Archive for May, 2011

Commissioner Goodell: “Let’s find solutions”

Commissioner Roger Goodell today discussed with Titans season ticket-holders his focus in the current labor dispute. “Let’s find solutions,” the Commissioner said in his 19th conference call with NFL team season-ticket holders.

“The best and fastest solution to the differences is to negotiate,” Commissioner Goodell added. “Let’s get together and let’s solve those problems in negotiations and with a collective bargaining agreement.  We are taking the initiative to make sure that we do everything possible to create that environment and to have those meetings but frankly, litigation creates delays and creates, unfortunately, an environment where a discussion can only happen in certain forums.  I think that is a shame.  We need to sit down and figure it out.”

 Following is a transcript of the Commissioner’s conference call with Titans fans:
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Commissioner Goodell: Communication and compromise necessary to reach fair labor agreement

Commissioner Roger Goodell today stressed the need for communication and compromise with the players to reach a fair labor agreement.

“It is imperative on all of us to get back to negotiating, to figure out ways in which we can compromise our positions so that we can reach an agreement that’s fair to everybody,” Commissioner Goodell said following the NFL Spring Meeting in Indianapolis.

Commissioner Goodell was asked whether he would consider less formal meetings with DeMaurice Smith, similar to their lunch during mediation in Minneapolis last week.

“I would welcome any communication,” the Commissioner said. “The more we can be doing that face-to-face, the more productive we can be.  Anytime you are sitting down talking about issues that is a positive”.

The Commissioner also noted that the current uncertainty presents an opportunity to work towards an agreement.

“When there is uncertainty that may be a good opportunity to get a resolution because there is risk to everybody,” he said. “That is what we should be doing, taking this window of opportunity to resolve our differences.  The longer it goes, the more damage that’s done to the game, the more revenue is down, the less money to be divided amongst the parties.”

Following is a transcript of the Commissioner’s press conference:
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Jeff Pash: “We have to figure out how everyone wins”

“We have to be figure out how everybody advances, how everybody wins, how everybody is better off,” NFL executive vice president Jeff Pash said today at the NFL Spring Meeting in Indianapolis.

“It shouldn’t take a court ruling to prompt serious negotiations,” Pash added. “If the Eighth Circuit said, ‘We have a calendar issue and we are not going to hear this until January,’ I would say there is as much reason to be negotiating as if they said, ‘We are going to hear it on June 3’ or ‘We are going to hear it tomorrow.’  We have a business that can continue to be something that we can all be proud of.  When I say all of us, I mean players, retired players, coaches, owners and fans.  It is a great thing.

“No one wants to be shut down.  No one’s preferred course of action is to be locked out and not be playing football.  There is plenty of incentive for both sides to get to the bargaining table and get into a conference room and really work through these issues.  There is a fair and balanced and positive agreement to be made.  I really believe that.  If I didn’t believe it, I would be quite discouraged but I am not.  I really believe there is an agreement to be made here that will work for everybody.”

Following is a transcript of Pash’s media briefing:

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NFL’s Adolpho Birch on WADA administering drug testing: “We are looking into options to make sure NFL remains the leader in this area”

NFL senior vice president of labor policy Adolpho Birch (right) was asked today about the potential for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to administer the league’s steroid testing program.

“We thought our system worked well,” Birch said at the NFL Spring Meeting in Indianapolis. “Up until recently we had full support, participation and input from the players. In the absence of that, we need to look for ways to administer our policy in a way that keeps it as effective as we think it has been to date.  From a procedural standpoint, we need to look at those options. That would be one option.  We are certainly looking into that to see what that means for us and to see what that does to advance the idea that the NFL remains the leader in this area. What that means, we’ll find out, but we are going to take a look at it.”

“The goal is the same,” Birch said of the NFL and WADA. “Both organizations have always shared the goal that we want an effective program that deters those who wish to cheat and eliminates the threat of steroids from our game. Under any system that we consider, those would be the objectives: protect the health and safety of the player, understand their obligation as role models, and to have a fair and competitive level playing field.”

Following is a transcript of Birch’s media briefing:
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Again, we agree: “We need to get back to the bargaining table…there are all of these court dates but nothing is getting resolved”

Atlanta Falcons running back Jason Snelling stressed the need for the NFL and players “to get back to the bargaining table” in a SiriusXM NFL Radio interview with Pat Kirwan and Tim Ryan yesterday.

