Posted on: January 5, 2011 6:36 pm

NFL fires back at Antonio Pierce

Posted by Andy Benoit

Admit it: when you first heard Antonio Pierce’s suggestion that players take a firm stand in the CBA negotiations by walking out on the playoffs, you were a little bit intrigued. You probably thought, “That would never happen in a million years.” Then, you probably thought “…but what if it did?”

Pierce’s idea – which was just something he seemed to lob out there – got the NFL’s attention, too. We’ll just pass along exactly what the league executives posted on NFLlabor.com, since they seemed to do a fine job of making this debate embarrassingly one-sided.

With all due respect to Antonio Pierce, who was an outstanding player for the New York Giants and Washington Redskins, a player walkout during the playoffs would not help secure a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Nor do alliances with the AFL-CIO, Congressional interventions constantly sought by the union, or esoteric legal maneuvers, all in search of some kind of illusory leverage.
Here are a few additional facts:

• Playoff games are included in the revenue that goes into the share that determines player compensation and benefits under the CBA. Additional compensation for players that participate in playoff games also comes out of that 60 percent player share of Total Revenue as defined in the CBA.

• A “walk out” is a violation of the CBA.  As spelled out on page 10 of the CBA, “Neither the NFLPA nor any of its members will engage in any strike, work stoppage, or other concerted action interfering with the operations of the NFL or any Club for the duration of this Agreement.”

George Attalah, spokesman for the NFLPA, later tweeted a response: “A player expresses his opinion and the league goes into overkill mode. What are they afraid of? We've already guaranteed no strike.”

Isn’t labor strife fun?

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Category: NFL
Posted on: January 3, 2011 12:30 pm

Roger Goodell's latest message to the fans

Posted by Andy Benoit

With the 2010 regular season over and the postseason now here, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell took the opportunity to write a letter to the fans Monday morning. In the letter, Goodell said that a new CBA would get done. He did not offer any specifics or new information though (not that he was necessarily expected to).

In the letter, Goodell trumpeted player safety, the 18-game schedule and a rookie wage scale. His straight talk about the rookie wage scale was most interesting:

It’s not just the health of players that concerns us. We must ensure the health of the league. That includes a new system that properly compensates proven veterans and retired players by shifting some of the outrageous sums paid to many unproven rookies. Earlier this year, Sports Illustrated published a list of the 50 highest-paid American athletes that included five 2009 NFL rookies. Every other athlete on the list was a proven veteran. In 2009, NFL clubs contracted $1.2 billion to 256 drafted rookies with $585 million guaranteed before they had stepped on an NFL field.

Don’t get me wrong: top draft choices will continue to be highly paid. All we’re asking for is a return to common sense in paying our rookies. Other leagues have done this and we can too.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: December 7, 2010 5:45 pm

NFL, NFLPA give a little encouraging news

Posted by Andy Benoit

The NFL and NFLPA released a joint statement late Tuesday saying the Wednesday deadline for the NFLPA to file a collusion claim has been pushed back. "We are continuing to work toward a new CBA that will be good for players, owners and fans,” the statement said.

The agreement does not prevent the NFLPA from filing a collusion claim at a future date. What it essentially means is negotiations continue.

Expect more of these CBA deadlines and deadline postponement stories over the next few months.

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Category: NFL
Tags: labor, NFL CBA, NFLPA
Posted on: June 22, 2010 2:37 pm

An Shrewd Take on 18-game Schedule and CBA

Former Packers executive and current National Football Post writer Andrew Brandt made an interesting point about the “enhanced season” and labor negotiations:

“I think this changes the game and gives hope for a new agreement. Here’s why: the owners have asked for a rollback of – depending on whom you believe – anywhere from nine to eighteen percent from the current CBA. Playing a couple of extra games, if accepted by the NFLPA, could be a tradeoff to the owners to bring the shared-revenue equation back to at or near where it is today.
In other words, say the owners agree to not ask for any reduction in the share of revenues that the players receiving. In return, the union would agree to playing the extra two games. There will be posturing for now, with players like Tom Brady and Ray Lewis trotted out to explain the physical strain of playing more games, but money has a way of soothing those aches. Sources on both sides of the bargaining table tell me this issue could be the one that breaks the thaw in negotiations.”
--Andy Benoit

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Category: NFL
Posted on: June 19, 2010 8:45 pm

Goodell to attend Packers meeting

Packers shareholders meetings are not unlike a giant Rotary Club meeting. A lot of business is discussed. Most of that business pertains to the people in the room, and most of the people in the room have little to no impact on that business. And, often, in the big scheme of things, the business has no impact on those people anyway. A lot of it is jut fo fun. Thus, the event - the shareholders meeting - can sometimes be boring.

Not so this year. One of the men talking business will be NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. He’ll be at Lambeau Field answering shareholders’ pre-submitted questions. Given the ongoing labor negotiations, Goodell has a very specific interest in the Packers in 2010. As the NFL’s only publicly owned team, the Packers are required to share their financial information.

The NFLPA is challenging the other 31 teams to open their books and prove that money is as tight as they’re claiming. Of course, no team will oblige. Owners are hoping that a bleak financial report in Green Bay can be used as evidence that teams indeed need to share less revenue with players.

The public meeting at Lambeau Field is scheduled for 11:00 am local time on July 29.

--Andy Benoit

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Posted on: June 17, 2010 1:11 pm

Raging Debate Over 18-Game Schedule

The NFL Players Union isn’t thrilled with the PR campaign the NFL has put forth for extending to an 18-game season. After the two sides discussed the issue Wednesday, NFL executives (namely Packers president Mark Murphy) rushed to the media and spoke glowingly about what the league is calling an “enhanced season”.

Murphy said, “Part of it is really providing more value to our fans.”

The NFLPA responded by releasing comments from Ray Lewis and Tom Brady.

“I know our fans may not like preseason games and I don’t like all of them,” said Lewis, “but swapping two preseason games for two end-of-season games — when players already play hurt — comes at a huge cost for the player and the team.”

“I’ve taken part in several postseason runs where we have played 20 games,” said Brady. “The long-term impact this game has on our bodies is well documented. Look no further than the players that came before we did. Each player today has to play three years in order to earn five years of post-career health care.”

Because the preseason is a time for young fringe players to gain experience, Murphy said the NFL may consider establishing a developmental league to make up for the lost opportunities. (The NFL’s current D-League is known as the NCAA.)

The 18-game season will be a sizzling debate in the coming months. Under the CBA, the league has the right to expand to a 22-game season (18 regular season games; four preseason games). But because Roger Goodell and owners want to shorten the low-quality preseason, the league is pushing for an 18-regular, 2-pre season game format.

Expanding the NFL regular season by two games is the equivalent of expanding the Major League Baseball season by 20 games. The financial repercussions are significant and, as Lewis and Brady iterated, so are the physical ones.

--Andy Benoit

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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