Tag:DeMaurice Smith
Posted on: March 1, 2011 2:44 pm

NFL, NFLPA resume mediations in Washington

Posted by Will Brinson

The NFL and NFLPA resumed mediation in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday and this time around, there were a few more parties present.

Giants co-owner John Mara accompanied Roger Goodell's entourage into the session along with Falcons president Rich McKay (who's also the new head of the Competition Committee) and Redskins GM Bruce Allen.

Another difference: someone was willing to talk to the media! In this case, the NFL's lead negotiator and VP of labor, Jeff Pash.

"I don't think you could have a greater sense of urgency," said Jeff Pash, the league's lead labor negotiator. "We all know what the calendar is, and we all know what's at stake for everybody. And that's why we're here. We're going to be here as long as it takes and work as hard as we can work to get something done."

Whether something can get done remains to be seen -- there's not a tremendous sense of optimism surrounding the negotiations, particularly after the NFLPA's reported decision to decertify before the owners can lock the players out once the March 4 deadline for a new CBA occurs.

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Posted on: February 25, 2011 3:14 pm

Pre-draft workouts in jeopardy without a CBA?

Posted by Will Brinson

The NFL combine is critical for teams to evaluate potential draftees, but it's not the whole shebang, either. Pro days at individual schools and, perhaps MOST importantly, individual workouts with candidates give teams a good idea of whether a player represents a sound investment.

The last two could be in serious jeopardy, though, according to what's leaking out of NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith's meeting with a group of agents at the combine, where the one thing Smith apparently didn't discuss was the mediation that went down in D.C. recently.

He only told, according to our own Mike Freeman, the group of agents there was "some" progress while prepping them for lockout contingencies.

That's good news only in that if a ton of mediation-related information started leaking out right after his talks with agents -- and it would if he talked about it -- the owners might not take too kindly to him violating the media blackout.

The owners might not be too thrilled with some of the reports about what kind of access they'll have to rookies, either.

Adam Caplan of FOX Sports reports that, according to agent sources present during Smith's presentation, teams won't be able to talk to agents about rookies at pro days during a lockout.

Even worse is the news that Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post reported -- the individual meetings with teams might disappear entirely.

"[I'm] being told teams will not be able to do individual pre draft workouts," a source told Wilson. "The union considers that communication in regards to financial situations for the players.

"[I] don't see that happening."

Contradicting all of that, though, is NFLPA spokesman George Atallah.

"We'd be hard pressed to stand in the way of a player doing something he needs to do," Atallah said Friday.

But that's the Catch-22 -- the players need to talk with teams to make more money (and, inherently, so do the agents) and teams need to talk to players in order to figure out who they want to draft. Unfortunately, the labor cloud keeps looming and we have to keep wondering when the next public dust-up will occur.

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Posted on: February 25, 2011 12:48 pm

De Smith honors media blackout in agent meeting

Posted by Mike Freeman

INDIANAPOLIS -- Union head DeMaurice Smith briefed agents on Friday about the ongoing labor talks. An agent in the room told CBSSports.com that Smith said some progress was made but Smith declined to speak with agents specifically about the mediation talks with the league.

The agent stated Smith declined many questions from agents about the mediation discussions. In fact, the agent said, Smith started the meeting with the specific ground rules he wouldn't talk about the mediation. (First rule of Fight Club: you don't talk about Fight Club.)

It's actually smart of Smith not to discuss the mediation talks. The minute he does with agents, it would get out to the media.

Smith instead spent much of the meeting with agents discussing contingencies if there is indeed a lockout. Agents were told to instruct players to save money and get private health insurance two measures most players have long since done (or tried to do).

Bottom line: a lockout is coming barring a last second miracle. The union knows it. The league knows it. Nothing happened in this meeting changes that belief.

This was cross-posted from Mike Freeman's FreeStyle blog. For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: February 18, 2011 8:01 pm
Edited on: February 18, 2011 8:02 pm

NFL, NFLPA full of 'no comments' after mediation

Posted by Will Brinson

The first full day of mediation between the NFL and the NFLPA has ended, and true to their earlier claim, there wasn't any talking about what went on with behind close doors.

Via Albert Breer of the NFL Network -- who, bless him, loitered his tail off in the nation's capitol waiting for the two sides to end Friday's session -- neither side had much to say following the session on Friday. To wit:

Pete Kendall of the NFLPA: "We're not gonna get into it."

Charlie Batch, NFLPA rep: "Can't say anything."

Richard Berthlesen of the NFLPA: "Can't comment on it."

DeMaurice Smith also "declined comment on his way out" while Roger Goodell and the NFL officials "slipped out the back door."

So, yeah, mum's the word after the first day of mediation, and that's probably a good thing. Eventually, some info will probably slip out vis-a-vis anonymous sources (though with both sides ordered not to say anything, there's a lot less likely to be a chance of "leaked" info), but it's probably safe to say that Friday wasn't precisely full of heavy negotiating.

Everyone involved in the mediation knows there's a long way to go before anything gets remotely solved, but the simple fact that no one's enraged by any early face-to-face action and/or proposals through one day of this process is at least a positive sign.

That won't solve the CBA crisis right away, but it's at least reason for some cautious optimism.

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Posted on: February 18, 2011 3:34 pm

Hot Routes 2.18.11: Lots of labor talk

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

  • Marvin Miller, the former head of the MLB Players Association, says the NFL owners are a dangerous bunch who are greedier than the baseball owners with whom he dealt for so many years. Miller also seems to take delight in questioning their intelligence.
  • A U.S. District Court judge will decide next week whether documents pertaining to the NFLPA’s protest of the NFL’s so called lockout insurance money should be unsealed.
  • The Bengals introduce the Who Dey Perspective, the club’s response to what they feel are misconceptions in the community about the organization. Good guy PR man Jack Brennan – one of the best in the business – pens the first edition.
  • Some answers to some questions regarding the labor dispute from a Tulane law professor. Some answers in here that I haven’t seen before.
  • For those of us who yearn for the days of Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, there’s a report that the Falcons have determined a new open-air stadium near the current Georgia Dome site is feasible.

