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NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith yesterday credited his relationship with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell -- often "rocky during the last several months -- with setting the stage" for the sides to reach a new CBA, according to Bob Glauber of NEWSDAY. Smith during a joint press conference with Goodell announcing the end of the 136-day lockout said, "I'm not sure any two people have ever come together in a more compressed, public, interesting time than Roger and I, but I'm proud to say that our relationship has grown." Glauber reports once the NFLPA re-forms as a union, "players can vote on the CBA." Owners and players "have until Aug. 4 to agree on any remaining issues, among them player safety, the league's drug policy and its personal conduct policy." Smith said that he "doesn't foresee any problems in agreeing on all outstanding issues." He added, "We have a little bit of a head start on those issues, and I think the faster we can resolve them, the better it is for the game of football and the men who play it" (NEWSDAY, 7/26). ESPN.com's Ashley Fox listed Smith and Goodell both as "winners" of the past four months. Fox: "Both men took hits, and the rhetoric, at times, was ugly. But the two men were able to keep their constituents together. Neither had massive factions develop, and Smith put together a sharp executive committee to negotiate." Although they "probably never will have the close, collegial relationship" that their predecessors -- Paul Tagliabue and Gene Upshaw -- enjoyed, Goodell and Smith "worked together to close the deal and keep the owners and players from losing games" (ESPN.com, 7/25). NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora said during the negotiations, the relationship between Goodell and Smith “in some ways defined their existence.” La Canfora: “There’s no doubt that the trust has grown, the relationship has grown, the respect has grown. I don’t think the situation was ever as dire as some presented it, but this experience will be a common bond they’ll always share” (NFL Network, 7/25).
A JOB WELL DONE: In Denver, Jeff Legwold writes a "significant portion of Goodell's legacy now rests" with the new 10-year CBA. Legwold: "Did Goodell get everything the owners wanted in the negotiations? No, he did not. Did the commissioner build a consensus and help keep things on track toward a deal that prevented a meltdown of professional football that would have been felt for decades? Yes, he did" (DENVER POST, 7/26). In Chicago, David Haugh writes Goodell "will be known forever as the commissioner who delivered labor peace after the NFL's longest work stoppage, the leader who consistently acted with professional elegance no matter how inflammatory his counterpart's remarks." Negotiating the new CBA "will enhance Smith's career more than his legacy." Goodell, on the other hand, "had an easier job serving a constituency of 32 owners than Smith did working for 1,900 players." Haugh: "Skillfully doing that job -- harder than it sounds, given egos as large as some owners' bank accounts -- secured Goodell's niche in NFL history. He couldn't screw this up and didn't" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 7/26). Meanwhile, The Nation’s Dave Zirin said the "most underrated contribution by DeMaurice Smith is that he kept 1,900 people together." Zirin: "He was able to keep them together in a way that I don't think sports unions have been able to do in the recent past” ("Washington Post Live," Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic, 7/25).
DOT YOUR I'S AND CROSS YOUR T'S: In N.Y., Judy Battista notes the new 10-year agreement "does not include an opt-out clause, a provision players wanted but owners resisted, arguing that financial certainty would be critical when the league starts renegotiating television contracts in the next few years." For now, the league and players "will immediately begin to negotiate final elements of a collective bargaining agreement, including drug testing and personal-conduct policies, and the union will be re-formed so that all 1,900 players can vote to ratify it by Aug. 4." If those items "are not completed by Aug. 4, the settlement will be void" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/26). FOXSPORTS.com's AJ Perez noted the CBA "cannot be ratified until the NFLPA, currently considered a trade association, recertifies." Ballots "already began going out to team representatives on Monday, and a simple majority of the league’s 1,900 players is needed to vote the union back into existence." Players then will "vote to approve the CBA." The NFL "aims to have this process completed by Aug. 4, which will allow time for the Brady v. NFL suit to be settled in federal court and other issues, like a substance abuse policy, to be worked out" (FOXSPORTS.com, 7/25).
