Archive for November, 2010

NFL injury rate is down from last year

National NFL writer Mark Maske reports in today’s Washington Post that NFL injury rates have declined compared to last year.

“Through the first eight weeks of this season, the average team had 13 injuries that caused a player to miss more than two weeks, down from 15 such injuries per team over the first eight weeks of the 2009 season,” Maske writes. “The average team had 3.8 injuries that required a player to miss more than six weeks during the first eight weeks of this season, down from 5.9 such injuries per team over the same duration last season.”

In his report, Maske cites data analyzed by John Powell, an associate professor in the department of kinesiology and physical medicine and rehabilitation at Michigan State University.”

“From this data there is no reason to assume that the frequency of injuries thus far in the 2010 season is significantly different from the same period in the 2009 season,” said Powell, whose analysis of detailed injury information provided by each team’s medical staff is used by the Competition Committee and the NFL clubs.

The NFL Players Association, Maske notes, did not dispute the data.

For the complete story, click here.

NFL responds to union asking elected officials for help on CBA negotiations

The NFL issued the following statement today in response to the NFL Players Association’s writing to elected officials in several states asking for their help in negotiations for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement:

“Now that the union leaders have concluded their decertification ‘going-out-of-business sale,’ arranged for form letters to be sent to NFL owners by other unions, and issued press releases about their letter-writing campaign to mayors and governors, we are hopeful that they might find more time to talk to us. The union’s request for state and local political leaders to intercede in the negotiations ignores and denigrates the serious and far more substantial problems that those leaders, and that state and local workers across the country face.  We can resolve our own issues as we have done many times in the past but the NFLPA has to want to participate in resolving them.

“Every governor, mayor and state legislator understands the need to balance revenue and labor costs. That is why all over the country state, county and municipal employees are facing layoffs, salary cuts, benefit reductions, and other changes in working conditions far more severe than anything proposed by the NFL in these negotiations. In fact, NFL player compensation has doubled over the past decade and will continue to grow under our proposal. And we have offered to increase jobs and improve benefits.

“Nobody—least of all NFL owners – wants to shut down our business.  The best way to ensure uninterrupted NFL football in 2011 is for the union to stop asking everyone else to solve its problems and to sit down and engage in serious, constructive bargaining. If the union does so, we can and will reach an agreement.” 

A recent story by The Associated Press stated: “The NFL Players Association has turned to Congress for help in preventing team owners from locking out union members next season. Steps the union has taken include drafting letters for lawmakers to send to the league and holding a briefing for members of Congress and their aides on the economic impact of a labor dispute, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

“One union-drafted letter asks Commissioner Roger Goodell to commit to no lockout next year — and, failing that, seeks a batch of information from the league, including each team’s financial statements and salary figures of top officials as well as information on government subsidies for stadium construction and renovation.

“The union found no takers for that letter.”

Commissioner Goodell meets Maritime College football team

Commissioner Roger Goodell visited with the Maritime (N.Y.) College football team and coaches last Friday, prior to their NCAA Division III playoff game against Alfred. 

The trip came about earlier this fall after Commissioner Goodell (above with Maritime coaches) read a New York Times story on Maritime coach Clayton Kendrick-Holmes, a Navy reserve who will be deployed to Afghanistan next month, and invited the coach and his family to a New York Giants game.  Kendrick-Holmes asked the Commissioner if he would speak to the team if it advanced to the NCAA playoffs.

Wrote Maritime sports information director Joe Guster about the visit on the school’s website, “Goodell spoke for some time about the game of football and about how the players should cherish this once-in-a-lifetime moment, as it doesn’t come around too often. He congratulated the team for their undefeated championship season and wished them well in the upcoming NCAA Tournament. Goodell talked about playing with all your heart and following through to the end of this special season. He told the players he will follow them along as the playoffs unfold.

“Goodell spoke about Coach Kendrick-Holmes’ commitment throughout this season and his decision to serve our country in the Navy at the end of the year. He told the student-athletes that they should use him as a role model and a living example of courage and what it takes to fulfill your duties, the sacrifices he has to deal with upon his upcoming deployment.

“After he spoke, he took some questions from the players and coaches in attendance. He discussed the current state of the National Football League, the changes that he hopes to see in regards to player safety and about personal conduct. He mentioned character and how Coach Kendrick-Holmes epitomized good character.”

On Sunday, a day after his team lost in the NCAA playoffs, Kendrick-Holmes flipped the coin at the Houston Texans-New York Jets game at New Meadowlands Stadium.

