Posted on: March 17, 2011 10:32 pm
Edited on: March 17, 2011 10:35 pm

NFL still plans to enforce conduct policy

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Earlier today we told you about the letter commissioner Roger Goodell sent to the players, asking them to convince their “union” to return to the negotiating table while laying out the owners’ final proposal before the NFLPA decertified.

I imagine the purpose of the letter was an attempt to create some dissension within the player ranks – a move that probably won’t work.

Besides, the story tonight from Foxsports.com’s Alex Marvez probably will do a really good job of uniting the players.

According to Marvez, the NFL will enforce its personal conduct policy even during the lockout. Which seems a little bit unfair, yeah? Considering, you know, the owners have barred the players from working out and rehabbing at their facilities.
NFL Labor

"While players won't be able to get the benefit of our evaluation and counseling program during the work stoppage, the personal conduct of players and employees is an integrity-of-the-game issue," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy wrote in an e-mail to Marvez. "Any misconduct that is detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in the NFL will certainly be addressed when play resumes."

Already, this offseason, Vikings CB Chris Cook was charged with brandishing a firearm during an alleged argument with a neighbor, and on this very day, former Raiders OT Mario Henderson was arrested on a gun charge.

And the NFLPA’s response: "The best amendment the NFL and the owners can make to any policy at this point is to end the lockout,” said spokesman George Atallah.

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Category: NFL
Tags: Lockout
Posted on: March 17, 2011 6:33 pm
Edited on: March 17, 2011 6:38 pm

De Smith: New deal would've been worst ever

D. Smith Posted by Josh Katzowitz

There’s been so much information (perhaps “misinformation” is a better word) thrown into the ethos by the NFL players and the owners that it’s hard to know how close they were to a new deal and who’s to blame that it didn’t happen.

The owners say the players walked away from the negotiating table. The players say they were insulted by what the owners had offered. Neither side has trust for their counterparts.

We’ve heard the inside scoop from people apparently inside the negotiating room, we’ve heard from the players themselves, and (in the form of letters and statements released by the teams) we’ve heard from the owners.

Now, we hear from NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, who told WFAN today (via Pro Football Talk) that if the trade association had accepted the owners’ offer, the deal would have gone down in history. And not in a good way.

“The NFL publicly projected by 2027, they want to have revenue numbers of approximately $25 billion,” Smith told the radio station.  “If we would have taken the worst deal in the history of sports, by the time they are making $25 billion off the backs, fingers, and legs of our players, our share of all revenue would be somewhere around 25 percent.

“My simple question to you as a fan of this sport for a long time: Does that sound fair?”

Instead what Smith wants is a 50-50 split. That wouldn’t be possible if the players went along with what the owners offered (apparently).

Even so, he said the NFLPA offered a deal in which the players gave up more money than they would have wanted.

Said Smith: “I gave them two offers, where from an economic standpoint, someone could say the players of the NFL are going backwards.  And they said no.”

NFL Labor
Of course, it’s hard to tell if that’s true, and naturally, the NFL disputes that thought.

Enter this statement from Jeff Pash, an NFL executive vice president, made to NFL Sirius radio (via nfllabor.com) :

“I think that is quite a surprising statement,” Pash said. “The deal we had on the table, which we did not put out there as a take it or leave it and didn’t set a deadline saying if you don’t accept it by this time we are going to lock you out, was meant to keep the negotiations going and keep the process going.  It would have paid the players over the next four years, 2011-2014, somewhere between $19 and 20 billion.  It would have increased pay from 2011-2014 by $640 million on a league-wide basis, $20 million per club.  It would have reduced the amount of work that is required in the off-season.

“We got rid of five weeks of the offseason program. We cut OTAs from 14 to 10 days.  We made changes in the preseason.  We put limits on full-padded practices in the regular season.  We increased days off.  We increased retirement benefits so that more than 2,000 retired players would have gotten almost a 60 percent increase in their pension benefit. We offered players the opportunity to have lifetime coverage in our medical plan.  We offered for the first time to revise our disciplinary system so that they get a third-party neutral arbitrator on all the drug and steroids cases.  We offered improvements in the disability plan, the 88 Plan, the post-career benefits, not just for medical but for post-career education and career transition programs.  There was a lot on the table that would have been significant improvements. To say it was the worst deal in the history of sports suggests a lack of familiarity with a number of professional sports deals, starting perhaps with the hockey deal in 2005 where players lost an entire season of pay and then went back to work with a 25 percent pay cut.”

