Posted on: March 29, 2011 4:12 pm

NFLPA to pay players with lockout fund on 4/15

Posted by Will Brinson

Times are tight for NFL players -- even though it's perceived that they make piles of money (and many of them do), many players live check-to-check. Which is why the NFLPA established a "lockout fund" with which to begin paying players.

And, according to Jason LaCanfora of the NFL Network, the players will begin receiving those payments on April 15. LaCanfora cites an NFLPA source as well as an email that was sent to the players recently.

"We are e-mailing you to inform you that the NFLPA Board of Player Directors approved the payout from the Lockout Fund to begin on April 15, in six installments or until the lockout ends. In order to start receiving your payments, please fill out the attached direct deposit enrollment form and return it to us with a voided check from your checking account or bank letter verifying the account information. We will e-mail you at the address that you provide on the form when payments are sent to your bank account.

"Please note that any other future payments that you may receive from the NFLPA or NFL PLAYERS Inc (for example player marketing deals or royalty payments) will be deposited into this account and you will be notified via email of the deposit."

The maximum total payment made to a player -- over the course of the six installments -- would reportedly be $60,000, utilizing funds that were compiled during the 2009 and 2010 seasons via players' dues and rights' fees.

A player who was on a 53-man roster for the full length of those seasons would reportedly be eligible to receive the maximum sum of $60,000.

The payments to the players really establishes two things about the current state of NFL negotiations.

One, this lockout wasn't unexpected. But we already knew that -- both sides are doing a dance that they've been rehearsing for quite some time.

And two, DeMaurice Smith and the NFLPA did a hell of a job planning ahead for this scenario. $60,000 is quite a step down for many players, but it's still money coming in, which is critical because it offsets money going out.

And that means the players will continue to have some leverage in being able to avoid work and, most importantly paychecks.

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Posted on: March 29, 2011 1:08 pm

Does retired players case offer legal loophole?

Posted by Will Brinson

As if having every single current NFL player suing the league wasn't awkward enough, a group of retired players have also filed a class-action complaint against the NFL and its 32 clubs, with the express purpose of pushing the Brady v. NFL bandwagon even further down the tracks.

But this lawsuit is actually worse for the NFL than it would seem based on the named plaintiffs -- Carl Eller, Priest Holmes, Obafemi Ayanbadejo and Ryan Collins -- listed on the lawsuit, a copy of which we've seen.

That's because the class involved in this class action is comprised of not just retired players but also "... (b) potential rookie professional football players who, as of March 11, 2011 to the date of final judgment in this action and the determination of any appeal therefrom, have not previously commenced negotiation with any NFL club concerning employment and have not been selected in any NFL College Draft."

Or, in non-fancy parlance: rookies.
NFL Labor

Of course, that may not seem to matter all that much, as you'd think that the rookies are already involved in the Brady v. NFL lawsuit. But not so fast, my friend. According to the attorney representing the players in this matter, Michael Hausfeld, this case could circumvent the NFL's claim that the decertification of the union is a "sham."

"The owners say the union has unlawfully decertified and the union should be ordered to reconstitute and forced to sit at the bargaining table," Hausfeld told Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports. "If you look at the last CBA, it represents the rookies that have been drafted and the rookies who have begun negotiating with teams."

It's a loophole, and there's absolutely no guarantee it'll work, but Hausfeld, as Wetzel notes, seems pretty convinced.

"The owners have shut down their potential employees through a concerted boycott," Hausfeld said. "[The suit is] going to avoid the main thrust of the owners’ defense and their argument that the matter should be settled by the [National Labor Relations Board] not in the courts."

The NFL has yet to comment on the "retired players lawsuit," but it stands to reason that they won't immediately decide to fold up camp and just cave to the NFLPA's desire to life the lockout.

Because, after all, the NFL's already pretty vested in their current position. It's way past highly unlikely they'll reverse course at this point.

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Posted on: March 28, 2011 8:21 pm
Edited on: March 28, 2011 10:33 pm

April 27th the deadline for lockout ruling?

