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Tag:NFLPA
Posted on: July 8, 2011 10:43 am
Edited on: July 8, 2011 12:44 pm
 

BREAKING: Court of Appeals rules in favor of NFL

Posted by Josh Katzowitz



Update (12:35 pm EST): The NFL and NFLPA issued a joint statement on the court's ruling of the lockout, making it pretty clear that things are not too drastically altered by the ruling.

"While we respect the court’s decision, today’s ruling does not change our mutual recognition that this matter must be resolved through negotiation. We are committed to our current discussions and reaching a fair agreement that will benefit all parties for years to come, and allow for a full 2011 season."

That's exactly what everyone wants to hear from the two sides. Hearing/seeing and doing are two different things, though.

-----

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has made its ruling: The lockout put in place by the NFL owners is legal.

Which is bad news for the NFLPA.

Just like the rest of its rulings in regards to the Brady v NFL case, the Eight Circuit was split in its decision. Judges Steven Colloton and Duane Benton ruled in favor of the NFL, while Judge Kermit Bye dissented. Read the entire ruling right here (.PDF).

The ruling was not a surprise, especially based on what the judges wrote in their permanent stay ruling in May. The timing was pretty shocking, though, especially since it seemed like the two sides were getting closer on a deal for a new CBA.

How this ruling will affect the lockout is unclear at this point, but if the owners wanted some (but, really only some) leverage, now they have it.

Here are a few keys from the ruling:

- When the NFLPA decertified, the association claimed that the NFL could not go ahead with the lockout, because there was no union anymore -- basically the players claimed the owners couldn’t keep out a bunch of independent contractors. The Eighth Circuit, though, disagreed that the NFLPA could decertify for that reason.

Writes Colloton:
The text of the Norris-LaGuardia Act and the cases interpreting the term “labor dispute” do not require the present existence of a union to establish a labor dispute. Whatever the precise limits of the phrase “involving or growing out of a labor dispute,” this case does not press the outer boundary. The League and the players’ union were parties to a collective bargaining agreement for almost eighteen years prior to March 2011. They were engaged in collective bargaining over terms and conditions of employment for approximately two years through March 11, 2011. At that point, the parties were involved in a classic “labor dispute” by the Players’ own definition. Then, on a single day, just hours before the CBA’s expiration, the union discontinued collective bargaining and disclaimed its status, and the Players filed this action seeking relief concerning industry-wide terms and conditions of employment. Whatever the effect of the union’s disclaimer on the League’s immunity from antitrust liability, the labor dispute did not suddenly disappear just because the Players elected to pursue the dispute through antitrust litigation rather than collective bargaining.
- But the court raised an interesting issue in regards to free agents and rookies not under contract. Basically, the majority opinion writes the NLGA does not cover people who are not employed because there is no employer-employee relationship. If the rookies had signed a contract, then they could be locked out. But perhaps not now.

Instead, Judge Nelson would have to hold hearings with witnesses (and with cross-examination) in order to determine where the NFL could legally lockout those free agents and rookies.

Since the Court rules that Nelson didn’t consider the potential irreparable harm to free agents and rookies in her reasoning for lifting the lockout, the Court invalidated her ruling. And then remands the whole thing back to Nelson.

- The player did get back some leverage when the court expressed “no view on whether the League’s nonstatutory labor exemption from the antitrust laws continues after the union’s disclaimer.”

So, that might be something for the NFLPA to argue at some point. Is the NFL really exempt from antitrust law? The trade association could move ahead with that part of the case, which could be a worry to owners.

Initially, the court ruling sounded really bad for the players, but after looking through it all, it’s not quite all ice cream and sunshine for the NFL.

- Bye gets off a pretty good zinger in his dissent:

Through its holding in this case today, the majority reaffirms the wisdom of the old French saying … : “the more things are legislatively changed, the more they remain the same judicially.” … Despite the repeated efforts of the legislative branch to come to the rescue of organized labor, today’s opinion puts the power of the Act in the service of employers, to be used against non-unionized employees who can no longer avail themselves of protections of labor laws. Because I cannot countenance such interpretation of the Act, I must and hereby dissent.”
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Posted on: July 7, 2011 10:52 pm
Edited on: July 7, 2011 11:40 pm
 

NFL, NFLPA talked for more than 12 hours today

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

The labor negotiations are finished for the day, and it was another long session of work for the NFL and the NFLPA.

