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 2, 2011 10:48 am

Tuesday could be a big day for labor negotiations

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

An interesting story here by Fanhouse’s Dan Graziano as he explains why this Tuesday could be a big turning point in determining how long the NFL’s labor issue will continue.

As Graziano explains, a special master will review the NFLPA’s complaint that the $4.5 billion in guaranteed contracts from the TV networks to the owners – money the owners will receive whether or not there are games played next season – constitute lockout insurance.

Basically, the players say the owners would have no great desire to compromise with the NFLPA, because games or not, they’d get paid anyway. The NFLPA also would like to prove the owners took less upfront money from the networks as long as it was guaranteed.

If the special master agrees, the NFLPA is asking that the $4.5 billion be held in escrow until a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is signed.

Or there’s this from the story:

It's also possible that, if the union can prove that the owners violated the current CBA by failing to seek and obtain the maximum possible value of the TV contracts, they could seek to have some or even all of that money awarded to the players as damages. The chances of employing that tactic depend on the strength of the union's evidence and how aggressive executive director DeMaurice Smith (whose background is as a Washington attorney) decides to be.

But if the owners think there's a chance that a decent chunk of their TV money could end up in the players' pockets as part of a damages award, that's the kind of thing that would really get them to the bargaining table in a hurry.

Who knew labor fights could be so much fun?

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Category: NFL
Posted on: December 16, 2010 10:47 pm

Haynesworth will fight his suspension

Haynesworth Posted by Josh Katzowitz

The NFL Players Association is going to try to get some of Redskins DT Albert Haynesworth’s money back.

Haynesworth was suspended for the final four games of the season without pay for conduct detrimental to the team, and the NFLPA plans to fight it, according to CSN Washington.

That four games is the max the team can sit him down without having to pay him.

Haynesworth stands to lose $847,000 of base salary during his suspension.

From the story:

The Redskins’ defense to an arbitrator will be that they have a catalog of things Haynesworth did this year that were detrimental, ending with his refusal to speak to coach Mike Shanahan and a refusal to play on first-and second-down running situations.

The PA will likely counter that even if the Redskins have a dossier or transgressions, the first time Haynesworth was given a written reprimand was when he was suspended. Agent Chad Speck said general manager Bruce Allen confirmed as much after the suspension was announced.

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Posted on: December 14, 2010 12:08 am

Goodell tops SBJ top-50 list

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

The Sports Business Journal released its annual top-50 most influential list of the movers and shakers in sports today.

Not surprisingly, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is No. 1 on the list. The SBJ explains why:

Put aside the sheriff of the NFL tag, stratospheric TV ratings and his laserlike focus on the in-stadium experience, Roger Goodell has in part the fate of America's most popular game in his hands. The NFL commissioner must hash out a new labor deal to save the 2011 season — in other words, he has the primary influence in what the entire industry is watching most closely.

I wonder, though: if the NFL finds its season canceled next season, will Goodell still be No. 1 next year?

A few other NFLers on the list:

DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the NFLPA, is No. 5, and this will be a big next six months for him. Can the union outflank the owners, get (most of) what the players want and keep the game going? Or will the owners stick to their principles and make this a tough fight?

Rounding out the top ten is Patriots owner Bob Kraft at No. 9 and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones at No. 10. Just think where Jones would be if he didn’t have the Wade Phillips albatross weighing down his ranking.

And finally, Panthers owner Jerry Richardson is No. 15, but it’s got nothing to do with how well his organization has performed this season. It’s all about the labor fight. 

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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: December 5, 2010 4:09 pm
Edited on: December 5, 2010 4:10 pm

Report: NFLPA to file collusion case vs owners?

Posted by Will Brinson

Remember how only one of the 216 restricted free agents signed with a team during the offseason? (Mike Bell, signed to an offer sheet by Philadelphia that New Orleans didn't match, was the lone guy inked.)

Well, the NFLPA didn't like it much, and now Chris Mortensen of ESPN is reporting that the NFLPA is "on the brink of filing a collusion grievance" against the owners because the union based on information they've been gathering.

Mortensen reports that DeMaurice Smith, the NFLPA executive director, is reviewing the case and the documentation gathered by the union's legal team and is "expected to approve" the filing before Wednesday's December 8th deadline (90 days after the start of the season).

Here's the catch, though: while it's problematic that just a single restricted free agent was signed, it's not that problematic, because only four of 55 RFA's in 2009 were inked to deals.

The overall RFA number is substantially higher because of the uncapped year and cases like Vincent Jackson, et al, but the NFL is making a case that the lack of movement -- down from 7 percent to 1 percent in terms of total signings -- is a direct result of uncertainty in labor negotiations and owners not wanting to hand out tons of contracts to guys who might not be playing in 2011.

