SBD/Issue 20/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Steelers Say League Tried To Sway Them Before Vote To Decertify

Batch Complained To The NFLPA About
Tuesday Meeting With NFL Delegation

The NFL has "hit back at several Steelers players, accusing them of distorting what happened during a mandatory Tuesday meeting on the eve" of the Steelers' unanimous vote Wednesday to "decertify the union," according to Prine & Brown of the Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW. Steelers QB Charlie Batch, S Ryan Clark and other players complained to the NFLPA that a delegation led by NFL VP/Player Development and former NFLPA President Troy Vincent and NFL Alumni Association Exec Dir George Martin "sought to mix mandatory 'life skills' teaching with lobbying for the owners." The players and the NFLPA said that the league "tried to manipulate players before they took the vote to scrap their union." Clark: "Doesn't matter what the meeting was for, players around the league know what this is about." But NFL officials said that Clark and the union "made inaccurate conclusions about the session," and that Steelers Dir of Player Development Ray Jackson "set up the Tuesday panel ... months before the union threatened to decertify" (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 10/8). NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith alleged that the NFL was using Vincent and Martin to "divide players." He said, "Sending two former union members who are now on their payroll to talk about 'life skills,' talk about a strike instead of a lockout and avoid the whole issue of the NFL canceling player health care is insulting." Batch added, "It was confusing to me and my teammates as to why they would send NFL employees in to talk about life skills during this time." NFL Senior VP/PR Greg Aiello said neither Vincent nor Martin represented the NFL in "contract negotiations or in any aspect of collective bargaining" (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 10/7). Lions players were "expected to meet Thursday" with NFLPA leaders and "vote on whether to decertify the union in the future" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 10/8).

WILL GAMES BE LOST TO LOCKOUT? Former Chiefs President, GM & CEO Carl Peterson, who spent 19 years in the role before resigning in '08, said he thinks there is "going to be a work-stoppage." The following is part of a conversation Peterson had with the PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS' Paul Domowitch:

  • "I think there will be some regular-season games in 2011 that (won't be played). The question then becomes how deep into the season do you go before you have to say the season's over with? Is it 3 (weeks) or 6 or halfway? I don't know." 
  • "What I know, and what the owners know, is that you really don't make players start to feel it until they start missing regular-season game checks. There's no financial downside for them until then. They don't lose anything in the offseason. They get something like $1,200 a game in the preseason, which is nothing for a 10-year veteran. But when your wife comes to you in September and says, 'Honey, where's that 1/17th of $3 million? It didn't come this week. And how about next week? Are we going to get that second 1/17th?' And they have to say, 'Honey, it's not happening,' then you find out how much resolve they really have."
  • "DeMaurice competed with other people for that job and got it. I just don't see him stepping up initially and saying, 'OK, guys. I'm your leader and we're going to take a step back. We're going to take it down to 56 percent.' I don't see that happening."
  • "When push comes to shove, it's going to be interesting. Because Jerry Jones and Steve Tisch and John Mara and Woody Johnson, they've got some nice new stadiums on line and they don't want them going dark in the second year. ... How much debt service can you swallow for how long? And can you get the banks to push it off without killing you with interest rates into the future?" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 10/8).

PLEA TO KEEP PLAYING: In Green Bay, Scott Williams reported Green Bay Alderman Thomas De Wane has "introduced a resolution calling on the NFL and players union to avoid any disruption of the 2011 season." De Wane said that he hopes the measure, if approved by the Green Bay City Council, "will cause the two sides to 'think twice' before allowing a labor disagreement to cancel any games." Aiello Wednesday said that he was "not aware of another NFL city where local political leaders had issued a plea to negotiators" (GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE, 10/7).

OTHER ISSUES: In Indianapolis, Bob Kravitz notes the "understandable concern" from players regarding an 18-game regular-season schedule "centers on the physical toll two additional regular-season games would take, especially when it comes to their long-term durability." But NFL data released Thursday found that since the league began playing 16 regular-season games in '78, 10-year veterans have represented 8.93% of all NFL players, up from 7.49% when the league played 14 games from '62-77. Kravitz: "Today's players fear that going from 16 to 18 will dramatically shorten their careers. History suggests otherwise" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 10/8). Meanwhile, in L.A., Sam Farmer writes if the NFLPA "makes good on its threat to decertify as a union and the labor fight gets dragged into the courts, that pushes back the NFL-to-L.A. timetable at least five years and maybe 10" (L.A. TIMES, 10/8).

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