Posted by Will Brinson

On Monday, Tom Brady, et al, (i.e. all the players suing the NFL) filed a reply with the Minnesota district court related to their Motion for Preliminary Injunction against the NFL.

A hearing will take place on April 6, but the question everyone wants to know is, "When will the court make a ruling?" (You may not know it, but you want the answer to this -- it could decide the fate of NFL football in 2011.)

Well, it warrants mentioning then that the Plaintiffs (the players) and the Defendants (the NFL and its clubs) have agreed to an extension of time with which the Defendants can answer the Plaintiffs' complaint. (Or, to put it more simply: the NFL gets 30 days to respond to the players' lawsuit; both sides have agreed to add more time to that.)

CBSSports.com has obtained an Order on Stipulation for Extension of Time whereby Jeanne J. Graham, the United States Magistrate Judge for Minnesota, gives the NFL until April 27 to respond to the players' complaint.
NFL Labor

Why does this matter? Well, the NFL will have its legal response ready before then; but it stands to reason that if both sides -- and the court -- have agreed to extend the time period with which the NFL can answer until April 27, that we'll have a ruling on the Injunction by then.

That's because if the Plaintiffs' motion is granted, the lockout will be declared illegal. The NFL will then likely appeal the ruling. (Same for the players, in the event that the lockout is declared legal.)

But, most importantly, the ruling that stems from the hearing on April 6 will dramatically affect the case and it's timeline moving forward -- though there's no guarantee that we know anything by April 27 (which just so happens to be right before the draft), there's a very good chance that we do.

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Posted on: March 26, 2011 2:02 pm
Edited on: March 26, 2011 2:56 pm

NFL Alumni not happy with NFLPA

Posted by Andy Benoit

One of the ancillary issues in the ongoing labor strife is the treatment of retired players. The popular thing for both sides to say is that they’re deeply concerned about retired players’ benefits. Most retired players beg to differ.

George Martin, president of the NFL Alumni, has met with both the NFLPA and NFL owners. A few weeks ago, it was a story that Martin was unable to even get a meeting with the NFLPA. That has since changed.
G. Martin (US Presswire)
But Martin has still not received the one-on-one meeting with DeMaurice Smith that he requested. And from his last meeting he’s not exactly thrilled with the NFLPA’s attitude towards NFL Alumni.

Pro Football Talk obtained a memo that Martin sent to the NFL Alumni’s Board of Directors and 32 chapter heads in which Martin describes his meeting with the decertified union. PFT writes:

Martin said the “atmosphere was very defiant, accusatory, and outright disrespectful.”

“Regrettably, the long awaited and greatly anticipated one on one meeting with Mr. DeMaurice Smith never materialized as I had hoped,” Martin wrote.  “Although he was present during my two hour interrogation, no accommodation of my request for the private meeting was ever addressed.”

Martin had a much better experience with the NFL, according to the memo.

“On Tuesday morning, I had the pleasure of addressing NFL owners, executive staff, and head coaches as the NFL Annual Meetings,” Martin said.  “The genuine support and enthusiasm for our organization exhibited by these distinguished individuals was both exciting and overwhelming.”

NFL Labor

In its last CBA offer to the union before the lockout, NFL owners offered to contributed $82 million over the next two years to a new legacy fund for retired players. The NFL claims it has contributed over $350 million in pension funds for retired players over the past two years. There are still issues over the timing of these benefits (and, of course, the extent of them). Regarding the timing, players’ coverage currently covers the years immediately following their career, rather than decades down the road, when most of their health issues that were fomented by playing the violent sport actually show up.

The NFL Alumni is upset that the union refused to continue negotiating with owners in the first place.

"Although (the $82 million sum) is not where we want it to be, it was a first start," Martin said at the league meetings earlier this week. "If the (negotiating) process had been allowed to continue, perhaps we would have gained those improvements in pension benefits."

UPDATE 2:57 p.m. EST: George Atallah, NFLPA spokesman, tweeted Saturday afternoon: "It is upsetting that George Martin would make the details of his meeting with the NFLPA public. We tried to have a private dialogue."

