Posted on: November 24, 2010 7:32 pm

18-game schedule appears certain now

Posted by Andy Benoit

NFL.com ran a “Breaking News” banner across the top of its home page Wednesday night. The breaking news? According to Jason La Canfora, the league and NFLPA had a very positive discussion about the 18-game season. (The fact that the discussion took place Monday probably means this news isn’t “breaking”, but hey, can you blame the league for wanting to capitalize on a positive labor story for a change?)

In short, it looks like a virtual guarantee that the 18-game season will happen. In exchange, the players want less offseason commitments and less contact in practices. The idea is that the decrease in non-game contact will even out the impact of two more regular season games.

La Canfora writes,” The source said a great deal of progress must be made before the sides are close to an agreement, but the pace of the negotiations could be accelerating. There's no word on when the next talks will be held.”

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Category: NFL
Posted on: November 23, 2010 8:58 am

Hot Routes 11.23.10: Wade Phillips is Tom Landry?

Posted by Will Brinson

Got a link for the Hot Routes? Hit us up on Twitter (@CBSSportsNFL).
  • Wade Phillips is probably a bitter dude right now -- not only did his team totally give up on him, but the guy (Jason Garrett) that Jerry Jones hired to help Wade seemingly feigned offensive incompetence for the entire time Wade was in charge, only to "discover" his genius after taking over the team. Anyway, Wade's not going out like that, yo. He said he'd take a defensive coordinator position in the future and also pointed out that he "went out with the same winning percentage as Tom Landry." 
Posted on: November 18, 2010 6:15 pm

DeMaurice Smith: Owners 'just don't get it'

Posted by Will Brinson

Recently, Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross made a lot of comments about changes in the NFL and the ongoing labor dispute. Most notably may have been his assertion that increasing the NFL's schedule to 18 games won't increase player injuries.

In not-so-shocking news, the NFLPA, and it's executive director DeMaurice Smith, completely disagree.

"Comments like that tell me that they just don’t get it," said Smith of league management and ownership, via NFLLabor.com. "Their teammates lost two franchise quarterbacks in the same game … and the message is we shouldn’t worry about adding two more games? Men are not expendable and neither are their families."

While Smith's statement is pretty broad sweeping, and probably not an accurate portrayal in terms of the the opinion of all owners, Ross' comments did provide a pretty substantial opportunity for some NFLPA PR.

After all, you don't have to be a physics/math/statistics major to understand that if more starters are playing more plays in more games at full speed, there's a greater chance for injury on the field.

Unfortunately for everyone hoping there'll be football without interruption in 2011, the public war isn't going to increase progress on negotiations -- it'll take both sides actually sitting down with each other and working through the issues to really make a difference.

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Posted on: November 16, 2010 7:07 pm

Report: NFLPA provides counter to 18-game season

Posted by Will Brinson

NFL players clearly aren't thrilled about the prospect of an 18-game season, but it seems like something that's just going to happen, because of the financial gain at stake. If it does, though, the owners will likely need to make some concessions to the players.

The NFLPA's biggest argument against an expansion of the season is player safety and they have, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen, offered a "good faith" counterproposal to the league's extension of the regular season. Highlights of this proposal, according to Mortensen's sources, include:
  • Voluntary offseason workouts would be reduced from the current 14 weeks to five weeks or 20 days (four days a week, four-hour maximum per day).
  • Significantly reduced contact between players during training camp with four practices a week consisting of helmetless and padless periods.
  • Two in-season bye weeks.
  • Expanded rosters from the current 53 to 56 or 57, in addition to practice squads.
  • Increased pro-rated salaries for players under contract.
  • Reduction of the amount of games players need to become vested to qualify for post-career health care and pension benefits.
"We have responded to every one of the league's proposals and concerns in an effort to keep negotiations progressing in good faith," said George Atallah, union spokesman. "There are obvious concerns about an 18-game season in the absence of real information that we await."

The NFL's original proposal reportedly calls for 12 voluntary workout weeks (as opposed to the five the union wants) and a bye week following the two preseason games and then a bye during the season (as opposed to the two in-season byes the union proposed). The NFL also reportedly wants to add just one roster spot, increasing from 53 to 54.

The differences in the two sides "wants" are pretty stark, but these are also initial proposals, meaning there's likely some sort of wiggle room, although the clock is certainly ticking as we head into the second half of the NFL season.

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Posted on: November 11, 2010 7:56 pm

Goodell speaks about NFL fines, labor dispute

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

About 40 minutes before the Falcons and the Ravens were to kick off in the season debut of Thursday Night Football, NFL Network host Rich Eisen interviewed commissioner Roger Goodell about some of the hot topics of the day.

The main points Goodell made:

Responding to Ravens LB Ray Lewis’ comments that the NFL is automatically fining players for unnecessarily rough hits:

“I have great respect for Ray Lewis and the way he plays the game. I speak to him frequently about these issues. We’re not automatically fining anybody. We’re focused on certain techniques we think can be dangerous. This is not unusual to our history. We’ve made changes going back to the 1970s, the 1960s and going back farther than that. You take out technique that can lead to an injury. We’re not going to relent on making the game as safe as possible.”

