Posted on: March 16, 2011 9:50 pm
Edited on: March 16, 2011 10:06 pm

Offseason workouts take on different tenor

Posted by Andy Benoit

With the doors locked at team facilities, players have to organize their own offseason workouts. You’ve probably heard stories here and there about players making arrangements to train witD. Brees (US Presswire)h teammates (off the top my head, Josh Freeman and a few Bucs, Michael Vick and a few Eagles, Dallas Clark and a few Colts, Kyle Vanden Bosch and a few Lions and Drew Brees and a few Saints come to mind).

These workouts are not the same as true offseason team workouts, of course. For one, there’s no coaching guidance. For two, it’s not Drew Brees and the Saints working out…it’s Drew Brees and A FEW Saints. These are more player-organized positional workouts than player-organized team workouts. But, boutique offseason programs are better than nothing.

The fact that Brees is organizing workouts indicates that the NFLPA is OK with players setting up their own OPA’s (Organized Player Activities – you like it?).

Jim Corbett of USA Today asked people around the league about offseason preparations in the event of a lockout. He shrewdly went to former Redskins GM Charley Casserly, who observed firsthand how organizations get ahead during a work stoppage. The Redskins, after all, won titles after the strike-shortened ’82 season and the three-week replacement players ordeal in the ’87 season.

"A number of teams have already employed the Redskins strategy before this started," Casserly said. "They had team meetings, gave outlines to players, discussed strategy for workouts."

We know the Cowboys did that with new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan in February. You can bet they weren’t the only team that had extensive meetings that month.

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Posted on: March 16, 2011 5:15 pm

A lost season in 2011 would cost DirecTV HUGE

Posted by Andy Benoit

If the 2011 NFL season gets does not get “unlocked out”, you can bet that plenty of people will be cancelling their DirecTV subscriptions (let’s face it…most of us football fans have, at one time or another, pined for an opportunity to do just that, given the way the satellite provider subtly increases its monthly fees a dollar or two at a time).

Even if DirecTV doesn’t see a wave of complete cancellations in the event of no football being played, they’d obviously still lose all their NFL Sunday Ticket subscriptions. This, according to Alex Sherman of Bloomberg.com, would cost DirecTV $600-750 million in revenue. And that doesn’t include the missed opportunity of bringing in new subscribers.

“We’re optimistic that we will be fine,” Michael White, DirecTV’s chief executive officer, said. “Our hope is that somewhere between now and the summer, this gets resolved, hopefully sooner rather than later.”

In the event that everything does not turn out fine, thanks to Judge David Doty, at least White’s company would not have to pay the NFL $402 million. Of course, Doty could rule that networks must still make those payments and that owners have to share the revenue with players.

Needless to say, DirecTV, like all the NFL’s television partners, is praying for a positive outcome.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: March 16, 2011 10:55 am
Edited on: March 16, 2011 1:11 pm

Hot Routes 3.16.11: Still #WINNING

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

  • What do Redskins GM Bruce Allen and Charlie Sheen have in common? WINNING, obviously. As in, “You should know that the current status of the Collective Bargaining Agreement will not disrupt our preparation for the 2011 season or swerve our focus from the Redskins’ objective -- WINNING.” What would have made this even more awesome? If Allen had added the word, “DUH.”
  • A woman has been convicted of killing the pregnant girlfriend of former Bears DB Shaun Gayle. A Lake County, Ill., jury found that Marni Young meticulously planned out an execution of a woman she considered a romantic rival for Gayle. The woman faces a 45-year maximum term. The victim was seven months pregnant with Gayle’s child.
  • Apparently, the Steelers are huge fans of the Pouncey family. As you know, C Maurkice Pouncey established himself as a huge presence for the Pittsburgh offensive line last year, and if Pittsburgh had the choice, it’d take Mike Pouncey in next month’s NFL draft and put him at right guard.

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Posted on: March 15, 2011 11:32 pm

Did Jerry Jones' speech to NFLPA spur a lockout?

Posted by Will Brinson

It's pretty obvious, regardless of what the two sides may say, that there's no love lost between the owners and the players in this labor dispute.

Still, a story that Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated relayed from the Wednesday mediation session, paints quite the ugly picture of Jerry Jones' behavior during what was supposed to be a time of sincere negotiating.

To set the scene: mediator George Cohen invited each owner, sitting across the table from the union's executive committee, to speak. Eventually, things came around to Jones.

