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The NFL and Super Bowl XLVI organizers in Indianapolis are completely prepared for a lockout — as long as it only postpones the league’s annual season-ending game in 2012 by one week.
Yes, rest assured, fans: Hotel rooms have been set aside for Feb. 5 and Feb. 12 — just in case.
‘’This is not unusual as local Super Bowl host committees will include in its bid a number of possible dates it could host the Super Bowl,’’ league spokesman Brian McCarthy said. ‘’As part of its … bid, the Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee said it would hold both Feb. 5 and Feb. 12, 2012 as possible dates. We have listed Feb. 5 as the tentative date for the game, but have flexibility to hold it in Indianapolis on Feb. 12.’’
And if the league and the NFLPA get into a protracted labor stoppage that could force more than a one-week delay? Well …
Colts owner Jim Irsay dismissed any suggestion Indy could lose the Super Bowl if a labor stoppage forced the game to be canceled.
‘’I really feel we will have a Super Bowl, and, hopefully, we can do it as planned,’’ Irsay said. ‘’If not, we’ve made some plans to give us some flexibility.’’
See, don’t you feel all better now?
NFL VP Jeff Pash appeared on ESPN's Mike and Mike show one day after NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith appeared on the same show talking about the labor issues in the NFL. We've detailed some of the union's perspective on these topics which can be read here.
Here are a few topics Pash addressed in his segment on Mike and Mike.
On the lack of money being spent:
"The thing you're seeing right now on both sides is a tremendous amount of uncertainty. It's really no different than what you see in the broader economy. Businesses all over America are sitting on cash, they're not expanding, they're not hiring because they don't know what the economy will be like, what the government regulations will be like or what the taxes will be like. That type of uncertainty tends to freeze a lot of activity."
On the NFLPA's call to keep the current system in place:
"I think when someone tells you that they're happy with the deal and they should just extend it and not change a thing, that's a code for saying it's a pretty one-sided deal."
On the growth of the game:
"There's no question economics platy a role in this. If the clubs have shown anything, they've shown they have very good ability to grow the game and develop revenues, 60% of which go to players. If you look at the last few years of player salaries, they've gone up quite substantially."
Are the players resistant to HGH testing?
On the suggestion that the NFL owners are in collusion because of the lack of first round picks signed:
"I don't think the level of rookie signings is indicative of anything other than the fact that there's a lot of uncertainty out there. People don't know what the system is going to be like going forward. The clubs and the players are having to figure this out. I think you'll see signings move ahead as we get closer to training camps opening and into camp. It's a function of the uncertainty of the market place right now."
On a rookie wage scale:
"I think the rookie wage scale would have a lot of positive advantages. Starting with making it possible to shift money from untested rookies to proven veterans and including retiree benefits."
On Tuesday a few SB Nation bloggers talked with reps from the NFL Player's Association, including Executive Director DeMaurice Smith, learning more about their message, which has become particularly important (and public) as the clock continues to tick on the current labor agreement.
One of the biggest "myths" the NFLPA talked about was that the players received 60% of the total revenue. The 60% number is the one you hear most often thrown about as the players' piece of the total pie.
Not so fast on that, the union says.
The NFL is a $9 billion a year business and nearly everyone cites the players portion of that as 60%. The NFLPA added a little clarification to that, which a spokesman called one of the biggest issues they face.
Yes, the NFL brings in $9 billion in total revenue. However, the league gets $1 billion shaved off the top of that and the players get 60% of the remaining $8 billion -- not $9 billion. If you use the actual total revenue, according to the NFLPA, the players portion is closer to 50%, which is a sizable difference when you're talking billions.
Meanwhile, Executive Director DeMaurice Smith went on to tell us there are two key ways to measure the success of the NFL -- assets and profits.
As far as assets, the NFL has grown by 500% in the last 15 years. Several NFLPA employees have tried to find businesses that have had similar growth but haven't been able to do so, they say, which is a mark of how successful the league has been. No one's denying the incredible success of the league and the record breaking revenues it brings in each year. In fact, the Packers, the NFL's only team that publicly reports it's financials, posted record-breaking revenue numbers this year.
The other side of measuring success, profits, isn't available to the NFLPA (other than the Packers, the smallest market). They have repeatedly asked the NFL to "open its books" to which the NFL has repeatedly declined. The NFLPA's stance on this is that they "can't negotiate blindly" and need to know what they're negotiating against. The NFL obviously feels there is a problem with the current system, which is why they opted out of it, but will not provide the NFLPA with information they say they need.
