Tag:DeMaurice Smith
Posted on: June 17, 2011 9:38 am
Edited on: June 17, 2011 10:22 am
 

Report: Some owners resistant to new labor deal



Posted by Ryan Wilson

We first saw signs of progress towards a new labor deal early this month when CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman reported that "there is still a great deal of work to do ... but it appears the owners and players have made significant headway in reaching a new labor agreement, according to multiple sources familiar with the discussions."

Save the lone report that talks almost "blew up," the subsequent news has been just as encouraging … until Friday.

According to a report from ESPN's Adam Schefter, some owners are resisting the labor deal they've spent recent weeks negotiating with the players in the hopes of ending the lockout.

"A handful of NFL owners -- at least two of which are from AFC teams -- believe the parameters of the deal being discussed don't adequately address the original issues the league wanted corrected from the 2006 collective bargaining agreement, according to sources," said Schefter.

"It is one of the primary reasons team officials are being prepped to stay an extra night in Chicago at Tuesday's owners meetings. It's not to potentially vote on a new collective bargaining agreement, as many suspected; it actually is to try to fend off some of the resistance that is mounting from a handful of NFL owners, according to sources."

Schefter also notes: "The surprise is that many thought this kind of pushback to a deal would occur within the player ranks, not among NFL owners."

We're not prepared to call it a setback yet; the owners will still meet in Chicago next week, and progress towards ending the lockout can continue. But this month has given fans, for the first time all spring, hope for actual football. If a subset of owners drag their feet, delaying the season, the PR backlash will be swift and unforgiving. Remember when fans booed Roger Goodell to start the NFL Draft? We'll look back on that and consider it cute.

ProFootballTalk.com's Mike Florio doesn't think it will come to that. "The reality is that, in the end, a handful of owners have no power to derail a deal. A new agreement still can be approved with 24 of 32 votes. (Apparently, there’s a belief in some circles that the committee negotiating the CBA already has the authority to do a deal without further approval. Multiple sources have advised us that any proposal still must be approved by 75 percent of the owners.)"

In the end, this is about money. That's no secret. But unlike most high-level negotiations involving billions of dollars, this is played out on a public stage. There are financial concerns, certainly, but just like politicians running for (or trying to stay in) office, owners have to answer to their constituents.

There's still time to come to a resolution, though. "One NFL executive has been urging the league for weeks that, in order for the full preseason schedule to be played, an agreement between the NFL and NFLPA would have to occur no later than July 14," Schefter said.

And while the owners and players are closer than ever to agreeing to a new CBA, some owners remember the previous negotiations in 2006 that favored the players and ultimately led us to this point. Which, as far as fans are concerned, can be boiled down to rich people fighting over how to split the winnings.

That's not entirely accurate, but it's the perception. And sometimes, perception trumps reality.

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Posted on: June 15, 2011 7:12 pm
Edited on: June 15, 2011 7:41 pm
 

2-day talks end; owners, players 'moving forward'

Posted by Ryan Wilson

The week started on a high note, and for the first time all spring the promise of a 2011 season not only seemed possible, but imminent. More than that, the acrimony between owners and players (and the lawyers that represented them), palpable for most of the lockout, suddenly melted away. Not to overdramatize the past few days, but hope is a powerful emotion, particularly for fans who live and die with their NFL teams.

The recent secret meetings between the two sides was almost simultaneously described as "heading in the right direction" and nearly "blowing up." The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle (though the optimist in us likes to think a new deal is "80-85 percent complete").

For now, however, owners and players will retire to their respective corners to reevaluate what just transpired and regroup for future get-togethers. (Note to interested parties: give the lawyers the wrong address for the next round of meetings. Trust us, it's for the best.)

As for the just-concluded two-day talks, NFL.com's Albert Breer writes that "According to sources, the talks remain productive and are moving forward, though a resolution to the three-month-old lockout is not on the immediate horizon.

"Both sides have evaluated and strongly considered the concessions and compromises that could ultimately lead to the problem being solved, though, and sources indicated an agreement could come within a month."

The sides also released a joint statement Wednesday, and promised to keep the media out of the proceedings. Their statement:

“Discussions between NFL owners and players under the auspices of Chief Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan took place again this week and will continue. At the request of Judge Boylan, both sides have agreed to maintain the confidentiality of the substance of the talks.”

Next up for the owners: a June 21 meeting outside Chicago. The meeting is scheduled for one day but could drag on longer as both sides presumably work toward a deal.

The players, meanwhile, will continue to workout -- both informally and on their own -- with renewed hopes for an NFL season.

"Probably a sense of urgency with the season just around the corner," Saints quarterback Drew Brees said Wednesday. "The general understanding from everybody is that if we don't have something done by July it would be hard to start on time."