PEACE BE WITH YOU: The AP's Howard Fendrich noted one of the "final issues -- if not THE final issue -- was the players' wish to add an opt-out clause," but they ultimately "were willing to drop that demand." A source said that the opt-out clause was the "only issue he worried might be able to stand in the way of a deal being closed" yesterday (AP, 7/25). In New Jersey, Tara Sullivan writes the CBA not having an opt-out clause for either side is "one of the truest signs this deal is a good one, and reportedly was one of the final concessions made by the players to bring the negotiations to a satisfied end." Smith could "give it up because he gained so much more, fostering a unity that many thought would crack once players stopped getting paychecks" (Bergen RECORD, 7/26). ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported the NFLPA Exec Committee “told the players that the reason they’re not going to go for the opt-out is that the penalty was going to be very steep for the players if they opted out and didn’t see the value in doing that” ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 7/25). Falcons OT and player rep Tyson Clabo said, "An opt-out clause, in some guys’ opinion, limited the players’ ability to negotiate the maximum amount of revenue. So we would kind of be taking money out of our own pockets with an opt-out clause. If they can make more money without an opt-out clause, then we’ll make more money eventually" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 7/26).
BREAKING DOWN THE DEAL: In N.Y., Ebenezer Samuel notes the new CBA "controls salaries for NFL draft picks, reduces offseason demands on players, and permits free agency after four years in the league." The owners see a 6% "increase in their share of revenues," but NFLPA President Kevin Mawae said that the increase "was fine because of the new mandate on team spending." Mawae: "There's guaranteed 'spend' for the next 10 years. There's a guaranteed minimum (that each team must spend each year). The flow will never go below a certain point, and it doesn't matter whether revenues go up or down. The percentage will always stay the same" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/26). Packers OT and player rep Mark Tauscher said, "The owners were looking for a bigger piece of the pie; we knew that. We gave back a little of the pie, but we got it redistributed as well. The fact we got some of the health and safety guarantees, from a player standpoint, that was big. There's never been a system like this where there's only one-a-day training camp practices and fewer off-season dates." He added, "Health and safety was something that was important for us" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 7/26). Bengals OT and player rep Andrew Whitworth said that "one part of the deal that he liked the most was the fact that all teams had to meet a higher minimum payroll." He added, "It's going to keep it fair and competitive for everyone. The new offseason and training camp rules are good, too, because it is going to help guys out and allow them to play longer" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 7/26).
STADIUM ARCADIUM: In Milwaukee, Tom Silverstein notes one aspect of the new agreement "that is particularly appealing" to Packers President & CEO Mark Murphy is a "stadium fund that will invest in renovations and new construction." Each year, 1.5% of the league revenues "will be shaved off the top and put into the fund." For every "private dollar a team puts into construction, the league will match 50% of it." The new fund "will allow the Packers to move forward on completing the upper seating bowl in the south end of Lambeau Field and expanding the amenities around the stadium." Murphy said, "With the projects we're looking at doing, with the variety of different things we're looking at doing in the stadium, that will be beneficial to us. The incentive to put money into the stadium; I'm encouraged by that" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 7/26). The CBA also could help AEG build Farmers Field in downtown L.A.
Though "no one likes a tie," as a "means to ending the longest work stoppage in NFL history without missing a game, it apparently was the best possible outcome," according to Bob Cohn of the Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW. NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith said yesterday, "We didn't get everything that either side wanted ... but we did arrive at a deal that we think is fair and balanced." CBS NFL analyst Charley Casserly: "Both sides got things that were important to them, and no games were missed. I'm not gonna say there was a winner or loser" (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 7/26). In Philadelphia, Paul Domowitch writes, "Let's call it a draw." After "getting fleeced by the union in the last labor negotiation in 2006, the owners came into this one looking for payback." They "did get some concessions in the new deal, most notably a reduction in the players' share of league revenue from 50 percent to around 48 percent." But "neither the revenue concession nor the rookie salary concession was nearly as significant as the owners had wanted," and Smith and the players "scored significant victories in health and safety issues" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 7/26). Chargers C and player rep Nick Hardwick said, "The important thing is the deal is very fair, and we won't have to go through this again for a long time. This was all part of the process. I'll shake (Chargers president Dean Spanos') hand and congratulate him, because for both of us the deal was fair" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 7/26). Free agent LB Ben Leber, one of the 10 plaintiffs in the Brady v. NFL antitrust case, said, "Both parties were trying to stand their ground -- and rightfully so. In the end, against all the negativity that was out there publicly, they took their time and hammered out what I think is going to turn out to be one of the best deals in the history of sports" (ESPN.com, 7/25).
