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Tag:CBA
Posted on: June 17, 2011 9:38 am
Edited on: June 17, 2011 10:22 am
 

Report: Some owners resistant to new labor deal



Posted by Ryan Wilson

We first saw signs of progress towards a new labor deal early this month when CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman reported that "there is still a great deal of work to do ... but it appears the owners and players have made significant headway in reaching a new labor agreement, according to multiple sources familiar with the discussions."

Save the lone report that talks almost "blew up," the subsequent news has been just as encouraging … until Friday.

According to a report from ESPN's Adam Schefter, some owners are resisting the labor deal they've spent recent weeks negotiating with the players in the hopes of ending the lockout.

"A handful of NFL owners -- at least two of which are from AFC teams -- believe the parameters of the deal being discussed don't adequately address the original issues the league wanted corrected from the 2006 collective bargaining agreement, according to sources," said Schefter.

"It is one of the primary reasons team officials are being prepped to stay an extra night in Chicago at Tuesday's owners meetings. It's not to potentially vote on a new collective bargaining agreement, as many suspected; it actually is to try to fend off some of the resistance that is mounting from a handful of NFL owners, according to sources."

Schefter also notes: "The surprise is that many thought this kind of pushback to a deal would occur within the player ranks, not among NFL owners."

We're not prepared to call it a setback yet; the owners will still meet in Chicago next week, and progress towards ending the lockout can continue. But this month has given fans, for the first time all spring, hope for actual football. If a subset of owners drag their feet, delaying the season, the PR backlash will be swift and unforgiving. Remember when fans booed Roger Goodell to start the NFL Draft? We'll look back on that and consider it cute.

ProFootballTalk.com's Mike Florio doesn't think it will come to that. "The reality is that, in the end, a handful of owners have no power to derail a deal. A new agreement still can be approved with 24 of 32 votes. (Apparently, there’s a belief in some circles that the committee negotiating the CBA already has the authority to do a deal without further approval. Multiple sources have advised us that any proposal still must be approved by 75 percent of the owners.)"

In the end, this is about money. That's no secret. But unlike most high-level negotiations involving billions of dollars, this is played out on a public stage. There are financial concerns, certainly, but just like politicians running for (or trying to stay in) office, owners have to answer to their constituents.

There's still time to come to a resolution, though. "One NFL executive has been urging the league for weeks that, in order for the full preseason schedule to be played, an agreement between the NFL and NFLPA would have to occur no later than July 14," Schefter said.

And while the owners and players are closer than ever to agreeing to a new CBA, some owners remember the previous negotiations in 2006 that favored the players and ultimately led us to this point. Which, as far as fans are concerned, can be boiled down to rich people fighting over how to split the winnings.

That's not entirely accurate, but it's the perception. And sometimes, perception trumps reality.

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Posted on: June 15, 2011 7:12 pm
Edited on: June 15, 2011 7:41 pm
 

2-day talks end; owners, players 'moving forward'

Posted by Ryan Wilson

The week started on a high note, and for the first time all spring the promise of a 2011 season not only seemed possible, but imminent. More than that, the acrimony between owners and players (and the lawyers that represented them), palpable for most of the lockout, suddenly melted away. Not to overdramatize the past few days, but hope is a powerful emotion, particularly for fans who live and die with their NFL teams.

The recent secret meetings between the two sides was almost simultaneously described as "heading in the right direction" and nearly "blowing up." The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle (though the optimist in us likes to think a new deal is "80-85 percent complete").

For now, however, owners and players will retire to their respective corners to reevaluate what just transpired and regroup for future get-togethers. (Note to interested parties: give the lawyers the wrong address for the next round of meetings. Trust us, it's for the best.)

As for the just-concluded two-day talks, NFL.com's Albert Breer writes that "According to sources, the talks remain productive and are moving forward, though a resolution to the three-month-old lockout is not on the immediate horizon.

"Both sides have evaluated and strongly considered the concessions and compromises that could ultimately lead to the problem being solved, though, and sources indicated an agreement could come within a month."

The sides also released a joint statement Wednesday, and promised to keep the media out of the proceedings. Their statement:

“Discussions between NFL owners and players under the auspices of Chief Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan took place again this week and will continue. At the request of Judge Boylan, both sides have agreed to maintain the confidentiality of the substance of the talks.”

