NFL Lockout Watch, Day 6: Free Agent Kevin Burnett Calls Goodell A "Blatant Liar"
In some of the most provocative language of the six-day NFL lockout, free agent LB Kevin Burnett called NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell a “liar” during a radio show yesterday. Burnett, who played for the Chargers last season, appeared on San Diego's XX Sports Radio and was asked about the letter to fans that Goodell sent out over the weekend discussing what transpired before the league locked out the players. Burnett said, "Goodell’s full of it, if you ask me. He's a liar. You are a blatant liar." When asked what Goodell was lying about, Burnett said, "'It's our league. It's we. We love the players. We want the league.' But what have you done for the players? What have you done, in all honesty, to improve the game, besides fine guys, besides take money away from guys, besides change a game that you never played? …He has done nothing to improve the game" (XX Sports Radio, 3/16). The comments came one day after Goodell appeared on NFL Network and said, "I don't think because you disagree with somebody it's appropriate to call anyone a liar" (THE DAILY).
INSIDE THE FINAL PROPOSAL: In N.Y., Judy Battista reports Goodell yesterday said that NFLPA leaders told him that they "found some parts" of the owners' final proposal "attractive, specifically the health and safety changes that would have reduced the off-season training program by five weeks, cut organized team workouts from 14 per off-season to 10 and limited full-contact practices in the preseason and regular season." That proposal "would have allowed current players the chance to remain in the player medical plan for life." But the "economics remained the sticking point." Last Friday, the owners "lowered their demand for additional money off the top of the revenue pool" to $320M per year, "half of where it was at the start of the day." However, Goodell yesterday said that he "would not guarantee that the proposal would remain on the table" when negotiations resume because it was "crafted specifically to avoid a work stoppage." He said that his "contact with player leaders had been minimal since Friday, and he had no timeline for when a deal must be completed to avoid missing regular season games." The commissioner also "defended the demeanor of owners, some of whom were criticized by players for acting in what they perceived as a heavy-handed manner." Goodell: "Things owners said, I’m sure people didn’t necessarily agree with, and there were things players said that owners didn’t agree with. That’s part of negotiations" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/17).
GOING FOR THE BLOCK: The AP reports the NFL asked a federal judge yesterday to deny the NFLPA's "bid to release details in a $4 billion TV revenue dispute, saying information should be kept confidential because it is commercially sensitive." The players' group last week "requested that all exhibits, testimony and transcripts be unsealed" from the case, in which Judge David Doty ruled that the NFL "illegally secured the money from TV contracts for 2011, money the players contend was arranged to fund a lockout." The league "filed its response and included redacted versions of exhibits cited in Doty's decision totaling more than 800 pages." Much of the information was "blacked out to protect information the NFL considers sensitive, harmful to future negotiations if revealed and damaging to business relations." NFL attorneys argue that the court's "previous denial of local media's request to unseal all the documents should apply to the players association's request as well to satisfy the public's right to know and to provide context that 'will be the basis for rulings to come.'" The league's argument "cited Doty's suggestion in court to Paul Hannah, an attorney representing the St. Paul Pioneer Press and Star Tribune of Minneapolis in the Feb. 24 hearing, that the papers 'try to focus on what it is that they are looking for' rather than making a sweeping request for all the information" (AP, 3/17).
PLAYERS GETTING ANTSY: In Nashville, Jim Wyatt reports free agent DE Jason Babin is "entertaining thoughts of jumping" to the CFL or UFL "if those leagues build some momentum during the lockout." Babin, an alternate player rep for the Titans, indicated that both leagues "have extended 'feelers' to him and other free agents." He said, "I know those leagues would love to grow their awareness, and if they got a certain amount of high-profile guys to join in, the money would go from the NFL pool to the CFL or UFL pool and maybe they could negotiate a TV deal. Now that would scare the (stuffing) out of the NFL owners, you know?" UFL Commissioner Michael Huyghue said that his league "isn't necessarily recruiting NFL players, but acknowledged that some teams have put out feelers" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 3/17).
JERRY JONES UNDER FIRE: In Ft. Worth, Randy Galloway writes about the SI report of Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones during a March 2 negotiation session with the players under the header, "Jerry Jones Plays The Role Of Villain In The NFL Showdown." Galloway: "Funny thing is I once thought Jones would be the best owner of the NFL lot in helping negotiate some sort of an agreement, mainly because negotiating is what Jerry does best. Now we're told, at least in SI, that Jones is the worst of the worst in this dispute. And the hits just keep on coming" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 3/17).