"I don't think we've got your attention," Jones said to the players, per Trotter, who says several of them recounted the incident. "You clearly don't understand what we're saying, and we're not hearing what you're saying. So I guess we're going to have to show you to get your attention."

Jones then proceeded to "tap his fists together for emphasis," stand up and walk out of the room (Jerry Richardson started to leave with him, but Robert Kraft apparently kept the Panthers owner from bolting).

This went over -- as you might expect -- really, really well.

"I think everybody in the room thought it was overly dramatic, almost hilarious," one player told Trotter. "It was like a Jerry Maguire moment. You know, 'I'm leaving. Who's coming with me?' I know it didn't scare any of us."

And it subsequently led to a standoff-ish 48-hour period where it seemed like there wasn't any reason to be optimistic towards the labor talks (Thursday night was the worst of things, the actual lockout itself notwithstanding).

That non-negotiating attitude from each side, of course, led to a lawsuit and a lockout and the pretty depressing possibility that their might not be football in 2011.

Does the Jones' story shift all the blame to the owners? No. But it's pretty clear that they -- just like the players -- were prepared for this scenario and willing to go through with it if they didn't get what they want out of mediation.

That's especially problematic because it means that there won't be a solution to America's professional football issue until both sides hash out their personal problems.

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Posted on: March 15, 2011 3:56 pm
Edited on: March 15, 2011 5:38 pm

Ryan Clark goes to town on owners

Posted by Andy Benoit
R. Clark (US Presswire)
Adrian Peterson had some very harsh words about NFL owners on Tuesday, but Ryan Clark may have done him one better. The Steelers safety (and respected player rep) recently spoke with KDKA-FM.
Steelers Rapid Reporter Chuck Finder passed along some of the quotes.
In the interview, Clark took a shot at hereditary owners, including his own. “The difference between us and the owners is, my daddy didn’t give me this job. . . . When I leave this game, I can’t give my jersey to [son] Jordan and tell him to play,” he said. “There are going to be [the Giants’] Maras and Rooneys and all these guys forever who own these teams.”

He reiterated that the CBA is all about money. “We’re not going to play 18 games. That’s not even part of why we don’t have a CBA. You know if they get that money, they don’t care if we play 14 games. That CBA is not getting done because of the money.”

As for what he
NFL Labor
thinks about NFL lead negotiator Jeff Pash and the league’s proposal on Friday? “There were a lot of things that were brought to us ... it was just insane for us to think about taking. Pash actually just got on TV and lied [about financial statements and proposals]. I think it was extremely clever word play by an obviously deceitful man.”

Clark said he wanted to apologize to fans but couldn’t because the players were never even presented with a reasonable deal. “If there’s a way we can play football and not be a victim of robbery, we’ll be out there,” he said. “But we can’t make the owners come to us and give us a fair deal. It’s something that has to be negotiated; it’s going to take some time.”

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Posted on: March 15, 2011 2:52 pm

Possible draft boycott gets more interesting

Posted by Andy Benoit

While not important in the big scheme of things on the legal and business side, the issue of whether rookies will attend the 2011 Draft at Radio City Music Hall is potentially the most interesting storyline in this current labor fiasco. We’re talking about a high profile television event and an issue that all fans understand. R. Goodell (US Presswire)

Thus far, the NFLPA has received backlash for reportedly encouraging rookies to boycott the event. Thus, it’s no surprise that they clarified their side of the story on Tuesday.

“Let me also correct the record: the NFLPA is not asking anyone to ‘boycott’ anything. NFL Draft in particular,” spokesman George Atallah said. “The NFL Draft is special. Players and their families will be in NYC.  It just may be different. We will provide details when we can.”
Atallah’s comments seem to imply that the union could hold a separate draft party for players. But for right now, the public views this as just another form of boycott.

The NFL loves this backlash. And they’d love nothing more than to see the Radio City Music Hall green room full of first-round draft picks during the April 28 primetime event. Not only would player attendance make for better television, it would also be a nice PR feather in the league’s cap. You’d have future members of the NFLPA shaking hands with the commissioner. (Can’t you picture NFL executives flashing smug smiles in the direction of union executives while first-round picks embrace Roger Goodell in front of a legion of cameras?)

But the tables could soon turn in this PR battle if Sports Illustrated’s Peter King’s hunch is correct about what the NFLPA might have in store. King suggests the union event could feature rookies hearing their name called, coming up on stage and being greeted by their new teammates. If the NFLPA could pull that off, the effects could be huge.

