SBD/Issue 100/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Goodell Says NFL Owners Are Not Looking To Lock Out Players

Goodell Says Lockout Not Good For Anybody
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Thursday said that owners are “not aiming to lock out the players” despite implications from NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith that the league has been preparing for such a scenario, according to Mark Maske of the WASHINGTON POST. Goodell, on Sirius NFL Radio, said, “You don’t make money by shutting down your business. So the idea that the owners want to lock out and not play football is absolutely not the case. That's just not good for anybody. But when you're going into these negotiations ... both sides are going to be prepared for all the alternatives." Goodell added, “What you have now is the owners’ recognition, when they’ve opted out of this deal almost two years ago, that this deal doesn’t work for them -- it’s clear -- and that an uncapped year is preferable over the current labor agreement.” Smith indicated that the owners’ “measures to prepare for a lockout include negotiating extensions of their television contracts with provisions that the league would receive payments even if games aren’t played.” Smith: “Has any one of the prior deals included $5[B] not to play football? … When you look at every step that has occurred since 2007, is it more of a preparation to play football or a preparation to not play football” (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 2/4). Goodell said, “You could have 50 meetings, but they have to be productive at some point. So it’s not about how many meetings you have, and I think that’s part of the frustration. … The idea here is to get some productive dialogue that leads to an agreement, and that’s what we should all be focusing on” (DETROIT NEWS, 2/5).

PREPARING FOR A LOCKOUT: Smith, asked during the NFLPA’s annual pre-Super Bowl press conference on Thursday if he “felt the owners bought ‘strike insurance’ with under market priced TV extensions in exchange for guaranteed payments even it there are no games,” said, “It’s not strike insurance. It’s lockout insurance. You can’t interpret the new TV deals as anything but lockout insurance.” Smith added that if next season is an uncapped year, he “believes, as his predecessor Gene Upshaw did, that it will be extremely difficult to convince the players to go back to that system.” NFLPA President Kevin Mawae, who is a free agent this offseason, said that he is “unsure if there will be a free market, hinting the union would be watching for signs of collusion among owners to fix wages that led [MLB] into trouble” (BOSTON HERALD, 2/5).

Mawae Trying To Educate
Players On Saving Money
WHO WILL BLINK FIRST? In Boston, Albert Breer notes, “History shows that in work stoppages in 1974, ’77, ’82 and ’87 the league has been able to break the union as lost paychecks started to affect the players.” And it is “pretty easy to think that the owners will be able to do it again.” Those who “really matter are the rank and file, and there’s a very good chance that’s where this battle will be won or lost.” The career of the average NFLer “lasts about 3½ seasons,” contracts are not guaranteed, and the “median salary is $770,000” (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/5). Mawae said, “We have stepped up our efforts to educate our players on the issue. We can’t make 1,900 players save their money, but we can educate them that they should start saving money” (GLOBE & MAIL, 2/5). In N.Y., Steve Serby reports the union has been “urging players to begin saving 25[%] of their paychecks.” Colts C and player rep Jeff Saturday indicated that he is “optimistic that young players will not cave should Armaggeddon confront them.” Saturday: “We’re not striking. We’re not the ones pulling ourselves out. This’ll be something that the owners don’t let us play, I think that in itself puts us together, it keeps us unified” (N.Y. POST, 2/5).

BLOODY SUNDAY: YAHOO SPORTS’ Dan Wetzel wrote to miss a single game “would be calamitous.” NFL Sundays “are sacred, dates millions of fans plan around whether it’s to attend a home game, gather with friends in front of a TV or take a pilgrimage to visit a road venue.” With just 16 games, “every one is precious” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 2/4).

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