What about ejecting a player after a flagrant foul?

“We think that’s too much to put on the officials.”

What about the supposed next meeting with the NFL Players Association and NFL owners not occurring until December? Where’s the sense of urgency?

“There needs to be more sense of urgency. There are talks ongoing, but they have to be more productive. We need to reach an agreement that will allow the players to continue to have success and the teams to have success.”

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Category: NFL
Posted on: October 28, 2010 9:40 am

Hot Routes 10.28.10: Why not try Kabletown?

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

- Jets owner Woody Johnson is trying to solve the Cablevision/Fox conundrum so New York's fans can, you know, actually watch the game. Yeah, good luck with that, Woody. By the way, the title of this post is in homage to 30 Rock. Kabletown doesn't actually exist. Or does it?

- George Atallah, the NFL Players Association’s assistant director of external affairs, plays off the Cablevision/Fox fight and says it’s similar to where the NFL owners and NFLPA labor dispute is headed.

- Tremendous news for a guy down on his luck. Seahawks RB Stafon Johnson – who had the whole crushed larynx thing last year and the terrible leg injury/reconstructive surgery in the preseason – is possibly only a few weeks away from beginning to run.

- Carl Johnson, the league’s vice president of officiating, told the NFL Network on Wednesday that the officials blew the Minnesota TE Visanthe Shiancoe touchdown catch/reversal from last Sunday. Yet, Vikings coach Brad Childress’ $35,000 fine will stand. No reversal on that.

- Eagles defensive coordinator Sean McDermott might be in some trouble. With his job. Not with the law or anything.

- Armando Salguero thinks Sean Smith should be starting at CB instead of Jason Allen. He might get his wish this week.

- Cardinals QB Max Hall thinks he can be so much better than he played last week when he went (gasp) 4 for 16 for 36 yards and a pick. Arizona hopes so. Sounds like Hall is going to start this week, despite suffering a concussion last Sunday.

- Here’s how Cowboys WR Miles Austin is trying to correct his “drops” problem. By focusing more. That's a pretty good idea.

- Tampa Bay’s Cody Grimm will face off this week against his father, Russ Grimm. Well, Russ Grimm won’t be playing. He’s a coach now for the Cardinals. Hopefully, though, Cody can score a free dinner off his old man.

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Posted on: October 20, 2010 12:35 pm

Hot Routes 10.20.10: Go, Matty, Go!

Posted by Will Brinson

Got a link for the Hot Routes? Hit us up on Twitter (@CBSSportsNFL).
  • Yesterday, we brought you the heroic story of something about Vince Young. Today, Matt Leinart, VY's nemesis (or something), is competing for a backup job! Yay, Matty! But seriously, couldn't you see the Texans reeling off a couple wins in a row, playing decent defense, making everyone think they're contending for the division and maybe more and then suddenly Matt Schaub's leg gets crushed in a freak bad snap play followed by every single Texans fan realizing that Leinart's their starting quarterback? Except Gary Kubiak, who thinks Leinart has the "it" factor.
  • A New York Times reader is jumping in the concussion debate, op-ed style, with a piece titled "How I Became a Head-Hunting Defensive Back."
  • Drew Brees' new baby's name? Bowen Christopher Brees. I eagerly await an explanation for why it's not "Brinson."
  • Some random folks who don't want to see football disappear because of a lockout started the Twitter account @NFLLockout. The NFLPA then asked for it in exchange for some Michael Vick posters or something, they declined and the NFLPA called Twitter and demanded to get the account. And Twitter gave it up. 
Posted on: October 17, 2010 1:06 pm

NFL could punish players for NCAA violations

Posted by Will Brinson

The agent pandemic in the NCAA seems to be reaching a breaking point (see what I did there by NOT using "tipping point" -- it's possible, people), with more and more attention being paid to the behavior of young men before they become professionals.

Our own Charlie Casserly reported on "The NFL Today" that the NFL is "considering discipling players in the form of a fine for any NCAA violations" that they committed while amateurs.

This is a good thing, even if it's not necessarily effective (millionaires, as we've seen, aren't entirely scared of the prospect of losing a couple grand) -- the NFL needs to send as much a message as it can to its future stars that violations of NCAA law are not acceptable.

Consider, for instance, the cases of Santonio Holmes and Reggie Bush. Holmes only allegedly took money as a student-athlete at Ohio State, but the extent of the investigation involved Holmes' issuing a denial (more or less anyway -- the book was quickly closed on that one). Again, Holmes only allegedly did something wrong, but because he's already a professional and long out of the NCAA's jurisdiction, whether or not he broke NCAA rules is irrelevant to him at this point.

And with Bush, his name, his former school and his current team, to an extent, were all dragged through the mud while the NCAA continued to investigate his poor decisions at USC. Those poor decisions make the NFL look bad, certainly not to the extent of a DUI or a more criminal issue, but enough so to warrant some action on the league's part.

The NFL wants to make sure that it's (completely free!) farm system remains intact. And keeping agent slime/corruption out of college football will help do that.

In fact, if there ever was, in the midst of a labor negotiation, one good reason to actually get on the same page with the NFLPA on an issue, cleaning up the agent issue is it.

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