According to NFL.com’s Albert Breer, the groups ended their day about 10:45 p.m. ET after more than 12 hours of meeting, and they’ll reconvene in New York on Friday at 9 a.m.

NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, after paying tribute to John Mackey again, said the two groups have “been working hard all day.” As he tweeted, Breer sensed it had been a tough day between the two sides but that progress continued.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: July 7, 2011 5:50 pm
Edited on: July 7, 2011 6:18 pm
 

Innovating TE John Mackey dies at 69

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

It’s been a sad day for the people of Baltimore and those in the NFL and the NFLPA today, as former Baltimore Colts TE John Mackey has died at the age of 69. Along with making his name as one of the best tight ends in the league’s history, he also was the first president of the NFLPA.

According to his former coach, Don Shula, Mackey helped innovate his position.

"Previous to John, tight ends were big strong guys like [Mike] Ditka and [Ron] Kramer who would block and catch short passes over the middle," Shula told the Baltimore Sun. "Mackey gave us a tight end who weighed 230, ran a 4.6 and could catch the bomb. It was a weapon other teams didn't have.”

After he was elected to the Pro Football HOF in 1992, he refused to accept his ring in Indianapolis, where the Colts had relocated. He said he wanted the ceremony to take place in Baltimore, and eventually, he got his wish.

But he also didn’t get in to the HOF until his 15th and final year on the ballot, and some believe that’s because of his involvement with the NFLPA.

More from the Sun:

As the union's first president after the 1970 merger of the NFL and American Football League, Mackey quickly raised the owners' ire. That July, he organized a three-day strike that won the players $11 million in pensions and benefits. In 1972, he filed and eventually won a landmark antitrust suit that brought them free agency. (The union bargained it away in 1977.)

"He was the right man at the right time," said (Ordell) Braase, who preceded Mackey as head of the player's association. "We were a fractured group until John began putting permanence in [the union's] day-to-day operations. He hired administrators and a general counsel.

"He had a vision for that job, which was more than just putting in time and keeping the natives calm. You don't get anything unless you really rattle the cage."


Here’s what NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith had to say in a statement: "John Mackey is still our leader. As the President of the NFL Players Association, he led the fight for fairness with a brilliance and ferocious drive. His passion continues to define our organization and inspire our players. His unwavering loyalty to our mission and his exemplary courage will never be forgotten."

(FYI, the person speaking in the video below is Michael Gibbons, the executive director of the Sports Legends Museum in Baltimore.)

 

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Posted on: July 6, 2011 7:28 pm
Edited on: July 6, 2011 8:23 pm
 

Report: framework for new CBA could come Friday



Posted by Ryan Wilson

The lawyers for the owners and players met again Wednesday as they continue to work toward a new collective bargaining agreement. And sources tell ESPN that both sides hope to reach a "true framework for a new CBA by the close of business Friday."

If there weren't already enough reasons to end the lockout as soon as possible (the reasons now number into the hundreds of millions), here's another: U.S. District Judge Arthur Boylan, the mediator in the talks, is scheduled to go on vacation Saturday, ESPN reports. And after taking the July 4th weekend off, both sides are committed to staying in New York and working through the weekend if it means getting a deal done.

We have written previously that the lockout could end as early as Sunday, July 10.

For weeks, mid-July had been the cutoff to guarantee that no preseason games were lost, and that training camps would open on time. It would also allow for an abbreviated free-agency signing period.

More from NFL Network's Albert Breer, who appeared on Wednesday's Total Access:
I'm told that today was a very productive day of talks. The talks went right into Wednesday evening, a long day, and it's interesting some of the signs you see during the day watching what was going on. At two o'clock … one of the league's lawyers and the drug czar came in … at a about five o'clock, management counsel lawyers came into the room and they were going over a lot of clarifications and the details of the language of a potential deal. It looks like they've made progress here in finalizing some of the paperwork … that would go into a new collective bargaining agreement.

