SBD/Jan. 17, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL Player Reps Heading To DC To Meet With Union Execs, Politicians

While NFL owners meet for their "monthly labor-strategy session" tomorrow in Atlanta, about 35 new NFL player reps and alternative player reps will meet at NFLPA HQs in DC "for orientation" before they "meet and lobby key politicians on Capitol Hill," according to Peter King of SI. The players' move comes "in case they need friends in high places when the two sides are at impasse and Congress debates getting involved." King writes after the rhetoric between the two sides last week, the "sabers are rattling" (SI.com, 1/17). Meanwhile, Fox' Jay Glazer reported the league and the union "very quietly ... started talking to set-up another negotiating meeting," which will be held "this coming week or early next week." There have been "absolutely no talks the last six, seven weeks" ("Fox NFL Sunday," Fox, 1/16). In Denver, Mike Klis wrote in the "coming weeks, expect rotating statements of optimism from each camp," and there could even be a "well-publicized negotiation meeting or two." Klis: "Little will come of it. It's unlikely players will be seen at their team's headquarters come spring and early summer." The NFL's current labor situation "is eerily similar to the infamous Major League Baseball shutdown of 1994" (DENVER POST, 1/16). In Boston, Greg Bedard wrote, "If this past week of schoolboy bickering was any indication, the NFL is headed for a long and contentious negotiation once the current deal ends March 3" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/16).

18 GAMES IS JUST TOO MUCH: The subject of an 18-game regular season was debated by several PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER reporters, and Ashley Fox wrote, "Adding two games to the NFL regular season is simply asinine. ... With an 18-game schedule, the quality of the football is going to decline and the number of players on IR is going to increase." Frank Fitzpatrick wrote, "Adding two more NFL games is not only asinine, it's cruel and unusual punishment. ... There ought to be countless ways of enhancing revenue without tinkering with the integrity of the seasons." John Gonzalez wrote, "Just cut out two of the preseason games. No need to make them into regular-season games unless the NFL wants to replace the trainers and assign M.A.S.H. units to each team" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 1/16).

AS GOOD AS IT GETS? The Wall Street Journal last week asked if this is “as good as it gets for the NFL" considering the record ratings, the current labor situation and potential safety issues. ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said, “The initial reaction, given the popularity, the massive appeal of the NFL for so many years now and being the national pastime, is no. The NFL could only become more popular.” Wilbon: “But that's not necessarily so. … What is the National Football League product going to look like if you restrict hitting to the point where people are turned off and people don't get the violence they crave? This is a legitimate question and it's one that the NFL has got to be worried about." ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser: "That's a delicate balance. A restricting of the hitting but also then you have an 18-game schedule and more people are going to get hit and more people are going to go out. I think it's perfect the way it is. I think it will continue to grow. … I don't even think that labor can hurt it. I think the moment they come back, everybody comes back with them." Wilbon: "How long might it take the 18-game season to just wear people down? … The other thing is they have to curtail the hitting” ("PTI," ESPN, 1/14).

A COACHES UNION? CBS' Charley Casserly reported NFL coaches at next month’s NFL Combine “are going to get together and there's going to be a straw poll taken about whether to form a union." Casserly: "One of the questions is, Who would be eligible to be in the union? Head coaches wouldn't be, coordinators is a question, all other assistants would be in that union. One of the things they want to talk to the owners about is this: We don't want a situation where the teams can go out and interview coaches for a position that they already have a coach under contract for. Coaches are bothered by that, but … the owners also I think got an idea too. How about a salary cap for the coaches? That's something they might bring up" ("The NFL Today," CBS, 1/15).
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