Posted on: July 16, 2010 2:29 pm

NFLPA wants answers

In this Associated Press story , which cites a report Thursday in the Sports Business Journal, it’s being reported that the NFL Players Association has served subpoenas to the NFL, commissioner Roger Goodell and former NFLPA president Troy Vincent asking for all documents that could lead to clues of possible collusion.

Vincent, who now works for the NFL as the vice president of development after losing a bid for the union chief position that went to DeMaurice Smith, has been accused of meeting with NFL officials while he was still with the NFLPA and providing them with confidential union information.

From the AP story:

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said, "We have no comment on any aspect of this litigation between the NFLPA and one of its former employees."

The union has acknowledged cooperating with a Department of Labor probe into the alleged meetings, which were revealed in a lawsuit filed against the union by Mary Moran. The longtime employee claims she was wrongfully removed from her job as director of human resources because of her role as a confidential informant in the investigation.

In court documents filed in District of Columbia Superior Court, Moran said she provided evidence that Vincent and other union members met with Goodell and Houston Texans owner Bob McNair, allegedly to provide the league access to confidential union information.

The NFL has steadfastly denied the allegations, noting that it's common for Goodell to meet with players and union executives, including Vincent.

--Josh Katzowitz
<i>For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow <a href="http://twitter.com/CBSSportsNF
L">@cbssportsnfl</a> on Twitter.</i>

Category: NFL
Posted on: July 14, 2010 10:01 pm

What does the Packers financials mean?

Brad Biggs of the National Football Post has a good breakdown of the Packers opening their ledgers to the masses and how that will affect what the owners and the NFL Players Association say during their negotiations for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement and how they spin it to the media.

If you’re the owners, you can look at the fact that Green Bay’s overall revenue and net profit rose.

However …

From the article:

But like most things, it’s not quite that simple. The operating profit, the number the owners are going to cling to, dropped significantly. The Packers reported an operating profit of $9.8 million, which is less than half of the $20.1 million it was at a year ago and far off from the $34 million the figure stood at from 2006-2007. Team president Mark Murphy said player costs are growing at twice the rate of revenue. Yes, you can expect to hear more of that in the near future.

So, let’s hear what the NFLPA had to say. In his response on the association’s web site , NFLPA president Kevin Mawae wrote, "It’s 1/32nd of the financial information we’ve requested in response to their demand that we give back $1 billion and increase our risk of injury by playing two additional games."

Vikings DE Jared Allen seconded that notion in a statement released by the NFLPA: "I agree with Kevin Mawae. First it was 18 percent, then it was 18 games. I can't believe that a CBA couldn't be done quickly if teams gave us the same information that Green Bay just did."

Maybe, maybe not. But the owners aren’t going to allow that to happen. Until then, we’ll wonder if Green Bay’s financial details are the rule or the exception to it.

--Josh Katzowitz

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter.

Posted on: July 1, 2010 7:48 pm

Possible charges of collusion against NFLPA

An interesting post made by Pro Football Talk , citing Liz Mullen of the SportsBusiness Journal who wrote that there’s an ongoing federal investigation to determine if the NFL Players Association and the league itself have colluded with each other.

According to Mullen, via PFT, the Department of Labor is investigating whether NFLPA leaders conspired to give information to the NFL that would hinder the union in upcoming CBA negotiations. Allegedly, former NFLPA president Troy Vincent met with owners to weaken the stance of the NFLPA.

If any of this true, how devastating would this be for the members of the NFLPA? If you can’t trust your union – if you can’t trust former players like Vincent – to stick up for you, who the heck is going to do it? If true, it’d be a sad, sad day for the NFLPA.

--Josh Katzowitz

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter.

Category: NFL
Posted on: June 28, 2010 11:00 am

Issue of lockout doesn't bother rookies

Commissioner Roger Goodell addressed a roomful of draft picks during the annual NFL rookie symposium on Sunday night, and a little surprisingly, the topic of the potential lockout for 2011 never arose.

"I opened it up for questions, and there wasn't a question about that," Goodell told reporters after his presentation, which wasn’t open to the media.

