K.C. Sees Labor Future … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

From the Truman Sports Complex

We pause for a moment of second guessing Todd Haley, dicing up the hands of Dwayne Bowe and the usual complaints about Matt Cassel. The real world of money, labor and the potential shutdown of the National Football League intruded into the Chiefs facility on Monday afternoon.

About a half-dozen suits from the NFL Players Association were on site to meet with the Chiefs players. This came after the players had their meetings with Haley and their position coaches, and went over the tape of Sunday’s loss in Indianapolis.

Once that football work was done, NFLPA executive board members Mike Vrabel and Brian Waters welcomed NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith (left) to the building. Part of Smith’s entourage included former Chiefs safety Jason Belser, who is now the union’s senior regional director.

“I’m not doing any media,” Smith said when approached about talking about what went down in the meeting with the Chiefs. “Sorry. There will be plenty of time for that.”

A union leader involved in a potentially huge labor dispute that doesn’t want to talk? I’ve seen everything now. Actually, I think Smith’s reluctance to make any comments had more to do with his group sprinting to the KCI to catch their flight out of town.  

Right now, there isn’t much that Smith can say other than rattle the sabers a little bit. He was criticized for some of his public comments a few months ago by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (that’s him above left), so maybe that explains his reticence to speak on the fast approaching end of the collective bargaining agreement between players and owners.

One thing that got done during the meeting is that the Chiefs players voted unanimously to authorize the NFLPA to decertify the union if that was necessary in the process of negotiations. They are the 14th team to vote and the 14th team to unanimously give the union executives the decertification permission. The teams that have already voted are New Orleans, Indianapolis, Dallas, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Detroit, Buffalo, New York Jets, Green Bay, Baltimore, Washington and Cleveland. Vote No. 15 comes up on Wednesday in Chicago with the Bears.

Ironically, the NFL owners are meeting in Chicago Monday night and Tuesday. In fact, Goodell met with the Chicago media at the Bears headquarters, where he stopped to say hello to team executives and players. The NFLPA has been talking about how they expect the NFL owners to lockout the players this coming spring when the current CBA finally expires.

Goodell said he remains confident that the labor situation can be resolved in negotiations which have already begun.

“We continue to meet and we’re continuing to address the issues and we’re all going to work hard to make sure we get it done sooner rather than later,” Goodell told the Chicago media. “I keep saying I think the sooner it gets done the better. I think the longer it goes the harder it gets.

“I think there is a lot at stake and I think in some ways that is a benefit because I think people will understand the importance of getting it done. I know the ownership is very intent on working to get something resolved and addressed and I believe the players are in the same position.”

The labor situation is one that most players and fans aren’t thinking about right now, not with the season in full swing and 25 percent of the games already in the books. Talk to Chiefs players in the locker room and there are two things that become obvious: 1.) having Vrabel and Waters around has them very well informed on the current situation, and 2.) they don’t have time to think about the future beyond Sunday’s trip to Houston.

“It’s something you have to be aware of because it’s part of your job, your profession,” said FS Jon McGraw, who is one of the Chiefs assistant player reps along with C Rudy Niswanger. “But guys’ attention is on getting ready to play each week.”

The NFLPA has said they do not plan to strike if negotiations break down. They expect the owners to lock them out when the current agreement expires on March 1, 2011. They use as proof the fact that the league’s billion-dollar contracts with the TV networks include payments next year whether there are games to broadcast or not. They also point to the presence of L. Robert Batterman as part of the owners negotiating team. It was Batterman who represented the National Hockey League owners during labor problems about five years ago that led to the cancellation of the 2004-05 NHL season. Professional hockey is only now recovering from that disaster.

The decertification vote is the one hammer that the union has at their disposal. By dissolving the union, the effectively become a trade association. That opens up legal remedies that can be sought in anti-trust court.

So yes, in the end, the lawyers will be deciding whether there is football in 2011 or not. There will be plenty of time to delve into the particulars in the coming weeks and months, so we won’t go deep in explanation here.

But what went down at the Chiefs facility on Monday simply was the union getting their house in order, while the Chiefs players got another reminder that they may want to sock away some money this season, because there may not be any money coming in next year.


