SBD/May 12, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL Lockout Watch, Day 62: Mara Leading Owners Into Monday's Mediation

Giants President & CEO John Mara will attend Monday's NFL CBA mediation session in Minneapolis "after missing the last round when he was on jury duty," according to Gary Myers of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. Mara was the only NFL owner present for all "final nine of the 16 negotiating sessions that were held" in DC and presided over by federal mediator George Cohen leading up to the lockout. Mara, seen as a "voice of reason" in the talks, will be one of four owners attending next week's mediation, alongside the Panthers' Jerry Richardson, Bengals' Mike Brown and Steelers' Art Rooney II (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/12). However, NFL Network's Jason La Canfora said, "I'd be lying if I told you there was a great amount of excitement or anticipation on either party in this matter, the NFL or the NFLPA. They're there because they're legally forced to be there. They'd be held in contempt of court if they did not abide by the judge's rules and show up in these chambers and go through this mediation. ... I don't see either side going ahead and punting on their legal options, really sitting down and hammering out a deal" ("NFL Total Access," NFL Network, 5/11). Meanwhile, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell yesterday "addressed pointed questions" about the lockout during a conference call with approximately 6,800 Panthers PSL owners, the "highest participation in the dozen or so conference calls Goodell has held with teams' fan bases." Panthers PSL owner Mike Smith said, "The majority of (questions) probably were labor-related, or people expressing a dissatisfaction or an anxiousness of things to get resolved. He was very clear. While he didn't throw any blame at anyone, he said more than once that it will only be settled at a negotiating table." Goodell also discussed Richardson's "role in the labor discussions" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 5/12).

FIGURE EIGHT: ESPN.com's John Clayton reported in case the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals upholds U.S. District Court Judge Susan Nelson's ruling to lift the NFL lockout, a "group of front-office executives and owners is studying what type of free-agent system to implement." If the NFL imposes the same system the league used in '10, "it will be interesting to see if it brings back the 'Final Eight' plan." In an uncapped year, the "top eight finishers from the previous season are handcuffed in free agency: The four teams that played in the title games can sign a free agent only if they lose a free agent, and the four teams that lost in the divisional round of the playoffs can sign a player at a modest cost, roughly $3.8 million in the first year" (ESPN.com, 5/11).

COME TOGETHER, RIGHT NOW: In Denver, Mike Klis reported for the "first time since the labor dispute ushered in an offseason of annoying uncertainty," Broncos players gathered as a group on Tuesday "for a formal team conditioning workout at the South Suburban Sports Dome, the facility team owner Pat Bowlen rents for practice during inclement weather." Fifteen players reported to the session, organized by S Brian Dawkins (DENVER POST, 5/11). Similarly, Lions QB Matthew Stafford and DE Kyle Vanden Bosch are going to gather teammates "for a team workout in the next week or so" (MLIVE.com, 5/10). Chargers QB Philip Rivers also has organized workouts for teammates, and as "many as two dozen Chargers have showed up for those sessions, which are held four days a week." Rivers on Saturday "echoed what teammates have said -- that NFL players, by and large, are not entirely clued in to what is happening in their labor battle with owners." Rivers: "We don’t know anything. I’m just waiting for them to tell us when to go back to work" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 5/10).

Sanchez says that players know that
they are working out at their own risk
RISKY BUSINESS: In Newark, Berman & Vrentas note NFL players participating in informal workouts "face considerable risk." Agent Noel LaMontagne said, "Now, they’re John and Joan Q. Public, basically. They get no special treatment. They’ve got to sit and wait in the emergency room if something happens that requires treatment." With their "employer-provided health insurance halted, players have sought their own protection." Any injury that occurs "would be categorized as non-football-related, which would jeopardize a player’s paycheck when football operations resume and could possibly cause a contract to be voided." Jets QB Mark Sanchez said, "Some guys might have their own insurance plans and stuff, but they understand the risks they’re taking, but at the same time, they need to work out and they know that" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 5/12). In New Jersey, Vinny Ditrani wrote under the header, "Insurance Becomes An Issue For Players At Giants Passing Camp." Giants WR Victor Cruz: "It’s tough, I was just talking to Duke (Calhoun) and he’s having some insurance issues, he doesn’t have any insurance right now. I’m lucky to still be a pretty young guy, so I’m still under my mom’s insurance" (Bergen RECORD, 5/11).

DON'T FORGET ABOUT US: In Philadelphia, Les Bowen reports several NFL player agents this week said that they "aren't yet counseling undrafted clients to pursue other leagues, but all said they felt undrafted rookies were the biggest early victims of the stoppage." Agent J.R. Rickert said that he "feels an added responsibility to those clients this year; they are depending on him to make the call as to how they should proceed." Rickert: "We have to really do a good job, make an honest assessment -- how much of a priority free agent is he?" He added of undrafted free agents, "Those are the guys who are really going to get hurt. You never get a second chance to start your career." Eagles S Quintin Mikell, who initially made the team as an undrafted free agent, said, "If I'd come out now, I might not have had a chance to make a team" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 5/12).

SURVEY SAYS: One in five Americans say they will be less likely to watch when the NFL season begins, according to findings from a recent Adweek/Harris Poll survey. Two-thirds of those surveyed reported that they will not be any more or less likely to watch (67%), with 11% saying they would be much less likely to watch. Twelve percent of respondents ages 18-34 say they do not plan to watch football at that time, compared to 19% among those 35-44, 18% among ages 45-55 and 25% among those 55 years and older. Americans who earn less than $35,000 annually are also least likely to say they will be less likely to watch football when the season begins (16%). The survey was conducted online between April 25-27 among 2,124 respondents (Adweek/Harris Poll).

   
------- AGES -------
---------- INCOME ----------
TOTAL
18-34
35-44
45-54
55+
<$35K
$35-50K
$50-75K
$75K+
More likely
to watch
4%
5%
5%
3%
4%
5%
5%
7%
2%
Much more likely
2%
2%
3%
2%
3%
3%
3%
6%
1%
Somewhat
more likely
2%
3%
2%
1%
1%
2%
3%
2%
1%
No change in likelihood
67%
70%
64%
67%
65%
65%
71%
64%
72%
Less likely
19%
12%
19%
18%
25%
16%
21%
18%
20%
Somewhat
less likely
8%
7%
10%
6%
8%
5%
6%
10%
9%
Much less likely
11%
6%
9%
12%
17%
12%
15%
8%
11%
Not at all sure
10%
12%
11%
12%
6%
14%
2%
10%
5%

 

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