“We need to get back to the bargaining table,” Snelling said. “This time that has gone by so far, I don’t really feel anything has gotten resolved.  As a free agent who earned that right to have free agency, I would hate to be in a situation where I don’t have that after you worked so hard to get that situation, not just on my end but the people around you who worked so hard to get you there.”

“I have actually spoken to one of my [player] reps,” Snelling continued. “They have said a little bit and had an opinion on it just kind of agreeing with mine.  We kind of feel at a point like this with everything going through the courts that there are all of these court dates but nothing is getting resolved.  We kind of wonder at some point what are we really fighting for?  Do we want to play?  Do we want to just keep these things in the courts?  I know that a lot of guys may feel like going through the courts and taking it to the end and waiting for a judge to make a ruling may work but after they make another ruling, we still don’t have a collective bargaining agreement.”

NFL executive vice president Jeff Pash made similar comments yesterday in Indianapolis, site of this week’s NFL Spring Meeting.

“I think as time goes on, everybody on both sides realizes that this doesn’t get better, it doesn’t get easier,” Pash said. “I think people are also recognizing that the litigation alternative is not one that is going to get a quick resolution. It’s not going to get really even a resolution. Everyone focuses on the next court date, and it sort of freezes people in place. The only way we’re going to solve this is by saying, ‘Ok, let’s put this behind us. Let’s put the litigation on hold and let’s solve our own problems.’ Asking judges to solve our problem for us is never going to get a resolution.”

“I think that players probably look for the same thing that we are looking for,” Pash added. “Players and owners and coaches, they all want the same thing. They want an agreement so that the game can get back on the field. I don’t think most players like being in court any more than most owners like being in court.”

In his SiriusXM interview, Snelling noted that negotiations have yielded a willingness to discuss changes.

“The NFL in some ways is willing to make some changes,” Snelling said. “You don’t hear too much about it as much as you’d like as a player, but I feel like they are willing to make some changes and try to make something that is collectively good for all parties.  The main thing is we can’t get that done if we are not actually negotiating with each other.  It is the main thing I want to stress as a player and as a free agent: The best thing for this league is to get back to the table and make something happen together and to take this thing out of the courts because with it being in courts, I don’t feel like any of us are going to win.”

“As a player, I just want to express and show that I do have a voice in my particular situation, as well as others,” Snelling concluded.  “We need to get back to the bargaining table and that is going to be the best thing for all of us.”

Jeff Pash: “I think Bart Scott is right”

NFL executive vice president Jeff Pash today said that he agrees with Jets linebacker Bart Scott’s recent comments that the labor dispute is on the “verge of really irritating our fan base and damaging the fabric of the game.”

“I really thought he put it very well, that we’re getting to the point where we’re really putting our fans at risk,” Pash said in an interview with NFL Network’s Albert Breer in Indianapolis, site of this week’s NFL Spring Meeting. “We’re getting to the point where people just can’t understand why there’s not a deal being made. And I think in many respects the best thing for all of us to do is get out of court, get out of the media, and get together, and I think Bart Scott is right.

“We’re getting to the point where we’re putting our business at risk, and it’s our shared livelihood,” Pash continued. “We have a shared responsibility to get this done. We can’t do it ourselves. They can’t do it themselves. And so we really need to put the litigation aside, we need to focus on negotiations. I think there’s a deal to be made, I really do. I’ve thought that for a long time.”

Scott’s comments came in an interview with ESPN’s Sal Paolantanio. “I think we’re bordering now on the verge of insanity,” Scott said. “Fans don’t want to hear about lockout, they don’t want to hear about people arguing over $9 billion. They want the bottom-line because at the end of the day, these guys are saving up throughout the entire year to come out and spend their hard-earned money to see football, and we’re telling them that they can spend their hard-earned money but we’re not playing until we figure it out. I listen to [Robert] Kraft – and I don’t agree with the Patriots on a lot of things – but I agree with him that we’re really on the verge of really irritating our fan base and damaging the fabric of the game.”

“I think Bart Scott’s right,” Pash reiterated. “That’s the kind of attitude that we need, and I think a lot of other players feel that way as well. And if people come to the table with that attitude, with that sense of commitment, with the recognition that the best way to solve the problem is to solve it ourselves, not to wait for some judges to solve the problem for us, which they can’t do, then we’ll come out better. All of us.”

For Albert Breer’s complete story on, click here.