Next up for the owners: a June 21 meeting outside Chicago. The meeting is scheduled for one day but could drag on longer as both sides presumably work toward a deal.

The players, meanwhile, will continue to workout -- both informally and on their own -- with renewed hopes for an NFL season.

"Probably a sense of urgency with the season just around the corner," Saints quarterback Drew Brees said Wednesday. "The general understanding from everybody is that if we don't have something done by July it would be hard to start on time."

Well, no time like the present, fellas.

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Posted on: June 15, 2011 11:20 am
Edited on: June 15, 2011 11:34 am
 

Report: CBA talks almost blew up Tuesday

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

On Tuesday, a new sense of optimism invaded the NFL world, especially after CBSSports.com’s own Mike Freeman reported that labor negotiations were 80-85 percent complete and that it would be difficult for either side to screw up the progress (naturally, I followed up with a post about how the talks COULD be screwed up).

Today, though, there have been tweets here and there dispelling some of the enthusiasm that a new CBA could be forthcoming soon (an example from NFL spokesman Greg Aiello: “As late, legendary George Young said: ‘There is no such thing as close. It’s either done or it isn’t.’”)

And now ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter is reporting that talks almost blew up Tuesday, and not surprisingly, the incident occurred after the lawyers were let back into the negotiations – ahem, that was No. 1 on my list of reasons that could derail the negotiations.

From Schefter:

How close it did (come to blowing up) is a matter of opinion. But what is factual is that the moment came shortly after lawyers from both sides were brought back into the process. As tensions rose and anger grew, two sources said NFL Players Association leader DeMaurice Smith instructed his lawyers to "stand down."

With the lawyers removed from the direct negotiations, the process was said to get back on track and to a good spot. The incident is an example of just how tenuous these talks can be and how quickly they can be derailed.

But it also is the ultimate proof that (DeMaurice) Smith and his players, and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and the owners have taken the process out of the hands of the attorneys and demanded that they control it as the two sides try to hammer out a collective bargaining agreement.


If Tuesday was an overly-optimistic day, then today’s news is a bit of a slap in the face. But the two sides are talking – and really, since nobody is talking on the record, it’s hard to know exactly what is going on – and that’s always a good sign.

Now, if they could just keep the lawyers out of the room.

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Posted on: June 14, 2011 6:47 pm
Edited on: June 14, 2011 6:59 pm
 

What the NFL, NFLPA should NOT do

GoodellPosted by Josh Katzowitz

In case you missed it, CBSSports.com’s own Mike Freeman reported that negotiations between the players and the owners to end the lockout and establish a new Collective Bargaining Agreement are 80-85 percent complete.

Which means that confidence is at an all-time high that a new CBA will be struck sooner rather than later and the NFL season will begin on time.

As Freeman writes, “That doesn't mean the negotiations can't revert back to the primordial days of disgust and hatred, or that the talks can't implode. It does mean, however, that the discussions are in such a good place it would be difficult for even the most selfish, destructive personality to affect them.”

And as one source told him, “It's going to be very difficult for this to get screwed up.”

That said, here are three ways the negotiations can, in fact, be screwed up (not that I’m hoping for this to happen).

Let the lawyers back in for major negotiations: It’s funny, isn’t it? When the attorneys for both sides aren’t in the negotiating room, significant progress is made. Three weeks ago, the pessimism about a new CBA was extremely high. I’m not saying the attorneys are solely to blame. But Jeff Pash for the NFL and Jeffrey Kessler for the NFLPA didn’t help matters. Not only did the attorneys make life more difficult for everyone at the negotiating table, but the owners didn’t trust Kessler and the players didn’t trust Pash. Three weeks ago, there seemed little reason to hope. But after secret meetings in Chicago (without lawyers present), followed by more meetings in New York last week (without lawyers) and more talks this week (with lawyers), all of a sudden, it seems like we’re very close to ending our long national nightmare. All of a sudden, we get real optimism. Obviously, the lawyers will need to be in the room at some point in order to help write the CBA – and reports said they were in there today – but if they can stay out of the major negotiating points (and it sounds like they have), that would be a big help.

