Patriots First Team To Vote To Recertify Union; Jerry Jones Glad To Get Deal Done
The Patriots yesterday became the “first team to vote unanimously to recertify” the player’s union, according to Ron Borges of the BOSTON HERALD. NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith “met for nearly two hours in Foxboro with Patriots veterans during their lunchbreak yesterday, explaining the deal points in the settlement of the Brady v. NFL case as well as the significance of a vote to recertify.” Once a “majority of teams vote to recertify, Smith and the union’s executive committee can begin negotiating health and safety issues, workplace rules and the thorny issue of HGH testing raised by commissioner Roger Goodell.” Meanwhile, Smith yesterday said the owners “demonstrated a great level of commitment collectively to getting this deal done over the past few months.” Smith: “From John Mara to Jerry Richardson, Jerry Jones and, of course, Bob Kraft, they understood why doing a fair deal is important. What I’m proudest of is that while many people questioned whether or not the men of the NFL would have the resolve to stick together and to stand up for what is important to them, can they still question that now?” (BOSTON HERALD, 7/28). Once the NFLPA is recertified, “and all indications are that is a formality, owners and players will negotiate areas that only a union can bargain in a CBA, including drug testing, player discipline and disability and pension programs.” The agreement between the two sides “requires that those issues be resolved and a full CBA done by Aug. 4” (ESPNBOSTON.com, 7/27).
EXHAUSTING, BUT WORTH IT: In Ft. Worth, Hill & Williams write Jones “played a significant role in the negotiations and it clearly took a toll on him as he became "emotional when talking about what it meant [to] get a deal and the chance the league took in losing fans by threatening the season.” Jones: “We took this thing into the perfect storm and got the boat back home to get it done right. I’m real proud of the players and I’m real proud of the negotiation. At the end of the day, for our fans, for the league to have the financial strength and interest we have, the ability of a 10-year deal to negotiate our rights fees, to provide the juice that puts the game on, all of those things were enhanced” (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 7/28). Panthers Owner Jerry Richardson described the CBA negotiations as "very exhausting," but the owners were "as prepared as possible on all fronts." Richardson: "One of the things we hoped we would be able to accomplish would be to achieve a labor agreement that would serve the league and our players and fans for long-term, and we were able to do that without missing any regular-season games. ... It was just really not easy but the truth of the matter, at the end of the day the real credit goes to the Commissioner and Mr. Smith because they had to agree on the final details.” He added games would have been missed "if we hadn’t been able to come to a common agreement." Richardson: "Fortunately, at the end of the day, both sides were willing to compromise and both sides realized that could really be a kick in the pants, so to speak" ("Mike & Mike in the Morning," ESPN Radio, 7/28).
UNSUNG HERO: SI's Peter King writes NFL Senior VP & Treasurer Joe Siclare “deserves his own football card for what he did in May, when the negotiating momentum halted.” Without seeing “detailed, audited financial statements, the players were chafing at exempting $1 billion from the revenue pool,” and court-appointed mediator Judge Arthur Boylan told league officials they had to “come up with some new idea.” Siclare met with NFL Exec VP/Labor & General Counsel Jeff Pash and “suggested they go back and study a common tactic in many businesses: Why not give the workers a larger percentage of the income that requires no owner funding and let ownership keep a larger cut of the income derived from its investments?” King writes it was the “breakthrough the talks needed.” Siclare: “It wasn’t like inventing cold fusion in the sink. It’s just common sense” (SI, 8/1 issue). Meanwhile, Richardson said the “real unsung heroes are the people in the league office and the legal firms that you never hear about.” The CBA negotiations “would start early in the morning and go late into the night, and it was a brutal process” ("Mike & Mike in the Morning," ESPN Radio, 7/28).
SOME HURT FEELINGS REMAIN: ESPN.com’s Gene Wojciechowski writes something about Goodell and the “way he does business has caused a handful of players to declare a verbal jihad.” Players such as Steelers LB James Harrison “feel betrayed.” There is a “divide between some players and Goodell,” though the “width and length of that divide is less defined.” Wojciechowski: “To think that Goodell is universally disliked by NFL players is silly. He isn’t. He also isn’t universally beloved, but who cares? … If the lockout proved anything, it’s that Goodell and the players don’t have to be pals to coexist” (ESPN.com, 7/28).
OWNERS GOT WHAT THEY WANTED: ESPN.com’s Tim Keown wrote the owners “won” the negotiations by “doling out carefully measured slices of compromise and the players taking what they could get.” Keown: “If the lockout is over, the owners won. They wouldn’t have planned [for] years for this lockout and signed a deal after four months if it didn’t benefit them. Trust us on this one. They had to win. There was no other possibility.” The players “did as well as could be expected,” and they “got out with their pride and dignity intact” (ESPN.com, 7/27).
RETURNED WAGES: BLOOMBERG NEWS’ Michael Sillup cited a document as saying that the NFL “told its office personnel that it would repay the wages staffers lost during cutbacks” due to the lockout (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 7/26).