EVERYONE'S A WINNER: In Ft. Lauderdale, Andrew Carter writes "both sides should be happy with the new deal." The players "will be receiving long-term health benefits ... and the 18-game schedule idea has been scrapped." On the other side, the owners "should be happy with their split of revenue" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 7/26). In N.Y., Mike Lupica writes the players "won this time because they didn't lose the thing that is most valuable to all of them." Lupica: "It means they didn't lose a Sunday." The owners "win, too, because they always do." They are "like the house in Vegas, and always win." Meanwhile, the fans also "won" yesterday, because "even after four months of what must have looked like pillow-fighting to the average fan, the fans got what they wanted all along: They got the season opening on time on the night of Sept. 8" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/26). In Boston, Charles Pierce writes, "We might as well accept the fact that management 'won' this thing at the start by kicking the previous CBA to the curb and locking the players out." But the players "managed to fend off the idiocy of the 18-game season and won a change in free agency, which isn't bad considering they were playing the whole hand with a low pair" (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/26). In California, Mark Whicker writes, "The life of an NFL player is better today than yesterday. If it took a lockout to create that, it was worth it" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 7/26).
GETTING SPECIFIC: ESPN.com's Lester Munson writes the "losers" in the new CBA are "rookies and their agents." Rookie bonuses and contracts "will be significantly reduced with a four-year salary program and a team option on a fifth year." Meanwhile, the "winners are retired players." A $1B legacy fund in the agreement is "new, although both the league and the players have been moving toward benefits for retired players over the past couple of years." Munson: "And all players are winners in the new program that will provide lifetime health insurance when their playing days end" (ESPN.com, 7/26). In Newark, Zach Berman writes the league won on revenue, the players won on player safety and the "enhanced season," and the two sides were even on the salary cap and rookie wages (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 7/26). In N.Y., Bart Hubbuch writes the owners won on the deal as a whole, rookie salaries and judicial oversight. The players won on the salary cap and player safety, and it was a "split decision" on total revenue (N.Y. POST, 7/26). In Cleveland, Tony Grossi writes the owners were winners because they "keep the salary cap -- the envy of all professional sports leagues -- along with franchise and transition tags to limit free agency to two players." The players were losers because they "somehow agreed to a cap number in 2011 of $120.3 million, which is down about $8 million from the 2009 figure." However, the "trade-off is a salary floor this year and next" of 99% of the cap (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 7/26). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Matthew Futterman writes the "most remarkable thing about the new agreement may be how similar it is to the old one." Tulane Univ. Dir of Sports Law Gabe Feldman: "There were never going to be any losers in this fight. They're dividing up $9.5 billion and they're basically splitting it" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/26).