It doesn't mean that anything's done -- the bigger issues still need to be hashed out -- but what this does is set the stage for a deal when the bigger issues are worked out.
Breer added that "there's a chance this could get taken care of by the end of this week. I think [Thursday] is a very, very big day."

Some fans continue to be cautiously optimistic while others, understandably, are of the "we'll believe it when we see it" mindset. Given all that's happened in the previous four months, we can't blame them. Although we don't have tangible evidence of progress on the labor front, we're taking it as a good sign that the Cowboys have scheduled training camp and that the Hall of Fame game between the Bears and Rams is still a go.

If we're lucky, by the start of next week, the 2011 season will be officially underway and we can get back to worrying about the truly important stuff. Like how many games the Panthers will lose, or which team will actually take a chance on Tiki Barber

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Posted on: July 6, 2011 1:37 am
Edited on: July 6, 2011 12:00 pm
 

7 questions to ask for the labor home stretch

Posted by Will Brinson

Everyone -- and I mean everyone -- is ready for the NFL to start back up. (Otherwise, we might end up with Brett Favre putting his name back in the active player pool. And that's no good for anyone.)

And while it might be a simple process for the NFL and NFLPA to suck it up, find some common ground and make a deal happen ASAP, there's still a whole pile of issues to handle before we get the season ready to roll.

So, as we head into the hypothetical home stretch of the labor strife that's plagued NFL fans all summer, let's hit up our trusty seven-question format to figure out what it is we need to know in the next 10 days.

1. I just woke up from the Fourth of July ... are these guys close to a deal at all?
Surprisingly, yes, it sure does seem like the NFL and NFLPA are getting somewhere when it comes to negotiating.

At some point, both sides must have seen the balance sheets for what they stand to lose -- $800 million in revenue just from the preseason, not counting salaries! -- by continuing to be stubborn and decided that playing football was in everyone's interests.

Also, it's important to remember that DeMaurice Smith and Roger Goodell didn't exactly know each other well before this whole labor strife went down, and they've been, for all intents and purposes, feeling each other out as things went along.

It's infinitely easier to negotiate with someone you've negotiated with a bunch of times in the past, and trying to strike a deal with someone in a supercharged environment doesn't make things any easier.

Plus, if there's not a deadline for making a deal, you don't see people budge off their stances in negotiations. That's not something that's new to the NFL labor talks.
NFL Labor

2. What are the sticking points now?
The same as they've always been. Revenue sharing tops the list, but it's believed the sides are closer than they've ever been on that issue.

The 18-game schedule's been tabled for the time being.

The owners "agreed" on revenue sharing.

Everyone wants something to happen where Al Davis isn't capable of giving JaMarcus Russell $60 million guaranteed ever again. (Or, at least right out of the draft.)

And everyone agrees that the retired players need better benefits. Although, those guys did just sue everyone, and no one's entirely sure how to get them paid, so that could be a problem. But still, it's something that can be sorted out in a quick fashion when people want to make a deal happen.

Just like the rest of the issues.

3. Is there an actual deadline for the NFL and NFLPA to reach an agreement?

Not technically, no, although July 15th has long been considered the "soft deadline" for making something happen. But a deal could be struck any time between Wednesday, July 6, and September 1 and we could still get a full season football.

The problem is that all teams -- even ones like the Packers -- need some kind of training camp and preparation for the season. That might mean that preseason games become more meaningful, but that's not all bad.

Once we move past July 15, there's no longer a convenient window for both free agency and training camps leading up to a full preseason, and things start to get a little hairer.

One of the more interesting aspects to watch about this soft deadline is whether or not an actual deal has to be in place. The rumors coming from the league are that the lockout can't be lifted until all the legal papers are signed/sealed/delivered, but if there's a firm "handshake agreement" in place by next Friday, it would be pretty surprising to see the two sides haggle over some signatures.

4. Are the lawyers really trying to screw the talks up?
You know what my dad always likes to point out to me? That the difference between a dead lawyer in the road and a dead squirrel in the road are the tire marks in front of the squirrel.