For the complete story on the Commissioner’s visit with the Maritime football team, click here.

Washington Post: “Bob Batterman wants a labor deal, not a lockout”

National NFL writer Mark Maske profiled attorney Bob Batterman (left) in Sunday’s Washington Post under the header “Bob Batterman, negotiator for NFL, says he wants a labor deal, not a lockout.”

“I’ve been with this firm [Proskauer Rose] for 44 years. I’ve been in the labor practice for 43 of those 44 years,” said Batterman. “We have to work with and live with unions, not bust unions…You try to be a problem-solver, a deal-maker. That’s how I make my living.”

In his work in professional sports, Batterman most recently was involved in helping Major League Soccer avoid a work stoppage. MLS and its players union reached a new five-year Collective Bargaining Agreement in March.

Maske asked Batterman about the 2004-05 NHL lockout.

“[NHLPA union chief] Bob Goodenow could have gotten, at three or four different points in those negotiations and lockout, better deals,” Batterman said. “They kept getting worse and worse and worse because the finances were getting worse and worse. . . . He never thought it would happen, never thought the owners would hang together to cancel the season. And we warned him and we warned him and we warned him. He just didn’t believe us.”

“No employer wants to shut down a business,” Batterman said of the NFL negotiations. “No employer wants to shut down an almost $9 billion business, a business which we are not claiming is losing money, it’s just not properly positioned economically for future growth.”

“Nobody is looking for a lockout,” Batterman concluded. “But you know, the best way to avoid a lockout is to be prepared to lock out, okay? A union which thinks you’re never going to do it, that you can’t pull that trigger, isn’t going to compromise reasonably where the compromises need to be made.”

For the complete story, click here.

Week 11 features 14 Sunday games

Week 11 of the 2010 NFL season kicked off Thursday with Chicago’s 16-0 road victory over Miami. The action continues today with 14 games.

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

Baltimore at Carolina 1:00 PM
Buffalo at Cincinnati 1:00 PM
Detroit at Dallas 1:00 PM
Cleveland at Jacksonville 1:00 PM
Arizona at Kansas City 1:00 PM
Green Bay at Minnesota 1:00 PM
Houston at N.Y. Jets 1:00 PM
Oakland at Pittsburgh 1:00 PM
Washington at Tennessee 1:00 PM
Seattle at New Orleans 4:05 PM
Atlanta at St. Louis 4:05 PM
Tampa Bay at San Francisco 4:05 PM
Indianapolis at New England 4:15 PM
N.Y. Giants at Philadelphia 8:20 PM

Veteran NFL writer says players should use proper tackling techniques

Longtime NFL writer Ron Borges discusses the importance of proper tackling techniques in the Nov. 21 issue of Pro Football Weekly.

“Ever since the crackdown on illegal, unnecessary hits and excessively dangerous head shots in the NFL, there has been much hand-wringing in many corners about how the sport is being neutered,” Borges writes. “This is nonsense.”

“What is enlightening is to examine video from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, a time when pro football began its ascendency to the high place it now holds in American culture. What you will find may be surprising,” continues Borges, who viewed NFL Films programming featuring game action from those decades.

“What I was struck by was the fact very few ball carriers or receivers were being struck in the head in those days,” he adds.  “Why? Because the tacklers were actually tackling. They were hitting with their shoulder, wrapping their arms around the ball carrier and fiercely taking him down. They were doing it with more than enough violence to impress anyone, but not with helmet shots to the cranium.”

“Whether this is an issue of lost technique, poor (or changing) coaching or both,” Borges concludes, “today’s defenders do not tackle the way the game originally intended.”

AFL-CIO comments on NFL CBA negotiations

In an e-mail sent yesterday, the AFL-CIO’s Online Mobilization Coordinator Manny Herrmann commented on the negotiations for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The correspondence (excerpt at right) first discusses a petition “urging Congress to maintain an extension of emergency unemployment insurance benefits for long-term job hunters.”

The e-mail then transitions to the NFL labor negotiations, stating “If you care about jobs, here’s something else you should be worried about.”

The correspondence concludes by asking recipients to “please stand in solidarity with the players.”

DeMaurice Smith criticizes Dolphins owner Stephen Ross

NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith criticized Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross today in an ESPN.com story written by Chris Mortensen.

Wrote Mortensen: “As the Miami Dolphins approached Thursday night’s game against the Chicago Bears with third-string quarterback Tyler Thigpen taking the reins, owner Stephen Ross’ recent comments that a proposed 18-game regular season schedule would not contribute to a significant difference in players’ injury rates drew a sharp rebuke from NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith.

