SBD/July 26, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Looking Back: One Year Ago, NFL And NFLPA Found Labor Peace

Today, THE DAILY looks back at the media coverage, spin and treatment of the NFL and NFLPA when they ended their 132-day labor dispute on July 25, 2011 by agreeing to a new 10-year CBA. Below is a collection of notable coverage from one year ago:

ENJOYED THE RIDE? Yahoo Sports' Dan Wetzel wrote the labor dispute was "a low stress, even enjoyable at times, soap opera for fans," proving that the NFL "even does labor disputes better than other leagues." The Boston Globe's Bob Ryan wrote it 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.” The Detroit Free-Press' Mitch Albom wrote, "Now that's my kind of labor stoppage. Honestly. It was darn near perfect. ... It pretty much looks like any other year. What labor stoppage?" Meanwhile, the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram's Clarence Hill Jr. wrote, "Tell me what was accomplished in the past month that couldn't have occurred in March.”

Foxworth was among three key players that attended every meeting on behalf of NFLPA
WINNERS & LOSERS: The South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Andrew Carter wrote, "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." ESPN.com's Lester Munson wrote the "losers" in the CBA were "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 were the "retired players." A $1B legacy fund in the agreement was "new, although both the league and the players have been moving toward benefits for retired players over the past couple of years." The N.Y. Post's Bart Hubbuch wrote 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. 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." 

CREDIT WHERE IT'S DUE: NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith said, "I'm not sure any two people have ever come together in a more compressed, public, interesting time than [NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell] and I, but I'm proud to say that our relationship has grown." Chargers President & CEO Dean Spanos said NFLPA Exec Committee President Domonique Foxworth, and Exec Committee members Jeff Saturday and Kevin Mawae "were the three key players that were there at all the meetings." Spanos: "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."

Smith looks on as Kraft (c) and Saturday (r) share an embrace
KRAFT WAS KEY: NFL and NFLPA officials involved with the negotiations lauded Patriots Owner Robert Kraft "for his behind-the-scenes help in producing the breakthrough.” 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." Foxworth 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."

ROGER THAT: The Chicago Tribune's David Haugh wrote 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." 

REACHING OUT: Kraft, Eagles Owner Jeffrey Lurie and Panthers Owner Jerry Richardson were among team owners who wrote thank you letters to fans. Richardson's letter read in part, "The last 12 months have been very difficult for Panthers fans. ... You are passionate about the game and have stuck with our organization through the highs and lows that come with an NFL franchise. ... I have learned timetables can be tricky, but I can promise we will continue to make a total commitment to building the championship team you deserve."

CBS Sports' McManus said it was business as usual for the net during the labor dispute
NET GAINS: After the deal, CBS Sports Chair Sean McManus said that the network would hit the ground running. McManus: “We didn't do anything differently this year than we've done in previous years. The sales force kept selling, the production team kept making production plans. We assumed all along there would be football Week One. That may have been an optimistic appraisal, but it turned out to be an accurate one." Meanwhile, Fox ran a full-page ad in the N.Y. Times and Wall Street Journal that featured Packers QB Aaron Rodgers in uniform and the copy, "We're Back! America's Favorite Network For NFL Is Open For Business." 

BUSINESS BOOM: After the deal, StubHub said that tickets for '11 NFL regular season games were doubling typical sales patterns, both in terms of unit sales and gross dollar volume, as a result of the end of the lockout.

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