It is important to note that every other CBA has been completed without the NFL opening its books. To this, Smith says, "That doesn't make it right."
Smith wouldn't directly answer questions as to whether the NFL opening it's books would be contingent on getting a deal done but strongly believed that was the best route to take.
Smith said he was "optimistic" a deal could get done because the fans and the players want to get something done. You can read more about what Smith had to say on the prospects of football in 2011 at SB Nation's Hogs Haven.
The Packers are a publicly owned franchise which means, by law, they must issue a financial report at the end of their fiscal year.
Why is this important?
Because they're the only publicly owned franchise and thus the only team that publicly reports their financials. The NFL and the NFLPA are in the midst of CBA negotiations and one of the key sticking points is the NFL's refusal to "open their books" so to speak regarding the financial status of each team. Because the other teams are privately owned, they're not required to issue financial reports like the Packers.
The NFLPA has used this as their main talking point in public discussions about the negotiations of a new CBA.
The Green Bay Post Gazette has details on the Packers report, which was released today.
The Packers today reported a record $258 million in revenue and net income of $5.2 million, an increase from $4 million in 2008-09.
They also reported that players costs are increasing 11 percent annually while revenue is growing at a 5 percent rate. Profit from operations was $9.8 million, compared to $20.1 million in 2008-09.
More details from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
Expenses, especially player costs, increased markedly. Operating expenses jumped to $248 million, up from $228 million. Of that amount, $161 million went to player costs, up from $139 million.
From the NFLPA's perspective, they're going to tout that record number in revenue as evidence that NFL teams are making money. Expect to see plenty of headlines about that.
Packers president Mark Murphy echoed the NFL's perspective, "Player costs continue to grow at a rate faster than our revenue."
Earlier this week NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell called the implementation of a rookie salary cap a "critical" part of the CBA negotiations with the NFLPA.
From the NFLPA perspective, they would argue that it's the team's decision to pay this money -- not the players. They would also point out that first round picks are guaranteed an average of $11 million. The other picks are hardly that lucrative. Second round picks are guaranteed an average of $2 million and all other picks are guaranteed a max of $668,000.
It seems as if both sides are willing to change the current system which currently pays the top 12 picks an disproportional amount of guaranteed money and often traps late round rookies into contracts which they outperform.
The NFLPA's answer is the Proven Performance Plan.
In a nutshell, it would shorten the life of rookie contracts and create savings for underpaid players as well as retired players.
Here's how it would work:
First, it entails shortening rookie contracts to a max of three years. This takes care of the problem that clubs often face of paying a player picked high in the draft a lot of money when he ultimately ends up as a bust. It would also allow players who have outperformed their contracts to negotiate market friendly deals sooner.
Second, the NFLPA says this would save clubs approximately $200 million.
$150 million of this would go to a Proven Performance Fund which would award rookies and veterans who signed contracts that are below what their market value is. The NFLPA also proposes the remaining $50 million in savings be devoted to retired players with NFL owners matching that each year to create an extra $100 million per year for retired players.
Commissioner Goodell has previously said that if rookie contracts are leveled out, the savings could then go to veteran players. However, the NFLPA would point to the over $400 million in unused cap space as evidence that the owners won't necessarily use any savings on the veteran players.
The NFLPA's plan is similar to the performance-based pay system that was in place before the salary cap went away. The difference is that the total money would be more (last year the performance based-pay system was just over $100 million) and a portion of it would go to retired players.
It's an interesting plan and, even though the league has rejected it, it's a good start for both sides because, at the very least, it's a proposal, which means they're talking. The only way a new CBA will get done is if both sides continue to talk.
NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith told Alex Marvez of FOXSports.com that he's seeking to negotiate a new CBA that runs for six years through the 2016 season.
Currently, the CBA is set to expire in March of 2011.
Recent reports have indicated the two sides are far apart from a deal but recently NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell expressed optimism that something would get done.
“There will be an agreement at some point,” said Goodell, who is heading his first CBA negotiations since replacing retired commissioner Paul Tagliabue in 2006. “Everyone would like it sooner rather than later, whether it’s the players, the owners or the fans.
“It’s important for us all to get more productive dialogue. Sometimes, these things don’t happen until you get a little closer to the end (of the CBA). That’s just the reality.”
