Archive for November, 2010

Saints QB Drew Brees named SI “Sportsman of Year”

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees was named Sports Illustrated “Sportsman of the Year” for 2010, the magazine announced today.

“Drew Brees: Leader of the Saints, Inspiration to his City” reads the cover (left).

“Drew’s accomplishments go far beyond delivering a Super Bowl title,” said Sports Illustrated Group Editor Terry McDonell. “He has been a driving force in a battered city’s ongoing efforts to rebuild and renew while simultaneously resurrecting his own career.”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke about Brees’ contributions in the SI story. “It’s hard to point to a relationship in our league, between a player and a city, that’s more meaningful than the Saints and Drew Brees,” Commissioner Goodell said.

Following this morning’s announcement, Commissioner Goodell (@nflcommish) tweeted, “congrats @drewbrees for being named SI’s Sportsman of the Year. Great player on the field, even better man in his communities.”

For more information, click here.

Bills owner Ralph Wilson donates $1 million to adult care

Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson and wife Mary today announced a $1 million donation through the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation to support adult day care and home care in western New York.

Mary Wilson presented the gift to James R. Kaskie, president and CEO of Kaleida Health, at the DeGraff Memorial Hospital Adult Day Care Center.

“I want to thank the Wilsons for their generosity,” said Kaskie. “Their compassion and caring will directly impact our adult day care patients as well as those we serve in home care.”

The Ralph C. Wilson Foundation has contributed more than $11 million to support medical care and research.

“It is an honor to support Kaleida Health and the tremendous work it does to provide care for the residents of the Buffalo-Niagara region,” Ralph Wilson said. “We hope to make a positive impact on the quality of people’s lives today, particularly during a time of so much need.”

The funding will be used to subsidize the cost of attendance and transportation to the adult day care program. It will also provide for programs and purchases of equipment and supplies and will assist Kaleida Health’s home care program, the Visiting Nursing Association.

For the complete story, click here.

Jeff Pash: “We are going to have a deal”

Daniel Kaplan of Sports Business Journal featured a Q&A with NFL executive vice president of labor/league counsel Jeff Pash (left) in today’s issue, writing under the header “NFL’s Pash: ‘We are going to have a deal.’”

“I know we are going to have a deal; I know we are going to have an agreement,” Pash told Kaplan.

“There is no reason we can’t have a deal by March 3,” Pash continued. “What we need is to have sustained engagement. We need to be meeting regularly; we need to leave meetings not worried about how we are going to characterize meetings, whether we are gloomy, whether we’re upbeat, whether we are excited, whether we are exhausted. Characterizing [negotiations] on a day-by-day, hour-by-hour basis, as though you are doing a weather forecast or a weather report doesn’t accomplish anything. We need to get past that. … But it has got to be a shared commitment. One side cannot do it alone.”

Kaplan also asked Pash about sharing financial information: “The union has asked for the audited financial books of NFL teams, which the league rejects. Has the union made this an issue in the negotiations?”

Pash replied: “Not really with us…We have said all along we are prepared to make disclosures that document and justify what our bargaining proposals are,” Pash said. “I think you don’t have to look any further than the basketball negotiations, where they did produce, as I understand it, all of their financial statements, that document losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and the union’s response was quote, it’s baloney, close quote.”

For the complete Q&A, click here.

Week 12 features 12 Sunday games

After a Thanksgiving tripleheader to begin Week 12, the action continues today with 12 games.

Following is today’s game schedule (all times ET):

Green Bay at Atlanta 1:00 PM
Pittsburgh at Buffalo 1:00 PM
Carolina at Cleveland 1:00 PM
Tennessee at Houston 1:00 PM
Jacksonville at N.Y. Giants 1:00 PM
Minnesota at Washington 1:00 PM
Kansas City at Seattle 4:05 PM
Miami at Oakland 4:05 PM
Tampa Bay at Baltimore 4:15 PM
Philadelphia at Chicago 4:15 PM
St. Louis at Denver 4:15 PM
San Diego at Indianapolis 8:20 PM

Mark Murphy letter to Packers ticket holders: “We want football without interruption”

Tony Walter of the Green Bay Press-Gazette writes today of a recent letter sent by Mark Murphy to Packers season ticket holders under the header “Green Bay Packers president expects deal between NFL, union.”

Walter writes that Murphy, the team’s president and CEO, “has informed season ticket holders there is ‘no doubt’ that National Football League owners will reach a labor agreement with the players union.”

Walter quoted portions of the letter in his story. “Our negotiations with the union are professional, not personal,” Murphy wrote. “We all want an agreement, but it cannot be any agreement. … We want football without interruption, but we also need to ensure that the game is sound and strong well into the future.”

Walter noted that Murphy, who serves on the NFL’s 10-member Management Council Executive Committee which is responsible for labor negotiations, “told ticket holders that there are inequities in the current labor agreement that have to be addressed.”

Wrote Murphy: “This includes ending the practice of paying outrageous sums to untested rookies so that we can shift money to proven veterans and deserving retired players. We must have an agreement that delivers more quality to our fans, who spend hard-earned money to attend our games.”

