Tag:Labor
Posted on: April 7, 2011 9:08 am
Edited on: April 7, 2011 12:58 pm
 

Current, former player squabble

Former NFL player Jeff Nixon hasn't been shy about his criticism of the current NFL union leadership. What Nixon did recently won't help his relationship with them.

Nixon wrote about the arrest of Mike Vrabel, a member of the NFLPA's executive committee, on his blog. Tight end Bennie Joppru, who last played for Seattle and is currently a free agent, wrote Nixon a note saying Nixon crossed the line publishing the arrest and all but accused Nixon of plagiarizing the site Profootballtalk.com.

Nixon responded and published his letter. Here's the letter from Jeff Nixon to Bennie Joppru. 
Joppru's email to Nixon is at the bottom.
Dear Bennie:

Thank you for your email. (It can be viewed under my response)

I have removed you from my email list, but for the record I did not rip off anyone. The posting of the article about Mike Vrabel on Fourth and Goal clearly shows at the top of the article that this was from ESPN.com - news service.  They mention Profootballtalk.com - the original source - in the article.  

Apparently you don't think retired players should be aware of this incident.   

Do you think this should be hidden from retired players because he is an active NFL player and a vocal member of the NFL Players Association and is among the 10 players named in the NFLPA’s antitrust lawsuit against the league.   Isn't that newsworthy?    

I'm not the first to talk about this. As you noted yourself, Profootballtalk.com first released this information and since then, it has been widely reported on all the major TV and cable networks, newspapers and has been talked about on radio sport shows.   

Obviously, Mike Vrabel is innocent until proven otherwise, but to say that I have "crossed the line" because I made the information available to retired players is absurd.  

Heaven forbid retired players should hear anything even remotely negative about the current players. Our delicate ears might not be able to take it. Or maybe worse, if active or retired players talk about it they might get blackballed by DeMaurice Smith. Afterall, he is the Chairman of NFL Players Inc. and sits on a the throne of a $219 MILLION  (2009 net assets) marketing company that determines who, and who doesn't get paid for meet and greets, autograph signings, etc.  You don't want to get on the list that he said Gene Upshaw left for him! http://fourthandgoalunites.com/2010
/04/16/demaurice-smith-is-using-gen
e-upshaw%E2%80%99s-blacklist/
      

Since you just recently retired (2008), I assume you played against Mike Vrabel - so maybe you feel some loyalty to him.  Maybe he's a friend of yours.  I don't know, but to say that I have "crossed the line" does not sit well with me - or a lot of other former players. 

That's the same load of crap that DeMaurice said about Bruce Laird (Fourth and Goal) and George Martin (NFL Alumni) His exact words were “There will be those who cross the picket line of player loyalty tomorrow just as there were those who crossed the line against you. While many don’t remember the players who crossed and betrayed players trust, I do remember and our current players know”

Maybe you think I'm a "scab."  Maybe that's how you really feel about me, I don't know.  

But I do know is this:  I was involved in the 1982 NFL player strike.  I did not cross the picket line. In fact, not one single player did! We shut down the NFL for 8 weeks. We fought for a number of benefits that you benefitted from during your 6 year career (2003-2008). The 1982 player strike accomplished more than most people realize.  For the first time in the history of the NFL the Union was finally able to get full financial disclosure of all player salaries, which continues to be extremely helpful when players and their agents negotiate contracts with the owners.  We got severance pay. We got the minimum wage scale.  Players were finally allowed second medical opinions on our injuries - and we didn’t have to have the surgery performed by the team physician. We increased the Pension plan funding and improved the Disability Plan.  

You're welcome!    

I guess you can see why I'm a little sensitive about the phrase "I've crossed the line." 

Your NFLPA Minnesota Chapter President - Joey Browner was involved in the strike of 1987, where owners brought in replacement players.  The striking players denounced their replacements as "scabs".  Even though the strike was not successful, it finally made the Union realize that it needed to gain leverage by going to court. That eventually led to the decertification of the union, lawsuits and the historic 1993 CBA that helped active player salaries and benefits skyrocket!    

Mike Vrabel is a 14 year NFL veteran that never had to go on strike.  He has benefited from the sacrifices of players that came before him.   