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Posted on: March 25, 2011 1:55 am

Browns PSL holder sues team over lockout

Posted by Will Brinson

Though he almost surely won't be the last, Ken Lanci appears to be the first PSL holder to sue the NFL and his favorite team over the current lockout.

Lanci, a Cleveland-area businessman, filed a suit against the Browns and the NFL and the other 31 teams in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, asking the court to prohibit the lockout, according to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer.

"What tipped the scale for me is the labor issue between millionaires and billionaires and the fact they can't settle it when the country is in a recession," Lanci said. "Worse yet, they have to rub this in our faces."

And now you why both the NFL and the NFLPA are constantly waging a PR war: fans are going to get sick of the bickering over $9 billion sooner rather than later.

And when they do, one side would prefer to have the leverage. What's interesting here, though, is that Lanci, as a PSL holder, can't really do much damage to the NFLPA. And by himself, there's not a whole lot he can do to the NFL, or the Browns for that matter.

But if word starts getting out to other fans, and they all start banding together and filing class-action lawsuits against the various NFL teams, well, things could escalate pretty quickly.

Because that's a battle that even the best PR team on the planet couldn't win.

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Posted on: March 24, 2011 6:38 pm
Edited on: March 24, 2011 10:38 pm

NFL thinks HGH testing in new deal is 'necessary'

Posted by Will Brinson

With the fitting backdrop of the Barry Bonds trial underway in San Francisco, the NFL is going to insist that HGH testing of players become an incorporated part of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

That bombshell comes from NFL vice president and general counsel Adolpho Birch, who also oversees the NFL's drug testing program. "We want it," Birch told FOXSports.com's Alex Marvez on Thursday. "We think it's necessary. We're going to ensure that it's done.

"That's something very important to us and the integrity of our game. We believe some of the basis for going slowly on it before has been addressed. At this point, it's proper for it to be an active part of our program."

The NFL wanting HGH testing isn't exactly new -- in January of last year, the league requested that testing for the performance-enhancing drug be implemented. But DeMaurice Smith and the NFLPA declined.
NFL Labor

"The NFLPA along with the NFL has supported research to find a suitable test that will detect sustained HGH use," the then-union said in a February 2010 statement. "We have and will continue to work with the NFL to build a system that is fair, reliable and maintains the integrity of our game and the health and safety of our players."

They NFLPA has a valid point in terms of HGH, because there's not necessarily a guaranteed way in which to test for HGH using simply urine samples.

And one of the things that doesn't get mentioned much in all the NFL labor negotiations is that NFL players really don't like the idea of the league getting a hold of blood and urine and whatnot, unless it's a mandated drug test.

If the NFL gets its way, and HGH testing becomes standard, there's a pretty good chance that their concerns over the league holding onto those samples will become real.

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Posted on: March 21, 2011 2:17 pm

A lost season could rock the chicken industry

Posted by Andy Benoit

We already know that a season lost to an NFL lockout would cost most players millions, most owners tens of millions and most television networks hundreds of millions (possibly).

How about the chicken industry?

“It will be a major blow,” Joe Sanderson Jr, CEO of Sanderson Farms, told ABC News. "If we don't have Sunday football, the demand will go down tremendously, and of course, if that happens, the price will go down."

Richard Lobb, spokesman for the National Council of Chicken, explained that “with the wholesale price of chicken wings going for about $1 a pound, it could cost the industry as much as $10 million a week.”

PETA will be pleased. But those who live in the sane world . . . well, when you think about it, they probably won’t care either way.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: March 21, 2011 8:47 am

Owners meetings have a different mood this year

Posted by Andy Benoit

Normally during the annual NFL owners’ meetings, there’s a hint of spring break in the air. Coaches and front office executives have been known to focus as much on golf as on football.

That might not be the case this year. The NFL is convening in New Orleans for the annual check-in. All 32 head coaches will be in town.
Meetings begin on Monday though most of the league’s power-brokers arrived Sunday night. The topic at hand? You can probably guess.

“The whole focus is going to be on labor,” Mark Murphy told Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press Gazette. “Obviously there’s a number of issues related to the health and safety of the players, but the whole focus is going to be how are we going to resolve our labor situation?”

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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