FANS DESERVE SOMETHING: FOXSPORTS.com's Alex Marvez writes the NFL "owes its fans some form of compensation" for the lockout. Bengals OT and player rep Andrew Whitworth said, "You've seen some of these things happen (in other sports) and fans walk away like with major league baseball. You saw the hurt (during the 1994 players strike)." Marvez offers some ideas for compensation, including holding "special autograph signings and pep rallies." There also could be "limited-time discounts on soda, food and merchandise," and the '12 NFL Draft could be held "in Canton rather than New York City" after the HOF Game, scheduled for Aug. 7, had to be canceled this year (FOXSPORTS.com, 7/26). Syndicated radio host Dan Patrick said, "Free parking first weekend for your team. Free parking, how about it? Reduced rate for sodas, hot dogs, something. Just to say, ‘We get it. We apologize’" (“The Dan Patrick Show,” 7/26). In Baltimore, Kevin Cowherd writes if the owners and players "really cared about the fans, they would have never subjected them to this unseemly billionaires-versus-millionaires money grab in the middle of a national recession." The Ravens were among the teams that moved their training camp to team HQs as a result of the lockout, and Cowherd writes the owners and players "let the negotiations drag on so long that they wiped out training camps that were open to the public, an annual summer ritual fans love." Cowherd: "Hey, NFL, you want to really do something for the fans? Let's start with this: cut ticket prices. ... And while we're at it, stop making fans pay full price for those ridiculous preseason games." Some owners reportedly "might give fans a break on tickets and other expenses for this year's preseason games, mainly because they realize how ragged these games will be." Cowherd: "I hope that's true. Now they ought to slash ticket prices for these stupid games permanently" (Baltimore SUN, 7/26). In Buffalo, Bucky Gleason wrote under the header, "The Winner Of Lockout? Not Fans." The owners and players "won the lockout ... at the expense of the Average Joes," who are the "ones who mattered most" (BUFFALO NEWS, 7/25).
THANKS FOR STICKING AROUND: The NFLPA has released a video thanking the fans for their support throughout the lockout. The video features a total of 13 players, many of whom are player reps to the NFLPA (THE DAILY). SBNATION's Jeremiah Oshan wrote, "It might not be the most original idea, but they certainly deserve credit for being self-aware enough to make the gesture" (SBNATION.com, 7/25).
NFL and NFLPA officials involved with the negotiations for the new 10-year CBA lauded Patriots Owner Robert Kraft "for his behind-the-scenes help in producing the breakthrough," according to a front-page piece by Greg Bedard of the BOSTON GLOBE. Kraft helped create a "smaller group of negotiators -- without lawyers -- that made progress on difficult issues." He gave NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith a "ride on his private jet en route to a round of talks, helping the two forge a bond," and Kraft "wasn’t afraid to tell his fellow owners when they were wrong on an issue to help push things forward." Giants President & CEO John Mara said, "We needed him in this process because when he gets up in the room, people listen to him. ... He had a tremendous influence over this whole process. I don’t really think we would have been standing out in front of the union headquarters announcing this deal if he had not been involved." Ravens CB and NFLPA Exec Committee member Domonique Foxworth, who played a key role in the players' side in the deal, said of Kraft, "I’d say that he was the single biggest player on their side. Without him, someone else would have needed to step up and I don’t know that someone would have" (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/26). In Boston, Ian Rapoport notes Kraft "spent the last few months at the forefront of the labor deal, while also tending" to his wife, Myra, who passed away last week. As Myra "battled cancer, Kraft traveled back and forth between his wife and his football." Smith yesterday told Kraft, "We couldn’t have done it without you. I’m thankful for what (Myra) meant to the city of Boston. I’m especially thankful for what you mean to the game of football" (BOSTON HERALD, 7/26).
LEADER OF THE PACK: The AP's Jim Litke writes the lockout -- "at last -- has a hero" in Kraft. He is "hardly the only guy who deserves credit" for ending the lockout, but there "was a reason his was the name people on both sides of the labor divide kept coming back to while the TV cameras rolled" during yesterday's formal announcement. Those involved in the negotiations "knew something about his wife, and grew to understand what the Krafts meant to each other." That is why "so many of the bargaining sessions were held in the Northeast corridor -- close to Kraft's base in Boston -- but also why Kraft's presence at most of them strengthened the resolve on both sides to get a deal done" (AP, 7/26). Author John Feinstein said Kraft "was the voice of reason, going back to last season saying there was no reason not to get this done." Feinstein: "If there is a hero in this thing from the owners side of it, it should be Bob Kraft” ("Washington Post Live," Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic, 7/25). In Providence, Jim Donaldson writes under the header, "Kraft Saves Football -- Again." The Patriots owner "has proven to be an exceptional person," and is "deserving of the utmost respect for his unstinting efforts at a time when his emotions had to be rubbed raw" (PROVIDENCE JOURNAL, 7/26).
