Posted on: February 9, 2011 9:25 pm

Report: Thursday's bargaining session canceled

Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith. Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Late last week, we got word that the NFL and the NFLPA would hold two bargaining sessions this week (following another session last Saturday), and obviously, most of us felt that was a reason for optimism. Considering the March 3 finale of the current CBA is drawing nigh, the more bargaining sessions the better.

Which makes the report tonight from NFL.com’s Jason La Canfora rather disappointing. According to La Canfora, a second day of negotiations between both sides has been canceled.

The owners and the union met for an extended time today and then decided to bag Thursday’s session. As La Canfora points out, the cancelation isn’t necessarily unusual in labor negotiations like this. But still, it’s probably not a great result.

More from La Canfora:

In an interview with "Fox News Sunday" that aired the morning of Super Bowl XLV, Goodell called drug testing a key issue in labor talks. …

Outlining major sticking points, Goodell talked about revenue division, rookie salaries and benefits for retired players.

"We want to continue on with the integrity of the game, which is my No. 1 issue," Goodell said, adding the league wants to make sure "we have the best drug program in sports."

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Category: NFL
Posted on: February 9, 2011 9:26 am

London game is in danger for 2011

Posted by Andy Benoit

If you’re a jingoistic American who doesn’t like seeing NFL regular season games being played across the pond, you’ll see a bright side to the NFL labor strife. Alex Marvez of Fox Sports says that the annual game in London is on hold until a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is reached.

The league is planning on playing the game in 2011, but only if a new CBA is reached in March.
London (US Presswire)
"We are going through the preparation right now," Chris Parsons, the NFL’s VP of international business said. "We are working with the (NFL) scheduler to make sure if we do get the CBA done by a certain time that we will actually be able to execute that game. Normally we announce the game at this time of year, but we've chosen not to do that because of the uncertainty."

Because of the logistics involved, the NFL normally has to schedule the game sometime in February. However, with several years of experience with playing in London now, the league may need less prep time in 2011 than usual. It’s also possible that the league could salvage the game by playing it later in the season, as opposed to in October.

"We're going to hold out to play the game as long as possible," Parsons said. "The closer it gets to the start of the season, the harder this gets to do."

Marvez writes, “The lack of a London game would disrupt the momentum the NFL has gained in the market. All five of the previous Wembley Stadium contests were sellouts. The league also is expecting a record rating for Super Bowl XLV in the United Kingdom (final numbers are still being tabulated).”

He also points out that NFL postseason ratings on Sky Sports television in Britain increased 60 percent this past year.

The NFL is more than eager to expand its British presence. There has been mention of eventually putting a team in London.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: February 4, 2011 3:54 pm

NFLPA considering a Combine, Draft boycott

Posted by Andy Benoit

DALLAS -- NFLPA DeMaurice Smith grabbed the headlines with his Super Bowl press conference on Thursday. But it’s what he’s doing Friday that could be the more punishing move in the labor negotiations.

According to Jason La Canfora of NFL.com, Smith met with player agents Friday to discuss a possible boycott of the Scouting Combine and Draft festivities. A boycott of the festivities at Radio City Music Hall would be much more feasible than a boycott of the Combine.

An agent, obviously, would be concerned that a combine boycott could hurt their client’s stock. Some have reportedly said they’d be on board with the boycott if it was a consensus, but the chances of getting a consensus would presumably be minute.
But in the very least, the NFLPA is prepping to play hardball.

[More Super Bowl coverage]

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Category: NFL
Posted on: February 3, 2011 5:56 pm

NFLPA has its turn on Super Bowl week

Posted by Andy Benoit
D. Smith (US Presswire)
DALLAS -- The Houston B-C room on the third floor of the Sheraton was not in compliance with fire code when DeMaurice Smith took the podium for the NFLPA press conference. Smith repeatedly preached the “Let us play!” stance to the throng of reporters, players, well-wishers and observers.

On stage with Smith were NFLPA leader Kevin Mawae, kicker Jay Feeley and the legendary Barry Sanders.

Smith’s tune was not any happier than NFL negotiator Jeff Pash’s was yesterday. Both sides are prepared for a lockout. Smith indicated that in that event the Union would be ready to decertify and go to court.

Regarding an 18-game schedule, Smith said, according to Pro Football Talk, “Any change in the season that increases the risk of injury, increases the risk of concussion, increases the risk of a long-term consequence of playing football, has the potential to shorten careers...anything that does that is not in the interests or the best interests of the players in the National Football League. That’s going to be our position.”

Smith and his colleagues spent much of the press conference emphasizing that fans would be hurt in the event of a work-stoppage. In other words, standard labor negotiating tactics…

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Category: NFL
Posted on: February 3, 2011 4:08 pm

NFLPA argues teams can't use franchise tag

Posted by Andy Benoit

There have been reports about players receiving the franchise tag in 2011 (Michael Vick, Haloti Ngata and DeAngelo Williams are all rumored to be in line for one).

But the NFLPA issued a memo to certified agents saying there is no franchise tag this year. Pro Football Talk obtained a copy:

“We have received reports that the NFL is advising clubs that they can place a franchise tag on players whose contracts will expire at the end of the 2010 league year.