Still, Pash doesn’t say what percentage the players would have received if they had taken the deal. He doesn't say what the NFL's revenue projections are. Hell, Pash doesn't even say that it was a good deal.

And so, the fans remain in the middle of what has turned into a nice, little PR battle. But again, the fans don’t care about the league releasing statements and Smith bringing heat on a radio show. They want a solution.

And they’re not getting one.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: March 17, 2011 5:31 pm

Players allowed to work out in groups

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Some (relatively) big news has emerged from the NFLPA’s annual meeting in Marco Island, Fla.

National reporters are there, including CBSSports.com’s own Clark Judge, and the development today, via Foxsports.com, is that the trade association has agreed to allow players to work out together in monitored group and individual sessions.

"(Players) want to be ready to go at a moment's notice," NFLPA spokesman George Atallah said. "They're preparing themselves and continuing to work out so if the (lockout) is lifted, guys can go back to work and will be in shape and you won't see a decline in the players' ability to perform at a very, very high level.

"That's one of the things going on: How do we make sure we're prepared to get back on the field? That's our No. 1 goal here."

There was talk earlier in this process that the NFLPA didn’t want players working out during a lockout, because it might give some leverage to the former union against the owners to get a deal done before, say, Sept. 1.

But when Saints QB Drew Brees, one of the lead plaintiffs on the Brady v NFL case, talked about getting teammates together to work out in New Orleans, it was clear the NFLPA likely would make this move.

The association is teaming up with Athletes’ Performance to help the players train, since the team-employed training staffs obviously are off-limits.

"Each guy can roll through for 2 1/2 days, leave to see their family and come back or stay continuously through the offseason," said Mark Verstegen, the NFLPA's director of player performance since 2004. "It's our culture through the NFL Players Association to make sure the players have the best support.”

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Category: NFL
Posted on: March 16, 2011 9:50 pm
Edited on: March 16, 2011 10:06 pm

Offseason workouts take on different tenor

Posted by Andy Benoit

With the doors locked at team facilities, players have to organize their own offseason workouts. You’ve probably heard stories here and there about players making arrangements to train witD. Brees (US Presswire)h teammates (off the top my head, Josh Freeman and a few Bucs, Michael Vick and a few Eagles, Dallas Clark and a few Colts, Kyle Vanden Bosch and a few Lions and Drew Brees and a few Saints come to mind).

These workouts are not the same as true offseason team workouts, of course. For one, there’s no coaching guidance. For two, it’s not Drew Brees and the Saints working out…it’s Drew Brees and A FEW Saints. These are more player-organized positional workouts than player-organized team workouts. But, boutique offseason programs are better than nothing.

The fact that Brees is organizing workouts indicates that the NFLPA is OK with players setting up their own OPA’s (Organized Player Activities – you like it?).

Jim Corbett of USA Today asked people around the league about offseason preparations in the event of a lockout. He shrewdly went to former Redskins GM Charley Casserly, who observed firsthand how organizations get ahead during a work stoppage. The Redskins, after all, won titles after the strike-shortened ’82 season and the three-week replacement players ordeal in the ’87 season.

"A number of teams have already employed the Redskins strategy before this started," Casserly said. "They had team meetings, gave outlines to players, discussed strategy for workouts."

We know the Cowboys did that with new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan in February. You can bet they weren’t the only team that had extensive meetings that month.

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Posted on: March 16, 2011 6:33 pm

Giants throw their fans a bone during lockout

Posted by Andy Benoit

Should NFL season-ticket holders have to pay to renew their seats while the NFL is locked out? Depends which team you ask. The Patriots say yes. So do 30 other teams. All are willing to repay fans, with interest, in the event that the 2011 season does not happen. (Credit Sports Illustrated’s Jim Trotter for pointing this out. The intrepid Trotter organized a review of all 32 teams' season-ticket policies.)

Only one team is willing to wait and have fans pay them once a 2011 season is assured. You can probably guess from the headline that that team is the New York Giants. John Mara broke this news himself to Mike Francesa of WFAN radio.

The Mara and Tisch families are well-respected around the league and in the New York/New Jersey community because of business practices like these.

For what it's worth, the Panthers, owned by powerful executive committee member Jerry Richardson, are willing to accept only a 10 percent payment until the lockout is lifted.

