SBD/Issue 132/Leagues & Governing Bodies

NFLPA Amends "Junior Rule," Allows Earlier Talks With Prospects

The NFLPA has sent a notification to all contract agents informing them that the “Junior Rule” had been amended so that they now can speak to underclassmen after December 1, their last regular-season game, or conference championship game, whichever is later. Sources had previously told SportsBusiness Journal that agents could talk to players three NFL seasons removed from high school after December 1, their last regular-season game or their bowl game. But the memo the union sent to agents Wednesday said they could speak with true juniors after any conference championship game excluding any postseason bowl. Conference championship games are generally played in early December whereas bowl games are generally played in late December or early January. The memo states the change “now allows contract advisors to communicate with certain underclassmen as much as (6) six weeks earlier than they would have otherwise been permitted to do so under the previous ‘Junior Rule'" (Liz Mullen, SportsBusiness Journal).

LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN: YAHOO SPORTS' Jason Cole wrote as the NFL CBA negotiations draw near, two of the league's "greatest proponents of peace" -- Steelers Chair Dan Rooney and Panthers Owner Jerry Richardson -- "may no longer be part of the process." Rooney was nominated by President Obama to serve as Ambassador to Ireland, and he is expected to hand control of the Steelers to President Art Rooney II. Meanwhile, Richardson was unable to attend this week's NFL owners meetings while recovering from heart transplant surgery. For the NFL, "finding people to replace the leadership of Rooney and Richardson is critical," as the two were "able to pull together differing factions" among ownership. Rooney has the "confidence of the old-guard owners, who have often reacted poorly to the aggressive style of new-guard owners." On the other side, Richardson has the "faith of the new-guard owners while at the same time having the respect of the old guard because he played" in the NFL in the '50s. Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones: "There's no question that both of them put the league ahead of their own interests of their franchises." Cole noted not having Rooney and Richardson as "consensus builders could make upcoming negotiations difficult" for the league (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 3/26).

DE-DAY: ESPN's Stephen A. Smith writes the NFLPA's election of DeMaurice Smith as its new Exec Dir means that "maybe, just maybe, the guys who go out on the field ... will finally have their say instead of being relegated to marching in lockstep with the league, performing the same moves as management, except backward and in cleats." Former NFLPA President Troy Vincent, a finalist in the NFLPA election, noted that during the voting there were player reps "from every team in the room, listening to all the presentations, doing all their homework." He added that he is "pretty sure they chose the guy who is the best man for the job." Vincent said, "I have absolutely no problem with Smith as the choice. And I wanted the job" (ESPN THE MAGAZINE, 4/6 issue).

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