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Posted on: February 17, 2011 3:43 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2011 7:18 pm

NFL, NFLPA agree to mediation Friday (UPDATED)

Posted by Will Brinson

A new possibility for solving the current labor dispute cropped up Thursday: mediation.

According to a release from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, the NFL and NFLPA agreed to meet Friday in Washington, D.C. in a session mediated by FMCS director George H. Cohen.

"I have had separate, informal discussions with the key representatives of the National Football League and the National Football League Players Association during the course of their negotiations for a successor collective bargaining agreement," Cohen said in a written statement. "At the invitation of the FMCS, and with the agreement of both parties, the ongoing negotiations will now be conducted under my auspices in Washington, D.C., commencing Friday, February 18.

"Due to the extreme sensitivity of these negotiations and consistent with the FMCS's long-standing practice, the Agency will refrain from any public comment concerning the future schedule and/or the status of those negotiations until further notice."

Going to mediation doesn't mean the two sides will get a deal done by the March 3 lockout deadline, but it's a positive step -- mediation will allow the two sides to establish actual baselines for their negotiations and reasonable expectations moving forward, all while -- hopefully -- keeping emotions out of play.

It's important to remember, though, that mediation isn't like being in a court of law. There's no binding decision from a mediator that will actually solve the CBA. Instead, the mediator works to bring the two sides involved into some harmony with respect to their differences.

"The NFLPA has always focused on a fair collective bargaining agreement through negotiations. We hope that this renewed effort, through mediation, will help the players and owners reach a successful deal," the NFLPA said in a statement Thursday.

UPDATED (7:09 p.m.): Here's some reaction from the NFLPA and the NFL on this story, as collected by the Associated Press.

"Any time that both sides of negotiations can get together, whether through conventional means of bargaining or mediation, to come to an agreement that can benefit all parties, it is a good thing," NFLPA president Kevin Mawae said.

Wrote Vikings T Bryant McKinne on his Twitter page, "NFL and NFLPA agreeing to meet with a federal mediator is a real positive step. Let's see if he can get them to make actual progress."

And while Colts owner Jim Irsay still isn't convinced the impasse can be broken by March 3, he realizes today's news is a (somewhat) positive development.

"I don't have a strong anticipation something will get done before (March 3), but I think it's possible," he said.

Perhaps it's an even bigger possibility tonight after reading the report that the union and the owners will begin seven consecutive days of barganing beginning Friday.

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Posted on: February 15, 2011 11:25 am

NFL: Report on scheduled CBA talks 'pure fiction'

Posted by Will Brinson

On Sunday, a report leaked out that the NFL and NFLPA had scheduled another set of bargaining sessions for this week after the disastrous first set of negotiations fell apart last week.

While the two sides could certainly still sit down this week, hearing NFL spokesman Greg Aiello's dismissal of the report doesn't lend much hope to that possibility.

Originally, Chris Mortensen of ESPN broke the story about the negotiations gearing back up this week. Mortensen followed up Tuesday by reporting that the NFL has "not re-confirmed" the negotiating sessions.

Aiello responded by tweeting, "Mort: This is complete fiction. Someone is making it up."

Considering that Aiello will typically "no comment" anything that seems to have much substance (i.e. he won't deny something that has a strong likelihood of actually happening), this shouldn't provide much hope that the two sides are getting together this week.

Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal added some fuel to that fire Tuesday as well, citing sources who say the two sides "planned to meet at least two days every week" but "scratched" those plans when the negotiations blew up last week.

So, yeah, the negative vibes everyone's been getting from the recent CBA discussions appear to be completely and 100 percent warranted. Unless Aiello's pulling a fast one and publicly declaring the complete opposite of what's true (he's a spin guy, not a liar), then it seems pretty unlikely we'll see some positive movement from the CBA talks any time soon.

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Posted on: February 13, 2011 10:25 pm

Report: NFL, NFLPA to meet on CBA next week

Posted by Will Brinson

The close of the first NFL-less Sunday featured a Tim Tebow lookalike and a brief appearance by Clay Matthews, but overall, it was pretty depressing. News on the CBA front wasn't great and there's a growing possibility that players could boycott the Combine.

So here's a nice piece of news: the NFL and NFLPA are reportedly going to get back to the table in the coming week (though, sadly, it doesn't look like a deal can get done by Valentine's Day).

That's according to ESPN, who reports that "dialogue has continued" between the two sides even though they walked away from the bargaining table after what amounts to an ill-timed miscommunication. (The NFLPA reportedly mislabeled something as a "proposal" even though it wasn't an "official proposal" and the NFL walked away; there's blame to hand out for that on both sides, but don't bring something called a "proposal" to a negotiating session if it's not, you know, a "proposal.")

That continued dialogue has led to what is a reported meeting some time in the coming week -- a source from the players' side first provided that information and "a management source" didn't refute it.

But meetings aside, there's still a growing sense of negativity towards the talks; it appears that the leaking of information from DeMaurice Smith to the entirety of the NFL's on-field workforce (and subsequently, the media), didn't go over well. But neither did the NFL's decision to throw out a full-on low ball with their rookie wage scale offer.

So there's reason to be terrified about the 2011 season, for sure. But if the two sides can go ahead and get back to the table to talk as soon as this week, that's at least better than an ongoing public feud leading up to the lockout.

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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