SBD/February 20, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFLPA's Foxworth Says Players Don't Trust Commissioner Goodell Or The League

Foxworth called for neutral arbitration due to players' lack of trust of the NFL
NFLPA President Domonique Foxworth yesterday said that "trust was the big factor that had stalled progress on lingering issues between the players union and the NFL," including the implementation of HGH testing, according to Garafolo & Bell of USA TODAY. Speaking on a conference call, Foxworth said, "If every proposal we bring back to the players, they receive it from a negative place because they don't trust anybody on Park Avenue, then it's really hard to get anything done." He added of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, "I couldn't, if I wanted to, convince our players that you can trust Roger or you can trust the league. I do think that some neutral arbitration would go a long way." Garafolo & Bell note Foxworth "mentioned trust at least a half-dozen times during the 50-minute call" (USA TODAY, 2/20). The AP's Barry Wilner noted Foxworth cited the Saints bounty scandal "and how former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue was not 'unbiased.'" Yet Tagliabue "made the final decision that tossed out the suspensions of four players." Foxworth said of Tagliabue's appointment by Goodell, "When things like that happen, it’s hard for our players to believe that the league has their best interests in mind" (AP, 2/19). Foxworth added that the league and union "made progress toward a smooth working relationship when they completed a 10-year labor deal in 2011." But he said, "There was a bridge beginning to be built and then there were some recent events that kind of broke that bridge again." NFL Senior VP/PR Greg Aiello responded, "Trust is a two-way street. If the union wants to work together to build a better, safer and even more popular game, we extend our hand in partnership and respect. If the union wants to stir up old grievances and create mistrust, we will simply have to do the best we can to serve the interests [off] the fans, players and the game" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 2/19).

OTHER ISSUES: In N.Y., Judy Battista notes union officials on the call referred to the "league mandate for the wearing of hip and thigh pads next season as 'Nike pads,' a hint that they believe the push is being encouraged by the uniform supplier." However, the players and league "may find more common ground on rules changes that might make the game safer" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/20).

HE EARNED EVERY PENNY: Goodell earned $29.49M in '11, as reported last week by THE DAILY, and ESPN.com's Ashley Fox wrote that is a "staggering number at first blush." But Fox wrote, "Was it outrageous? Hardly, given the financial windfall that Goodell ... provided the NFL's 32 owners and the players." Compared to the "money Goodell has made the owners, his compensation looks like a bargain." Based on just the "economics, the owners should have paid him more." Goodell got a new, 10-year CBA "hammered out with the players, ending a four-month lockout before any real damage was done." He also "secured television contract extensions with ESPN, NBC, Fox, CBS and DirecTV that were unprecedented in their length and value." He kept the NFL's media partners "in place and at a ridiculously high price that guarantees the owners and players will split $7 billion annually during the life of the deals." Goodell has "succeeded in his top two priorities so far into his tenure: Securing extended labor peace and financial health even in a down economy" (ESPN.com, 2/18). ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said of Goodell's '11 salary, "That is really a lot of money.” ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said that was “Michael Jordan money” and then asked, “Do you think Roger Goodell is as valuable to the NFL as Michael Jordan was to the NBA?” Kornheiser added, “He’s making money for the owners” (“PTI,” ESPN, 2/19).
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