The current CBA provides that ‘each club shall be permitted to designate one of its players who would otherwise be an Unrestricted Free Agent [or Restricted Free Agent] as a Franchise Player each season during the term of this Agreement.’ The 2011 season is not a ‘season during the term of this Agreement’ so the NFL has no valid basis for claiming the right to franchise players in 2011.

If you have had any discussions with clubs about their intent to use the Franchise designation for the 2011 season please contact the NFLPA to discuss this matter. Meanwhile, we will make sure that the rights of any players improperly designated will be protected.”

Interesting thing to squabble about. Guarantee this isn’t the last you’ll ever hear of this story.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: February 1, 2011 5:51 pm
Edited on: February 1, 2011 6:04 pm

NFL claims minor victory over union

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

After NFL special master Stephen Holder ruled today in favor of the NFL’s TV deals for 2011, the league was quick to claim victory.

“As we have said all along, a new CBA has to be hammered out at the negotiating table, not in the courtroom,” wrote NFL spokesman Greg Aiello on his Twitter page. “If union commits to invest as much time and resources in negotiations as it has in litigation, a new agreement could well be reached by 3/4. We understand the union intends to appeal Special Master’s decision, but we are confident his detailed ruling will be affirmed.”

The union, saying the fact the current TV deal calls for the networks to pay the owners whether or not there are games next year, amounts to lockout insurance.

Naturally, that would give the owners huge leverage in Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations, because, since they’re getting money regardless, they wouldn’t be nearly as desperate for a paycheck (though the league has said it would have to pay back the money to the networks, with interest, if games are missed). The NFLPA asked Holder to deny the owners those payments, a request he dismissed today.

But Holder also ruled, according to Sports Business Journal reporter Liz Mullen that Holder found violations of the agreement with respect to the league’s payment negotiations in its ESPN and NBC contracts.

Expect the NFLPA to appeal the ruling, although the union, in fact, was awarded damages today. Aiello quickly pointed out that the NFLPA sent twice as much on the case as it received in damages. Which isn’t really the point, but there you go.

Expect a statement from the NFLPA soon.

UPDATED (5:53 p.m.):
Here's the official NFLPA statement:

The Special Master, who is appointed by a federal judge, found violations of the Reggie White Settlement Agreement with respect to the NFL's negotiation of Lockout Insurance in its contracts with ESPN and NBC. Although the Special Master awarded damages, the players intend to file an immediate and expedited appeal before the federal court in Minnesota."And then

And then there's this tweet from George Atallah of the NFLPA: "NFL's reaction to the result of this network case is like a team popping champagne after a preseason game." Awesome.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: January 27, 2011 12:01 am

Goodell will return ANYONE'S message

Posted by Andy Benoit

If you call or email NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, there’s a realistic chance that he’ll get back to you – no matter who you are. Just ask James Owen.

The Broncos fan and amateur blogger sent an email to Goodell voicing his displeasure with the CBA negotiations. (Owen believes the NFL and NFLPA are ignoring the fans.) Goodell returned the email with a phone call.

“He said he got my email and wanted to first off thank me for sending my concerns to him, and wanted to let me know they are always concerned about the fans and wouldn’t be in position where it was if it wasn’t for the fans,” Owen told Lindsay Jones of the Denver Post. “It was the standard stuff we’ve heard from the league, but he added some personal stuff to it.”

Owen and Goodell actually spoke for 15 minutes. According to NFL spokesman Greg Aiello, Goodell returns messages from fans “on a fairly regular basis”.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: January 26, 2011 9:56 am
Edited on: January 26, 2011 9:57 am

Goodell to take $1 salary if work stoppage occurs

Posted by Will Brinson

According to a letter that Roger Goodell sent to the NFL owners, there are major financial changes coming to the league office should a work stoppage occur.

Most prominently, according to the NFL Network's Jason LaCanfora, is Roger Goodell's salary being reduced to $1 (that's right: one dollar) in the event of a work stoppage.

Additionally, Jeff Pash, the chief negotiator for the league, will have his salary reduced to $1 if there's a work stoppage, upon his personal request.

VP's in the league office, according to the letter, will hold back 10 percent of their bonuses, Senior VP's will hold back 25 percent of their bonuses and Executive VP's will hold back 35 percent of their bonuses -- the amounts won't be paid until a new CBA is reached.

And, finally, annual bonuses for league office staff won't be paid until April.

But what does this all mean? Well, for starters, the lockout is getting close -- you can tell because the PR spinning has gotten ramped up in anticipation of the world's football media being all in one place over the next two weeks (Dallas for the Super Bowl, obviously).

And the word "work stoppage" is very interesting -- does that mean that Goodell's salary will become $1 as soon as the current CBA expires at the beginning of March? Or does that mean "if there's no football in 2011, the Commish only gets paid $1?"

Either way, there's a clear-cut emphasis by the league office to make it known that they too will suffer financially if there's a work stoppage. They just won't suffer as much as the players, who'll get $0 if that happens. Of course, on the bright side, every hard-working, NFL-watching fan will see a significant bump in salary without having to shell out for season tickets, Sunday Ticket, team jerseys, and all the other NFL-related amenities that come with being a fan of the sport.

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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