lockout. Indeed, the court could delay any rulings if a new CBA appears to be near.
The AP reports that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell; NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith; several owners, including the Giants' John Mara and the Cowboys' Jerry Jones; and a large group of players that includes NFLPA President Kevin Mawae, Jeff Saturday, Mike Vrabel, Tony Richardson and Domonique Foxworth, were all on hand at the meeting.

For the first time all spring there is much to be optimistic about. Not only are the owners and players willing to work together, they're doing it now, well before deadlines could legitimately imperil a 2011 season.

If the lockout ends in the coming weeks, Goodell, who was roundly booed at the April draft, will have suddenly saved his legacy. Because in the end, all fans want is football. They don't much care how we get to that point.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: June 8, 2011 3:16 pm
Edited on: June 8, 2011 3:48 pm
 

NFL, NFLPA confirm secret talks

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

In case you needed confirmation that the NFL and the NFLPA are engaged in secret meetings this week – although you SHOULDN’T since CBSSports.com’s own Mike Freeman reported it Tuesday night – the two sides have released a statement.

"NFL owners and players have engaged in further confidential discussions before Chief Magistrate Judge Boylan this week,” the statement reads.

The two sides are meeting somewhere in New York – some reports have pinpointed the meetings to Long Island – and according to NFL.com, the NFLPA is represented by DeMaurice Smith, Kevin Mawae, Jeff Saturday, Mike Vrabel, Tony Richardson and Domonique Foxworth.

Meanwhile, the NFL is represented by commissioner Roger Goodell, New York Giants owner John Mara, Kansas City’s Clark Hunt, New England’s Robert Kraft, Carolina’s Jerry Richardson and San Diego’s Dean Spanos.

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Posted on: April 20, 2011 4:15 pm
Edited on: April 20, 2011 4:26 pm
 

NFL-NFLPA mediation breaks until mid-May

Posted by Andy Benoit
M. Vrabel (US Presswire)
Wednesday was a busy day in the NFL’s labor wars. It ended with mediation being adjourned until May 16. This according to Albert Breer of NFL Network. NFL general counsel Jeff Pash says the break is due, in part, to Judge Arthur Boylan’s schedule. (But many are wondering, if that’s true, then why was Boylan assigned to mediate the talks in the first place.)

While the owners and NFLPA are off on their separate ways, Judge Susan Nelson is expected to rule on the pending motion to lift the lockout.

This wasn’t the only news from Wednesday. It was reported earlier that 70 mid-tier NFL players have broken off and are seeking their own legal representation in an effort to gain a seat at the negotiating table.

Mike Vrabel responded to this report by telling Breer, “We’re players here to represent players and De works for us. They do [have a seat]. And if they’re unhappy with that seat, we have to vote in a new executive committee, and a new board of reps.”

In other words, Vrabel admitted that the decertified union is still acting as a union, which is not supposed to the case. The owners may jump all over this blunder in the coming days.

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Posted on: April 14, 2011 7:45 pm
Edited on: April 14, 2011 9:23 pm
 

NFL, NFLPA will continue mediation Friday

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

After nearly 10 hours of negotiations today, the mediation session between the NFL and the NFLPA in the presence of U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan has ended. And, as we suspected, not many people are saying much of anything.

Although NFL lead negotiator Jeff Pash said the two sides would return to the courthouse in Minneapolis on Friday, commissioner Roger Goodell said, “We pledged confidentiality.”

As NFL.com's Albert Breer wrote earlier this evening, “I've been told talks upstairs have been ‘tough’ and there's lots of ‘fence-mending’ to be done.”

Still, it sounds like something productive occured.

"We had a full day. It was constructive to get together," said Pash, who was joined by Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, Chiefs owner Clark Hunt, Steelers owner Art Rooney and Patriots owner Robert Kraft. "The chief magistrate judge is working very hard, and I give him a lot of credit for really trying to move the parties toward a solution."

OK, that sounds fine. But how long will this mediation attempt last? Until (fingers crossed!) there’s a resolution?

 "The court has indicated it wants to continue with everyone talking as long as it makes sense," said Michael Hausfeld, one of the attorneys for the players.

Hmm, that doesn’t really tell us much, does it?

Actually, the fact that NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith (who was joined by Vikings LB Ben Leber, Chiefs LB Mike Vrabel and Hall of Fame DE Carl Eller) and Goodell – who had to step away from part of the bargaining session to join in on a conference call scheduled with 5,300 Browns fans – attended the mediation is a pretty good sign.

"I can tell you that it's a positive step when the parties are talking," Goodell told the Browns fans. "We saw the March 11 proposal as responsive to issues raised by the players and there are many attractive elements in it. ... Our entire focus is on getting a deal done."

Though these sessions were mandated by Judge Susan Nelson – who will eventually rule on the Brady v NFL case – it’s obviously positive that the two sides, once again, are meeting. And hope for an agreement of any sort between the two sides continues.

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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