Tag:NFLPA
Posted on: December 8, 2011 9:17 am
 

Pick-Six Podcast: George Atallah + Thurs Preview

By Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

Despite there being no lockout, the NFLPA's been under fire for a number of issues (a lack of HGH testing, the suspensions of some Redskins, Cedric Benson) and union spokesman George Atallah was kind enough to join the show in break down where the union stands on those issues.

We also discuss in depth some of the issues surrounding HGH testing and whether or not it's a viable option for 2011.

Then Ryan and Will break down the Thursday night matchup between Pittsburgh and Cleveland, wondering if the Browns have any shot at all to upset the Steelers and if the trade that gave Atlanta Julio Jones (and the Browns Greg Little) is already a bust for Cleveland, and if Pittsburgh is the best team in the AFC.

The guys also break down Archie Manning's latest comments about Peyton and Andrew Luck and how they relate to the Colts future.

Did we mention that you should subscribe to the podcast via iTunes?

If you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.



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Posted on: November 13, 2011 11:36 am
 

DeMaurice Smith, players not on same page

DeMaurice SmithPosted by Josh Katzowitz

For the most part, the players and the NFLPA remained unified during the offseason labor dispute, and though there were some outspoken comments here or there, union executive director DeMaurice Smith did a nice job of keeping the players together.

But since the new CBA was signed, some players have been upset at the way Smith handled the last-minute labor negotiations, especially because the union apparently signed off on allowing the NFL to potentially suspend eight players for their lockout transgressions. Even retired players have gotten into the act, suing the NFLPA and saying the then-decertified union was in no position to negotiate on their behalf.

Now, players are upset once again at the way the NFLPA is treating the rank and file members.

As Yahoo Sports’
Jason Cole reports, 10 players are facing fines and one player could be fined and suspended for testing positive for recreational drugs. The problem with that (aside from the obvious) is that according to Cole, Smith promised there would be a “grace period” for players after a new CBA was signed. That grace period was supposed to last 30 days when players wouldn’t be drug tested, but on Day 2 of the new CBA, officials began testing players.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, two of the players who tested positive are Redskins tight end Fred Davis and Redskins left tackle Trent Williams.

“I told De that this was a concern of a number of players after the lockout ended and he said, ‘I got you covered,’” one of the player reps told Cole. “I went back and told the players, ‘Look, whatever it is you’ve been doing, you need to stop and be ready, but that we would probably have a 30-day grace period before the league started testing.’

“Then we get to camp and [the league is] testing us on Day 2. Guys are looking at me like I don’t know what I’m talking about. It was embarrassing. I called the union and I was told there were a lot of things that fell through the cracks at the last minute.”

NFLPA spokesman George Atallah declined to comment on the report, but another player rep told Yahoo that players are wondering what else “had fallen through the cracks” and that they can’t get straight answers “on a lot of stuff.”

Smith, it seems like, has been silent on some of these and other issues, and it might be time for him to speak to his players and try to assuage their fears. In other news, 10 years of labor peace is awesome.

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Posted on: November 11, 2011 9:05 am
 

NFLPA explains position on HGH testing

Smith, GoodellPosted by Josh Katzowitz

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is still on his quest to bring HGH testing to the NFL, saying Wednesday, “We're completely focused on that. We think it's the right thing to do. We agreed to it. We think it's the right thing to do for player safety. We think it's important for the credibility of the game."

Yet, it’s been made clear the NFLPA isn’t on the same wavelength.

But why? The two sides already agreed to the testing in the newest Collective Bargaining Agreement (you remember that somewhat-important document that consumed the offseason, right?), so why is the union making everything so difficult?

Let the NFLPA explain in this Pro Players Insider piece:
While the NFLPA is committed to player health and safety, a fair and transparent testing protocol is also necessary to maintain the integrity of the game and the due process rights of its players.

In Article 39, Section 7 (b) of the CBA, the NFL and NFLPA agreed to “discuss and develop … the safe and secure collection of samples, transportation and testing of samples, the scope of review of the medical science and the arbitrator review policy.”

So, the NFLPA is saying it didn’t agree to HGH testing. Instead, the union claims it agreed to talk about starting HGH testing.

And until the union receives assurances on a few matters, it looks like it won’t be agreeing to anything anytime soon.

For instance, the biggest issue is “the lack of transparency at the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the only group that has developed an isoform test for exogenous (non-naturally occurring) HGH which, unlike naturally occurring HGH, can be injected into the body.

“WADA has adamantly declined to provide population and validation studies, and its test radically differs from those for other performance-enhancing drugs because if a blood sample surpasses a predetermined HGH limit, it’s declared a positive without allowing for a naturally occurring result. And yet, the NFL’s proposed appeal process bars players from challenging the science behind WADA’s test which has been in use for less than two years, not long enough to be certain that it has not generated false positives.”

Basically, the NFLPA says that the man who developed the test that WADA uses has talked about his concern for false positive tests and that the factors contributing to a false positive are gender, age, body composition, and the effects of “acute and chronic exercise.” Therefore, the NFLPA says that because NFL players have been known to exercise from time to time, this puts them at greater risk for a false positive. That’s why the NFLPA wants, in its own words, “to have full access to the makeup of the testing population from which blood samples were obtained in order for WADA to set the decision limit.”  
 