His salary just for the past five years was:


2006..... $3.19 Million

2007......$3.74 Million

2008......$3.99 Million

2009......$4.39 Million

2010......$3.27 Million 

I'm not against the active players making good salaries. They are deserving of them.  But, in addition to the millions of dollars he has made in his stellar career, he will also have the following NFL benefits waiting for him when he retires:  

  • $600,000 in his Second Career Savings Plan (that doesn't include interest that will increase the account)

  • $580,000  in his NFL Annuity Plan  (that doesn't include interest that will increase the account)
  • $300,000 in his Health Reimbursement Account (  For Cobra payments and other medical after 5 free years)
  • $157,000 in Severance Pay  ( If he retired before next season - it will go up $15,000 each add. year he's active)
  • $45,000 in his Tuition Assistance  account (not that he'll need to go to school to make a decent living)
  • $77,700 annually in his NFL Pension -  $6,475 monthly that he can start drawing on at age 55
  • 5 Free years of medical insurance coverage for him and his family after retirement
  • Why don't the active players start putting more money in the Pension Plan to help ALL retired players!

    When the active players - like Mike Vrabel - start showing some "loyalty" to retired players - particularly the older generation - then maybe we will be more inclined to get behind them. They can start by increasing the pre-1993 player's Pension by splitting the $300 million annual contribution the owners put on the table for active and retired player benefits. Do you think that Mike Vrabel would do that for us?    

    Mike's a good guy, but it looks like he made a bad decision to be at a casino at 5:30 in the morning and "allegedly" took a few alcoholic drinks on the house.  

    Maybe.... just maybe...... he crossed the line.   

    A court will determine his fate. Or maybe the casino will drop the charges if he does a few "meet and greets" with the other high rollers that have enough cash to throw it away at a casino. 

    One thing's for sure. He can afford a very good lawyer.

     Jeff Nixon


    And the original email from Bennie Joppru to Jeff Nixon. Emails redacted for privacy purposes.
    -----Original Message-----
    From: Benjamin Joppru
    To: Jeff Nixon
    Sent: Wed, Apr 6, 2011 10:32 am
    Subject: Re: Mike Vrabel arrested for theft

    Jeff, You have officially crossed the line.  Why would you publicize a fellow player's arrest.  Take me off of your email list immediately.  Way to rip off profootballtalk.com from 3 days ago. 
    Bennie Joppru

    Category: NFL
    Tags: Labor
     
    Posted on: April 7, 2011 8:52 am
    Edited on: April 7, 2011 12:32 pm
     

    League and players to meet?


    The league and players could actually begin negotiating again as early as this week, multiple league sources tell CBSSports.com.

    Now, to be clear, other league sources are strongly denying this. Several insisted owners would never meet with players until the now decertified union reconstituted itself. "If we meet with them this week," said one source, "I'll eat my hat."

    But if other sources are to be believed some owners might be softening that hardline stance and hat eating might be on the menu.

    Again, there are strong denials to this, but according to sources, some owners are slightly fidgety about what happened before judge Susan Nelson during the federal court hearing in Minneapolis on Wednesday. Nelson, according to various reports, seemed to query the lawyer for the owners more extensively than the legal representation for the players.

    This can mean something or it can mean nothing but several league sources admitted that some of Nelson's remarks raised eyebrows.

    The players offered to meet with the owners last week but the owners refused. The New York Times recently quoted the NFL's lead attorney, Jeff Pash, as saying the NFL isn't interested in settlement discussions. The owners have said all along they want to talk to players but only as a union. The owners might also be willing to lose in Nelson's court and take their chances on a more conservative appeals court. But that is incredibly risky.

    Just to be clear: some in the league are strongly denying any discussion about resuming talks with a decertified union but others are saying this is increasingly a strong possibility.

    So, as usual, stay tuned.






    Category: NFL
    Tags: Labor
     
    Posted on: April 1, 2011 4:42 pm
    Edited on: April 1, 2011 4:58 pm
     

    Part Two of Warren Moon interview

    When NFL players went on strike in 1987, one of the more high-profile faces representing them was quarterback Warren Moon. He was a player representative on the executive committee and his memories from that time show just how bad labor differences between players and owners can get.

    The blood is bad now between players and owners but it's nothing compared to what happened during that strike. One of Moon's duties was to schedule picket duty for striking players and he remembers some of the chaos from that time.

    "We had guys laying down in front of buses that were carrying the [replacement] players," he told CBSSports.com. "Some players threw eggs at the buses. They threw rocks." He remembered how in Kansas City a handful of striking players rode in the back of pickup trucks carrying shotguns and circled practice fields where the replacements were working out.

