Monday Cup O’Chiefs

Monday, March 14 – Day 3 of America’s football fans held hostage …

The only action around the NFL will shift on Monday to Minneapolis as the league and its players begin another stroll through the maze that is the American legal system.

And if that sounds old, tired and boring already, think how it will sound in about three months if these guys can’t get their crap together and work out an agreement. We’ll have to put up with more public relations spin like the NFL threw at the fans over the weekend. It started Saturday morning and before the weekend was over, just about every team had issued a statement or sent an owner or club executive out to speak to the media so they could pass on the message to the fans.

That message was predictable … it was the NFL Players Association that screwed up the negotiations by decertifying their union, forcing the owners to lockout the players and bring the sport its first work stoppage since 1987.


Back then, the league brought in hundreds of players and fielded an abomination called replacement football for three weeks. Thankfully, there’s been no talk of any instant replay of those distant events; at least, not yet.

There are a lot of twists and turns ahead as we learn more about the law and anti-trust rules and regulations. That should happen on Monday or Tuesday as the action shifts to the U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.

Of interest on Saturday and Sunday were a few story lines, comments and statements that broke through the ringing in our ears from the league PR spin and the near total silence of what used to be the NFL Players Association.

Here’s what I found interesting:


The television network CNBC did a poll over the weekend, with 5,000 people taking part. At the rate of 48 percent, they sided with the owners in the labor dispute.

Over at, they had 27,000 votes in a selection process that featured the question who they blamed for the labor impasse – the owners, the players or both.

Again the players took the edge as the instigators for the current troubles – 38.19 % blamed the players, with 24.79 % blaming the owners. And, 36.72 % blamed both sides.

It will be interesting to see if those levels stay the same as the players push their legal attack through the court system, and the calendar grows closer to the start of the regular season.


The next domino to fall in the legal strategy of the players decertifying and then having 10 players file an anti-trust suit against the league is an injunction to lift the lockout. That’s part of the suit filed by Tom Brady-Peyton Manning-Drew Brees and seven others.

If the injunction is granted by the U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, the lockout would be over, pending of course, appeals filed by the NFL. If the league did reopen, they would have to put into place work rules for the 32 teams, covering things like free agency, the salary cap and contracts.

The easiest thing to do would be for the league to put back into place the rules that covered the 2010 season. That would mean no salary cap, and all no payroll minimum for teams. Players with expired contracts would need six years in the NFL to be eligible for unrestricted free agency; players with expired contracts and three to five seasons of NFL experience would be restricted free agents and there would be limits on the free agent activity of last season’s final eight playoff teams.

Legal beagles say those 2010 rules would work best for the NFL because they are rules that the NFLPA already agreed too for last season. It would not give them much leverage to challenge a replay in court.


Starting on Monday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and league attorney-negotiator Jeff Pash will begin receiving $1 for their compensation. But what’s never explained is whether that’s $1 total, or $1 a day? A week? A month?

Listen, these guys should take a pay cut, because they were in the middle of these negotiations and couldn’t make it happen. Better that they should take a pay day haircut than some of the folks on teams like the Chiefs who make $50,000 and will face a reduction. Pash makes $5 million a year, with the Commissioner pulling down $10 million. A bunch of other folks in the middle of this mess should also be facing a reduction of pay.

It reminds me a bit of the stories I’ve heard about Chinese doctors, where they get paid only when their patient is well. When the patient is sick, the doctor doesn’t see a dime.


As the PR spin ran through the NFL this weekend like a tornado, it left behind some damages as league types continued to focus blame on the players. Listen to Chargers President Dean Spanos, who like the Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt, is part of the league’s labor committee:

“I’m most disappointed in the actions of the Union’s leadership that is supposed to be representing all of our players. They clearly were not negotiating in good faith right from the beginning. I believe their intention all along was to decertify and bring us to litigation.”

Comments like this expose the major problem in this labor situation – the complete lack of trust in the other side. Spanos conveniently forgets that the owners can be accused of the same sort of bad faith bargaining thanks to the TV contracts where they were going to get paid in 2011, whether there were games or not. That was the owners’ lockout fund, but it got blown up by Judge David Doty’s ruling against them.

The league structured commentary that’s being regurgitated by the teams – like Spanos’ comments – does nothing to show the owners are any more serious about a negotiated agreement right now than the players.


If a player coming out of college football is not selected in the NFL Draft come the end of April then they’ve got a problem.

Ordinarily that undrafted player would have a chance to be signed as a college free agent. With roster limits of 80 players, there was the chance that anywhere from 250 to 300 players would find their way to the league on the other side of the draft.

But with the lockout, undrafted players are on the sidelines. The league will not allow any of the teams to sign those players. They have to wait until an agreement between the league and players is reached.


NFL coaches and personnel have been given pretty strict guidelines about their inter-action with players during the lockout. Essentially the rules all include words like do not, cannot, impermissible and the like.

