Posted on: March 15, 2011 2:41 pm
Edited on: March 15, 2011 4:31 pm

Rookie symposium in danger

While not as sexy a target as the NFL Draft the incoming rookies might also stay away from a recent NFL staple: the rookie symposium.

Several agents tell CBSSports.com they expect officials from the former union to ask them not to send players to the symposium. Indeed, these sources explained, agents expect the NFLPA to have its own type of rookie symposium should no settlement be reached or court action taken that would institute a season.

The symposium, normally held in June, is viewed by the league as a major instructional tool for incoming players on how to deal with the financial and relationship pressures they'll face as players. In 2009, for example, then incoming union head DeMaurice Smith spoke to the rookies. Normally current and former veteran players talk to the rookies; head coaches, too.

Agents say the symposium, in its current form, is likely all but dead unless some sort of agreement is reached. I know this has been discussed before by the media but it's being talked about again now.

Also, regarding the possible boycott of the upcoming draft, spokesman George Atalah tweeted there would be no "boycott" but agents said that, effectively, there will indeed be a boycott. While players and families will be in New York for the draft it's likely they won't be on stage with Commissioner Roger Goodell. The draft will look extremely different. 

Category: NFL
Tags: Labor
Posted on: March 14, 2011 4:34 pm

Draft boycott

The NFL players are finding an interesting ally in their fight against the owners: college players.

Two agents confirmed to CBSSports.com that the former union has asked top prospects not to attend the April draft. One agent who represents a potential top 25 pick said in an interview that it's possible few, if any, of the top picks will go to the draft.

"There is momentum building on this," said the agent. "If my client is asked, he won't attend."


When Roger Goodell announces the picks at the draft it's possible the first ten to 20 draftees will boycott the event, an agent said. An NFLPA source explained it's possible the entire first round might be boycotted as other players decide to join the boycott.


College players, one agent explained, seem to be onboard with the decision though I find it difficult to believe at least a few of them won't be upset about losing the opportunity to shine on such a big day. Don't be surprised if a few top prospects show up anyway.

But, so far at least, and according to agents, college players are okay with this development.

The message the former union is sending is crystal clear. They're going to hurt the NFL during one of its most highly watched and money-making events of the season.

Not having top prospects would effectively push the draft back in time to a more primordial event. A boycott wouldn't kill the draft but it would seriously injure it.

So the labor situation gets more interesting by the minute.
Category: NFL
Tags: Labor
Posted on: March 12, 2011 5:57 pm
Edited on: March 12, 2011 11:55 pm

The battle for hearts and minds

There is the battle in the court between the players and owners and then there is another battle.

The other battle is the battle for you, the fan.

As both sides prepare for court fights they are simultaneously fighting to win a PR war.

Since the lockout, the NFL has sent numerous releases to many in the media. Some are statements from owners like Art Rooney II expressing their disappointment in the union. Others are announcements about high-powered additions to their legal team.

Cincinnati owner Mike Brown told the Cincinnati Enquirer that all the players cared about was the money. Then, president of the San Diego Chargers, Dean Spanos, released a statement accusing DeMaurice Smith of not negotiating in good faith. The Kansas City Chiefs added their own statement as well. The Broncos said they're willing to open their books.
The league also announced that Roger Goodell was slashing his salary to $1. It's doubtful the NFL commissioner, however, will need to borrow a few duckets to put food on the table.

All of the statements basically have the same purpose which is to blame the players for the current labor crisis.

The player's association re-released its own statements immediately following their decertification. My guess: the players saw what the owners said and wanted to, again, make the position known that the owners are lying.

Both sides are clearly fighting for control of you. Your mind. Your opinion.

But the players won't stay silent for long. It's only a matter of time before they begin to counter what the league is saying.

And the battle continues...


Category: NFL
Tags: Labor
Posted on: March 11, 2011 5:07 pm

Union decertifies

The union has decertified. It's official, according to a text to CBSSports.com from a player representative.

Now this fight moves to the courts.

Stay turned for more in the coming hours.
Category: NFL
Tags: Labor
Posted on: March 10, 2011 8:12 pm

NFL labor: here we go again

And. so, it's the Eve of Armageddon, Part Three. And, so, like the previous two eves of the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement, once again, it looks as if the owners and players are both arming photon torpedoes.

Two sources familiar with the labor talks told CBSSports.com that after five days of heavy talks following the last extension progress has not been significant enough to warrant optimism that a lockout/decertification dance two-step won't happen.

"We're basically in the same place we were last week," said one source close to the discussions.