As for the NFLPA side, Smith again called for the league to open their financial books so the union knows exactly where they stand with respect to the need for a new CBA.
“We haven’t seen any financial information whatsoever that would suggest to us team profits are trending downward. Everything we’ve seen indicates to us team profits and revenues are trending upwards. Even if there was a down year this year for all 32 teams, it seems to me if they believe there is something functionally wrong with the operating business model, provide us with some shred of financial information that says teams are losing or not making enough money. Let that serve as the driver for fundamental change.”
Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke at the NFL's rookie symposium this week and reiterated his desire for a rookie salary cap.
A new rookie compensation system is critical. It’s important that we have a system that is designed to reward players who succeed on an NFL field. When a player is paid a lot of money and doesn’t make it in the NFL and that money leaves the system, that’s not good for anybody. We need to reward performance on the field.
It's a strange place to bring this topic up because the rookies are the only ones who benefit from such a windfall of money at the top of the draft.
\Why this has never been done previously is beyond me. This is an issue controlled by the league and the union. The league wants the price tag for these top-end rookies to fall. The NFLPA represents active players, who want the rookies to stop being paid so much so that more money can come to them.
This won't be easy to get done but it's a good start that both sides want something to happen.
NFL and NFLPA officials met today for another negotiation session regarding the new CBA. They also discussed the possibility of expanding the NFL regular season to 18 games.
From the NFL's perspective, there are several key ideas to take out of this: any changes wouldn't be adopted until 2012; NFL would consider reducing the preseason games; roster sizes could be expanded and injured reserve rules could be tweaked; extra bye week could be added; developmental league could be added.
"I think this is an idea that is really gaining momentum particularly within the owners," Packers president Mark Murphy said of the enhanced season. "It's something we've talked a lot about over the last year."
The NFL also said they would not impose the rules "unilaterally" meaning they would want the NFLPA in on it. George Atallah, a rep for the NFLPA, expressed some concern over three issues with the NFL's proposal.
Two prominent NFL players -- Tom Brady and Ray Lewis -- have expressed concern about expanding the regular season.
“I’ve taken part in several postseason runs where we have played 20 games," Brady said. "The long-term impact this game has on our bodies is well documented. Look no further than the players that came before we did. Each player today has to play three years in order to earn five years of post-career health care. Our Union has done a great job of raising the awareness on these issues and will make the right decision for us players, the game and the fans.”
Added Lewis: “I’ve been blessed to play this game for so long, but it’s time to start thinking about what legacy and impact changes like this will leave for the players of tomorrow and us after we retire. I know our fans may not like preseason games and I don’t like all of them, but swapping two preseason games for two end-of-season games -- when players already play hurt -- comes at a huge cost for the player and the team.”
The NFL says the idea is gaining momentum with the owners but it sounds as if the players have plenty of reservations.
A couple of weeks ago in our interview with NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith, he told us that the union would be meeting with the league at some point in June.
Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal (via PFT) reports that meeting will take place Wednesday.
This is another round of negotiations for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Given recent events, it might make for an awkward negotiating session. The NFLPA recently filed a complaint against the NFL's TV deals essentially calling them "lockout insurance". That is being heard by the Special Master. The Louisiana Legislature has encouraged both sides to get a deal done and prominent agents have spoken out calling this the worst NFL offseason in years.
This is also the first time the NFLPA will negotiate with who they've dubbed the "lockout lawyer".
When the NFL entered the uncapped year, some thought owners like Jerry Jones of the Cowboys and Daniel Snyder of the Redskins would go crazy spending millions upon millions of dollars. Even with a salary cap they had shown a willingness to spend more than anyone else.
More than three months into the uncapped year and that hasn't happened. In fact, spending is down significantly.
And the NFLPA wants answers, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Collusion, of course, is illegal. It's essentially a way to limit competition (i.e. free agency) via secretive means between two or more teams (or all the teams in the NFL's case).
The NFLPA has been consulting with agents to gain more knowledge as to whether a case should be filed.
Per Florio, one piece of evidence would be the letters teams have been sending to restricted free agents alerting them that their tender level was going to be reduced on June 15. The letter is not required anywhere in the CBA and, according to several agents, the text of the letter is somewhat uniform suggesting collaboration by the owners.
Florio also passes along that the rumor mill says some owners didn't spend aggressively out of fear of being "dressed down" at the league meetings in March and May.