HOW THE TALKS GOT KICK STARTED: NFL.com's Albert Breer reported Smith "reached out" to Kraft on May 31 and asked for a "one-on-one meeting the night before full-scale talks were to begin" in Chicago in order for the two to "feel out the position of the other party." Kraft indicated that he "couldn't negotiate in exactly" that manner. However, he said, "You get a player, and I'll get the commissioner, and we'll talk." Breer noted that meeting "paved the way for two productive sets of talks between owners and players to follow June 1 and 2." It was those days that "served as a launching pad for the progress to come over the next seven weeks, culminating in Monday's settlement agreement" (NFL.com, 7/25). Giants President & CEO John Mara said, "We really started to make some progress over the last five or six weeks. Particularly when we started meeting with the players, just owners and players without any lawyers in the room, that is when we started to make some progress. I think we built up a trust factor there and mutual respect and started moving on some of these issues" ("Francesa," WFAN-AM, 7/25).
EXPANDING HIS LEGACY: ESPN BOSTON's Mike Reiss wrote Kraft's "mark on football powerfully extended beyond the New England region in which he is already revered by many." His influence has "grown steadily since he purchased the team in 1994, to the point he is now considered one of the NFL's most powerful and influential owners," and that standing "was strengthened Monday, highlighting his ability to build bridges with players." Kraft multiple times said that the "key in labor talks was getting lawyers out of the negotiating room, and his ability to generate trust among players was considered a key reason a deal happened." Helping to end the lockout "will be a major part of Kraft's football legacy" (ESPNBOSTON.com, 7/25). WEEI-AM's John Dennis said of Kraft, "Don’t you get the sense that that legacy has expanded to the entire league ... and don't you get the sense that that legacy of somebody who gets things done in a positive way now has permeated the other 31 teams in this league?” WEEI's Gerry Callahan said when details come out about the behind-the-scenes dynamics in the CBA talks, Kraft’s role "will be even more amazing and impressive." Callahan: "The players were giving him credit was something I didn't expect” ("The Dennis & Callahan Morning Show," NESN, 7/26).
TRIUMPH AMID TRAGEDY: FOXSPORTS.com's Alex Marvez wrote Kraft and Colts C Jeff Saturday, a key member of the NFLPA's negotiating team, "stole the spotlight" during yesterday's press conference announcing an agreement. Kraft's appearance "was a surprise" following Myra's death last week, and Saturday offered a "thank you to his wife for her patience with his role as an NFLPA leader." Saturday then "turned to his right and stared directly at Kraft." He said, "I don’t want to be (dramatic) in any way. But he’s a man who helped save football.” Marvez noted, "As Saturday concluded, Kraft’s head was bowed as he tried to maintain composure. The two then hugged in an embrace that put a human touch on what was a cold bargaining process" (FOXSPORTS.com, 7/25). In Chicago, Sean Jensen writes the Kraft-Saturday exchange "seemed a fitting snapshot of how far players and owners have come in four-plus months to end the lockout and take a significant step toward sparing everyone involved from the backlash for sidelining the country’s most popular sport" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 7/26). In St. Louis, Bryan Burwell writes Saturday "wrapping his paws around the shoulders" of Kraft was "just the sort of portrait that was needed at the conclusion of this long and mostly contentious fight" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 7/26). In Indianapolis, Mike Chappell: "An emotional hug sealed the deal and spoke volumes" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 7/26). In Boston, Karen Guregian: "A truly classy move by the Colts center" (BOSTON HERALD, 7/26). ESPN's Mike Greenberg: "At the end of the day you’re going to forget about most of the players in this, the people who made this happen. ... That’s a moment you won’t forget” (“Mike & Mike in the Morning,” ESPN Radio, 7/26).