Coaches have been told that breaking those rules can be grounds for dismissal. But how this will be monitored by team honchos or the league isn’t clear.

For instance, take this comment made by Detroit team president Tom Lewand as he talked about the Lions injured players who are rehabbing after surgeries last year.

“We have our players set up in rehabilitation facilities around the country and we have lines of communication open with those facilities where we can monitor their rehabilitation progress,” Lewand said.

Sounds like a perfectly good thing for the Lions to do. But how is that not a violation of these rules separating players from their teams? Either the players gave their permission for this information exchange, or they did not. If that didn’t happen, then I would think the Lions and the rehab facilities would be in hot water with current medical laws involving the exchange of information. And if the Lions did get permission from the players before the start of the lockout, then how does that count now that the lockout is on?

7 Responses to “Monday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • March 14, 2011  - RW says:

    I heard agent Tom Condon on Sirius say that he’s optimistic a new agreement can get done shortly after the ruling of Minnesota judge Nelson as to the accepting or denying the owners legally being able to lock out the players. (There was more legalese involved in the conversation but I think we’re all weary of legal speak?)

    If said judge rules in favor of the players, Condon believes the owners will offer up one of three plans. The 2010 agreement, and turned down agreement, or one providing rooks being tied to its drafting team for only 4 years.

    Anyway, Condon sees some kind of agreement getting done, leaving a couple of weeks for free agency before the draft. This MN judge is to rule on the legal issue around March 6th. That’s the shorthand version.

    After sorting through all the comments and analysis of various folks who should know, I’m becoming less and less impressed with Goodell who had his opportunity and moment to bring closure but instead now looks all the world like a puppet for the higher profile owners.

    It was also pointed out that Goodell and the owners are looking far more disengenous than the players on the basic trust issue, to wit: Not opening the team books after arbitrarily demanding an opening $Billion+ off the top position.

    Maybe Condon is right and this thing will be settled sometime in early April if not sooner but I wouldn’t bet on it.

  • March 14, 2011  - Tim says:

    Bob, I feel your take on this is wrong. If what was reported about the owners’ last offer was essentially true, the owners gave on most things: no 18 game schedule, reduced OTAs, new contact rules, more money to former player benefits, a reduction in 1st round draft contract length for rookie contracts WITHOUT taking $$$ from rounds 2-7, a reduction in the additional off the top money for stadiums from $1 billion to $800 million or even lower, etc. Its very clear to me most of the giving seemed to be done by the owners. With the commonly available knowledge of what even a modest new stadium costs to build or refurbish, the need for that pool of money is a no-brainer. If there are places where the Players Union was willing to compromise, then on what??? Seems to me the silence is deafening which certainly appears to give credibility to the owners belief that DeMaurice Smith had no intention of getting the players to an agreement. If you have information Bob, we’d love to hear the word on the street. If they players don’t put up, they should shut up instead of just demanding that which really isn’t necessary to do this deal. Seems you’re totally in the players’ corner on this one. If I’m right, I’m not sure why. Help us fans understand. If I’m wrong, help us out with more information should it exist. We love ya no matter what though…

  • March 14, 2011  - el cid says:

    The “de-certified” players union is asking the top draftee not to attend the tv draft. How’s that for being de-certified? Add the anger of owners toward new players, man, talk about hate between two partners to divide 8 billion dollars.

  • March 15, 2011  - COCHIEF says:

    Bob, I have enjoyed your commentary on the Chiefs throughout the year. Having said that, I am disappointed that you are so biased in your comments for the players in this dispute.

    You should have some understanding of what is involved in investing your ideas, time and money into a business, per your website. Do you feel anyone working or contributing to your site should have the right to your financials, to manage your business and get an increasing share of any profit you generate? If so, I am contributing to your site by subscribing to it. Please pass your financial information to me and let me start making decisions for you, starting with paying your subscribers to access your site rather than charging for it.

  • March 15, 2011  - KC_Guy says:

    From what I’ve read the whole Franchise, transition and RFA designation is our review as well. The players’ filings to the court claim that all those regulations in the old CBA violate tthe Sherman act (interesting question: why did the NFLPA accapt those rules so far then?).

    Here’s the original document in legalese:

  • March 15, 2011  - Rick says:

    Gee Bob, why don’t you just come out and claim that the owners have acted ‘stupidly’, and get it off your chest?

  • March 16, 2011  - leonard says:

    Bob: I sene that you are leaning more in the players favor. I find in interseting that the polls taken find the players more at fault than the owners. I happen to be in that class. It has become increasingly clear that the union had no intention of negotiating. This is bad for football, the league, and mostly the fans, and workers who sre struggling to make a living, while the Prima Dona millionaires argue about money. It is sickening. I have already given up my season tickets, maybe I wil have to give up the NFL. See how much money they make when the piss off the fans.

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