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NFL EXTENDS CBA DEAL; TAGLIABUE THE LEAGUE'S $5 MILLION MAN?
Published March 24, 1998
NFL owners ratified an extension of the CBA through the year 2003, but after a "passionate speech" by Giants co- Owner Wellington Mara, "things were much closer than expected," according to Mike Freeman of the N.Y. TIMES. Although the final vote was 28-1, with Raiders Owner Al Davis abstaining, the situation "was much tighter -- and dramatic -- than was publicly made known." Mara is against a provision guaranteeing contracts for certain players in the new deal, and Freeman writes, "After what one owner described as an incredible speech by Mara, an unofficial poll was taken" and the measure was stuck at 22 votes, one short of the required 23 for passage. Freeman: "But after some rallying by supporters of the extension, the official vote was taken, and at that point a small number of owners changed their vote" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/24). Eagles Owner Jeffrey Lurie said that while "about" ten owners were against the guarantee provision, the majority decided that "labor peace and other aspects of the deal outweighed that one issue" (Phil Sheridan, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 3/24). GET-TOUGH POLICY: In Milwaukee, Tom Silverstein writes that the league also took an "unprecedented measure to punish those who can't abide by society's rules" with a misconduct policy that gives the league power to suspend players who plead guilty to or are convicted of violent crimes. The policy has been in place since last August, but was not enforced league-wide. This policy is fully enacted July 1 and gives the commissioner oversight to determine punishment for repeat offenders. Tagliabue: "We want to deter the misconduct and one way to deter misconduct is to impose discipline" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 3/24). The measure effects all NFL employees (Ron Borges, BOSTON GLOBE, 3/24). Among acts specifically mentioned in the new policy: hate crimes, domestic violence, use or threat of physical violence and illegal possession or distribution of weapons (Ira Miller, S.F. CHRONICLE, 3/24). USA TODAY's Larry Weissman writes the measure takes "bold steps against athletes convicted of violent crimes" (USA TODAY, 3/24). FROM TAGS TO RICHES? Owners also voted unanimously to give Tagliabue a five-year contract extension to 2005. Tagliabue has been in office since November '89 and had two years left on his contract that was reportedly worth about $2.5M per year. No salary figures were released by the league, but sources say it will double to "at least" $5M a year (Leonard Shapiro, WASHINGTON POST, 3/24). NOTEBOOK: Patriots Owner Robert Kraft was named Chair of the Finance Committee for a four-year term (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/24)....Tagliabue discussed a plan where the league and NFLPA would pledge money towards new stadium construction. He said the plan was in the initial stages and called it "a complicated subject" (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 3/24).