Labor Update – 3/18

Friday, March 18 – Day 8 of America’s football fans held hostage …

Yes, held hostage by the playground silliness that has become the labor dispute between the NFL and its players. It was last Friday when the whole negotiating think blew up and the NFL Players Association decertified, the owners locked the doors of the league and discussion on a new labor agreement came to a halt.

While discussions and negotiations went out the door, there was not silence. Far from it. There was mudslinging, name calling and all those hurtful word things that most of us forgot just after graduating from middle school. If there were any doubts about this being an emotional arm wrestling match over billions of dollars that’s been put to bed in the last few days. It started with a letter that ended with the signature of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

The letter went out to NFL players and the agents that represent them. The premise was to provide the players with direct words from the Commish on the last offer made to the players association by the league. The real reason for the letter was an attempt to stir up ferment in the ranks of the rank and file.

If the goal was to push the players off their positions on key issues, it did just the opposite. The players were prepared to send the letter back, “return to sender” with a bit of venom attached for the Commish.

“Deceptive isn’t the word,” said Indianapolis WR Anthony Gonzalez. “To say there are half-truths in that letter is ambitious.  They’re like quarter-to-less truths.  We’re trying to fill in the gaps.”

Said former Chiefs DE-now with the Redskins Vonnie Holliday: “When you just look at the email itself, it’s really a joke. That’s why you see some of the players around the league speaking out. This does not tell the story. This is just another ploy by the NFL to make us look like bad guys, to divide us.”

And finally there was G Chester Pitts of the Seattle Seahawks: “He and the owners lie to the public every day. That letter is the equivalent of spam!  How is it all of sudden he now wants to negotiate when he knows that window has closed.”

Here are some of the high points of Goodell’s letter as he summarized the league’s offer to the players of last Friday:

  • The 2011 salary and benefits would have been $141 million per team.
  • Players with four or more accrued seasons would be free agents, with reduced draft choice compensation for restricted free agents.
  • “Extensive” changes to the off-season, with a five-week reduction in the off-season program and OTAs reduced from 14 to 10 days.
  • Reduction of padded practices in the pre-season and regular season, and increase in the number of days off.
  • A 16-game regular-season schedule for 2011-2012, with a further commitment to no change to 18-games without the players’ consent.
  • Expanded injury guarantees for players.
  • Better retirement benefits for pre-1993 players.
  • Jointly-approved neutral arbitrator to hear all drug and steroid cases.

“I hope you will encourage your Union to return to the bargaining table and conclude a new collective bargaining agreement,” is how Goodell finished his letter.

One voice of reason in the reaction to the Goodell letter was Jacksonville FB Montell Owens, who was quoted in the Florida Times-Union: “I read through it and I understand we’re all trying to come to some agreement. I do know the negotiating table is where this is going to get resolved. I really commend him on that and his efforts of really wanting to get things done.”

Chiefs OLB and member of the players’ association executive committee Mike Vrabel wants negotiating as well.

“Our Executive Committee needs to negotiate with Jerry Jones, Bob Kraft, Jerry Richardson, their Executive Committee,” Vrabel told ESPN on Friday.  “People that are willing and can agree to a deal.  Jeff Pash (NFL negotiator) can’t agree to a deal.”

Other notes from the labor front:

  • The players have gotten together to meet at a resort at Marco Island, Florida. The natural reaction to that is why in the midst of a lockout are they gathering someplace like Florida? Well, normally the players March meeting is in Hawaii, so they are slumming a bit. Former Chiefs-now Jets FB Tony Richardson said the meeting was to “make sure everyone is on the same page, which we are. I think we’re stronger than ever.”
  • In reaction to Vikings RB Adrian Peterson’s comments earlier this week comparing the NFL players situation to slavery, former FB Heath Evans said: “Well first of all, I wish I had the athletic ability of AP’s like little finger. But he’s an idiot, and what he said was moronic at best.”
  • The cost of health care is a major of topic of conversation with the players right now. With the end of the agreement and the lockout, they are not covered by the NFL anymore. So now players must find their own health plan or pickup a Cobra plan for the NFL’s program. Wrote Jacksonville RB Maurice Jones-Drew: “It’s not that we can’t afford it. The insurance companies won’t take us because of all the injuries we have. I’ve been denied twice trying to find an insurance company for my family.”
  • Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith has taken his salary down to $0, or one dollar less than Goodell and Pash. Smith reportedly makes $1.8 million a year.

3 Responses to “Labor Update – 3/18”

  • March 19, 2011  - RW says:

    Roger the dodger is not coming off well in this entire messy process. Perhaps a solution for future commissioners would have half his salary paid by the owners, the other half by the NFLPA in order to balance out the edicts and actions.

  • March 19, 2011  - Nate says:

    Far be it from me to take sides, however if the commish didn’t tell the truth, what did he lie about or fail to disclose? Enlighten us Bob! One thing we know for sure that the players ended the negotaions, so he is truthful about wanting to stay at the bargainng table. We also know that Bob Kraft, Jerry Jones and Richardson were all at last weeks meetings, so Vabrel’s comments make no sense. Just more crap piled on top of more crap by both sides and it is only going to get piled higher in coming months!

  • March 19, 2011  - Tim says:

    Right on Nate! I’ve posted to multiple stories this same theme. Bob & the players have so far been silent. Just what exactly have the players given in on? I can hear a pin drop… Please address this Bob. You assert the Commish was trying to divide the players. Appears to me, the players really don’t know what’s been left on the table. The owners have given on just about every point. I understand you’re not paid to be “balanced”, but it would help your stature to be more inclined that way with this labor issue. This DeMaurice Smith had an agenda from the beginning. He’s a Pied Piper. He came in to the players espousing ties to the White House. They figured they couldn’t lose. All this was obvious to most of the public. Its now proving true. Until the players show where they’ve compromised at all, they’ll be perceived by many as nothing but takers…

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