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SBD/January 28, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies
NFL: Losses Could Total $1.7B Through '15 If No New CBA Before Regular Season
Published January 28, 2011
SIZING UP THE COMPETITION: In N.Y., Ken Belson reports the "top leadership of the league and union have met frequently in recent weeks," but there "have been no full-fledged negotiations since November." And with the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl "yet to be played, those talks are unlikely to occur until after Feb. 6." In the "absence of more complete talks, both sides have tried to amplify their arguments in public." NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that he "would take a $1 salary if a new collective bargaining agreement is not in place by the deadline," while several NFL player reps "went to Capitol Hill last week to tell lawmakers that they are fighting to increase retiree benefits and oppose a cap on rookie salaries" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/28). In Austin, Cedric Golden wrote, "Instead of reaching out to one another at the bargaining table in a real-life negotiation, this appears to be a classic game of chicken, pitting billionaires against millionaires, with the paying public left holding the ball." The next few weeks are the "most important in Roger Goodell's career." There are "no winners in a work stoppage, especially Goodell, who built his base on the concepts of strong discipline and accountability" (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 1/27).
LET'S MAKE A DEAL: In Boston, Ron Borges writes under the header, "It's Time For Real Bargaining, NFL." This is "not the time for empty gestures or subterfuge like reducing your salary to $1 or cutting it to '68 cents' if a deal is done before the deadline" as NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith counter-offered. Borges: "What must be done is some honest bargaining and a return to the thing that made the NFL the powerful force it is -- complete revenue sharing among all 32 teams." The "biggest date on the NFL calendar is not" Feb. 6, the date of the Super Bowl, but March 4, the "morning the fiscal war is declared between the players and owners" (BOSTON HERALD, 1/28). In Philadelphia, Ashley Fox writes, "I'm already tired of the posturing. Get to the table and get a deal done." The PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER's John Gonzalez writes Goodell's offer to reduce his salary to $1 is "such a shameless PR ploy." Goodell "makes about $10 million a year with bonuses," so "unless he owes more money than Michael Vick, Goodell will be fine financially." The INQUIRER's Frank Fitzpatrick writes the move is "no more sincere or worthwhile a gesture than Congress cutting its salary" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 1/28).
PRESS PLAY: The NFLPA’s new online promo regarding a work stoppage was discussed Thursday on ESPN’s afternoon talk shows, and Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw said the union is “making a point .. and they need to do that because people still say, 'The players are going on strike.'” Cowlishaw: “They're not going on strike. They're being locked out." ESPN’s J.A. Adande: “It does help to remind the public that the players don't want a strike. They're happy the way things are” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 1/27). ESPN's Michael Wilbon: "The NFLPA needs to communicate one essential thought: We're being locked out, we'd like to play, the owners are not letting us play. That's what they're doing. They're trotting out rank-and-file guys to say, 'They don't want us.'" But ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said, "Here's the problem with it because it's a lousy ad. … They don't have any stars. Put Peyton Manning out there and say, 'The thieving weasel owners are locking us out.' Or say this, 'We want to play but we don't want to take any less money.' The owners want them to play without pay" ("PTI," ESPN, 1/27).
FRACTURES IN THE RANKS? On Long Island, Bob Glauber reports many players are "pushing back" against Jets CB Antonio Cromartie for earlier this week questioning Smith's "handling of negotiations." Glauber: "Fractures within the membership will increase if owners declare a lockout March 4 and players see their salaries and medical benefits eliminated" (NEWSDAY, 1/28). Santa Rosa Press-Democrat columnist Lowell Cohn said of the players, "They should have solidarity. They should at least publicly have solidarity. Cromartie is at fault. If he has a problem with what's going on with his leadership, there are ways to do it. You get on the phone, you write a letter, you write to the union. You don't start tweeting like a 10-year-old" ("Chronicle Live," Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, 1/27). ESPN's Wilbon said, "When we get to the really important negotiating period where they try to get a deal done, you're going to see some differences among players. Some players who are younger and know they don't have that much time in the league, they want a deal done. Older guys, particularly quarterbacks and left tackles and wide receivers, they got some money. They can ride it out" ("PTI," ESPN, 1/27). N.Y. Daily News reporter John Harper: "That players' union is not strong enough to stay together ... if they actually start missing games and missing paychecks" ("Daily News Live," SportsNet N.Y., 1/27).