And my dad's a lawyer.

Jeff Kessler and Jim Quinn have $10-plus billion reasons to consider trying to keep the two sides in court for the duration of the season. (A favorable verdict for the players would generate a big, old trough full of money, of which they'd get to amply slurp at.)

Which is why it's good news that the team of attorneys for the players are supposedly reworking their contract (and/or that De Smith listened to my man Mike Freeman's advice) -- if Quinn and Kessler are off of the contingency-fee deal, there's much less motivation for them to stay in court for a lengthy amount of time.

5. Wait, what about that whole "the players sued the owners and everyone's fighting in court" thing?
The rulings at the District Court in Minnesota and the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals are the gigantic elephant and gorilla, respectively, that you see in the back of the metaphorical room.

As of now, both the television ruling from Judge David Doty at the District Court level (leveraging how much in damages the players are owed) and the ruling on the permanency of the lockout (leveraging how long the owners can keep the players away from work) are in a holding pattern.

This is because the two sides have continually made progress on a deal that could get done without the court having to rule either way on either issue.

If the two courts do rule, though, things are going to get ugly, because suddenly all the angry feelings the two sides have temporarily put aside are going to start rearing up again.

6. Enough lawyer stuff -- when does my team get to sign free agents?
This is probably the trickiest question of all, because it's going to depend on the lockout being lifted first, natch.

But let's say that a deal does happen by July 15 and the lockout's lifted -- then we're probably facing a 48-hour (or thereabouts) window with which teams have to wait to sign free agents.

It's possible, based on some reports, that teams -- like the Carolina Panthers -- with a lot of restricted free agents (RFAs) will help muscle some sort of right of first refusal deal into the new CBA.

That scenario would give teams like the Panthers a chance to ink their big-name players -- in this case DeAngelo Williams and Charles Johnson -- that they didn't expect to become free agents.

But it's highly unlikely that the players cave on that issue, if only because the owners choose to opt out of the CBA themselves, thereby setting up a scenario in which the market became flooded with an unexpected amount of high-quality players.

7. So what are the chances a deal actually happens by July 15?
I'm going with the same answer I gave three months ago (before the lockout!): 75 percent. That doesn't make me a soothsayer, and it might actually make me wrong for the time being, but there really is too much to lose for both sides not to make something happen.

Don't get me wrong -- there is PLENTY that can cause these talks to explode and send both sides scurrying away from the negotiating table, back into the court room and as far away from the football field as you can get.

We could lose the preseason. And we could still lose the regular season.

But right now, both the owners and the players know there's a 10-day-ish window in which they can hammer out a deal, get the season started on time, make all the money they would have made anyway, and get right back in the good graces of football fans everywhere.

And the difference between now and the beginning of March isn't just a calendar date -- this time around, both sides appear ready to work with each other to make a deal happen and get football back on track.

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Posted on: July 5, 2011 6:55 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2011 7:06 pm
 

NFLPA lawyers renegotiating to a 'flat fee'?

Posted by Will Brinson

Much of the CBA chatter over the holiday weekend focused on the fact that Jeffrey Kessler and Jim Quinn were potentially submarining positive momentum in the current CBA negotiations.

It's precisely why Mike Freeman advised DeMaurice Smith needed to "send your lawyers packing," and it's particularly interesting given that Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated is hearing that the NFLPA lawyers are renegotiating their fee contract with the players.

"I'm hearing the NFLPA has renegotiated its contracts with outside counsel," Trotter tweeted on Tuesday. "Hearing the term 'flat fee' is included in the deal." The presumption here, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes, is that the lawyers were being paid on a contingency fee. (There are generally three types of lawyer fees: either hourly/billable, contingency which is based on the outcome, or a flat fee, which is paid regardless of what happens.)

What makes this interesting is that if Quinn and Kessler were contracted on contingency for their work in the Brady v. NFL matter, they were probably eyeing an absolutely monumental payday if the players won the case.

The quick math, based on a range of 25-to-33 percent, tells us that had they won the deal, the floor for their attorney fees could have been something along the lines of $3 billion.

