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NFL Lockout Watch, Day 11: League Proposed Allowing Players To Invest In Ventures
Published March 22, 2011
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FINDING MIDDLE GROUND: Pash said the possibility of "going back to the mediation process" has been discussed, but the "critical thing is that our commitment is to negotiate." Pash: "We are not going to solve this in litigation." In Boston, Greg Bedard notes the NFL "wants third-party arbiters." A league official said, "Like every other sports league has." Bedard: "For the NFL or NFLPA to get to that point, it's either going to be through negotiations or through the courts. ... All that's needed is for one side to get serious about it, likely the NFLPA because it filed the antitrust complaint. But it doesn't seem like it will happen." NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith "sent a letter yesterday to NFL attorney Gregg Levy telling him that the league can negotiate through settlement talks with NFLPA counsel Jeff Kessler," but the league "will not do that" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/22). In N.Y., Gary Myers notes Smith's letter to Levy offered to "get talks started again before an April 6 court date to rule on the lockout." But because the NFLPA has decertified, Smith said that it "would have to be with the class counsel, the attorneys representing the players in their antitrust suit against the league." Any negotiations "would technically have to be in the form of settlement talks of the lawsuit." But the league "wants no part of lawsuit settlement talks," rather it "wants collective bargaining talks with the union leaders" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/22). In N.Y., Judy Battista notes as long as the NFLPA "maintains that it has decertified, its lawyers cannot engage in collective bargaining as agents of the players." One NFL official said, "The problem is if they come back and negotiate with us, that makes them look more like a union and undermines their lawsuit. They have to choose: do they want to act like union and get a deal, or act like plaintiffs and have a lawsuit?" One league official called the NFLPA's decertification a "fake suicide" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/22).
MAJOR ISSUES: Pash yesterday said that NFL owners "offered salary-cap plus benefits of $141 million for the 2011 season rising to $161 million in the fourth year." Smith "maintained that the 18-game season wasn't a deal breaker but that owners would first need to make significant improvements on current and retired player health care." USA TODAY's Jim Corbett writes there is "no disputing their impasse is a trust issue" (USA TODAY, 3/22). Meanwhile, in Boston, Ron Borges notes league officials "repeatedly indicated they have no intention of using scab players to replace the real ones this fall if the labor impasse continued," but NFL outside counsel Bob Batterman said that there is "no legal bar to preventing the use of replacement players, thus adding into the mix a new threat from management at a time when the league keeps insisting it just wants to negotiate a fair deal" (BOSTON HERALD, 3/22).
numbers if owners opened up their books