“It is in no one’s interest … for this negotiation to result in anything that damages the game we love and that we have all worked so hard to build with your tremendous support.”

For the complete story, click here.

Union website says salary cap essentially equals 60 percent of total revenue

Spokesman George Atallah of the NFL Players Association was interviewed by Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio this morning on The Dan Patrick Show  following an earlier interview with NFL outside labor counsel Bob Batterman.

Said Atallah, “The question I have for owners is ‘why do you keep telling the fans the players get 60 cents of each dollar when it’s just not true?’”

That number, however, is cited on the union’s website in its Frequently Asked Questions section. Below is the question and answer as it appears on the NFLPA website:

What is behind the NFL Salary Cap?

In return for agreeing to free agency, the owners got a Salary Cap which was first implemented in 1994. The Salary Cap is essentially equal to 60% of Total Revenues and includes both player salaries and benefits. Prior to 1993, NFL players historically received an average of about 40 to 50% of the league’s revenues in salaries and benefits. Under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, however, players are guaranteed a minimum of 50% of Total Revenues at least through 2009. This is perhaps the greatest benefit achieved in the CBA.

For the full FAQs from the site, click here.

Batterman cites some progress; wants new CBA to avoid lockout

NFL outside labor counsel Bob Batterman (right) discussed the status of negotiations for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement with Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio this morning on The Dan Patrick Show.

“We started to make some incremental progress in some of the collateral areas, areas important to the deal but not the core issues. It is progress,” Batterman said of this past Monday’s negotiating session with the union. “We could certainly get a deal done before the collective bargaining agreement expires on March 4.”

Batterman, who has been involved in hundreds of successful labor negotiations that did not include work stoppages, also explained the difference between a strike (which the NFL Players Association conducted twice in the 1980s) and a lockout, and his hope for an agreement that will avoid a work stoppage.

“The difference between a strike and a lockout is simply a question of who is pulling the trigger,” Batterman said. “It is the same economic weapon. When a union wants more than what they have in the expiring collective bargaining agreement, it is the threat of a strike that might get it for them.  When an employer needs concessions and wants to get back something he has already given away, it is the threat of a lockout which enables him to potentially get it back if an agreement cannot be reached.

“If you are going to go into a strike or lockout, you want representatives on each side who are going to help you do it properly and who number one: know how to negotiate; and number two: know how to do it legally. That’s what I am here for on the NFL side: to make sure it is done properly, hopefully, to avoid it and hopefully, to help them get a deal done so that no lockout is necessary.”

Following is a transcript from the interview:
Read more

NFL: Union spinning “economic fairy tales” to inject politics into negotiations

Players union executive director DeMaurice Smith, who in February predicted the possibility of a lockout as “a 14” on a scale of 1 to 10, called a work stoppage a “near certainty” in a story today by Bloomberg News writer Curtis Eichelberger.

Eichelberger cited a recent interview Smith conducted with Bloomberg television. “The magnitude of the loss would be at the very least about $160 million to $170 million per team-city,” Smith said in the interview. “That is a conservative estimate of the economic impact.”

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello disputed Smith’s numbers, which are based on union projections rather than a government agency, investment bank or noted economist.

“It is a series of numbers pulled from thin air in a misguided attempt to inject politics into the collective bargaining process,” Aiello said. “There is a fair deal to be done and soon if the union will bargain with the same fervor it displays in creating economic fairy tales.”

For the complete story, click here.

Thanksgiving tripleheader kicks off Week 12

Week 12 of the 2010 season kicks off today with a Thanksgiving tripleheader.

Following is today’s game schedule (all times ET):

New England at Detroit 12:30 PM (CBS)
New Orleans at Dallas 4:15 PM (FOX)
Cincinnati at N.Y. Jets 8:00 PM (NFLN)

NFL looking at more steps to reduce hits to head

Alan Schwarz reported in today’s New York Times on the NFL’s continued emphasis on player safety, specifically focusing on eliminating dangerous hits to the head.

“The N.F.L.’s recent movement toward eliminating particularly dangerous tackles suggests that some of the collisions like those seen Sunday night could be forbidden as early as next season,” Schwarz wrote. “Given how youth and high school football tend to follow the N.F.L.’s lead, the changes could affect more than just professionals.”

Said NFL executive vice president of football operations Ray Anderson (above left) in a statement provided to the Times, “This all has to go through the normal off-season review process with the Competition Committee, the NFLPA, and the clubs, but we will continue to review hits to the head, including helmet-to-helmet hits, that are currently legal to determine whether more changes should be made. We are constantly looking for ways to increase player safety. Nothing is off the table. As the commissioner reminds us almost every day, we are going to be relentless when it comes to making the game safer.”

Added Atlanta Falcons president and co-chair of the Competition Committee Rich McKay, “People in the league feel it coming and see it coming. I think the league appreciates the idea that it needs to be a leader in this area.”

For the complete story, click here.