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Posted on: March 16, 2011 5:15 pm

A lost season in 2011 would cost DirecTV HUGE

Posted by Andy Benoit

If the 2011 NFL season gets does not get “unlocked out”, you can bet that plenty of people will be cancelling their DirecTV subscriptions (let’s face it…most of us football fans have, at one time or another, pined for an opportunity to do just that, given the way the satellite provider subtly increases its monthly fees a dollar or two at a time).

Even if DirecTV doesn’t see a wave of complete cancellations in the event of no football being played, they’d obviously still lose all their NFL Sunday Ticket subscriptions. This, according to Alex Sherman of Bloomberg.com, would cost DirecTV $600-750 million in revenue. And that doesn’t include the missed opportunity of bringing in new subscribers.

“We’re optimistic that we will be fine,” Michael White, DirecTV’s chief executive officer, said. “Our hope is that somewhere between now and the summer, this gets resolved, hopefully sooner rather than later.”

In the event that everything does not turn out fine, thanks to Judge David Doty, at least White’s company would not have to pay the NFL $402 million. Of course, Doty could rule that networks must still make those payments and that owners have to share the revenue with players.

Needless to say, DirecTV, like all the NFL’s television partners, is praying for a positive outcome.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: March 15, 2011 11:32 pm

Did Jerry Jones' speech to NFLPA spur a lockout?

Posted by Will Brinson

It's pretty obvious, regardless of what the two sides may say, that there's no love lost between the owners and the players in this labor dispute.

Still, a story that Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated relayed from the Wednesday mediation session, paints quite the ugly picture of Jerry Jones' behavior during what was supposed to be a time of sincere negotiating.

To set the scene: mediator George Cohen invited each owner, sitting across the table from the union's executive committee, to speak. Eventually, things came around to Jones.

"I don't think we've got your attention," Jones said to the players, per Trotter, who says several of them recounted the incident. "You clearly don't understand what we're saying, and we're not hearing what you're saying. So I guess we're going to have to show you to get your attention."

Jones then proceeded to "tap his fists together for emphasis," stand up and walk out of the room (Jerry Richardson started to leave with him, but Robert Kraft apparently kept the Panthers owner from bolting).

This went over -- as you might expect -- really, really well.

"I think everybody in the room thought it was overly dramatic, almost hilarious," one player told Trotter. "It was like a Jerry Maguire moment. You know, 'I'm leaving. Who's coming with me?' I know it didn't scare any of us."

And it subsequently led to a standoff-ish 48-hour period where it seemed like there wasn't any reason to be optimistic towards the labor talks (Thursday night was the worst of things, the actual lockout itself notwithstanding).

That non-negotiating attitude from each side, of course, led to a lawsuit and a lockout and the pretty depressing possibility that their might not be football in 2011.

Does the Jones' story shift all the blame to the owners? No. But it's pretty clear that they -- just like the players -- were prepared for this scenario and willing to go through with it if they didn't get what they want out of mediation.

That's especially problematic because it means that there won't be a solution to America's professional football issue until both sides hash out their personal problems.

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Posted on: March 15, 2011 3:56 pm
Edited on: March 15, 2011 5:38 pm

Ryan Clark goes to town on owners

Posted by Andy Benoit
R. Clark (US Presswire)
Adrian Peterson had some very harsh words about NFL owners on Tuesday, but Ryan Clark may have done him one better. The Steelers safety (and respected player rep) recently spoke with KDKA-FM.
Steelers Rapid Reporter Chuck Finder passed along some of the quotes.
In the interview, Clark took a shot at hereditary owners, including his own. “The difference between us and the owners is, my daddy didn’t give me this job. . . . When I leave this game, I can’t give my jersey to [son] Jordan and tell him to play,” he said. “There are going to be [the Giants’] Maras and Rooneys and all these guys forever who own these teams.”

He reiterated that the CBA is all about money. “We’re not going to play 18 games. That’s not even part of why we don’t have a CBA. You know if they get that money, they don’t care if we play 14 games. That CBA is not getting done because of the money.”

As for what he
NFL Labor
thinks about NFL lead negotiator Jeff Pash and the league’s proposal on Friday? “There were a lot of things that were brought to us ... it was just insane for us to think about taking. Pash actually just got on TV and lied [about financial statements and proposals]. I think it was extremely clever word play by an obviously deceitful man.”

Clark said he wanted to apologize to fans but couldn’t because the players were never even presented with a reasonable deal. “If there’s a way we can play football and not be a victim of robbery, we’ll be out there,” he said. “But we can’t make the owners come to us and give us a fair deal. It’s something that has to be negotiated; it’s going to take some time.”

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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