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Tag:NFL Lockout
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 7, 2011 7:21 pm
Edited on: June 7, 2011 10:37 pm
 

Players/owners meet again in secret

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

As CBSSports.com’s own Mike Freeman reports, the owners and the NFLPA have restarted their labor negotiating meetings in secret.

Though we all know the two sides did the same thing last week in Chicago, nobody seems to know the location this time around.

Which might actually be a positive sign. The deeper both sides are hunkered down in talks, perhaps the more progress is being made. (That’s what we like to think anyway.)

Not that today’s development is a big surprise. Commissioner Roger Goodell said last week that both sides would meet again. He just didn’t say when and where. But the fact that they’re happening -- even if nobody else in the world can find them -- makes us much more optimistic.

UPDATED 8:47 PM (ET): According to ESPN.com, the two sides met in a New York City hotel room. In attendance besides Goodell, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and a handful of owners and player reps was magistrate judge Arthur Boylan.

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Posted on: June 4, 2011 9:53 pm
 

Jeff Faine misses his Buccaneers teammates

J. Faine was delighted to bump into Tampa Bay GM Mark Dominik (Getty).Posted by Josh Katzowitz

One aspect of the lockout that has not really been discussed (at least in these parts) is the fact that friends that are used to hanging out this time of year have been kept apart by forces beyond their control.

Which, on the surface, sounds a bit silly, I guess.

But think about it: what if the dude who you hang out with seven days a week for a six-month span and consider a teammate and (possibly) a brother didn’t come around any more? Or worse, what if your employer made sure you guys didn’t come into contact because he locked the doors to your place of employment?

You probably wouldn’t cry in your beer or anything, but you’d probably be bummed out a little bit. Hell, you might even miss your boss (somewhat).

That’s the situation in which Buccaneers C Jeff Faine has lived lately, and the Tampa Tribune shares a quick anecdote about what happened when Faine found himself within spitting distance of Tampa Bay GM Mark Dominik.

Basically, the two were attending a local soiree in which the local sports heroes were being honored, and Faine and Dominik accidently conducted interviews within a few feet of each other.

"It's good to see Mark's face,” Faine told the paper. "I miss (offseason workouts) because I miss being around the guys. I had dinner with (left tackle) Donald Penn the other night and it was fantastic just to see his face. These are the guys you go to work with every single day. You have a relationship with them that goes beyond football.

"You're friends and this situation we're in right now is taking us away from our closest friends. I am an optimist at heart and the next couple of days will tell us a lot about what direction we're heading.''

When a big, tough offensive lineman is telling a newspaper reporter that it was just good to see his boss’ face for a few seconds, well, that tells you all you need to know about how badly some of these guys want to get back on the football field.

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Posted on: June 3, 2011 10:08 pm
 

Goodell optimistic about direction of labor talks

Roger Goodell said he's optimistic about the labor talks (AP).Posted by Josh Katzowitz

The Charlotte Observer’s Joe Person caught up with commissioner Roger Goodell today at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, N.C., and perhaps predictably Goodell said he’s optimistic about the latest (not-so-secret!) labor talks.

Goodell was coming off three days of meetings with the NFLPA in Chicago, and the first question he took during a fan forum was from a soldier who couldn’t understand why the league had such a tough time splitting $9 billion.

He gave his typical answer about protecting the game and blah, blah, blah (he probably threw something in there about how this can’t be solved through litigation), but Goodell later said he was confident the two sides were on the right track to finding a lockout solution (in case you need a timeline to what's been happening, we've got you covered).

"I think both sides want to continue the dialogue, and I think that's a positive thing," Goodell said, via Person. "The importance is to have the principles talk. That's what we were interested in doing is having the owners and the players talk to one another. That was accomplished this week."

And since Person covers the Panthers, he couldn’t resist giving a little Carolina quarterback news, via coach Ron Rivera.

With the Panthers needing to add a veteran QB to help the progress of No. 1 pick Cam Newton (and Jimmy Clausen, I suppose), Rivera said that person could be former Panthers starter Matt Moore.

"Here's a guy that was slated to have a good opportunity to be the starter," Rivera said. "And unfortunately, things didn't work out for him. So we've got to look at that as well when we get to that point."

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Posted on: June 3, 2011 5:54 pm
Edited on: June 3, 2011 6:28 pm
 

Vikings, Bills disagree with NFLCA's amicus brief

FrazierPosted by Josh Katzowitz

At some point, I just know we’re going to find a group of coaches who actually agrees with the NFL Coaches Association’s amicus brief to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

It hasn't happened yet, though, as the Vikings and the Bills have weighed in on the matter, throwing their support to the owners in this lockout battle.

The brief cited numerous issues that would harm the league’s coaches if the lockout continued. (The brief also made the statement that owners demanded a provision in the coaches’ contracts that would allow the team to withhold part of the coaches’ salaries in the event of a lockout.)

The Redskins coaches didn’t agree with the NFLCA. Neither did the Saints coaches, who said they were appalled by the brief. The staffs of the Eagles, Cowboys, Jaguars, Texans and Chiefs also threw their non-support behind the brief.

Now, there’s word that the Bills have the owners' back (per the Buffalo News, via Pro Football Talk) while Vikings coach Leslie Frazier told ESPN 1500 that his staff wasn’t even asked its opinion about the brief before it was filed.

From Bills offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins: “Our entire staff had no prior knowledge, nor were we consulted that the amicus brief was being filed on behalf of the coaches. We support Mr. (Ralph) Wilson.”

Frazier, meanwhile, was asked about his reaction when he heard about the brief: “Surprised. Just wondering how that came about and wondering why our team wasn't contacted. I wondered ... just how many teams were contacted. But just really, in a lot of ways, it doesn't pertain to us because we had no say in it as a staff."

So, that’s at least seven teams that have come out against the brief, and I don’t see anybody who's currently working in the league who will announce their support for the NFLCA's brief anytime soon. Which makes you wonder. Who does the NFLCA actually represent in this matter? Because it certainly doesn't seem to be the coaches.

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Posted on: June 2, 2011 1:08 am
Edited on: June 2, 2011 6:46 am
 

Report: owners have secret meeting in Chicago

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

About a week after full-blown owners meetings in Indianapolis, a few of the NFL’s top money men met secretly in a western suburb of Chicago on Wednesday, according to a Chicago Tribune report.

NFL Labor
Among the owners spotted by the newspaper or revealed by its sources were New England’s Robert Kraft, Dallas’ Jerry Jones and Carolina’s Jerry Richardson – all major players on the NFL labor bargaining team – and apparently, commissioner Roger Goodell flew in as well.

Which leads to the obvious question. Were these owners and Goodell in Chicago for a double-secret meeting with (fingers crossed!) NFLPA representatives in an effort to solve the lockout?

The obvious answer is that we have no idea – the NFL office declined comment to the Tribune, and DuPage Airport officials cited confidentiality rules in not disclosing any information – but that theory makes plenty of sense, doesn’t it?

Besides, it doesn’t get much more suspicious than a couple of owners and the commissioner meeting at some out-of-the-way airport as they try to slip in and out of one of the biggest cities in the country while trying not to be spotted.

Unless, on their way to St. Louis for the latest Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals hearing Friday, a few owners decided to stop in Chicago so they could pick up a case of Old Style for the ride up and back.

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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