DeMaurice SmithLet the combatants open their mouths: When Roger Goodell or DeMaurice Smith (or any of the lawyers, as mentioned above) start popping off to the media, phrases get highlighted. Like when Smith congratulated the NFL for being the first sports league to sue to stop games from being played (not entirely true) or when the NFL kept sending letters to players to get the union back together and to negotiate even after the NFLPA had disbanded (not entirely helpful). Those words and actions simply don’t help the cause. As a member of the media, I hate it when there’s some kind of blackout where a group of people are not speaking with the press. But in this case, I think we’ll all take it if it means a deal is struck between the two sides and no football is missed and non-football personnel can get back to work with salaries fully implemented.

Let the court system make the decision: Maybe Goodell was right after all. He’s been saying all along that a new CBA would be generated at the negotiating table and not in the courtroom. And maybe the NFLPA chose not to believe him, because, historically, the courts have sided with the players. But when the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals granted the NFL a permanent stay in order to keep the lockout in place, it was a major blow for the players. And when Appeals Court judge Kermit Bye told both sides they’d be better off solving the labor situation themselves, maybe both sides saw his point. Yes, the players might have been more desperate after the court ruling (especially when you saw how much the Appeals Court questioned the District Court’s decision), but the owners also seem ready for this storm to slip out to sea.
As is just about everybody else in the free world. Here’s hoping somebody doesn’t screw this thing up.

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Posted on: June 9, 2011 11:36 am
Edited on: June 9, 2011 12:10 pm
 

Judge moves NFL's motion to dismiss up to Aug. 29

Posted by Ryan Wilson

The NFL filed a motion Monday to dismiss the original antitrust complaint from the players in Brady v. NFL. The scheduled date of the hearing? September 12.

Yep, that's one day after the first Sunday of what would be the 2011 NFL season. But as CBSSports.com's Will Brinson pointed out earlier this week, the greater purpose of the motion is that "it pushes back the deadline for the NFL to file an answer in response to the players' complaint."

According to the Associated Press, the September 12 date has been changed. The hearing has been moved up to August 29.

"U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson issued Wednesday an amended notice on the league's motion to dismiss the lawsuit," the AP reports. … "Owners and players met Wednesday for a second straight day in New York, talks toward a new agreement to end the impasse and put the NFL back in business for 2011."
NFL Labor

As Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio notes, the new date doesn't mean much since "it’s unlikely that there will be a quick decision, unless Judge Nelson decides to summarily deny the motion from the bench."

In related, happier news, CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman wrote this morning that the owners and players met again Wednesday night and while there's still a ways to go, the two sides are making an effort to work together. Perhaps even more encouraging: Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith are on their way to becoming BFFs. (Or, at the very least, they can now tolerate being in the same room. Hey, it's a start.)

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Posted on: June 6, 2011 8:15 pm
Edited on: June 7, 2011 5:40 am
 

NFL files Motion to Dismiss, hearing set for 9/12

Posted by Will Brinson

On Monday, the NFL filed a motion to dismiss the original antitrust complaint from the players in Brady v. NFL. More interestingly, this motion will now be heard on September 12, 2011.

Yes, that does happen to be one day after the first Sunday of the NFL's regular season, thanks for asking.

The motion to dismiss in and of itself was brief -- just two pages -- but the purpose that the motion serves is a greater one because it pushes back the deadline for the NFL to file an answer in response to the players' complaint.

Now that answer won't be due until after the motion is heard, which is after the season begins. This is beneficial for the NFL, the players and the fans because it allows the two sides to continue negotiating without being obstructed by a public legal document, especially one in which the NFL responds -- perhaps in a personal manner -- to serious antitrust allegations.
NFL Labor

And then there's the fact that if both sides have to actually end up going to court for this hearing, it will occur one day after 9/11, when the NFL and the players have decided to skip the first week of the season.

Whether or not memorials for fallen Americans should veer into the realm of public relations is beside the point; missing the first week of the season would be an abject PR disaster.

Hopefully, this would-be extension of time allows the two sides to avoid that nightmarish scenario.

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Posted on: June 5, 2011 11:11 pm
Edited on: June 5, 2011 11:12 pm
 

How does a ruling 'neither side will like' occur?