“‘Comments like that tell me that they just don’t get it,’ said Smith of league management and ownership. ‘Their teammates lost two franchise quarterbacks in the same game … and the message is we shouldn’t worry about adding two more games? Men are not expendable and neither are their families.’

“Ross endorsed the 18-game season on Tuesday by saying: ‘The additional games, the studies show will not really increase injuries. We’re still playing 20 games, we’re eliminating two preseason games and adding two regular-season games, which is really what helps with the revenues, and make the fans a lot happier and those games will be a lot more meaningful. But in terms of the players, they’re still playing 20 games.’”

“‘We will continue to talk with them about a new CBA,’ said Smith. ‘[Owners] clearly want two extra games, but even the current system of training camp, offseason, disability and long-term health care is in need of serious fixing. Two games on top of this current system is not going to work.

“‘Right now the NFL is suing nearly 300 players to deny their right to workers compensation. They want to cancel players’ health insurance in March and we are fighting for player disability claims every day.’”

Mortensen continued his story with the NFL’s response, writing: “NFL spokesman Greg Aiello defended Ross’ remarks and countered that the league continues to address the player safety and health issues that appear inherent with an expanded schedule.

“‘Mr. Ross made basic factual points that have been made repeatedly — that we are not proposing to add to the current 20-game season and that the overall injury rate per game remains consistent,’ said Aiello. ‘DeMaurice Smith knows very well that the health and safety issues of converting to the proposed 18-2 season are being addressed with the union in a comprehensive way encompassing the year-found football calendar.

“‘He also knows that owners long ago committed that retired player benefits will be protected if the CBA expires in March without a new agreement and that the clubs have continued to expand programs and benefits for retired players even over the past year. He knows that no player will lose his existing health insurance because a federal law called COBRA operates during a strike or lockout, which means that no player or family member would experience any change in coverage for so much as a single day because of a work stoppage. The union knows this and there is no excuse for suggesting otherwise.’”

For the complete story, click here.

AP: NFL union seeks Congress’ help

Frederic Frommer of The Associated Press in Washington wrote the following story today:

The NFL Players Association has turned to Congress for help in preventing team owners from locking out union members next season. Steps the union has taken include drafting letters for lawmakers to send to the league and holding a briefing for members of Congress and their aides on the economic impact of a labor dispute, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

The union’s adversary on Capitol Hill, NFL lobbyist Jeff Miller, argued that Congress isn’t in a position to resolve the dispute and that trying to pull lawmakers into it is out of bounds.  “There’s an opportunity for us and the players to work this out at the negotiating table,” he said. “That’s the avenue to pursue.”

The players union declined to comment on its campaign. In a brief telephone interview, NFLPA public policy counsel Joe Briggs said Congress has taken an active interest in the sport, citing last year’s highly publicized hearings on NFL head injuries. He also noted that Goodell had attended a Congressional Black Caucus foundation event this year and that the league’s political action committee had made campaign contributions.

Miller said the league is simply playing defense. “We have a very different approach to this than the players association has,” he said. “But at the same time, if they’re spending a lot of time on Capitol Hill trying to encourage Congress to engage in our collective bargaining negotiations, we can’t just abdicate the playing field. We have a responsibility, too, to talk to members of Congress and their staff and educate them about the status of the negotiations.”

For the complete story, click here.

Mort Report: NFLPA makes good-faith proposal on 18-2 season

Chris Mortensen writes on ESPN.com that the NFL Players Association “has made what it says is a ‘good-faith’ counter-proposal” on the enhanced season concept, which would transition the 20-game schedule from the current format of 16 regular-season games and four preseason games to 18 regular-season games and two preseason games.

“The union’s counterproposal, according to sources, includes significantly reduced voluntary offseason workouts and a specific number of helmetless and padless practices during training camp,” Mortensen continues.

Mortensen reported the following highlights of the union proposal:

  • “Voluntary offseason workouts would be reduced from the current 14 weeks to five weeks or 20 days (four days a week, four-hour maximum per day)
  • Significantly reduced contact between players during training camp with four practices a week consisting of helmetless and padless periods
  • Two in-season bye weeks
  • Expanded rosters from the current 53 to 56 or 57, in addition to practice squads.
  • Increased pro-rated salaries for players under contract
  • Reduction of the amount of games players become vested to qualify for post-career health care and pension benefits”

For the complete story, click here.