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Smith Wants Talks With League Before Vote On Expanded Season

With NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell acknowledging that owners could vote on a proposal to expand the regular season at their next round of meetings in May, NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith said through a spokesperson that the union hopes to engage in talks before a vote is taken.
“Mr. Smith has a basic philosophy when it comes to these issues,” said George Atalllah of Qorvis Communications, according to Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal.  “He’d like the league and the owners to consider the players as equal business partners when making any decision, particularly when it comes to a decision like extending the season.  Mr. Smith is confident that all parties can work collaboratively on this issue and all other items so that everyone involved can benefit.”
Setting aside for now the somewhat bizarre reality that Smith has hired an outside entity to serve as his spokesperson when there are folks on the union payroll who serve that function (then again, they possibly won’t be for much longer), the statement represents either a shrewd effort by Smith to make the expanded season a subject of bargaining separate and apart from the Collective Bargaining Agreement or a fundamental misunderstanding on Smith’s part regarding the concept of collective bargaining.
The NFL can’t unilaterally impose a fundamental change in the work conditions like an expanded regular season without bargaining.  So even if the owners vote to add games to the season, the vote won’t be binding on the players.
For now, we’ll give Smith the benefit of the doubt regarding this fairly basic concept of labor law (notwithstanding the fact that he has no labor law experience), and we’ll assume that Smith is hoping that bargaining as to the expansion of the season won’t be engulfed by the league’s broader effort to foist a litany of new terms down the union’s throat in exchange for not changing the current formula that gives the players 59 cents of every dollar earned.
Even if that’s Smith’s goal, it probably won’t work.  The league won’t want to bargain over the expansion of the season in a vacuum; the league will want to make this part and parcel of the CBA talks, with the hopes that, if the league relents on its vow to reduce the players’ current take, the union will make all sorts of other concessions.

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15 Responses to “Smith Wants Talks With League Before Vote On Expanded Season”
  1. DFWtmillaw says: Mar 25, 2009 5:20 PM

    Labor law is not my area of legal expertise…so I would be curious whether there could be an 18 game regular season, without the player’s consent, for any season after the current CBA has expired and a new CBA is not in place.

  2. 4thFloor says: Mar 25, 2009 5:21 PM

    Why didn’t you just throw your name into the NFLPA President fray buddy, since you seem to be the smartest lawyer/NFL guru around……

  3. NYJetsFan says: Mar 25, 2009 5:23 PM

    I’d surmise that Smith understands that dialoguing early on the subject (before owners make up their mind without input from the union/players) can be very beneficial to the process and time line. Otherwise, the sides get together with a “NFL position” and an “Union position” and battle it out. If the Union communicates any questions / issues upfront, the owners will have an opportunity to discuss and address them in crafting their proposal.
    Just because Smith’s approach isn’t the way it has always been done, doesn’t mean it is wrong or that he doesn’t know what he is doing.

  4. inmymind says: Mar 25, 2009 5:32 PM

    Smith is going to be a total tool isn’t he? He seems the type to try to put his face in the media, puff out his chest and do what is in the best interest of him, not the players every opportunity he gets.

  5. McWest 536 says: Mar 25, 2009 5:55 PM

    After playing a half of a tough physical NFL season the league wants these guys to turn around on 4 days rest and play a Thursday Night game.
    Play 16 Thursday Night games. Give each team their regular bye and another bye before their Thursday Night Game. The participating teams on Thursday Night would then be off the following Sunday (in essence the Thursday Night game would have been the game they would’ve played on Sunday). A bye before the Thursday Night game takes away the advantage for the home team of not having to travel on 4 days rest.
    This would expand the regular season by another game, 18 weeks instead of 17. No extra wear and tear for the players. And the NFL could sell the Thursday Night package to TNT, ABC, or another station and increase their revenuer to boot.

  6. McWest 536 says: Mar 25, 2009 6:06 PM

    After playing a tough physical first half of a season, the league wants the players to turn around and play on 4 days rest for Thursday Night games in the 2nd half of the season.
    Play 16 Thursday Night games (32 teams equals 16 games). Give each team their regular bye week and another bye before their Thursday Night game. The bye would take away the advantage the home team has by not having to travel on 4 days rest.
    This expands the regular season from 17 weeks to 18 weeks, and no extra playing time for the players. The NFL could also sell the Thursday Night package to TNT, ABC, or another station and increase their revenue to boot.