Goodell disagrees, calling the proposal “a valid test,” and it seems like this is an impasse that might take some time to clear.

Even though the supposed 10 years of labor peace hasn’t been so peaceful thus far, thank the heavens that HGH testing is not an issue that could destroy an NFL season. It’s just kind of annoying.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: September 28, 2011 12:33 pm
Edited on: September 28, 2011 12:38 pm
 

Cedric Benson: 'I'm playing' against Bills Sunday

Cedric Benson hasn't yet been suspended. (US PRESSWIRE)
Posted by Ryan Wilson

Cedric Benson is reportedly facing a three-game suspension for violating the NFL's player-conduct policy during the lockout. But when the Bengals face the Bills this weekend, Benson will be on the field.

"I'm playing," he said according to the Bengals' official Twitter feed. And head coach Marvin Lewis confirms it

While there hasn't been an announcement from the NFL regarding Benson's suspension, he met with the league Tuesday as part of his appeal hearing. An explanation of the process from NFL spokesman Greg Aiello (sent to PFT Wednesday morning) sheds some light on the process.

“A player is not suspended until he has had an opportunity to file an appeal and for that appeal to be heard and adjudicated,” Aiello said via email.

There doesn't appear to be a timetable on when a ruling will come, either. The biggest issue is that Benson, who is apart of the NFL Players Association, was unaware that the NFLPA and the NFL had agreed to punish some of the players who had violated the league's conduct policy during the lockout. In fact, Benson last week filed a charge of unfair labor practice against the NFLPA.

CBSSports.com colleague Josh Katzowitz wrote Sunday, "Benson is arguing to the National Labor Relations Board that the NFLPA wasn’t a union during the lockout -- the NFL and a group of retired players all have made the same claim in various lawsuits because, in fact, the NFLPA decertified before the lockout began and took great pains to announce that it no longer was a union -- and Benson also says that he wasn’t an employee of any team during the lockout. Benson reasons that he shouldn't be suspended for actions that occurred when he wasn't an employee of the NFL or of the Bengals."

Benson isn't alone. Teammate Andrew Whitworth agrees.

"The union let those eight guys down,” Whitworth said, via CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter Paul Dehner. “I don’t feel like that was fair. To me, if I was told that was a make or break, I would've said that’s a make or break deal that we were going to sell out eight guys to have an agreement."

As PFT.com's Mike Florio pointed out Wednesday, "The biggest question seems to be whether the NFL has the power to impose discipline against players for off-field conduct occurring during the lockout. In Benson’s case, the situation is complicated by the fact that he wasn’t even employed by an NFL team, since his prior contract with the Bengals had expired."

Who knows how long it will take to sort this out, bur for now, Benson will keep playing.

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Posted on: September 24, 2011 5:11 pm
Edited on: September 24, 2011 5:36 pm
 

Report: NFLPA agreed to let NFL punish 8 players

Talib and Britt were two of the eight names on the NFL's suspension list. (AP/Getty Images)

Posted by Ryan Wilson


Earlier this week, the NFL suspended Bengals running back Cedric Benson for three games for player-conduct violations that happened during the lockout. It seemed peculiar that Benson would face sanctions while Buccaneers cornerback Aqib Talib and Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt -- two players who found plenty of trouble this offseason -- had avoided NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's wrath.

Turns out, Talib and Britt aren't in the clear yet. According to Yahoo.com's Jason Cole, "Talib, Benson and Britt are among eight players who the NFL and the NFL Players Association agreed could be suspended under the league’s personal conduct policy for incidents during the NFL lockout."

The other names, according to two Yahoo.com sources: Albert Haynesworth, Clark Haggans, Brandon Underwood, Johnny Jolly and Adam "Pacman" Jones.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello declined to discuss the report with Yahoo.com. NFLPA spokesman George Atallah said in an email that “I don’t believe any of those players received any discipline, correct?” but Cole writes that Atallah didn't answer when pressed about the NFLPA's involvement.

But Atallah tweeted Sunday that "[S]tory that De(Maurice Smith)/NFLPA agreed to a list of players being disciplined for stuff during lockout is false." Which prompted ProFootballTalk.com's Mike Florio to tweet in response, "@GeorgeAtallah..., George, I have the letter. De's signature is on it. He agrees to allow 8 players to be disciplined."

During a July radio appearance, former NFL safety Darren Sharper was asked whether Steelers linebacker James Harrison should be suspended for disparaging comments he made about NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, even though those comments were made during the lockout. Sharper said the NFL Players Association "would have an issue if (Harrison) were suspended or fined."

While Harrison wasn't one of the eight players listed above, we're guessing Sharper's general point still holds: the NFL's overreaching its authority when it starts disciplining players during a lockout.

PFT.com's Florio wrote in July that "one source with general knowledge of the dynamics recently suggested that Goodell and NFLPA* executive director DeMaurice Smith already have come to an understanding on the point."

Two months later, that now appears to be the case.

Florio added: "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."

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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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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com