A Good Labor Day … Weekend Cup O’Chiefs

Thursday could be called a little ray of sunshine that broke through the labor clouds that have enveloped the National Football League and its players.

Whether the news of the day turns out to help achieve positive results will be something only the next week or 10 days will reveal. It’s necessary to get the guys on the left and right of the above photograph – NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith – to shake hands on an agreement.

Things went down Thursday to provide hope:

  • The league and players have agreed to begin negotiating for seven consecutive days. That starts Friday and will roll through Thursday of next week, possibly longer if necessary.
  • Both parties have asked the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to become involved in the negotiations. That will start on Friday.
  • The NFL Players Association has taken a vow of silence. The union says there will no longer be any comments coming from the players about the negotiations and their direction.

Alone, any of these three items would not amount to much. But together, it paints a picture of both sides trying to work towards getting an agreement. That hasn’t been the case, as just last week the owners left the negotiating table after just one of two scheduled days of talks.

We are going to try real hard in the coming days, weeks and months to maintain some sense of sanity on the site when it comes to this labor dispute. You guys didn’t get into football to become labor experts and I haven’t spent 35 years hanging around the NFL with the idea of becoming a chronicler of disagreements between billionaires and millionaires.

However … we cannot escape the fact that this is important business and that these are very important times for America’s past-time and its future. Our goal is not to hit our readers over the head every day with labor matters, and to step up to the plate when things happen that provide real information into the process.

The three items from Thursday qualify for a closer look.


Even while there have been no public negotiations going on in the last week-plus, there have been plenty of conversations between the league and the players in that time. Bits and pieces of this agreement have been handed over to committees that are meeting, discussing, cussing and negotiating.

But what matters is when the big boys get to the table to talk about the big issue – money. There hasn’t been enough of that, especially when NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has been running around saying that a deal needs to get done by March 4 when the current agreement expires. The Commish hammered this point home for the last two weeks and they’ve had two negotiating sessions, both of which ended with rancor and hurt feelings.

The heavy lifting must be done and agreeing to seven consecutive days of conversations can only help improve the pace of where this is heading. The only way a deal gets done is when both sides compromise on their set in stone demands. All the back and forth is the normal dance of labor relations; they have to cut through the histrionics and that can’t happen if they aren’t face-to-face.

It would be shocking if these week-long negotiations came close to achieving an agreement. But the week with each other is needed to advance the ball.


Any time the federal government gets involved in anything it reminds me of that old joke about the guy in the dark suit who shows up at the front door and says “I’m here from the IRS and I want to help you.”

How the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service fits in this negotiations is something that will be better known after these seven days of talks. The FMCS arrives on the scene with no power. A mediator or even a group of mediators can’t force either side to do anything.

What they can do is bring a new set of eyes and ears to the talks, and sometimes that can be very helpful. The league negotiators along with the union guys have been preparing, meeting and game planning the push to a new agreement for several years. It qualifies under the “you can’t see the forest because you are too close to one tree.”

A federal mediator can’t bust heads in the negotiating process. But he can tell one side or another, or both, that they are being unreasonable and working against an agreement rather than for one.

That the league and the players requested the FMCS get involved is also a good thing. Now, they just have to listen.


This is probably the weakest of the three Thursday items because in many ways it is not believable. It’s a nice gesture on the part of the union, but they work in a public relations hole to begin with because they can’t match the PR power that the league and 32 teams can throw at the public and media.

The average fan tends to side with management in these situations, viewing the players as money-hungry, greedy and not thankful for the millions of dollars they already make via the owners. The guys that run the league don’t seem to receive the same scrutiny. They are considered businessmen who have put their money on the line to build a franchise and league.

This self-imposed gag order will be an interesting test for the NFLPA. If they can keep all the union office folks and lawyers quiet, and keep the players involved in the negotiations from coming out from behind the closed doors and spilling the beans, they will show the type of discipline that the NFL owners don’t believe they have.

Count Thursday, February 17 as a hopeful day in the swirl of the NFL labor situation; the ball was not advanced, but it also wasn’t pushed backwards. Anything other than going backwards is a good thing.


  • CHARGERS – added the title assistant head coach to the resume of defensive backs coach Steven Wilks.
  • FALCONS – re-signed TE Robbie Agnone and DT Trey Lewis.
  • 49ERS – named Greg Jackson assistant secondary coach.
  • JETS – lost assistant offensive coordinator Mike Bloomgren who left to take a job at Stanford University.
  • PATRIOTS – promoted offensive assistant coach Brian Ferentz to tight ends coach; promoted Harold Nash to head strength and conditioning coach; hired George Godsey as offensive assistant coach.

5 Responses to “A Good Labor Day … Weekend Cup O’Chiefs”

  • February 18, 2011  - cowboyChief says:

    It is nice to finally hear a little something positive about the contract talks. If both sides will sit down and stay there, plus quit worrying about the public posturing, they might actually come to an agreement.
    Get ‘Er Dun!!!!!!

  • February 18, 2011  - Gordon Gekko says:

    Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures, the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind.

    It works on Wall Street. It will work for the NFL, too. Right?

  • February 18, 2011  - Tevye says:

    If I were a rich man,
    Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.
    All day long I’d biddy biddy bum.
    If I were a wealthy man.

  • February 19, 2011  - Nate says:

    It doesn’t “seem” that the owners are businessmen who have invested their money and efforts to build a team and a league. That is in fact a true statement. The problem is with a few owners like Boss Hogg (Jerry Jones) & Richardson the Panthers owner to name a couple.

  • February 21, 2011  - Red says:

    Any chance Brian Ferentz is related to Kurt Ferentz?

Get the Flash Player to see the slideshow.


Other News