Well, no time like the present, fellas.

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Posted on: June 15, 2011 11:20 am
Edited on: June 15, 2011 11:34 am
 

Report: CBA talks almost blew up Tuesday

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

On Tuesday, a new sense of optimism invaded the NFL world, especially after CBSSports.com’s own Mike Freeman reported that labor negotiations were 80-85 percent complete and that it would be difficult for either side to screw up the progress (naturally, I followed up with a post about how the talks COULD be screwed up).

Today, though, there have been tweets here and there dispelling some of the enthusiasm that a new CBA could be forthcoming soon (an example from NFL spokesman Greg Aiello: “As late, legendary George Young said: ‘There is no such thing as close. It’s either done or it isn’t.’”)

And now ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter is reporting that talks almost blew up Tuesday, and not surprisingly, the incident occurred after the lawyers were let back into the negotiations – ahem, that was No. 1 on my list of reasons that could derail the negotiations.

From Schefter:

How close it did (come to blowing up) is a matter of opinion. But what is factual is that the moment came shortly after lawyers from both sides were brought back into the process. As tensions rose and anger grew, two sources said NFL Players Association leader DeMaurice Smith instructed his lawyers to "stand down."

With the lawyers removed from the direct negotiations, the process was said to get back on track and to a good spot. The incident is an example of just how tenuous these talks can be and how quickly they can be derailed.

But it also is the ultimate proof that (DeMaurice) Smith and his players, and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and the owners have taken the process out of the hands of the attorneys and demanded that they control it as the two sides try to hammer out a collective bargaining agreement.


If Tuesday was an overly-optimistic day, then today’s news is a bit of a slap in the face. But the two sides are talking – and really, since nobody is talking on the record, it’s hard to know exactly what is going on – and that’s always a good sign.

Now, if they could just keep the lawyers out of the room.

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Posted on: June 14, 2011 6:47 pm
Edited on: June 14, 2011 6:59 pm
 

What the NFL, NFLPA should NOT do

GoodellPosted by Josh Katzowitz

In case you missed it, CBSSports.com’s own Mike Freeman reported that negotiations between the players and the owners to end the lockout and establish a new Collective Bargaining Agreement are 80-85 percent complete.

Which means that confidence is at an all-time high that a new CBA will be struck sooner rather than later and the NFL season will begin on time.

As Freeman writes, “That doesn't mean the negotiations can't revert back to the primordial days of disgust and hatred, or that the talks can't implode. It does mean, however, that the discussions are in such a good place it would be difficult for even the most selfish, destructive personality to affect them.”

And as one source told him, “It's going to be very difficult for this to get screwed up.”

That said, here are three ways the negotiations can, in fact, be screwed up (not that I’m hoping for this to happen).

Let the lawyers back in for major negotiations: It’s funny, isn’t it? When the attorneys for both sides aren’t in the negotiating room, significant progress is made. Three weeks ago, the pessimism about a new CBA was extremely high. I’m not saying the attorneys are solely to blame. But Jeff Pash for the NFL and Jeffrey Kessler for the NFLPA didn’t help matters. Not only did the attorneys make life more difficult for everyone at the negotiating table, but the owners didn’t trust Kessler and the players didn’t trust Pash. Three weeks ago, there seemed little reason to hope. But after secret meetings in Chicago (without lawyers present), followed by more meetings in New York last week (without lawyers) and more talks this week (with lawyers), all of a sudden, it seems like we’re very close to ending our long national nightmare. All of a sudden, we get real optimism. Obviously, the lawyers will need to be in the room at some point in order to help write the CBA – and reports said they were in there today – but if they can stay out of the major negotiating points (and it sounds like they have), that would be a big help.

DeMaurice SmithLet the combatants open their mouths: When Roger Goodell or DeMaurice Smith (or any of the lawyers, as mentioned above) start popping off to the media, phrases get highlighted. Like when Smith congratulated the NFL for being the first sports league to sue to stop games from being played (not entirely true) or when the NFL kept sending letters to players to get the union back together and to negotiate even after the NFLPA had disbanded (not entirely helpful). Those words and actions simply don’t help the cause. As a member of the media, I hate it when there’s some kind of blackout where a group of people are not speaking with the press. But in this case, I think we’ll all take it if it means a deal is struck between the two sides and no football is missed and non-football personnel can get back to work with salaries fully implemented.