Perhaps the biggest benefit to the collusion case for the union would be, as Mortensen notes, the NFLPA's ability to gather, via legal discovery, documents relevant to the owners' financial status, which have been previously difficult to uncover.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: December 4, 2010 2:15 pm
Edited on: December 4, 2010 2:16 pm

Union: 'Internal deadline' for new CBA has passed

Posted by Will Brinson

So, as it turns out, there IS some sort of deadline involving the NFL labor strife -- and, according to NFLPA Union leader DeMaurice Smith, it's passed.

Except it's just an "internal deadline," and it was discovered by the Associated Press on Saturday, in the New England Patriots locker room, in the form of a letter and written by Professor Plum Smith himself to the players, urging them to save now that a lockout is all but certain, as the time has come and gone for negotiating a new CBA.

"That deadline has now passed," he wrote. "It is important that you protect yourself and your family."

According to the AP report, the letter was dated Wednesday and just happened to be "strewn across a table" in the Pats locker room in the middle of Saturday media availability. When a reporter inquired as to, you know, what the hell the letter was doing out in the open, a Pats employee "flipped the copies face-down."

A couple of things: first, football players should be saving money anyway, regardless of the labor situation in the NFL. Irrationally plowing through millions of dollars with nary a thought to the future is just begging for Chapter 7.

Secondly, it's worth noting that the union claimed in the letter that the league plans to cancel healthcare for the union and they'll file a grievance with the NFL over the cancellation because of language in the CBA specifically requiring teams to provide health insurance "through the Plan Year in which they are released or otherwise sever employment." Healthcare plans typically refresh at the start of the calendar year, meaning teams would technically owe through the end of 2011 when it comes to health coverage, unless there's an argument that the CBA is negated and therefore it's not a requirement (or something along those lines). Either way, healthcare coverage will be a sticking point for friendly negotiations once this gets heated.

"You're going to cancel somebody's health insurance and maybe they've got a baby that's due in the offseason?" Patriots offensive lineman Matt Light said. "Yeah, it gets personal."

Finally, are we really supposed to bite on this as being a legitimate "accidental find"? That's not to say the AP reporter didn't actually discover the letters, but the players want us to believe that a ton of copies distributed from the union to the players just happened to get left on a table in a locker room (frequently inhabited by the press, mind you) for five days without anyone thinking "Hey, maybe we shouldn't let the world know about our internal deadline?"

Because that seems about as plausible as the notion that these two sides can't figure out a way to split up a ton of money before the 2010 season ends so that fans can go on their merry way and keep caring about football as the NFL's popularity continues to reach new heights.

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Posted on: November 26, 2010 3:26 pm

NFL says union 'creating economic fairy tales'

Posted by Will Brinson

Everyone spent Thursday being full of thanks for the NFL. (The NFL also spent the day being thankful for its loyal constituents -- CBS boasted our highest ratings since 1998 thanks to a fantastic New England - Detroit matchup, FOX scored its best ratings in 15 years, and the NFL Network posted it's highest ratings ever.)

Seems Friday, though, was back to the grind of political attempts at rallying certain fans to either the owners or the players side. DeMaurice Smith, NFLPA executive director, kicked things off in a Bloomberg News interview, calling the lockout a "14" on the likelihood-of-happening scale, which only goes to 10.

"The magnitude of the loss would be at the very least about $160 million to $170 million per team-city," Smith said. "That is a conservative estimate of the economic impact."

Naturally, the NFL disagrees -- NFL spokesperson Greg Aiello even called the numbers "economic fairy tales."

"It is a series of numbers pulled from thin air in a misguided attempt to inject politics into the collective bargaining process," Aiello said. "There is a fair deal to be done and soon if the union will bargain with the same fervor it displays in creating economic fairy tales."

The "soon" portion is what fans care about, but that won't stop either side from preaching the "poorer me" version of their story; George Atallah, NFLPA representative, joined Mike Florio as the guest host of the Dan Patrick Show on Friday and pleaded the players case.

"The question I have for owners is why do you keep telling the fans the players get 60 cents of each dollar when it's just not true," Atallah said.

But from the "please handle this right now, thanks!" category comes the news that Atallah said the union is committed to devoting two weeks in December to intense negotiations, and the league is open to discussions as well.

"We have told the union leaders that we will be available to meet almost any time and are working with them on scheduling our next sessions," Aiello said.

So, to sum up: football is really, really popular and makes everyone involved really, really, REALLY big piles of money. And yet, the two principle parties are so concerned with how to split the proverbial pie that they're not focusing on what's important -- getting in the kitchen and baking that sucker so that fans will pay to eat it come 2011.

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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