Goodell: Winning is compromise

With all due respect to Vince Lombardi, winning isn’t everything – at least in negotiations.  Both sides may not win every point, but by compromising on issues, they can come to an agreement that benefits everyone.

Granted, the NFL CBA negotiations of 2011 pale historically to “The Great Compromise” of 1787 which led to equal representation in the Senate and proportional representation in the House of Representatives. Virginia had proposed representation based on a state’s population, while New Jersey had proposed on behalf of the smaller states equal representation. A log-jam ensued until both sides worked together and agreed to what was called “The Great Compromise,” thus creating the structure of representation that has been in place for more than 220 years.

Now back to the future with another call to compromise. In a conference call with Detroit Lions season ticket holders this week, Goodell described how an agreement with the players will be reached and what a win will look like.

“Win, to me,” he said, “is when all parties compromise and all parties get what they need, not what they want. That is what we need to get back to doing.  That is why this is only going to happen through a negotiation.  Hopefully, we have been clear about the priorities we have for the game and how we are going to continue to grow this game.”

Following is the complete transcript:

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John Mara: “Let’s make a deal”

Before joining the New York Giants in 1991, John Mara was an attorney specializing in labor and employment law and litigation. He represented both unions and management in a variety of cases.

Now, as the Giants’ president and chief executive officer, he uses that experience as a member of the NFL owners’ negotiating team for collective bargaining with the players.

Mara was asked Thursday by Mike Lupica on 1050 ESPN New York about the similarities of the two NFL player strikes in the 80s and today’s situation.

Strike or lockout, the end-game remains the same with any labor issue, says Mara.

“Labor laws give employees the right to strike, and that’s their leverage in trying to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement and those same labor laws give employers the right to lockout,” said Mara. “Again, it’s with the same end-game in mind – you want to get a collective bargaining agreement done.  So it’s a different situation from ’82 and ’87 but the end-game is still the same. We want to get a deal done.”

So what’s it going to take to get a deal done? Two sides fully committed to that goal.

“I know there is willingness on our part to sit down and get a deal done,” said Mara.  “But we’ve got to get the same willingness out of the players to sit down and do that.”

Following is the complete transcript:

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Jeff Pash on DeMaurice Smith: “A very skilled leader”

NFL Executive Vice President Jeff Pash was asked Thursday on Sirius XM NFL Radio for his perception of NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith.

“I think De is a very skilled leader, I think in a short period of time he has unified his people. He’s passionate about the game. He cares about the men he represents. He’s a very effective advocate on their behalf,” replied Pash to Pat Kirwan and Tim Ryan.

“I find him a good guy to work with,” he continued. “I’m looking forward to getting back to the negotiating table with him. I think when we get through this phase which is difficult and contentious for sure, I think he’ll be a good partner. I hear things, people say, this is about a war, you’re going to the mattresses and stuff like that, and I sort of laugh and I say, ‘Yeah, I think I need to be afraid when I go through a toll booth or something.’ The reality is this is so far from that, it’s a business negotiation. Business negotiations can be contentious and they can be heated sometimes but the one thing we know with absolute certainty, this is going to end, it’s going to end in an agreement. Once that agreement is forged we’re going to work together as good solid partners for hopefully decades to come. De is a real contributor.”

Following is the complete transcript:

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Quote of the day

“Memo to @nfllabor: THIS is the kind of case you should be making. Relentlessly. Instead of those insipid quotes:

– @Aaron_Nagler, Cheesehead

Nagler’s link above refers readers to a Thursday night post by Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, who quotes NFL Executive Vice President Jeff Pash on the use of dollars rather than percentages in labor talks. Florio also adds his own analysis, as follows:

We’ve long believed that the current labor dispute arises fundamentally from an insistence by the NFLPA* to continue to receive 50 cents of every dollar that passes through the cash register, and from a refusal by the owners to continue to provide that percentage.  And so the NFL finally seems to be pushing a dollars-over-decimals message to the players.

“When you’re doing your budget and paying your bills and things like that, you’re not looking at a percentage, you’re looking at how many dollars you have in your checking account,” NFL general counsel Jeff Pash told Pat Kirwan and Tim Ryan of SiriusXM NFL Radio on Thursday.  “If we can continue to have the kind of growth that we’ve had over the last 10 or 15 years, if we can do that going forward, which I totally believe we can do, there’s no question but that every player in the league will have rising income, rising salary, rising benefits.”

For the complete PFT post, click here.