Peyton Manning is just one man but his contract could help us understand the future of the NFL as we know it. Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports has an interesting article that details why the Manning contract -- he's entering his final year -- could determine future negotiations between the league and the players regarding a new CBA.
“If Manning [of the Indianapolis Colts] doesn’t get the kind of contract we all expect or, worse, doesn’t get a deal done at all, that really means it’s going to be war,” an agent said last week. “There has never been a player with more leverage than him. No one. If he can’t get a deal done at his price, we’re all in trouble.”
The point is essentially that if Manning -- about as perfect of a player as they come -- can't set a new bar in terms of money per year, then the owners flat-out won't be spending enough money, which would cause the players to dig in their heels at the negotiating table.
The Manning deal is expected to be completed sometime before the start of the season and he's expected to be the highest paid player in the NFL.
We know the players aren't happy since many of them are restricted free agents and unable to land a big payday. Now, we're starting to hear the player agents aren't happy either.
"This is the worst offseason that I have been associated with since I have been an agent, and this is my 23rd season," agent Drew Rosenhaus told Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal via Pro Football Talk. "This has been a terrible offseason for NFL players for the most part. Collusion or not, the NFL has decided not to be aggressive in signing guys."
At some point, you're going to hear the NFLPA talk about collusion.They could say the owners have acted collectively to bring down spending, which would be illegal.
Rosenhaus also goes on to suggest that unhappy players would mean a dip in performance. On the surface, that's a logical statement but at the same time these players will eventually be paid. And if they want to maximize the amount of money available, they'll want to be playing at a high level.
This is just another wrinkle in what will be an incredibly difficult negotiation period between the NFL owners and players.
The NFLPA has trained what seems like everyone to understand that the NFL will be locking out the players. If you look at the NFLPA website, it even says "Lockout Watch" at the very top.
But can you blame them? The NFL has taken steps to give the perception that they are in lockout preparations -- doing the TV deals to guarantee payment in 2011 even in the absence of football, writing coaches contracts with protection from a work stoppage, hiring the NHL "lockout lawyer", the American Needle case and hiring Troy Vincent, former NFLPA president.
The players on Wednesday took legal action against the owners regarding the TV contracts they've negotiated arguing that the creation of the "lockout fund' comes at the expense of the players -- a violation of the 1993 agreement between the two sides -- and that the NFL "left money on the table" in order to secure guaranteed payments in 2011 thus not maximizing revenue -- another violation of that 1993 agreement.
With the players taking legal action against the owners, how will this affect the CBA negotiations? On the surface it seems that this would hurt the negotiations.
DeMaurice Smith said during a conference call Wednesday it would not affect the discussions between the two sides but declined to elaborate.
Upon further review, it may actually help the chances of avoiding a work-stoppage.
Look at this way: Arguably the league's biggest advantage over the players is the presence of the $4 billion "lockout fund' that they'll receive regardless of whether there's football. This allows them to make payments on their stadiums and pay whoever it is they need to pay. In fact, with no costs, they could actually see a "windfall of profits" as Smith calls it.
If the players win this case -- and that money is put into escrow and unable to be touched by the league -- they lose arguably their biggest bargaining chip. This would potentially push the owners into a higher level of urgency to get a CBA deal done and eliminate much of their leverage.
So in the end, what might be best for the game would be a win for the players in this case.
DeMaurice Smith and NFLPA counsel Jeffrey Kessler held a conference call on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the NFLPA's recent complaint to the Special Master regarding the NFL's TV contracts.
Smith set the tone from the start explaining the complaint from the union's perspective.
It is critical for everyone to understand that that settlement agreement created a fiduciary agreement on behalf of the owners to the players on certain obligations. It will not be enough, according to the players, for any party or owner to say, 'Yes we maximized revenue'. If that was the only obligation they had under the settlement agreement we would not be here. I would urge everyone to take a look at what obligations flowed from the years of litigation and the settlement. It continues to be the settlement under which our CBA currently operates. Jeffrey Kessler was there for that settlement and he negotiated that settlement. We are aware of what our obligations are under that settlement as well as under the league.
The NFLPA is basically asking the Special Master to confirm that the NFL did or did not act in good faith to maximize revenues in the latest round of TV contracts. The NFLPA's complaint alleges that the NFL "left money on the table" in 2009 and 2010 in order to guarantee payment from the TV companies -- a/k/a "lockout insurance".
