Posted on: March 7, 2011 9:56 am
Edited on: March 7, 2011 11:46 am

Union was within '5 minutes' of decertifying?

Posted by Will Brinson

The NFL and NFLPA agreed to a week-long extension of the CBA on Friday. That week is actually five days, however, because of the weekend. Which means Monday (aka today) is one of five days left on the calendar -- barring an additional extension -- to save football.

And it nearly never happened. According to Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated, an anonymous member of the NFLPA Executive Committee walked into the mediation workroom and informed union president Kevin Mawae -- in the presence of Roger Goodell, Jeff Pash and DeMaurice Smith -- that the union was decertifying.

"We're done! We're decertifying," the anonymous player said, according to Trotter.

Oh yes, and that player added a throat slash while doing so, which is a pretty aggressive negotiation tactic, to say the least.

Matt Jones and I covered this extensively in the labor podcast that dropped earlier today -- decertification would have some serious implications in terms of how it could harm the owners' pockets if things ended in the NFL's worst-case scenario. (As Matt put it, it would basically become like European soccer.)

NFL Labor

Whether or not the throat slash/declaration combo actually caused the owners to blink and sign off on the 7-day extension would be fun to find out, but it won't guarantee a labor deal getting done this week. The only thing that will guarantee it is if the two parties get down to business Monday and crank through every issue. 

So, naturally, the CBA mediation between the two sides will begin at ... 3 PM EST?

Apparently so -- Albert Breer of the NFL Network said the because "folks [are] traveling in the AM to get" to Washington, D.C., things aren't getting kicked off as promptly as they could.

This is rather odd -- both sides took a weekend break from these very negotiations knowing they'd need to be back at the bargaining table for a hard week's worth of figuring out the future of America's most popular sport.

Everyone involved knew they'd need to be in the nation's capital today for the talks. Which means that everyone involved could have likely figured out a way to align their travel plans in such a manner as to make sure that mediation was able to start at least by noon.

That being said, a 3 PM start time can always equate to an all-night mediation session. But given how much is at stake over the next week (again, barring an additional extension), everyone who cares about the NFL would probably prefer seeing the two sides maximizing their ability and time to negotiate.

UPDATE 11:45 a.m. EST: Judy Batista of the New York Times says negotiations will go into the evening hours Monday night. Both sides will take a dinner break and then resume talking. Batista also says that it was NFLPA lawyer Jeffrey Kessler who delivered the decertification threat.

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Posted on: March 7, 2011 8:06 am

Podcast: What happens if NFL mediation fails?

Posted by Will Brinson

The NFL and NFLPA are set to begin a week's worth of mediation on the heels of Friday's seven-day extension. This series of non-binding negotiations could very well decide the future of professional sports in America, so I hopped on the horn with Matt Jones (of CBSSports.com's Eye on College Basketball Blog, but, more importantly, a lawyer who specializes in labor negotiations) to talk about the current labor climate.

Matt's the one who inked our lockout primer, so he knows a thing or two about how things will go down. We break legal aspects of a potential lockout into layman's terms, discuss what would happen under the "nuclear" option of a lockout, debate whether or not this mediation is working, hypothesize about the possibility of an NFL world with no salary cap or draft, and criticize the current political landscape for NFL owners.

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 4, 2011 1:58 pm

Report: NFL, NFLPA agree to 7-day extension

Posted by Will Brinson

On Thursday, the NFL and NFLPA ran up to the deadline, but eventually walked out of CBA negotiations with a 24-hour extension of the agreement's expiration. It was widely believed those 24 hours would be used to negotiate a new extension, and it appears that's what has happened, with the owners and union agreeing to extend the CBA for an additional seven days.

That's according to both Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated and Adam Schefter of ESPN, the latter of whom has it "confirmed" that the two sides will extend the deadline to next Friday, with "talks" continuing through 5 PM EST.

Mediation is expected to resume Monday, however, which means that the 7-day extension is technically only one "work week," which is the equivalent of five days, because both sides will adjourn talks during the weekend.

That's not a guarantee, of course, and it's not necessarily negative, as it gives each side the chance to really evaluate their willingness to face a work stoppage and prepare for the coming week of mediation.

All of it remains in the realm of "cautious optimism," because mediation isn't binding, reports are still lingering that the two sides aren't necessarily close to an agreement, and according to Trotter, the union executive committee still needs to approve the extension.

But both sides -- and, more importantly, the fans -- find themselves in a better place Friday than they were Thursday at the same time.

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Posted on: March 4, 2011 12:45 am
Edited on: March 4, 2011 1:12 am

Union already agreed to 7-10 day extension?

Posted by Will Brinson

It's widely believed that Thursday's 24-hour extension in CBA negotiations is merely the first step for a longer extension (both Clark Judge and I wrote that very notion earlier on Thursday).

And, reportedly, the union has already hopped on board with such an extension -- Chris Mortensen of ESPN reports that George Cohen, the Director of the Federal Mediation Counseling Services, has already convinced the union to agree to a 7-to-10-day extension.

Provided that's true, the league only needs to consent, and then the two sides can stop bargaining about how long they should extend the talks, and get down to the nitty gritty.

