Posted on: March 10, 2011 4:48 pm
Edited on: March 10, 2011 5:14 pm

Liz Mullen of 'SBJ' talks latest labor news

Posted by Will Brinson
NFL Labor

For whatever reason, I've felt especially compelled to fire out podcasts this week, and, luckily, I've been able to land some pretty awesome guests. Add Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal to that list.

Liz joined the show Thursday afternoon to discuss the latest word on labor negotiations, whether the owners are going to open their books to the NFLPA, how the NFL labor situation differs from other leagues, and whether or not there's reason to be optimistic about the current state of negotiations.

Just hit the play button below and don't forget to Subscribe via iTunes.

If you can't view the podcast, click here to download .
Posted on: March 10, 2011 1:27 pm

Report: NFL, NFLPA financial gap under $700M

Posted by Will Brinson

Though there's some discord amongst owners about opening up the books, as our Mike Freeman reported Thursday, there's still apparently progress being made in the labor discussions between the NFL and NFLPA.

Per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, the two sides have gotten the revenue sharing gulf that separates them down to $700 million. That seems kind of pedantic, because it's a lot of money, but it does signify movement -- originally it began at $1 billion and was later reported to be around the $750-$800 million range.

Mark Maske of the Washington Post also reports that the number is "substantially" under the $700 million mark.

What makes this interesting is that earlier this week, the NFLPA said it wouldn't give up "$1 more" without some more financial transparency from the league.
NFL Labor

While the gap shortening doesn't necessarily preclude the NFLPA sitting tight, it does seem to indicate some sort of compromise, and probably means that the owners providing some information to the union at least helped shorten the gap.

Again, even if they're down to $500 million, there's still a huge gap between the two sides. But as the clock winds down on the deadline for mediation, seeing significant progress on one of the three major issues at least provides a glimmer of hope for those that don't want to see football played out in a courtroom.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: March 10, 2011 9:55 am

Mike Freeman on labor, NFL owners opening books

Posted by Will Brinson
NFL Labor

New developments on the labor front? You betcha. (In this case, it's the union saying 18 games is out of question and then filing a motion to unlock the TV case records from Judge Doty's courtroom.)

So that means a new podcast, too. Mike Freeman, CBSSports.com national columnist, is on the horn this time to talk about whether or not there's reason for optimism in the labor talks, why the owners are refusing to open up the books, what a ruling in this television case could mean, and what to expect from the labor negotiations over the next two days.

Just hit the play button below and don't forget to Subscribe via iTunes.

If you can't view the podcast, click here to download .
Posted on: March 10, 2011 12:13 am
Edited on: March 10, 2011 12:18 am

Union asks Doty to unseal records in TV case

Posted by Will Brinson

Last week, Judge David Doty in Minnesota dropped a pretty big bombshell on the NFL, ruling that the league couldn't use nearly $4 billion in "lockout insurance" stemming from television contracts.

Doty's descriptive language in his ruling drew quite a bit of attention, particularly the part about DirecTV having to pay more if there was a work stoppage in 2011 than if there wasn't. And now the NFLPA has filed a motion to have Doty unseal the evidence and testimony from the proceedings in the broadcast revenues case.

"The NFL cannot be permitted to comment publicly about these proceedings and then turn around to embrace a cloak of confidentiality that thwarts the public’s right to know," union lawyers wrote in the memorandum. "The NFL Bears the burden of showing the need to keep the underlying record sealed. Despite the opportunity, no such showing has been made."

In its motion, the NFLPA also argued that the league hasn't explained why the records are sealed and is refusing to cooperate with the union's attempts to redact certain portions of the records in order to protect "third-party information" as it relates to broadcast partners.

NFL Labor

Clearly, this is an attempt to ramp up the public pressure on ownership as the deadline for mediation closes, but the NFL doesn't seem to be taking the bait immediately.

"We will respond to that filing in due course," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told the Associated Press.

At some point, it seems likely that the NFL's records (financial, legal or otherwise) will see the light of day. And that'll likely either be voluntary or through the stage of legal discovery.

But with the sports-watching world genuinely concerned as to whether or not football will get played in 2011, withholding information that could lead to a settlement of the labor issues isn't doing the NFL any public relations favors.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: March 9, 2011 8:21 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2011 8:33 pm

DeMaurice Smith on 18 games: 'We're not doing it'

Posted by Will Brinson

The labor discussions between the NFL and NFLPA center around three main points: revenue sharing, a rookie wage scale and an 18-game schedule. According to DeMaurice Smith, Executive Director for the Players Association, the schedule issue is no longer on the bargaining table.

That's what he told Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated -- who recently appeared on our Eye on Football podcast -- Wednesday evening anyway.

"First of all, the league has never presented a formal proposal for 18 games," Smith said, per Trotter. "But more importantly, it's something that our players don't want. Eighteen games is not in the best interest of our players' safety, so we're not doing it."

There are two days worth of mediation remaining before the current CBA deadline expires, which makes these strong words indeed.