Kessler was then asked more about the 1993 ruling that is essentially governing the current TV contracts.
I was there when the [Reggie] White settlement agreement was being negotiated, which was an agreemnt that came after years of anti-trust litigation on a whole variety of subjects. And entering into that settlement, there were a variety of different obligations that were placed upon the owners in order to protect the players from what might happen going forward.
Those obligations consisted of the following: First, there was a duty to use their best efforts to maximize revenues during the term of the agreement -- not in general -- but during the term of the agreement. To make sure that the players would benefit from those revenues during the term fo the agreement. One of the fundamental problems we have with what shpapened is that it appears that the owners have traded revenues during the rerms of the agreement to maximize their own welfare at the expense of the players once the term is over.
Kessler's translation: The NFL negotiated their TV contracts to provide the "lockout insurance" in 2011, which implicitly means that it was benefiting the owners thus coming at the expense of the players -- a violation of the agreement.
There is a specific expressed duty to operate in good faith, to carry out the terms of the CBA, and there is also an obligation of specific duty not to engage in transactions to circumvent the terms of the CBA as set forth in the CBA. Those obligations of good faith and non-circumvention, has required that the NFL not engage in the negotiations in which for example they gave the rights -- take DirecTV for example -- to broadcast over the internet, NFL Sunday Ticket, to sell it to mobile phones, to carry the NFL REDZONE, for which the NFL received no revenues during the terms of the CBA and instead they got this lockout insurance protection. Those are the types of obligations that they violated and that's really what we set out to protect against back in 1993.
Smith went on to say that throughout the course of this process, they may compare the NFL's TV contracts to other leagues, presumably in order to demonstrate that these are not standard contracts.
I would just add that it would be hard pressed for the NFL to stay it's standard even for the NFL or other sports leagues, to convey substantial digital rights and get no compensation during those years...
Kessler also went on to say that this is the first case of its kind with respect to other professional sports leagues.
The only two agreements that have this type of set of duties upon the leagues that I'm aware of are in the NFL and the NBA. While there have been questions raised by players before in both those sports, with the league as to whether something was being done in good faith to maximize revenues, this is the first time I believe that a case has actually been filed as opposed to the matter being settled informally.
Smith also confirmed that, despite the recent complaint, negotiations with the NFL on a new CBA would continue in June.
On Wednesday, the NFLPA announced that it had filed a complaint with the Special Master regarding the NFL's TV contracts.
The NFL has issued a response to the NFLPA's complaint:
"The television contracts that the union attacked today were agreed to during the worst economy in our lifetimes. Far from failing to maximize revenue, the contracts grew league revenue to fund higher player salaries and benefits. No wonder DeMaurice Smith said publicly this year, ‘My hat's off to Roger Goodell. Television is locked up until 2014 to the tune of about $5 billion a year.' The union's meritless charges, including many inaccuracies, will be addressed in the proper forum, but they are simply a distraction and do nothing to get us any closer to a new CBA."
The NFLPA alleged that the NFL "left money on the table" in regards to the TV contracts so that more money was funneled into 2011 and beyond when there may not be football. The NFL will receive payment from the TV deals in 2011 whether there is football or not.
The NFL Player's Association has filed a complaint with the NFL's Special Master regarding the NFL's television deals.
The NFL has negotiated their TV deals so that in the event there's no football in 2011, they would still be paid that money. It's not exactly "free" as the NFL's side would argue that they have to pay that money back in future years when football returns.
The guaranteed money that the NFL will receive regardless of whether there's football in 2011 has been called by Union sources as a "lockout fund".
Further, the NFLPA alleges the league did not maximize their revenue in the recent TV deals.
The NFLPA argues in the complaint that, under their 17-year-old agreement with the NFL, the NFL cannot breach its fiduciary duties to the players in order to strengthen its bargaining position. Furthermore, the NFLPA says that the NFL’s inclusion of the lockout provisions is a clear violation of the contract because the league didn’t use its best efforts in good faith to maximize total revenues from DirecTV, Fox, CBS and NBC. Reports on the recent re-negotiations of the ESPN contract indicate that it will likely incorporate similar lockout payment provisions.
This essentially alleges that the league left money on the table in order to secure a deal that would allow them to be paid in the event there was no football. The NFLPA is arguing that this is an example of the NFL not bargaining in good faith in order to maximize revenues.