Posted by Will Brinson

Following the now-infamous June 3 hearing in front of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Kermit Bye indicated to the NFL and the NFLPA that the court wouldn't be insulted if the two sides reached a settlement before the court reached a ruling.

And Bye also said that if the two sides couldn't find common ground, the court wouldn't exactly be opposed to rendering a ruling that "neither side will like." That seems like a difficult proposition, but it's not entirely out of the question.

In fact, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk (who's an actual licensed attorney) put together a pretty good explanation of it on Sunday.

Basically, the Court of Appeals can rule that 1) the lockout is still on and that the lockout can last for a full year, and 2) there is a six-month limit on the non-statutory antitrust exemption.
NFL Labor

And what that means is while the lockout could last throughout the entire 2011 season, the antitrust exemption would end on September 11. And what that means is that if the lockout did last for the entire year, the owners would potentially be liable -- in the Brady v. NFL antitrust suit -- for triple the entire 2011 NFL payroll.

Obviously, that's a LOT of cheddar; such liability creates a highly unfavorable scenario for the owners even as the idea of missing a year's worth of paychecks would create some substantial panic amongst all the NFL's players.

Which is precisely why, as our own Mike Freeman reported recently, that it actually makes a ton of sense for the two sides to get together and hammer out a deal before the 8th Circuit has to issue a ruling.

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Posted on: May 25, 2011 4:34 pm
Edited on: May 25, 2011 9:10 pm
 

NFL Coaches Association brief: 'End the lockout'

Posted by Will Brinson

On Wednesday, the NFL Coaches Association became the newest party of interest to file an Amicus Brief with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

And, despite the stance of the people who cut their checks, the NFLCA cited numerous issues -- as well as CBSSports.com's own Mike Freeman! -- that the lockout would cause for coaches before urging the court to "end the lockout."

"The burdens of little job security and frequent moves mean that a prolonged lockout would inflict significant economic harm and career risks on the coaches," the NFL Coaches Association attorneys wrote in the brief.

Additionally, the NFLCA cited an aspect of the coaching business (or, at least, the business of negotiating coaches' contracts) that hadn't really been made public up to this point.

Namely, that teams were planning ahead when it came to how they wanted to pay their respective coaching staffs.

"Anticipating a lockout, the NFL teams for the past several years have been demanding a provision in the coaches employment contracts (which are negotiated individually with each coach) that authorizes the employing team to withhold part of a coach's salary in the event that league operations were suspended," the Coaches Association attorneys wrote.

There's nothing ethically wrong with negotiating such clauses into contracts. And the resulting money saved isn't part of the players' pie, like the "war chest" fund that was created as a result of television contract negotiations.
Owners Meetings/Labor News

But it still kind of leaves a bad taste to think that the NFL had been planning ahead for this summer and doing so at the expense of the men who put the finished product on the field.

"The Coaches Association offices with the Players Association in Washington," the NFL said, per Albert Breer of the NFL Network. "So this comes as no surprise."

Those men, however, went unnamed in the NFLCA's suit. No individual coach, as was the case with Brady v. NFL, was a named plaintiff in the suit.

But there is a reference to numerous coaches who are being particularly damaged by the lockout as a result of their inability to work with their new teams.

"The lockout, if left in force, will prevent the coaches from meaningfully preparing and readying themselves for the season," the brief reads. "While all the coaches will be exposed to greater risk of failure, the eight teams with new coaching staffs are at particular risk."

In a citation for that portion of the brief, the NFLCA also points out that "there are also three additional coaches who have only spent one season with their teams (Mike Shanahan, Chan Gailey, and Pete Carroll)" who will be significantly affected by the lockout.

Jack Del Rio and Gary Kubiak are specifically mentioned as coaches who "reportedly received an ultimatum from their team's owner that their teams must make the playoffs to keep their jobs."

In short, the NFLCA believes that close to half of the coaches in the NFL are being put at a systematic disadvantage by the the court's decision to continue the lockout.

"The NFLCA therefore urges the Court to grant the petitioners equitable relief and end the NFL lockout," the NFLCA's lawyers wrote in their conclusion. "Granting equitable relief will also permit the NFL’s coaches to avoid the irreparable harm that comes with delaying the start of preseason preparations and will give the coaches a fair chance to preserve their employment and advance their careers."

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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