Archive for January, 2011

Commissioner Goodell opposes union leader’s approach

Union executive director DeMaurice Smith discussed negotiations for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in a Sunday New York Times article.

“Nobody gets strong without fighting,” Smith said. “Nobody stays strong without fighting. Nobody negotiates their way to strength. Nobody talks their way to a good deal. Nobody sits down and just has miraculous things happen.”

Commissioner Roger Goodell, meanwhile, continues to press for more bargaining sessions.

“I think the good thing is that we are talking,” Commissioner Goodell said yesterday an interview on NFL Network. “These things don’t get resolved by making a lot of statements publicly. They get done by negotiating and meeting with one another, understanding one another and having a real serious negotiation and a commitment to getting something done.”

“We have been partners and we should continue to be partners,” Commissioner Goodell added. “The players are going to do very well out of this and they should.”

Steelers’ Dan Rooney on CBA negotiations: “Status quo is not an option”

“The status quo is not an option,” said Pittsburgh Steelers chairman Dan Rooney in a Los Angeles Times story by Sam Farmer on Rooney’s concern about the lack of progress in the NFL labor negotiations.

“I just believe that [the opposing sides] could work out an agreement,” Rooney said. “There are points that could make this deal better for everyone. I just think the negotiators should get it together and start doing what they should do, and get a deal. If they sit down and work things out, I think they could have a deal rather quickly.

“It’s in everybody’s best interest to get a deal.”

Rooney said that he does not favor an 18-game regular season and would be willing to pass up the additional revenue that would go to teams and players. But he noted that he was also against the 1978 shift from 14 regular-season games and six preseason games to 16 regular-season games and four preseason games.

“That worked out fine,” he said.

AFC & NFC Championship Games today

The final four teams in contention for Super Bowl XLV are in action today in the AFC and NFC Championship Games.

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

Green Bay at Chicago 3:00 PM FOX
N.Y. Jets at Pittsburgh 6:30 PM CBS

Poll: 99% oppose Congressional involvement in NFL CBA talks

Readers responding to a recent poll taken by political blog Hot Air were overwhelmingly against Congressional involvement in negotiations for a new NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement, according to a story by the site’s Ed Morrissey.

The question “Should Congress get involved in NFL labor dispute?” was answered by 3,798 readers with 3,762 – or 99.05 percent — saying “no” and only 30 answering “yes.”

“That isn’t anything Congress needs to regulate, nor should it require federal intervention at all,” Morrissey concludes.  “As Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, puts it, ‘The NFL and NFLPA are literally and figuratively big boys. They do not need Congress’s help to referee every business dispute.’ 

“Congress has much more pressing business to conduct.”

For the complete story, click here.

Commissioner Goodell: “Sustained, disciplined commitment and around-the-clock talks” necessary to get new CBA by March

Commissioner Roger Goodell says it is going to take “a sustained and disciplined commitment and around-the-clock talks” to get a new Collective Bargaining Agreement by the expiration of the current CBA on March 4.

On ESPN’s “Rome Is Burning Show” Thursday, Goodell reiterated the importance of reaching an agreement by March and confirmed that the two sides have been meeting and discussing the key issues.

“Any time you’re communicating that’s a positive sign,” Goodell said, but added that the sides need to have “more productive sessions.”

“It’s going to take a sustained and disciplined commitment and round-the-clock talks to get that done,” he said.

Following are excerpts on other topics the Commissioner discussed.

Rookie compensation:

“You know it from other sports and nothing is going to transfer exactly from sport to sport but having the right rookie compensation system is important for us.  It is important for the way we pay our veteran players.  You want to pay for performance on the NFL field.  We believe a lot of that money should go to the veteran players, the players who have already performed on the NFL field.  That is what we are seeking to do to adjust that system.  Just last year in 2009, of the 50 highest-paid athletes, five of them were NFL rookies.  That’s in all of sports.  That’s a system that is out of whack.”

Player safety in an 18-game regular season:

“You have to work with the players and listen to the players and understand there are things we can do in the offseason, training camp and during the regular season to make the game safer and to make sure we are doing all of what is necessary to allow players to play the game as safely as possible.  That goes for rules, that goes for equipment and that goes for everything that we’ve done to make the game safer.  We believe they are changes that are necessary for the game.”

The potential for a team in Los Angeles:

“There are some positive developments in Los Angeles with respect to the stadium. There are at least two alternatives that are being developed.  They are things that we want to continue to focus on because we want to be back in L.A.  It is clearly going to take a stadium to do that effectively.

“We know the fans want us to be back there, but getting a stadium built and more importantly getting it financed in this kind of an environment is a real challenge.  It’s one of the aspects that we have to deal with in the context of the collective bargaining agreement.  The cost of building those stadiums and operating those stadiums are getting more and more expensive.  We have to have a system that will allow us to do that responsibly.”

Bob Batterman: “Owners clearly do not want a lockout”

NFL outside labor counsel Bob Batterman, on Mike Florio’s “Pro Football Talk Live” on NBCSports.com today, explained that neither NFL owners nor players want to experience a work stoppage, but the question is whether an agreement can be reached that satisfies the concerns of both sides.  

“The union from time to time, the employer from time to time, in any unionized situation may be looking to make changes to the collective bargaining agreement, to the economics or working conditions,” Batterman said. “If the other side isn’t willing to make the compromises which the first side feels is necessary, there can be a strike or a lockout. That doesn’t mean either side wants that result of a work stoppage. It means the goal is more important than suffering the pain of a work stoppage. The owners clearly do not want to have a lockout any more than the players want to live through a lockout. The question is whether we will be able to make a deal which both sides can live with.