If you want to give yourself a headache, here are two websites with information from the owners and the players union on the labor situation:


Give this to Goodell – he’ll go places where his predecessor Paul Tagliabue would never consider in a million years.

On Sunday, the Commish was in Oakland to watch the Raiders and Chargers play. While there, he made a visit to the famed “Black Hole” in the south end zone of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.

“There is nothing like being in those stadiums (on game day),” Goodell said. “I was in Oakland sitting in the ‘Black Hole’ It’s a great experience being there, feeling that passion and excitement. It’s something you don’t get at home.”


  • BILLS – activated TE Shawn Nelson from reserve/suspended list; released LB Chris Ellis.
  • BROWNS – signed QB Brett Ratliff off the Patriots practice squad.
  • CHARGERS – activated LT Marcus McNeill from the roster-exempt list; released CB Fred Bennett and S C.J. Spillman; signed WR Richard Goodman off their practice squad.
  • PANTHERS – claimed WR Devin Thomas off waivers from the Redskins; released G Tim Duckworth.
  • PATRIOTS – acquired WR Deion Branch in a trade with the Seahawks for a 4th-round choice in the 2011 NFL Draft.
  • RAMS – signed WR Danario Alexander off their practice squad; placed WR Mark Clayton on the injured-reserve list (knee) ending his season.
  • STEELERS – activated QB Ben Roethlisberger from the reserve/suspended list; released DL Steve McClendon.

7 Responses to “K.C. Sees Labor Future … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • October 12, 2010  - zbschiefs says:

    It’s my opinion that the owners need to do most of the bending in these agreements. Would they really want the NFL to take the hard hit of skipping a season? They may get paid by the tv networks but that would hurt the NFL brand at a time when it’s very very popular.

  • October 12, 2010  - Pat says:

    I agree that the owners need to get this sorted, and it needs to be them that bends the most. I DO think they need to make some changes to the way new players are paid after the draft. There are too many busts in the first round getting paid more money than solid players–plus, lower salaries will mean more trading will happen on draft day again, and that always makes things more interesting. But the last thing they need is no football next year. I remember the year baseball stopped playing in the 90s. I lost all respect for the sport and really haven’t paid attention to it since. I enjoy football more than baseball, but there’s still a good chance my interest in the league will diminish as my respect for the owners/players goes out the window.

  • October 12, 2010  - Nate says:

    The truth is both sides are two of the most fortunate groups of people in America. I saw my 1st nfl game in 1956 between the Detroit Lions and the Chicago Cardinals. I saw my 1st Chiefs game in 1965. I have seen every game they have played since then either in person or on tv. I had season tickets for 35 years before my wife and I retired to the mountains of Colorado. I esrimate I have spent more than $150,000 following this wonderful sport and I don’t regret a penny until I start hearing either side talking about a strike/lockout. I really get pissed when I hear players whining about how much risk they take. I have a member of my family, a career marine who is on his 5th tour in the two wars we are fighting and never complained. He and others like him take 100 times the risk for a fraction of the pay and never complain. There are police officers and firefighters and other dangerous professions who take more risks every day than nfl players for a fraction of the pay. With so many people struggling and doing without if these two groups of fat cats don’t get an agreement and football is taken away from the American people they should all lose every thing they have and have to try and get a job like the average joe has to.

  • October 12, 2010  - RW says:

    The ultimate trump card is held by the owners, as usual. The players (Not all of them) and their lavish lifestyles, entourages and support payments to make, ultimately bend to the owner’s will. The owners know this.

    While it’s in everyone’s best interest to maintain labor peace, greed and hubris on both sides suggest another impasse in the offing.

  • October 12, 2010  - el cid says:

    Billionaires vs. millionaries, do not care an iota. By the by, doubt they care a rat’s f**t about the fans other than be idolized by or keep the bucks rolling in.

  • October 12, 2010  - leonard says:

    I don’t understand. How can you have a CBA without a Union. If the Union is decertified, who then speaks for the players. This is going to end badly if both sides don’t pull their collective heads out of their collective asses. I guess they have forgotten what happened to MLB. What a joke.

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