That's not a given, of course, but the recent momentum swing seems to favor the players -- particularly given Judge Doty's decision on television contracts. And with the risk of a late-afternoon Friday decertification play by the union forcing things to a head, it certainly seems prudent for both sides to push the deadline back even further.

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Posted on: March 3, 2011 3:55 pm
Edited on: March 3, 2011 4:51 pm

Top QBs to be plaintiffs in any antitrust suit?

Posted by Will Brinson

So here's a fun twist to the crazy reports that are swinging the NFL labor mood on the final -- barring an extension -- day of the current CBA: if the union decertifies and files an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL owners (a very real possibility), then Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Tom Brady are willing to play the role of lead plaintiffs.

This report is currently percolating around NFL circles -- Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated and Albert Breer of the NFL Network first reported it -- and it's pretty huge news.

Why? Well, think about any time you've ever seen a high-profile court case. You identify, whether you know it or not, with one of the sides. And the way you perceive the sides a lot of times depends on not just what you know about that side, but who is representing the respective interests.

Put a better way, when the words "players versus the owners" get thrown around, everyone immediately thinks "millionaires fighting with billionaires."

But if Manning, Brees and Brady -- three immensely popular and likable guys -- are suddenly against the owners, it changes the public perception completely.

The obvious counterargument to that point is that no one makes more money than that trio of quarterbacks. My response: except the owners.

Look, find someone who knows nothing about sports, and that person can probably still identify all three quarterbacks we're talking about.

They're not poor peasants toiling against "the man," but they are tremendously popular and likable celebrities with the benefit of having never engaged in any sort of behavior that gives the public any reason to hate them.

Outside of winning a bunch of Super Bowls anyway.

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Posted on: March 3, 2011 2:32 pm
Edited on: March 3, 2011 3:27 pm

Obama won't intervene in NFL lockout

Posted by Will Brinson

At this point, fans of the NFL are probably willing to accept help from anywhere to prevent a lockout. That includes the government, who seems to slow things down and/or mess things up every time it gets it's tape-covered hands in the sports world.

Unfortunately, even as midnight approaches and our concussion-filled carriage gets ready to morph into a rotten pumpkin, we're not going to see the White House swoop in and save the NFL. That's according to the President himself, who addressed the topic Thursday.

"You have owners worth close to a billion, players making millions," President Obama said. "The parties should be able to work it out. I'm a big football fan. For an industry making $9 billion I'd hope they can figure out how to divide it up in a sensible way.

"I hope they can come to an agreement without me having to intervene."

The reaction to this should actually be pretty hysterical, although it's a lose/lose proposition for the Big Guy. If he steps in and makes the NFL continue, he's an "anti-capitalism socialist who wants the government to own the NFL." And if he does nothing, he "probably hates America and fun."

But the Prez is right to wash his hands of this mess. It'd be nice to see someone with enough authority guarantee that we'll get football next year, but in the big picture of things that are happening in this world, the business of the NFL is still pretty small stuff.

Besides, he's got his hands full trying to fix the fact that college football is too corrupt stupid to employ a playoff.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: March 2, 2011 2:38 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2011 2:46 pm

Wednesday mediation goes 'better than expected'?

Posted by Will Brinson

Wednesday's mediation session between the NFL and the NFLPA -- which featured some bigger names than previous meetings -- has ended. And, reportedly, it wasn't THAT horrible apparently.

That's from a source of Sports Illustrated's Don Banks, who said that the talks went "better than expected."

Of course, that's a relative term, considering that less than 24 hours ago, the NFLPA was celebrating a tremendous victory in the TV rights case thanks to an overturned verdict from Judge David Doty.

Mediation is set to resume on Thursday (presumably the final day, because of the CBA's expiration at 11:59 PM EST on Thursday night) and the league has adjourned to Chantilly, Virginia for an owners meeting.

But as Clark Judge reports, the owners might not stay very long. (Read: not all of the owners, who were in mediation Wednesday, are planning to hang around for Thursday's action.)

That may not matter anyway though, because it's entirely possible, as our own Mike Freeman wrote earlier Wednesday, that a lockout and/or decertification is coming down the proverbial tracks, and there's nothing that can be done to stop it.

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Posted on: March 2, 2011 11:27 am
Edited on: March 2, 2011 11:34 am

Source: Decertification likely coming Thursday

Posted by Mike Freeman

Barring some sort of last-second miracle the NFL union will likely decertify sometime Thursday, according to a source familiar with the union's thinking.

Again, things could change but this news is the most concrete example of how fruitless the mediation talks have become. It's possible even if there is some sort of temporary extension of mediation the union will still likely decertify on Thursday.

So the lockout is coming. Decertification is coming. Unless the Easter Bunny works some magic with his chocolate candies and help from his unicorns and elves homies.

Decertification has certain risks but overall is a smart strategy for the union. It blocks owners from locking out players and moves the dispute from the realm of negotiations to the court system where players have had success. Owners could face lawsuits and treble damages if players are subsequently successful in court.

So that's where we are. For now. Hopefully things will change but this legal fight is just beginning.

This entry was cross-posted from Mike Freeman's FreeStyle blog. 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