TWITTER REAX: The Washington Post’s Mark Maske wrote on his Twitter feed, “Jeff Saturday and Bob Kraft hugging today, after Saturday's praise for Kraft and his family, was a classy, genuine moment.” ESPN’s Stuart Scott wrote, “I love class/dignity. It's why I loved Jeff Saturday hugging Pats owner Robert Kraft. Colts/patriots ‘respect.’ Mr. Kraft..Thank you!!” ESPN’s Amy Nelson: “That moment between Jeff Saturday and Robert Kraft was both touching & heartbreaking.” Giants VP/Communications Pat Hanlon: “Great job by Jeff Saturday and De Smith in acknowledging Bob Kraft's role in this process and paying tribute to Myra Kraft and their family.” The Boston Globe’s Shalise Manza Young: “Face it, Patriots fans: you now have to love a Colt after Jeff Saturday's classy comments on the Kraft family.”
OTHERS LENDING A HELPING HAND: Broncos President Joe Ellis yesterday discussed team Owner Pat Bowlen's role in the CBA negotiations and said, "He was on every call, running back and forth from his office to my office, quite animated in many of those conversations. He’s been heavily involved, but he’s elected to step back from the spotlight and do these kind of things behind the scenes" (DENVERPOST.com, 7/25). In Pittsburgh, Ed Bouchette notes Steelers President Art Rooney II "downplayed his involvement in helping craft the 10-year agreement," but a source indicated that his role was "significant" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 7/26). In K.C., Sam Mellinger writes Chiefs Chair Clark Hunt's "part in the lockout's conclusion is his most significant accomplishment in five years of running" the franchise. Hunt "felt an obligation to join Steelers president Art Rooney in leading the passing of the supplemental revenue sharing plan that is especially crucial in small-money markets" (K.C. STAR, 7/26).
Ravens CB and player rep Domonique Foxworth was "instrumental in helping the NFL end a 4-month-lockout, receiving praise for doing 'the dirty work,'" according to Jamison Hensley of the Baltimore SUN. The 28-year-old Foxworth, the "youngest member on the 13-man NFLPA executive committee, was singled out during the press conference" yesterday for his work during the talks. Patriots Owner Robert Kraft, who is being praised for his role in the CBA talks, said the player reps "just didn’t look at the short-term interests of their own playing careers, but they looked long-term -- especially Jeff Saturday and Domonique Foxworth." Kraft: "I was so impressed with them, that they acted as principals at the table looking out for what’s good for the game." NFLPA President Kevin Mawae noted that Foxworth and Colts C Jeff Saturday, another member of the NFLPA Exec Committee, "didn’t miss a labor meeting since June 28." Mawae: “We couldn’t have done this without a strong executive committee and our board of players, but I’ve got to give a tip of the hat to Jeff Saturday and Domonique Foxworth" (BALTIMORESUN.com, 7/25). Chargers President & CEO Dean Spanos yesterday said, "Jeff Saturday, Domonique Foxworth and Kevin Mawae were the three key players that were there at all the meetings. To their credit, they represented the players as well as anybody possibly could. They listened to everything we were saying and wanted to understand what we were saying. … They were very professional in the way they handled themselves and represented the players. And likewise for the five owners that were in there, same thing" (CHARGERS.com, 7/25). ESPN's Adam Schefter reports Foxworth and Saturday “were instrumental in this deal.” They took a "leading role, and when they sat down face-to-face with owners I think that made a tremendous difference" (“Mike & Mike in the Morning,” ESPN Radio, 7/26).