It’s a tad surprising, because all these big names who will sign big-money contracts before heading to training camps next month stand to lose quite a bit if the NFL and the NFL Players Association can’t come to terms on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Yeah, I can understand why a 22-year-old rookie would be a little intimidated to ask Goodell about a subject that’s a tad touchy, but out of 252 players who are at the symposium this week, you’d think at least one would have cleared his throat to ask about the possibility of losing their livelihood after this season.

As for the potential of labor talks with the NFL Players Association, there’s not much new for Goodell to report.

“There are really no developments of any significance,” Goodell said, as quoted on nfl.com . “There is talk: we had a meeting just last week. There'll be an agreement at some point. Everyone would like it sooner rather than later, whether it's the players, the owners or the fans. So I think it's important for us all to get down and get more productive dialogue. Sometimes these things don't happen until you get a little closer to the end (of the current collective bargaining agreement, which expires in March of 2011). That's just the reality."

--Josh Katzowitz

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter.

Category: NFL
Posted on: June 20, 2010 4:12 pm

What about the journeymen?

The hot topic of the past week has been an expanded schedule and what the owners and players think about it.

I think the majority of us agree that the NFL eventually will move to an 18-game regular season schedule, probably when the owners and the NFL Players Association negotiate a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. In order for that to happen, the owners likely will have to give concessions to the players based on, perhaps, expanded health care or, more likely, a stricter set of standards regarding contact during off-season and in-season practices.

The 18-game schedule simply makes too much sense for the owners and for the fans, and despite the players’ objections now – I haven’t talked to or heard from a player who says they’re in favor of it (if I’m missing somebody, let me know) – they’ll eventually agree to the new idea.

But the National Football Post’s Matt Bowen – who played seven seasons for four teams – brings up a good point. What about the fringe players who need the extra two preseason games to show why they should fill one of the final spots on a 53-man roster? What about the preseason evaluation process?

From his story:

The reason I bring this up is because of my own experience and from seeing rookies and older veterans scratch and claw to make that final cut. They need the time and they need the opportunities. Yes, they may not make that exact club’s final roster, but if they can make a play or two on special teams, show the ability to play within the basic schemes in the fourth quarter of preseason games and — hopefully — show enough potential on tape, then they may catch on somewhere else at some point in the regular season.

One solution to combat this issue perhaps is to expand the rosters. One solution, as discussed by Packers president Mark Murphy, is to erect a developmental league. One solution is to forget about the idea of 18 games altogether.

While the minute details of the CBA negotiations might be boring – if the two sides ever begin to negotiate for real – I’ll be interested to see exactly how an 18-game schedule will work and what the owners will give to the players in return.

--Josh Katzowitz

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter.

Category: NFL
Posted on: June 19, 2010 6:53 pm

NFL takes on NFLPA over TV Money

There’s a business article on NFLLabor.com that provides some mild entertainment (as business stories go) simply because of its blatantly bias tone. The article is a Q and A published by the NFL. It attacks – and perhaps with the wording of certain questions, even mocks – the NFLPA’s complain about how owners stand to make money through television deals even if there is a lockout. It’s a quick, worthwhile read. Just keep in mind that this is one side of an argument. For a further explanation and a look at the NFLPA’s side, you can also check out Mike Florio’s analysis on ProFootballTalk.com.

--Andy Benoit

For more NFL new, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter
Category: NFL
Tags: CBA, NFL Labor, NFLPA
Posted on: June 18, 2010 9:22 am
Edited on: June 18, 2010 9:36 am

More on the expanded schedule

Similar to our interview Thursday with Bengals LT (and NFLPA player rep) Andrew Whitworth – who is rather cool to the idea of an expanded 18-game regular-season schedule unless the players receive increased health care or decreased contact during practices – CBSSports.com senior writer Clark Judge spoke to some New York Giants players Thursday to get their opinions.

Not surprisingly, their thoughts weren’t much different than Whitworth’s.

A sampling of quotes. One from DE Justin Tuck: "You're going to have a lot of disgruntled players if this happens. I don't see how it benefits the NFL. I think it's going to cause more problems than solutions."

And one from C Shaun O’Hara: "It's hard enough to get through 16 (games), and that's our No. 1 concern -- the injury factor. I think everybody knows the injury rate in the NFL is 100 percent. There isn't a player who hasn't been injured. It's not a matter of 'if.' It's a matter of 'when.' So if you tell the players that you're going to increase their opportunities for injury, of course, we're all very hesitant to commit to that."