    Moon of course put his support behind today's locked-out players. He said the difference between now and when his generation was on strike was the amount of information today's players have. "You have to give the NFLPA credit," Moon said. "Today's players are far more informed than we were."

    Then Moon had this stinging quote when asked what he believed the owners really think of players:

    "The owners' mentality has always been, 'We're the owners. You're the players. We're smarter. We're better.' The owners feel like they're more superior and intelligent and we're just dumb players."

    Category: NFL
    Tags: Labor
     
    Posted on: March 26, 2011 1:48 pm
     

    The former union and George Martin

    Recently the head of the NFL Alumni, George Martin, met with leaders from the former players' union and what happened next -- and will happen in the future -- is highly interesting.

    Martin is a former NFL player who deals with former players and his words carry weight. He has been publicly critical of the former union and has asked for a one-on-one meeting with it's former head, DeMaurice Smith. While no such meeting happened, Martin did recently meet with Smith and others from the trade association as a group.

    As Profootballtalk.com reported and CBSSports.com has confirmed the meeting at times became extremely heated. Profootballtalk.com was able to obtain a memo Martin wrote to his own membership which stated the meeting atmosphere "was very defiant, accusatory, and outright disrespectful.”

    CBSSports.com has learned the meeting was filmed and it's possible, according to a person present in the meeting, that a transcript of the meeting might be soon released.

    This is getting good.

    The former union, to put it mildly, doesn't trust Martin, a former player for the Giants. They point to the fact that the NFL has given Martin an interest free loan worth over $1 million, and they feel, more than anything, that this payment means Martin has a conflict of interest.

    The meeting became heated, one source present said, when several crucial issues were raised. Among them was Martin being paid by the owners and, also, Martin doesn't agree with the former union's demand for financial transparency. There is additionally some concern Martin is attempting to operate a shadow union that conflicts with the current former union leadership.

    Martin has publicly stated he wants a one-on-one meeting with Smith but that likely won't happen because such a meeting could be construed as bargaining and that can't be done since the union has decertified.

    This story will continue to develop and it's possible the next thing will be a release of the transcript of the meeting.
    Category: NFL
    Tags: Labor
     
    Posted on: March 26, 2011 1:45 pm
    Edited on: March 26, 2011 1:47 pm
     

    The former union and George Martin

    Recently the head of the NFL Alumni, George Martin, met with leaders from the former players' union and what happened next -- and will happen in the future -- is highly interesting.<br /> <br /> Martin is a former NFL player who deals with former players and his words carry weight. He has been publicly critical of the former union and has asked for a one-on-one meeting with it's former head, DeMaurice Smith. While no such meeting happened, Martin did recently meet with Smith and others from the trade association as a group.<br /> <br /> As Profootballtalk.com reported and CBSSports.com has confirmed the meeting at times became extremely heated. Profootballtalk.com was able to obtain a memo Martin wrote to his own membership which stated the meeting atmosphere "was very defiant, accusatory, and outright disrespectful.”<br /> <br /> CBSSports.com has learned the meeting was filmed and it's possible, according to a person present in the meeting, that a transcript of the meeting might be soon released.<br /> <br /> This is getting good.<br /> <br /> The former union, to put it mildly, doesn't trust Martin, a former player for the Giants. They point to the fact that the NFL has given Martin an interest free loan worth over $1 million, and they feel, more than anything, that this payment means Martin has a conflict of interest.<br /> <br /> The meeting became heated, one source present said, when several crucial issues were raised. Among them was Martin being paid by the owners and, also, Martin doesn't agree with the former union's demand for financial transparency. There is additionally some concern Martin is attempting to operate a shadow union that conflicts with the current former union leadership.<br /> <br /> Martin has publicly stated he wants a one-on-one meeting with Smith but that likely won't happen because such a meeting could be construed as bargaining and that can't be done since the union has decertified.<br /> <br /> This story will continue to develop and it's possible the next thing will be a release of the transcript of the meeting.<br /> <br />

    Category: NFL
    Tags: Labor
     
    Posted on: March 25, 2011 5:13 pm
     

    Some NFL agents already starting to panic


    So this is the scenario happening now with dozens of younger NFL agents, if not a lot more, across the sport.

    Some time ago, college player signs with agent. Transaction is legal.