PRAISE FROM THE TWITTERSPHERE: Foxworth and Saturday have been receiving a bevy of praise on Twitter for their roles in the negotiations. Texans OT and player rep Eric Winston wrote, “Tip of the cap to Jeff Saturday and Dominique Foxworth. 2 guys that every player owes a debt of gratitude to.” Browns LB Scott Fujita: “Many thanks to D. Foxworth & J. Saturday, who sacrificed more time away from their families than any player throughout this process.” NFL Senior VP/PR Greg Aiello: “No player was more involved in negotiations than Domonique Foxworth.” The Washington Examiner’s Rick Snider: “Not surprised Dom Foxworth has emerged as a player leader. Used to be called ‘Senator’ during his Terps days. Very smart person.” Colts DE Robert Mathis: “Thank you to a our team leader Jeff Saturday&the rest of the player reps for their tireless efforts&sacrifice from their fam for this cause.”
The more than four-month long NFL lockout was "a low stress, even enjoyable at times, soap opera for fans," proving that the NFL "even does labor disputes better than other leagues," according to Dan Wetzel (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 7/25). In Toronto, Steve Simmons writes the NFL "does lockouts well." There is "a simple reason why the NFL is bigger and better than every other pro league: It's because they're smarter." Simmons: "The poor NHL goes into lockout mode -- and poof! -- there goes a full season. ... The NBA goes into lockout mode -- and poof! -- there goes the beginning of the coming season, maybe the middle, quite possibly the end" (TORONTO SUN, 7/26). In Houston, Jerome Solomon writes the NFL is a "good business" because it "avoided the inevitable and unavoidable fan outrage had its labor dispute led to games being missed" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 7/26). In Boston, Bob Ryan writes this was "the perfect pro sports lockout, beginning when last season ended and ending with the loss of just one extraneous game, the Hall of Fame affair." Ryan asks, "Other than that, what did we miss?" (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/26). In Detroit, Mitch Albom writes, "Now that's my kind of labor stoppage. Honestly. It was darn near perfect." Albom: "It pretty much looks like any other year. What labor stoppage?" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 7/26). In Atlanta, Mark Bradley sarcastically wrote, "If you're going to stage a work stoppage, you should at least stop some meaningful work" (AJC.com, 7/25).
NEVER SHOULD HAVE BEEN IN THIS POSITION: In Ft. Worth, Clarence Hill Jr. notes we are "glad football is back," but football "should have never left." Hill: "Tell me what was accomplished in the past month that couldn't have occurred in March. The sad part is that the fans are going to be left holding the bag, paying a full price for an inferior product. ... Yes, we will have football. It will just be a watered-down, subpar production from what we're used to" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 7/26). CSN BAY AREA's Ann Killion wrote, "There's been no football deprivation. None at all. ... If there are any scars from five months of posturing and battling, they remain hidden" (CSNBAYAREA.com, 7/25). In San Diego, Nick Canepa writes the "only bad that can come out of this hair pull is the bearing of football." Canepa adds, "There was going to be football. There always was going to be football" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 7/26).
The NHL's most recent tax filing shows that Commissioner Gary Bettman's total compensation "increased 4 percent during the 2009-10 season, pushing his salary plus benefits to $7.5 million for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2010," according to Fred Dreier of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. For '09-10, Bettman's "base salary was $5,787,524, other compensation $826,369, deferred compensation $877,597 and benefits $25,988." The NHL "declined to comment" on Bettman's pay increase. His salary "has doubled since the 2004-05 lockout, when he was paid" $3.7M. The chart below lists compensation for 10 of the league's top executives (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 7/25 issue).
EXEC POSITIONCOMPENSATION* Gary Bettman Commissioner$7,517,478 Bill Daly Deputy Commissioner$2,037,394 Colin Campbell Dir of Hockey Operations$1,496,256 Craig Harnett CFO$1,112,080 John Collins COO$1,189,770 David Zimmerman General Counsel$666,520 Joseph DeSousa Exec VP/Finance$604,139 Donald Koharski Officiating Manager$1,141,959 Robert Shick Officiating Manager$505,213 Ed Horne** Senior Exec VP/Club Business &
NOTES: * = Total compensation includes base compensation, bonuses, other reportable compensation, deferred compensation and non-taxable benefits. ** = No longer works for the league.