Even if a change like this doesn’t make sense for the players, it’s not hard to see that this adjustment will be made – perhaps as early as the 2012 season. Yeah, it might suck for the players, who will end up getting concessions from the owners because of the change, while causing more injuries and shortening careers. But it’s a win-win for the fans and the game in general. No matter Tuck’s opinion, an expanded schedule does benefit the game, and that’s probably enough to make it happen.

--Josh Katzowitz

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter.

Posted on: June 17, 2010 11:58 pm
Edited on: June 18, 2010 12:05 am

More NFL teams violating the CBA

And then there were four. Four teams, that is, that have been forced by the NFL to cut back their OTA practices for failing to adhere to the Collective Bargaining Agreement where it pertains to the intensity and tempo of offseason workouts.

Already, Baltimore and Oakland had been busted for violating the CBA. Today, the NFL determined that Jacksonville and Detroit also had violated the rules, and therefore, the Jaguars and the Lions will have to forgo their OTA days for June 21-22.

Players are not permitted to be at the team site for those days, except for injury treatment, but they’ll still be paid.

Here’s what it says in the CBA regarding offseason workouts:

Contact work (e.g., “live” blocking, tackling, pass rushing, bump-and-run), is expressly prohibited in all off-season workouts.

Voluntary off-season workout programs are intended to provide training, teaching and physical conditioning for players. The intensity and tempo of drills should be at a level conducive to learning, with player safety as the highest priority, and not at a level where one player is in a physical contest with another player.

The following rules shall also apply to the fourteen (14) days of organized team practice activity:

• No pads except protective knee or elbow pads. Helmets are permitted.
• No live contact; no live contact drills between offensive and defensive linemen.
• 7-on-7, 9-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills will be permitted, providing no live contact takes place.
• The NFL will monitor all Clubs during the off-season to ensure player safety and adherence to live contact guidelines.
• Maximum six (6) hours per day, with a maximum two (2) hours on field, for any player.

What’s so interesting to me is that, more than likely, a current member of that team turned in his squad to the NFLPA. The NFL, sometimes, has operatives who come to town to check that teams are adhering to the CBA and sometimes, it reviews teams’ practice videos, but it seems unlikely that was the case for all four teams.

So, what does that say? Is the fact a team member righted what was a CBA wrong a commendable action? Or does that make him a pansy?

“You don’t want to rat out your teammates,” one veteran DB told me. “I mean, something had to be said to the (NFL)PA. That goes back to the old saying, ‘If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying,’ but the PA is still there to protect the players.”

Does this happen quite a bit, though? The player to whom I talked, after all, has competed for four teams.

“It happens,” he said. “But you can’t worry about it. You have to worry about your own self.”

I also talked to a recently-retired defensive lineman about this issue, and he said the league should make it easy – have all OTAs be considered a passing camp. The linemen, he said, shouldn’t have to pound on each so much in the offseason, considering the beating they take during the regular season.

As for Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio, here’s what he told the media today: "Unfortunately it’s been decided by the (NFL) PA and the Management Council that we were somehow going beyond the limits that they had established for us, and while I don’t necessarily agree with that assessment of what we’ve been doing, we are going to respect that decision. … I don’t think in any way this diminishes the amount of work we were able to get done; the energy and the effort was outstanding. I feel like we accomplished a great deal as a young football team that’s very hungry, that’s very eager.”

Del Rio also said next work’s workouts were simply going to be a review of what already had been installed. The Florida Times-Union’s Vito Stellino tweeted this about the punishment: “The ironic thing is that the writers had nicknamed Del Rio's camps Cub Med in the pas(t) because of a lack of hitting in pads.”

As for the Lions, they’ll still hold their mini-camp June 23-25, and GM Martin Mayhew said in a statement the organization will continue to respect the league’s rules and regulations. Meanwhile, running back Kevin Smith said he expects his teammates to participate in cardio work on their own.

“You don’t want to take four or five days off before a minicamp that’s going to be pretty intense, Smith told the Detroit Free Press .

--Josh Katzowitz

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter.

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