Let the court system make the decision: Maybe Goodell was right after all. He’s been saying all along that a new CBA would be generated at the negotiating table and not in the courtroom. And maybe the NFLPA chose not to believe him, because, historically, the courts have sided with the players. But when the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals granted the NFL a permanent stay in order to keep the lockout in place, it was a major blow for the players. And when Appeals Court judge Kermit Bye told both sides they’d be better off solving the labor situation themselves, maybe both sides saw his point. Yes, the players might have been more desperate after the court ruling (especially when you saw how much the Appeals Court questioned the District Court’s decision), but the owners also seem ready for this storm to slip out to sea.
As is just about everybody else in the free world. Here’s hoping somebody doesn’t screw this thing up.

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Posted on: June 14, 2011 12:23 pm
Edited on: June 14, 2011 5:31 pm
 

NFL owners, players 'headed in right direction'

Posted by Ryan Wilson

NFL owners and players are meeting Tuesday on Maryland's eastern shore in an effort to end the 91-day lockout as soon as possible, according to reports from NFL.com and ESPN.

This is the third time this month the two sides have convened in an undisclosed location to make progress towards a new collective bargaining agreement (and this time, with lawyers). Last Friday, for the first time since the lockout began in March, hopes seemed high for a speedy resolution to a labor dispute that once appeared as if it could go on indefinitely.

"NFL owners have a one-day meeting scheduled in suburban Chicago next Tuesday, and they are planning to meet once a month until the situation is resolved," NFL.com's Albert Breer reported Tuesday. "A memo went out to owners asking that they keep their schedules for next week flexible, in case the June 21 meeting spills into Tuesday night or even Wednesday."
Latest on the lockout

ESPN's Chris Mortensen writes that "Sources have characterized the owners and players as being in a 'deal-making mode' and hope to make significant progress over the next two or three days."

The NFL estimates that canceling the preseason could cost upwards of $1 billion, which means that the longer the lockout drags on, the more likely it is that the owners will be in danger of losing serious dough. Sources tell Breer that "internal deadlines to have some semblance of a 'normal' preseason with the games preserved sit on or around July 15." That gives both parties a month to sort things out.

More background on Tuesday's gathering, via the Associated Press:
A person with knowledge of the talks told The Associated Press that the owners and players are "headed in the right direction" and that lawyers "are back in the room" after being excluded from sessions the past two weeks. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because details of the meeting are not being made public.

Two other people familiar with the talks say a framework for a new collective bargaining agreement could be in place before the owners gather next Tuesday. ... Still, it would be premature to predict that lockout is about to end, the people familiar with the talks told the AP. Yet the atmosphere of negotiations has been more positive than it was previously, creating "a sense of movement," they said.

That movement toward an agreement might be in both sides' best interest after a federal appeals court judge warned the owners and players they might not like the upcoming decisions in legal actions sparked by the lockout. Indeed, the court could delay any rulings if a new CBA appears to be near.
The AP reports that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell; NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith; several owners, including the Giants' John Mara and the Cowboys' Jerry Jones; and a large group of players that includes NFLPA President Kevin Mawae, Jeff Saturday, Mike Vrabel, Tony Richardson and Domonique Foxworth, were all on hand at the meeting.

For the first time all spring there is much to be optimistic about. Not only are the owners and players willing to work together, they're doing it now, well before deadlines could legitimately imperil a 2011 season.

If the lockout ends in the coming weeks, Goodell, who was roundly booed at the April draft, will have suddenly saved his legacy. Because in the end, all fans want is football. They don't much care how we get to that point.

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Posted on: June 13, 2011 4:30 pm
Edited on: June 13, 2011 8:34 pm
 

Upshaw still causes rift between Alumni, NFLPA

Jerry Kramer blames late NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw for many of the problems today (Getty).Posted by Josh Katzowitz

As the NFLPA and the NFL Alumni continue to bicker with each other – Alumni president George Martin said he STILL hasn’t sat down with trade association executive director DeMaurice Smith to discuss his group’s concerns – legendary Packers OL Jerry Kramer gave a clue to the possible reason both groups don’t get along.

And he blames late executive director Gene Upshaw for the problem.

“The problem is we are not on the same page,” Kramer, who made five All-Pro teams during his 11-year career, told Packer Chatters. “The alumni and the players need to have one voice and to be part of one organization, so you could focus on your objectives. The problem with that is that Gene Upshaw screwed the older players for so long, and so badly, that the guys can’t get over it. There is still a lot of bad taste in our mouths from the Upshaw days. DeMaurice Smith is looked at with a jaundiced eye and we look at him with a show me attitude. A lot of guys are still sitting on the fence and waiting to see what happens.”

The NFL, on the other hand, has been more helpful, Kramer says.