Most importantly, though, is what a potential renegotiation means for the future of football: If the NFLPA is reworking the manner in which the attorneys are paid, it sure does seem as if the players are envisioning a scenario in which their lawsuit won't be necessary for too much longer.

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Posted on: July 2, 2011 3:27 pm
Edited on: July 2, 2011 8:13 pm
 

Jerry Jones: Revenue sharing is 'on it's way out'

Posted by Will Brinson

The matter of sharing revenue is a big deal for the NFL and NFLPA. In fact, most people would probably agree it's the biggest deal with respect to the current labor negotiations.

However, the issue of revenue sharing between owners is also a tremendous obstacle that the owners have to overcome before finding common ground with the players.

And if you think it's not a problem, then you haven't heard Cowboys owner Jerry Jones talk about how the rest of the owners are helping to pay for the Vikings new stadium.

"Right now, we are subsidizing this market," Jones said, via the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "It's unthinkable to think that you've got the market you got here - 3.5 million people - and have teams like Kansas City and Green Bay subsidizing the market. That will stop.

"That's going to stop. That's on its way out."

As Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal noted on Twitter, there's a reason why this subject has not been written about much despite being an important matter: the owners aren't going to budge off their stance.

Well, at least the rich(er) ones anyway: Jones and the rest of the owners with extraordinary deep pockets were talked into revenue sharing for the first time in the last CBA deal.

And such distribution of money, along with the revenue split given to the players, was precisely why they opted out of the deal that they agreed to back in 2006. (Ironically, Mike Brown of the Bengals and Ralph Wilson of the Bills were the only two owners to oppose the deal.)

It's also one of the unstated obstacles to a new CBA; you might hear talk from ownership of player factions during this process, but the notion that the owners are completely unified is just silly.

There are owners who want more money from other owners, and there are owners who don't want go hand out additional money simply because they're more committed to generating revenue by investing in their product.

From a negotiating standpoint, this is problematic, because the various factions of owners have differing viewpoints on splitting up the $2 billion pie of revenue.

But it's something that'll have to be bridged before the NFL and NFLPA can reach a deal; and Jones' hardline stance could be an indication that everyone's on the same page.

Or an ominous forewarning that there's some clear-cut dissonance amongst owners on the topic.

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Posted on: July 1, 2011 10:31 pm
Edited on: July 1, 2011 10:43 pm
 

Break from CBA talks needs to become a gut check

Posted by Will Brinson

The NFL and NFLPA are taking the holiday weekend off from negotiating a new CBA. Some folks might see this as a problem, because it means a break from negotiations and continued progress.

However, there's reason to think that this weekend could be a gamechanger, provided that both sides remember exactly what "negotiating" means.

As CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman reported over the past few days, the owners are presenting scenarios that don't fit in line with what they'd previously offered, and the NFLPA lawyers are refusing to budge on the issue of retired-player benefits. That, folks, is not negotiating, unless the word suddenly became a synonym for "being stubborn."

This weekend shouldn't be a time to sit around and gripe about who said what in which room, and whether this or that proposal was insulting. This is a weekend to realize that America is sitting around enjoying the summer, not really complaining about the lack of football, and patiently waiting for the two sides to strike a deal.

Latest on Labor

This weekend needs to be the two sides talking apart from one another and understanding that now is a time for a negotiation gut check.

The NFL needs to understand that it HAS to give in on certain areas, and the NFLPA needs to understand that it HAS to find some leeway on others.

That might sound silly and obvious, but it's -- plainly -- exactly what comprises negotiating.

We've constantly heard leaders from both sides preach about dialogue and the need for bargaining during this process. And we've constantly been told that there's ample reason for optimism despite the fact that there's not any football on the horizon.

But there's no concrete proof of any actual negotiating; there's no guarantee that either one of the sides can willingly find some room for concessions that will forward the progress of the best sport in the country.

And that's why a break is critical -- everyone involved in the negotiations of a new CBA for the NFL needs to take this time off to realize just how close we are to the beginning of the football season, to assess the goals of these negotiations, to figure out what the respective breaking points of each side on each issue are, and to find a way to hammer out a deal when negotiations resume on Tuesday.

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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