The NFLPA alleges that the DirecTV deal is the most "glaring" example of the NFL's financial protection in the event of a work stoppage.
The league opted not to allocate any of the increased revenue from the deal with the satellite service during the 2009 and 2010 seasons, moving all of that money into 2011 and beyond, after its current contract with the players expires. So DirecTV was given immediate new broadcast benefits for two seasons with no price increase for those two seasons. These immediate benefits include access to a new REDZONE channel and the right to sell access to broadband and mobile phone transmission of games.
What that quote means is that the NFL gave it's TV partners "broadcast benefits" -- such as the REDZONE channel -- in 2009 and 2010 but aren't having their TV partners pay for it until 2011, the year their agreement with the players expires.
The league has yet to issue a statement on the situation but it's fair to assume that a major part of their argument will be that the money they collect in 2011 -- if there is no football -- will have to be repaid in the future, as the NFL's General Counsel Jeffrey Pash recently said.
“The networks aren’t going to hand over larger amounts of money to us, and if they don’t get a product [in return] tell us to go ahead and keep that money,” Pash told NBCSports.com. “We will have to give it back to them and take reductions about what we get from them in future years. … It is not a payment, it is a financing mechanism. It is no different than borrowing on a home equity line. You still have to pay it back.”
Rather than the NFL owners split the TV money, the NFLPA wants the money to sit in escrow instead.
Just how important is pro football in Louisiana? Important enough to get the House and Senate to step in and encourage both sides to get a deal done.
The House resolution states:
"To urge and request team owners of the National Football League and the representatives of the National Football League Players Association to work diligently and quickly to resolve their labor differences."
And the Senate resolution includes:
"...a work stoppage in the National Football League would have a detrimental impact on countless Louisiana businesses, including restaurants, bars, transportation companies, hotels, and other travel related businesses and therefore would reduce tax revenue and jobs for our state."
Both resolutions detail how successful the NFL has been in Louisiana and how important it is to the local economy.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke with reporters following Tuesday's owners meetings. On the topic of the status of labor negotiations,
I wouldn’t say there are any developments or any specific progress that I would report today. We continue to have dialogue on a variety of different matters. We will be having another formal negotiation in June. We need to focus in on the importance of getting progress in some of these key areas. You know all the issues.
The two key points out of that short paragraph are that the two sides are having a dialogue and a formal session will be in June.
For more of Goodell's Q&A with the media, check out the full transcript.
Back at the NFL Draft, Chad Ochocinco asked NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith on a scale of 1-10 what the chances of a lockout were. At the time, he said it was a 14.
A month later and not much has changed. Smith told SI.com in a recent interview that the likelihood of a lockout was again a 14 on a 1-10 scale.
Throughout the article he details the NFLPA's plans to prepare for a lockout.
We've asked players to save 25 percent of their salary last year, 25 percent of their salary this year.
He says the players should never feel they need to make decisions based on money because they're making exponentially more than the average American.
On the flip side, he said the owners are preparing for and willing to lockout the players.
We're trying to get a deal done. If you remember, right before the uncapped year, we said, look, we'll take a deal that's very similar to the deal we have now, let's just extend it. And the owners said no. I know that they've renegotiated every assistant coach's contract to envision a lockout, and I know their lead negotiator now is a guy named Bob Batterman, who locked out hockey for a year. They also negotiated every one of the television contracts, FOX, NBC, CBS and DirecTV with this in mind.
If public perception is anything, Smith is doing his darnedest to make sure the average football fan knows the players want a deal and the owners don't.
The labor issues in the NFL have been well-documented.
In 2008, the league opted out of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) causing 2009 to be the last capped year and, in 2010, no salary cap. If no new agreement can be reached by the start of the 2011 season, there won't be football.
It's a major battle that, for the most part, has been played in the media. Apparently, the two sides aren't talking much and even when they do, you get things like this:
"At this point, we are as far apart as I could imagine," Batterman told the Hofstra Chronicle in a recent interview.
Batterman is Bob Batterman, one of the NFL's lawyers brought in for these labor talks. Batterman's name is familiar because he represented the NHL during the longest work stoppage in sports history. Some have nicknamed him the "lockout lawyer".
The two sides have already committed to the uncapped year in 2010. There will also be a draft in 2011.
After that, it's up in the air.
Nothing can be done until the two sides sit down for an extended period of time and hash out the issues. Judging by Batterman's words, they have a lot of work to do.
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