“The NFL is playing their games too, and muddying the water by helping the alumni,” he said. “The NFL has loaned the alumni association money, for instance. Roger Goodell has really been doing a hell of a job up to this point, but I’m not sure how much further it will go. Goodell has made the 88 fund available, which is a dementia fund. He has also helped with the Mackey fund, in which players that take early retirement would be eligible for disability, which they weren’t before. Goodell has really made some strides for the older players. It really comes down to this new collective bargaining agreement and if they can do something to improve the pension situation. Most older players are getting less than $500 dollars a month for their pension. That includes 180 Hall of Famers, I believe.”

Look, we know Smith is extremely busy, but Martin has claimed that he’s not even responding to requests to sit down and chat. And yes, Smith works for the current players and not for the old-timers. But somebody inside the NFLPA -- a player, an administrator, anybody -- needs to know that one day in the future, today’s players are going to be the old-timers suffering from dementia and hobbled by injuries.

To ignore the NFL Alumni is not only inhumane. It’s short-sighted and stupid.

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Posted on: June 13, 2011 12:06 pm
Edited on: June 13, 2011 12:36 pm
 

Hot Routes 6.13.11: Nice payday for De Smith



Posted by Josh Katzowitz

  • The Sports Business Journal reports today that NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith made $2.45 million last year and that his current term ends next March. Depending on how this lockout plays out, I wonder if he’ll get much opposition for another term.
  • Before the NFL Draft, Jets RB Shonn Greene didn’t know what the team had planned for him next year. But after coach Rex Ryan announced he would be the main guy in the backfield, Greene said he now knows the kind of confidence his coaches have in him.
  • AEG is doing everything it can to woo a team to Los Angeles, but the Bills are not on the immediate list for relocation. However, the Buffalo News points out that when owner Ralph Wilson dies the organization could be a viable candidate to leave Buffalo.
  • 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh is optimistic about the labor situation. He thinks a deal can be done by early July.

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Posted on: June 11, 2011 11:44 am
Edited on: June 11, 2011 12:11 pm
 

Reports hint new CBA could happen by late June



Posted by Ryan Wilson

For the first time since the lockout began 91 days ago, there appears to be genuine optimism that owners, coaches, players and fans will be able to get on with their football-loving lives, and it could happen in the next few weeks.

CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman was the first to report reasons for optimism. Way back on June 2, Freeman wrote that "There is a still a great deal of work to do ... but it appears the owners and players have made significant headway in reaching a new labor agreement, according to multiple sources familiar with the discussions.

"One high ranking member of the former union estimated to me a new deal would be reached within two to three weeks, if not sooner. 'This is the most optimistic I’ve been in many months,' he said."

Barely a week later, that appears to be happening.

Friday night, NFL Network's Albert Breer reported that players and owners have made substantial progress in recent days towards a new collective bargaining agreement.

And Saturday morning, Sports Business Journal's Daniel Kaplan tweeted: "Told optimism is so high in NFL, players talks over labor deal that expectation is for a framework agreement in about two weeks."

But it gets better. The Houston Chronicle's Lance Zierlein recently blogged that "According to a couple of sources, NFL lockout could be over sooner than you think."

"After lengthy discussions with both sources, they both conveyed to me a great deal of hope that a deal would be done by July and possibly as early as late June," Zierlein wrote. "Why the sudden optimism? According to one of the sources, 'both sides are focusing on the percentage of total revenue coming in (would include the first $1 billion the owners are currently taking off the top) and if that deal gets done, the other issues will probably fall into place fairly quickly according to what I'm hearing.'"

Another source told Zierlein that "I am 100 times more hopeful than two weeks ago that a deal can get done relatively quickly."

Pro Football Weekly's Eric Edholm also hears things, all positive: "Sources have indicated to PFW that June 21, which is when the NFL owners are scheduled to meet in Chicago, might be a date to circle on the calendar. The reason for the escalated talks might indicate that the owners want to have a deal — or parameters of a deal — to vote on when they all assemble for the meeting."

That makes five different sources reporting a variation on the "things are looking really good" theme. Nothing's concrete but as we stated last night: it's a start, we'll take it.

And as momentum builds toward a resolution, this becomes less about taking sides and more about finding common ground and getting a deal done. It may have taken three months to arrive at this point, but as Breer noted Friday, it's not yet the 11th hour. If a new CBA is reached, even in principle, there could be time for free agency and training camps, and the 2011 NFL season would start as scheduled.

Sure, this fight has been framed as a battle between billionaires and millionaires. That's not entirely true, but given the economic climate, fans have little sympathy for either side. (Also not helping: the occasional attempts at public relations obfuscation.) They just want football. And it finally looks like that will happen, perhaps a lot sooner than anyone ever expected. To quote Austin Powers: "Yay, capitalism!"

hat tip: Shutdown Corner

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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