Another source said the chance of a deal getting done tomorrow were "sub-zero" and a chance for an extension was also slim.

It looks bad. Really bad.

Remember, however: this was the case last week and then both sides agreed to more talks.

So the same thing could happen. A lot of this talk could be ploys to negotiate.

Probably not. The feeling throughout the league is that the language and outbursts have gotten more severe this week and control of the parties by mediator George Cohen is starting to slightly slip.

As a result, even if there was an extension, it wouldn't lead to much unless both sides agreed to a significant extension of discussions.

Basically, it looks horrible.

Is it too early to ask for a Christmas miracle?
Category: NFL
Tags: Labor
Posted on: March 10, 2011 11:40 am

Owners can't agree on opening books

There is just one day left before a possible NFL Armageddon and a crucial event has happened within the past 24 hours.

There are some NFL owners who want to completely open the league's financial books to the union, CBSSports.com has learned.

The problem is other NFL owners are refusing.

So the stalling in the talks has happened because one set of owners desires to open their books and others do not, a source explains. Thus ownership is stuck trying to find a way to mend these differences.

If ownership can, and the books are opened, a deal could likely be reached quite quickly.

That's where we are now. Ownership is arguing amongst itself.

Incredible, isn't it?

It's virtually impossible for ownership to reach a consensus on this issue by the Friday evening deadline so unless another extension is agreed upon, the lockout/decertification will happen then.

This is getting interesting. Right down to the wire.

Category: NFL
Tags: Labor
Posted on: March 9, 2011 6:01 pm

Labor elephant in the room

It was in 2006 when Paul Tagliabue was commissioner of the NFL and he approached the late Gene Upshaw with a request. He wanted Upshaw to push as hard for revenue sharing among the owners as Tagliabue was doing at the time. Tagliabue was having difficulty getting all of the owners to believe in the revenue sharing principle.

Revenue sharing became an important part of those negotiations but now, five years later, revenue sharing has all been dropped during the current talks, multiple sources confirm. It remains the big, fat hairy elephant in the room. But it's important. It's critically important. Here's why.

Basically, a significant chunk of revenue isn't shared which has led to a war between small and large markets. If one team (normally a big market one) sells naming rights for a large sum of cash they get to keep that money. But the overall effect can be a raising of the floor of the salary cap. So smaller market teams get squeezed. Thus, a big market team makes a great deal, and expenses go up for the entire league.

In many ways complete revenue sharing in the NFL is more legend than actuality meaning the problem of income disparity among the teams remains. Jerry Jones doesn't want to share his revenue with a Jacksonville and conversely a Jacksonville can't compete with a Jones.

The crux of this current labor argument -- the fat ass elephant -- is that owners want to take back from players so they can solve their revenue sharing problems. The owners, theoretically, want to take that extra few billion or so (what's a few billion between friends) and make sure smaller markets don't suffocate under the weight of their big brothers.

So this is why these talks are painstaking and the odds of an agreement this week - or soon -- remain remote. Basically, the owners need to fix the revenue sharing problems on their own before even sitting down with the players. But that of course didn't happen and isn't happening.

The stalemate continues because (from the player perspective) the players refuse to fix the owners' revenue sharing issues and (from the owner perspective) the players need to give up more money to correct the revenue imbalance.

So the two sides argue about other things -- and those things are important -- but there's truth to the fact the owner's need to repair the revenue sharing model before doing anything.

When the two sides do reach an agreement on this CBA and it doesn't include a revenue sharing fix we'll be having this fight again after the new CBA expires.

Because elephants, it turns out, are tough.

Category: NFL
Tags: Labor
Posted on: March 9, 2011 11:31 am

NFL labor talks take pessimistic turn

The tenor could change. The tone could switch in an instant. But there's no question the talks between the players and owners have made a dramatic shift away from the positivity generated over the past week or so into a scarier area.

While discussions aren't on the verge of collapse the pessimism is suddenly extreme, according to several sources with knowledge of the discussions.

The notion that the union's desire for owners to open the books is a real issue but not the biggest, as has been reported by several media outlets, several sources told CBSSports.com. The transparency issue is more of a symptom of the larger problem which remains, quite simply, how to divide the billion(s) dollar pie.

The pessimism is extreme but remember it was this way last week and at the last minute the two sides agreed to an extension. That could happen again. These talks turn quickly, one way and then another, from hour to hour. Sometimes from minute to minute.

For now, however, the talks are in danger and the clock continues to make that ticking sound.
Category: NFL
Tags: Labor
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com