  7. VBG says: Mar 25, 2009 6:08 PM

    “The NFL can’t unilaterally impose a fundamental change in the work conditions like an expanded regular season without bargaining. So even if the owners vote to add games to the season, the vote won’t be binding on the players.”
    —————–
    Are you sure about that? Why can’t the Owners say something like:
    —————–
    “We currently have a 24 game season (4 Pre-Season, 16 Regular Season and 4 Post Season).
    Currently, only 20 of those games count toward a teams record but going forward, 22 of those games will count and only 2 will be exempt from the final record.”
    —————–
    Do the players get paid the same amount of money for pre-season as they do regular season games? If so then what gives them the ability to refuse to play in those games?
    If they don’t get the same game check then that’s different.

  8. stboyd says: Mar 25, 2009 6:40 PM

    Seems to me that Goodell is not looking at the labor issue. He is making an attempt to gain public sentiment for the owners side of the up and coming labor negotiations/dispute.
    Every season ticket holder would love to see more regular season and less pre-season games. If the owners champion this cause, and the union nixes it, the public perception could be that the greedy players are cheating the fans.(or at least that’s what the owners hope it will be). I think it is a smart play by Goodell.

  9. empty13 says: Mar 25, 2009 6:50 PM

    he will have plenty of chances to screw up at the actual talks.

  10. warpaint88 says: Mar 25, 2009 7:30 PM

    I really hope they keep it at 16 games.. I feel like it’s pretty perfect where it’s at right now. Players already start wearing down toward the end of the season, so extending it 2 games would kinda suck.

  11. empty13 says: Mar 25, 2009 8:17 PM

    Demaurice looks like he was an owners’ psyop
    I agree with mc
    Make them all play a thursday game

  12. illspaz says: Mar 25, 2009 8:25 PM

    So when Adrian Peterson rushes for 2,200 yards in a few years, in 18 games, everyone will have to put an asterisk next to it and call Erik Dickerson’s 2,105 the “Pre-Goodell Era” record.
    What’s wrong with just cutting 2 preseason games? Is adding games to the regular season really “for the fans” or is it to make the NFL more money and give Goodell a legacy?

  13. SkinsFan says: Mar 25, 2009 10:11 PM

    illspaz,
    the owners would never just cut 2 preaseaon games because they are huge money makers for the owners! everybody agrees that the pre-season needs to be shortened, but the owners arent going to give up an exta revenue generating home game. they will however be willing to exchange it for another home game that counts towards the standings.
    DFWtmillaw,
    the owners can do anything they want once the current CBA expires. the CBA is a loabor contract agreed to by the owners and players. when the contract expires there is nothing binding either side to any of the provisions in the expired contract. but obviously it would be an issue when / if they ever negotiated a new CBA

  14. SkinsFan says: Mar 25, 2009 10:21 PM

    Strategically speaking I understand why Smith wants to get in and start discussions this as well as other issues related to the CBA. Afterall, he wants to get a new CBA negotiated before the current one expires. However, I believe the owners are going to use this against him (and the NFLPA). They will continue to strategically line up all their ducks in a row and present the NFLPA with their list of demands for a new CBA at the eleventh hour, and they either take it or leave it (they will leave them as little time as possible to negotiate anything). I originally thought that a lockout was inevitable, but I am starting to there is a slim chance it can be avoided. Either way I still believe the owners will come out way ahead on these negotiations. The players don’t want to be locked out and I am really starting to think they don’t really want to see that uncapped season either. (i know it sounds bizarre but there are a lot of negatives to players that will be associated with that uncapped season)

  15. moonbeam says: Mar 26, 2009 8:40 AM

    “mr smith has a basic philosophy when it comes to these matters”
    that’s like saying,it’s an old family tradition for the last four years.
    smith has never been in the football game and now he has a tried and true theory of managment?give me a break.
    this guy has empty suit written all over him.
    the fact that the union dismissed cornwell says everything,the union deserves what it gets.

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