Smith, apparently, spoke to fans after Wednesday's mediation session adjourned, when he had some similarly strong comments about the owners' willingness to open their books.

"How much financial information would you want before you write a $5 billion check?" Smith asked following mediation.

NFL Labor

Provided that Smith and the union won't budge on this issue, and provided that the prior report about a tentative rookie-wage scale are accurate, negotiations between now and Friday could become quite interesting.

If those two issues are off the table, then negotiating a new CBA would come down to revenue sharing, and nothing else. If the owners will allow the union to stand fast by their stance on the schedule, it's conceivable that the union will cave some on the list of required financial documents. (Although the investment bank they hired for an audit may not let them, based on available information.)

On the other hand, this could just as easily lead to a full-on disintegration of any possible CBA discussion and prompt the Armageddon scenario that involves decertification and lots of lawsuits. Either way, the union has made its stance on schedule expansion clear, and they don't appear to be budging.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: March 9, 2011 7:07 pm

Podcast: Maury Brown talks NFL, NFLPA mediation

Posted by Will Brinson
NFL Labor

Another day of labor negotiations, another podcast, and this time Maury Brown of BizofFootball.com (and the Business of Sports Networks) joins me to chat about the current state of labor negotiations.

We discuss how much the reported rookie wage scale will actually help the talks between the NFL and NFLPA, whether or not the owners should open up their books, the (very important) difference between "decline in cash flow" and "losing money," and his thoughts on how the rest of the negotiations will unfold.

Just hit the play button below and don't forget to Subscribe via iTunes.

If you can't view the podcast, click here to download .
Posted on: March 9, 2011 6:20 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2011 6:48 pm

Why owners don't want an antitrust suit

Posted by Will Brinson
NFL Labor

As everyone knows by now, the big sticking point in the NFL and NFLPA negotiations is revenue sharing, and it involves the owners opening up their books.

If the owners open up those books, they will be scrutinized by auditors for the union, which is something the owners don't want happening.

Worse than that, for the owners, is the possibility of the two sides getting involved in a court battle and having all those finances publicly splashed all over legal documents vis-a-vis testimony and/or discovery.

Want proof that will end poorly for the owners? How about recalling the last time it happened, in 1992, when Robert Noll, a Stanford University economics professor, testified that the NFL's $1.3 billion in revenue was "substantially understated."

Per an old-school New York Times article, the NFL reported operating profits at $163 million. However, Noll testified that such a number was "shielded from costs such as the $600,000 per team contributed to the World League of American Football and two antitrust lawsuits that are 'the costs of defending and maintaining a monopoly.'"

This was big news in 1992, obviously, but it wasn't the sort of news that got splashed all over Twitter or replayed 24/7 on every single sports-related television channel. That's because those things didn't exist as such back then. They do now, and such testimony, were it to become public, would be ugly news for the owners.

Oh yes, and there was the financial document showing that Norman Braman, Eagles owner at the time, paid himself a $7.5 million salary. Which wasn't counted as profit.  

Add in 20 years worth of inflation, and whatever gets reported should play just wonderfully with the press, especially with in this economic climate.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: March 9, 2011 3:59 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2011 5:40 pm

Report: owners, NFLPA agree on rookie wage scale

S. Bradford (US Presswire)Posted by Andy Benoit

Well, at least some progress is being made in the labor negotiations. There is still the division of $9 billion to figure out. But in the meantime, the NFL and NFLPA has agreed that a much smaller chunk of that $9 billion than in past years will go to rookies.

Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports writes, “According to two sources familiar with the negotiations, the league and the union have reached a basic compromise on a rookie wage scale that will replace the current rookie salary cap. The owners backed off the idea of requiring first-round picks to sign five-year deals, instead limiting the contracts to four years before a player could become a free agent. The agreement is also expected to include a stipulation limiting the amount of guaranteed money and signing bonus offered to draft picks.”

The agreement also says that players drafted after the first round can become free agents after three years, though teams can be restricted tags (i.e. RFA tender) after three years. That’s essentially the same arrangement as before.

But the focus is on the first-rounders. Previously, players picked 1-16 could sign six-year deals; players picked 17-32 could sign for five years. But a shorter four-year deal allows good players to reach free agency faster. That’s key when you’re talking about limiting those players’ salaries.

NFL Labor

It is not yet known just how limited those salaries will be. Cole reports that the owners’ initial offer was for the top overall pick to receive a five-year deal worth $19 million, with $6 million guaranteed. That would be about a $44 million drop from what Sam Bradford received last year.

A rookie wage scale has significant impact on the value of draft picks. No longer will holding a top five pick be a curse. Don’t be surprised if teams that normally horde late-round picks (say, the Patriots, for example) suddenly discover a newfound interest for trading up in the draft.

As for what this means for the ongoing labor negotiations....it's progress, obviously. But it's expected progress. The concept of a rookie wage scale is one area where the NFL and NFLPA have been on the same general page all along.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com