Draft boycott
NFL Draft Coverage More NFL Draft Coverage
Mock Drafts | Risers/Fallers
Prospects | Full Draft Coverage

King quotes one high profile agent as saying, "What is the first round of the draft for the NFL? It's a TV show, a show that makes the league a lot of money. They're going to be asking young men to shake the hand of a commissioner [Roger Goodell] who is trying to lock them out. They're going to be asking young men to help the league put on this big TV production. And I can tell you this: There're a few quarterbacks who could get picked high in this draft and the NFL will invite to New York. All those quarterbacks would do by attending the draft for the NFL is giving DeMarcus Ware more incentive to knock their blocks off the first time they line up across the line of scrimmage from him.''

Think about the dilemma it would give ESPN. They’re a television partner of the NFL. Would they be willing to provide live coverage to the NFL’s competing event?

Thus, it’s no surprise that when LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson’ said he’d like to attend the draft, the league featured the story on NFLLabor.com.

“I heard about (the potential boycott),” Peterson said. “No one has contacted me to go to New York or not go to New York. I would like to go if possible. That’s what you play football for.

“That’s a big moment to go up there and shake the commissioner’s hand and get that jersey and hat. It means a lot. I definitely want to go and no one has told me not to go. So, we’ll see what happens.”

That’s something everyone is interested in seeing.

Posted on: March 15, 2011 1:48 pm
Edited on: March 15, 2011 3:09 pm

Adrian Peterson sounds off on owners

Posted by Andy Benoit

UPDATE 3:00 p.m. EST: We held off on passing along Peterson's most explosive comment from this interview because there was initially a bit of confusion regarding the validity of the quote. Farrar included it in his original interview, but removed it soon after. But he later acknowledged that Peterson said it.

And what was it he said, exactly?  Referring to the owners' business arrangement with players, Peterson said, "It's modern-day slavery, you know? People kind of laugh at that, but there are people working at regular jobs who get treated the same way, too."

Doug Farrar of Yahoo! Sports Shutdown Corner scored a one-on-one interview with Adrian Peterson  just minutes after the NFLPA decertified, which means he caught the Vikings running back in a state of high emotion. Sure enough, Farrar’s interview with Peterson produced some gold.

Here is an excerpt; the whole interview was published Tuesday afternoon:

SC: We're talking about 15 minutes after the NFLPA sent in the paperwork to decertify, so the lockout's on everybody's minds. I've talked to a lot of players about this recently, and I always ask the same question — what is the message you want to get out to the people who love the game and are tired of hearing all the labor talk?

AP: We're business-minded, also. It's not just fun and games. A lot of football players, whether it's Sunday or Monday night — we're out there on the field, competing, hitting each other. But people don't see everything else behind it. It's a job for us, too — every day of the week. We're in different states, sometimes thousands of miles away from our families and kids, and a lot of people don't look at it like that. All some people see is, 'Oh, we're not going to be around football.' But how the players look at it … the players are getting robbed. They are. The owners are making so much money off of us to begin with. I don't know that I want to quote myself on that…

SC: It's nothing that I haven't heard from other players, believe me.

AP: People kind of laugh at that, but there are people working at regular jobs who get treated the same way, too. With all the money … the owners are trying to get a different percentage, and bring in more money. I understand that; these are business-minded people. Of course this is what they are going to want to do. I understand that; it's how they got to where they are now. But as players, we have to stand our ground and say, 'Hey — without us, there's no football.' There are so many different perspectives from different players, and obviously we're not all on the same page — I don't know. I don't really see this going to where we'll be without football for a long time; there's too much money lost for the owners. Eventually, I feel that we'll get something done.

But this crazy idea about an 18-game season … I'm sure they want more entertainment and more revenue, but we're not going to see a pinch of that (the increased revenue), and it's just the business we're in.

SC: It seems to most of the players that if the owners had nothing to hide financially, and if the current business model was as unsustainable as they claim, they'd have no trouble opening the books and showing audited profit and loss per team. Is that your impression?

AP: Exactly! It's like … 'Well, show us.' We want more information, and they want to bull****, going around, saying this and that, just open it up and give us the information we want. If they have nothing to hide, just give us the information. Why not? Obviously, there's a lot to hide -- these guys are professionals, and they're maximizing what they do. But they know that if all this information comes out, the information the players want, it'll be right out there for everyone to see. It's a rip off — not just for the players, but for the people who work at the concession stands and at the stadiums. The people working at the facilities, you know?

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Posted on: March 15, 2011 12:50 pm

Hot Routes 3.15.11 labor pains

Hot Routes

Posted by Andy Benoit

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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