NFL Players Indicate Issues Remain With CBA Despite Deadline For NFLPA Approval
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell yesterday said that he "expected the league's new collective bargaining agreement to be completed" as early as today, according to Bob Glauber of NEWSDAY. If the CBA's remaining issues, including the process for HGH testing and the extent of Goodell's "disciplinary authority," are resolved, players who "signed or reworked contracts after the lockout ended last week can begin practicing." The players "will vote on the CBA once it is completed." Giants C and player rep Zak DeOssie said it is "looking very optimistic" the CBA will be signed by today's deadline. However, Steelers S and player rep Ryan Clark yesterday would only say that "talks are ongoing." He added the disciplinary process "with Roger Goodell having total control over the fine process, that's a deal-breaker for us in this situation" (NEWSDAY, 8/4). In N.Y., Kevin Armstrong notes if the CBA is ratified, "the league year would begin as scheduled" at 4:01pm ET. NFL Senior VP/PR Greg Aiello said, "It's up to the players. When they ratify the agreement, the league year will start and those with new contracts can begin practicing" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/4). ESPN's Adam Schefter today cites sources as saying that Goodell "will retain power to mete out discipline under the personal conduct policy" in the new CBA (ESPN.com, 8/4). The Washington Post’s Mark Maske reported on his Twitter feed, “When new CBA is ratified, it is expected that players will be able to appeal suspensions under drug policy to an independent arbitrator … but players won't be able to appeal suspensions under personal conduct policy to arbitrator. Commissioner would retain final say there” (TWITTER.com, 8/4).
FALSE ALARM: In Pittsburgh, Ed Bouchette reports the Steelers were "the first in the league to sound the alarm Wednesday that players might not approve the new collective bargaining agreement as expected today because those 'minor' issues that were supposed to be cleared up over the past 10 days have not been." Steelers QB and NFLPA Exec Committee member Charlie Batch said that there are "a number of issues that have to be solved before the players can approve a deal the owners approved unanimously" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 8/4). However, Bouchette this morning reported on Twitter that Clark "says while not perfect he approves of new cba deal” (TWITTER.com, 8/4).
LIGHT IN THE TUNNEL: In Boston, Monique Walker notes Patriots OT and player rep Matt Light "agrees" with the credit given to team Owner Robert Kraft for his role in the CBA negotiations. Light said, "When we went to the meetings, they let me know how important it was to have him in the room and what kind of leadership and just real experience he brought to the whole conversation." Light said that he "couldn't worry about how being a player rep would affect him when it came time to negotiate his own contract." Light said, "My role from day one as a player rep has always been to help inform my guys as to what's happening, what they can expect from their union, what their benefits are, all those things that a young guy and even in some cases older guys don't fully understand. And that's the extent of it. I don't get involved in all the politics and behind-the-scenes stuff" (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/4).
ROGER THAT: In Charlotte, Ron Green Jr. notes Goodell yesterday appeared at the Panthers' training camp and took questions from fans for "about 45 minutes" prior to practice. Goodell said an 18-game regular season "could happen" during the life of the 10-year CBA. When asked if there could be a Super Bowl played in the Carolinas, Goodell said, "The owners have so much respect for (team owner Jerry) Richardson that it wouldn't surprise me, but hosting a Super Bowl has really become pretty complex." Goodell also indicated that "league officials were meeting with Time Warner Cable officials on Wednesday about adding the NFL Network to the cable giant's package," but he "did not offer specifics" about the meeting (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 8/4). SportsBusiness Journal's Don Muret offers more of what Goodell talked about yesterday at Panthers' training camp.