NFL Lockout Watch, Day 109: Fifth Round Of "Secret" CBA Talks To Last Through Friday
The NFL and NFLPA "for the first time since these round of negotiations began ... have committed to 4 straight days" of CBA talks, according to a report on Twitter by ESPN.com's Chris Mortensen. The talks, which began today in Minneapolis with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith, among others, will last through Friday. NFL Network's Albert Breer reports the meetings will have a "twist -- It'll be Goodell, Smith & their staffs. Not players & owners” (TWITTER.com, 6/28). NFL.com's Jason La Canfora cited sources as saying that people involved in the NFL labor negotiations traveled to Minnesota yesterday "not just to meet with their legal team" but also for another set of "secret talks" with the league. Minnesota is "home to Arthur Boylan, the U.S. magistrate judge assigned to run court-ordered mediation and who has been present for previous talks." Progress was "made in the four other sessions in four different locations ... but significant work must be done before the parties can strike a deal." Talks are "expected to continue into next month, and time is of the essence," since the Bears and Rams are "set to open training camp just three weeks from Friday." La Canfora noted the parties "broached the rookie pay system last week for the first time during these clandestine sessions, and it proved to be a difficult area to navigate." The numbers of a rookie pay scale "aren't the only issues." Among players' "concerns are finding a way to replace the effect" large rookie contracts "have on the veteran market and also get those high picks to free agency quicker" (NFL.com, 6/27). The AP's Barry Wilner reported a "small group of players met Monday with their attorneys in Minneapolis." A source said that the players' side "met on its own, without owners." Players "were told in conference calls that there will be more negotiations this week" (AP, 6/27).
SO LOST WITHOUT YOU: In K.C., Sam Mellinger, in an open letter to Goodell, Smith and "all the rest of you," wrote, "These insinuations and hints and anonymous sources saying you're close to ending this NFL lockout and making the season come off on time are cool to hear and all, but you better not be playing us. Get something done, anything. Finish it now, because this is real. These are our lives you're fooling with." Mellinger: "We've though about what it will be without the NFL on Sundays, and it's not pretty. ... Kansas City won't be a whole lot of fun this fall without the NFL" (K.C. STAR, 6/25). But in DC, Sally Jenkins writes the NFL's and NBA's "current labor strife is actually healthy, if it helps us break our crack-like addictions to the major professional sports leagues." Jenkins: "The best way to push back against abusive practices and work stoppages is to punish leagues in the pocketbook. Do something else with the money -- give it to a team that values its fans. Of the big four, baseball has done the best job of appreciating and remaining accessible to its constituency. On Saturday, you can see the Nationals play for $2" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/28).
HAVE A QUESTION FOR US? Have a question about the status of the NFL’s labor talks? E-mail us your questions and we will have SportsBusiness Journal NFL writer Daniel Kaplan answer them in our NFL CBA mailbag.