“I’m not saying that the union leadership wants to endure the pain of the loss of earnings of their players,” Batterman continued. “I’m not saying they are looking to have free agents who do not get new contracts and people who are entitled to roster bonuses, etc. not receive those bonuses. What it seems to me from the lack of intensity in the negotiating process that I have been observing and from other activities of the union leadership, the union has a strategy that involves getting to the point where they decertify, or what we call in the professional industry ‘disclaim interest’ rather than the technical term decertification, and bring an anti-trust litigation. That’s what they believe will be their better route to pushing us back from our bargaining goals than sitting down and negotiating to a compromise.”

Commissioner Goodell and Jeff Pash transcript from League meeting

Following yesterday’s League meeting in Atlanta, Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL executive vice president Jeff Pash spoke with the media.  Following is a transcript:

NFL League Meeting Transcript

Commissioner Roger Goodell & Executive Vice President Jeff Pash

January 18, 2011 in Atlanta

 

ROGER GOODELL

On optimism there would be a deal done by Super Bowl:

I have never characterized where we are. What I’ve said is with hard work, determination, commitment you can get it done and I think that’s what you just heard from the chief negotiator for the owners [Jeff Pash]: it takes a commitment to get it done. We have to see that. We have to have a disciplined process where we’re meeting on a regular basis committed to getting an agreement that works for everybody.

Why hasn’t it happened yet?

I wish I could tell you. There’s a lot of frustration on that point.

On pressure on owners knowing they will lose enthusiasm, support, fan base:

There’s a very clear understanding if there is a work stoppage of any kind it hurts everybody. It hurts the clubs. It hurts the players and it will hurt the game.  Most importantly it will hurt our fans. So that’s why you want to work to avoid that. We recognize how important the game is to people.  But you have to have the right Collective Bargaining Agreement. And this is about the future of our game. There are things that need to be addressed and we need to address those responsibly so that everybody can win.

Why do you think football became so popular this year?

I don’t think it became popular just this year. I think there are a number of contributing factors to that. Obviously it starts with the quality of the game.  I think the quality of the game is outstanding. Second, it’s all the effort to promote the game. We have NFL Network promoting our game 24 hours. We have four other broadcast networks promoting our game. We have NFL.com. This is a great time to be a fan because there’s so much information and so many ways for you to engage with the game.  That’s a great thing for our fans.

On football becoming a religion in America:

No it’s a sport. It’s a game. It’s a great game. We recognize how much people care about that game. That’s why we want to make sure we make the right decisions to continue the success of the league.

On collusion claim filed and affect it has on negotiations:

It’s more litigation. I’ve said before, this is not going to get resolved through litigation.  It will get resolved through negotiation. It’s time to get to the table and negotiate.
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Fox’s Daryl Johnston: Players need to wear proper padding

Fox Sports analyst Daryl Johnston, who played 11 seasons at fullback for the Dallas Cowboys, noted the importance of players wearing proper padding during Sunday’s NFC Divisional Playoff game between the Chicago Bears and Seattle Seahawks.

Johnston (above left with former Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach) discussed the topic after Seattle cornerback Marcus Trufant suffered a concussion as he was hit in the head by an opponent’s un-padded knee while making a tackle.

“I had two very bad concussions in my playing days and both were from getting hit with a knee to the side of my head,” Johnston said. “I was getting up from a block and somebody tried to jump over me.  I wore everything – thigh pads, hip pads, knee pads.  I think sometimes guys say ‘well if I hurt my knee, I hurt my knee’ but it’s not just for the guys wearing the pads, it’s also for the opposing players too.  Just that little bit of foam there maybe cushions that blow enough where we don’t have the situation with Marcus that we do right now.”

Washington Post: NFLPA’s strategy includes Congressional involvement in CBA

In the Sunday edition of The Washington Post, Dan Eggen wrote under the header, “Lobbyists will make NFL players’ case to Congress.”

This is at least the third news story this month discussing the union’s tactic to get Capitol Hill involved in its collective bargaining strategy, following last week’s article in Politico and a piece in the January 2011 issue of Washingtonian magazine. The Collective Bargaining Agreement expires March 4.

“The union that represents pro football players has hired a coterie of new lobbyists and public-relations officials in recent months,” Eggen writes. “The lobbying efforts include visits scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday by more than 30 players and their families, who will meet with lawmakers and legislative staffers.”

“Over the past year,” Eggen continues, “the union has organized scores of visits to Capitol Hill by players and other representatives, and is circulating letters to be signed by lawmakers urging the league to cut a better deal for players. The powerful AFL-CIO union also weighed in with a letter last fall to team owners.”

The NFL, Eggen notes, wants to come to a new CBA at the bargaining table.

“We’re not looking to ask Congress to be involved,” said Jeff Miller, NFL senior vice president of government affairs, “but we can’t abdicate the playing field. Our effort is going to be to make sure that members of Congress are aware of our point of view.”

For the complete story and reader comments, click here.

Divisional playoffs continue today

After last night’s victories by the Pittsbugh Steelers and Green Bay Packers, the Divisional round continues with two games today.

The winner of today’s NFC game — Seattle at Chicago — will host next Sunday’s NFC Championship Game.  In the AFC, the New England Patriots with a win host the Steelers in next Sunday’s AFC Championship Game, while a New York victory advances the Jets to the conference title game in Pittsburgh.

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

Seattle at Chicago 1:00 PM FOX
N.Y. Jets at New England 4:30 PM CBS