    Agent then pays for players' expenses including purchase of a car, payment of rent or mortage and monthly allowance of cash. All legal (if not offered as inducement) and has been done for years.

    Agreement is that agent will receive these monies back once player is drafted and contract is signed with team (or thereabouts).

    Except agent, because he or she is inexperienced, forgot to plan for something: the potential lockout.

    Player and agent are basically using each other as line of credit until player made the NFL but it was the agent who was shelled out the money first expecting a return later.

    So agent -- or should I say many agents -- are stuck with huge debts because of the lockout. Some in the agent community fear if the lockout extends into the summer there will be a legion of newer agents forced to declare bankruptcy and leave the business altogether.

    Sure the agents should've planned better but they didn't and now here they are stuck in a potential financial mess. Make that, a likely financial mess.

    Just like so many others.


    Category: NFL
    Tags: Labor
     
    Posted on: March 21, 2011 4:22 pm
    Edited on: March 22, 2011 8:31 am
     

    NFL official: union decert a "fake suicide"

    In a briefing of NFL reporters at the owner's meetings in New Orleans on Monday a league official described the union's decertfication as a sham calling it a "fake suicide."

    "The fake suicide was a fake," said the official.

    The official wasn't trying to be offensive but he forgot a few things in making such an insensitive remark.

    The official forgot that in February former Chicago player Dave Duerson committed suicide with a gunshot to the chest.

    The official forgot that police suspect former Denver player Kenny McKinley of committing suicide.

    He forgot about the suicide of Andre Waters, a former Philadelphia Eagles player.

    Or how Hall of Fame center Mike Webster tried several times to kill himself before falling to a heart attack.

    The official wasn't trying to be insensitive but it's another sign of how ugly the impasse is getting between players and owners. I heard a tape of the conversation and almost fell out of my chair.

    Maybe we should all watch our language as this battle moves forward.




    Category: NFL
    Tags: Labor
     
    Posted on: March 18, 2011 7:59 pm
     

    Players write letter to Goodell


    Jay Feely echoed the sentiment of many other players who read the letter from Commissioner Roger Goodell to them.

    "He intended to divide the players," Feely, a team representative in the former union, told CBSSports.com, "and instead it rallied us."

    Feely also explained to CBSSports.com the trade association has done more than privately gripe about Goodell's letter. They've responded in several tangible ways.

    First, Feely explained, most of the team representatives have penned a letter to each player on their team, debunking each of Goodell's points line by line. Other players like Jeff Saturday, among many others, sent such letters to their respective teams. Feely sent his letter to the Arizona players early Friday morning.

    "The great thing about technology is that we can get a response out to the players quickly," Feely said. "We don't want them to read misinformation. We want them to know the truth."

    Second, the trade association is sending a formal response to Goodell's letter directly to Goodell. It should be sent to him soon, maybe as early as Friday night.

    In Feely's letter, he countered each of Goodell's points. Some examples include:

    Goodell said he was offering player medical coverage post-retirement for life. Feely said that was true but for one huge exception. If a player took an outside job, or for some reason had a break in coverage, then the coverage stopped.

    Goodell also discussed in his letter a $1 million injury guarantee for a player's second year. That's true, too, Feely stated, except that in the owner's proposal the $1 million was deducted from workman's compensation claims so, in effect, players would lose money.

    "A lot of what Goodell said sounded good," Feely explained, "but it just wasn't true. He wrote that letter for the fans to sway them and divide us but a lot of the letter was simply false. That's why we prepared our own responses to counter his."

    "If Roger wants to really get talking again," Feely said, "don't put out inflammatory letters containing half truths."

    Feely also offered some never before discussed insight into why the negotiations broke down and why the players have such distrust now for the owners.

    Feely explained that at the bottom of the owner's proposal was a disclaimer that stated owners reserved the right to alter or change the proposal at any time.

    This caused the players (understandably) to feel like the proposal wasn't worth the paper it was printed on. During mediation sessions, Feely said, both sides would make progress, then league lawyers would say at the end of the bargaining sessions that none of the verbal agreements were binding.

    Then, the next morning, the league would act like no progress had been made and the talks would start almost at the beginning.

    When I asked Feely if he believes does Goodell and the owners think the players can be easily fooled, Feely replied, "There are times when I think Roger believes we're not all that smart. He has to know by now that notion isn't true."

    Category: NFL
    Tags: Labor
     
     
     
     
     
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