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Source: Some in union think Kessler wants to force a lockout

We’ve heard from time to time over the past several weeks that some within the union power structure actually want the owners to lock out the players.  But we’ve refrained from posting on it because it all sounded a little far-fetched (like, you know, the plot of Quarterback of the Future).

But in the wake of David Cornwell’s item from last week regarding his belief that the NFL’s plan isn’t to lock out the players but to impose unilaterally new work rules and then force the players to accept those rules and strike, a source with knowledge of the situation tells us that Cornwell’s article “caused a stir” at the union — and that some in the union believe that long-time outside counsel Jeffrey Kessler wants to force a lockout.

If the owners lock out the players, the union would then be in position to attempt to wreak havoc through the political connections of Executive Director De Smith, who already has suggested mutually harmful strategies like attacking the NFL’s broadcasting antitrust exemption and the tax-exempt status of the league office.

The thinking is that the union will get the best possible deal only with that kind of leverage, and that leverage of that kind will come only if the owners padlock the gates.

Implicit in this mindset is a belief within the union that a strike in the face of unilaterally-imposed work rules would fail, just as the 1982 and 1987 strikes failed.

A union source who asked not to be identified due to the sensitivity of the issue strongly doubted the accuracy of the allegation.  And the source reiterated he contention that the NFL has hired Bob Batterman, who orchestrated the NHL lockout and who is deeply involved in a possible MLS lockout.

We still believe firmly that the ultimate goal should be to get a deal done — and for the league and the union to behave more like partners and less like enemies.  Maybe the best way to make that happen in the short term would involve the union asking Kessler to step aside and the league parting ways with Batterman.  We know it won’t happen but, hey, we can dream, too.

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17 Responses to “Source: Some in union think Kessler wants to force a lockout”
  1. BossHog says: Feb 24, 2010 4:52 PM

    One has to wonder if getting the tax-exempt status removed, going after the antitrust items, and other tactics might actually have a negative impact on the potential money available to the players. The NFL has built a huge business based on some of these benefits. If those are stripped away is there a chance revenues could drop dramatically or the cost of doing business would significantly increase? Plus owners could see increased risk which would require even higher rates of return = less they might be willing to spend.
    Granted this is just an off-the-cuff gut reaction.

  2. Desides says: Feb 24, 2010 4:59 PM

    “If the owners lock out the players, the union would then be in position to attempt to wreak havoc through the political connections of Executive Director De Smith, who already has suggested mutually harmful strategies like attacking the NFL’s broadcasting antitrust exemption and the tax-exempt status of the league office.”
    Coincidentally, you mocked Rush Limbaugh for suggesting this during the Rams ownership scuffle.

  3. KrazyTrumpeter05 says: Feb 24, 2010 5:08 PM

    What a damn mess…
    I hope there’s still football in a couple years.

  4. Mike Florio says: Feb 24, 2010 5:16 PM

    @BossHog . . .
    you are exactly right. this approach would be the equivalent of the union holding a gun to the owners’ heads — and to the players’.

  5. SprintPhoneFTW says: Feb 24, 2010 5:18 PM

    Instead of paying the first overall picks each year upwards of 30 million guaranteed, cap it at 5 million and put the other 25 million into a ‘veteran trust’.
    Use the ‘veteran trust’ to honor the back-loaded contract values of aging franchise icons so we never have to see things like Joe Montana in a Chiefs uni or Emmit Smith wearing a Cardinal, again.
    Do stuff like that and you will foster a better working relationship between the union and ownership. Fans want to see their franchise icons stay!

  6. DannyC420 says: Feb 24, 2010 5:24 PM

    I say lock it out. Have Open Tryouts to all fans, Pay half the salaries of what they were (I know I’d be happy making half of what the cheapeast player makes) and then let the fans play for their own team and duke it out with othe rfans on national T.V..
    There’s an idea for you!!!

  7. This is not news says: Feb 24, 2010 5:29 PM

    Here are a few more headlines for you to use later:
    Source: Some in union think life exists on other planets.
    Source: Some in union think global warming is man made
    Source: Some in union think the Gulf of Tonkin incident was fabricated
    Source: Some in union think Castro/the mob/the Russians assassinated JFK
    Source: Some in union think Obama is not a US Citizen

  8. raiders177 says: Feb 24, 2010 5:34 PM

    Damn you Ryan Kesler

  9. Coutre1 says: Feb 24, 2010 5:35 PM

    I say lock it out. Have Open Tryouts to all fans, Pay half the salaries of what they were (I know I’d be happy making half of what the cheapeast player makes) and then let the fans play for their own team and duke it out with othe rfans on national T.V..
    There’s an idea for you!!!
    ***great idea. Its called the UFL.

  10. brownsfn says: Feb 24, 2010 5:39 PM

    unions have run their course in this country…they are nothing but corruption nowadays…

  11. winkel33 says: Feb 24, 2010 5:42 PM

    it amazes me in these situations that the owners and players try to play the blame game – it isn’t our fault, it is their fault – in an attempt to win support from the fans. here is a newsflash – if there is no football, if multi-millionaire owners and players can’t find some way to agree and continue making their millions – fans won’t take sides. we will be angry with all sides. a work stoppage, especially in a down economic time, is simply a lose lose for all involved. i seriously worry about the leadership of all parties if they don’t understand this.

  12. TFBuckFutter says: Feb 24, 2010 5:42 PM

    “DannyC420 says:
    February 24, 2010 5:24 PM
    I say lock it out. Have Open Tryouts to all fans, Pay half the salaries of what they were (I know I’d be happy making half of what the cheapeast player makes) and then let the fans play for their own team and duke it out with othe rfans on national T.V..”
    If quality across the board goes way down, the competition will still remain the same, so really, you wouldn’t notice the dip in quality.

  13. SDFAN says: Feb 24, 2010 6:55 PM

    Maybe the law has changed; but in the past, the biggest hammer the players had to force the owners to recognize and bargain with the union involved the draft. The only way that a draft of college players is not a violation of the anti-trust laws is that it is permitted in a collective bargaining agreement. Absent that agreement, any player drafted could sue and argue (probably successfully) that the draft itself is an illegal restraint of trade — it violates the anti-trust laws. The other issues could arguably be imposed by the league; but I don’t see how they get to keep the draft; particularly if the union decertifies as they did the last time they had a strike.

  14. Maury Brown says: Feb 24, 2010 7:02 PM

    I’m not sure that canning Kessler and Batterman removes the overall direction that the sides are taking. Outside counsel can suggest and prepare, but ultimately, direction is set by either management or union. You remove the players, but substitutes of like standing are put in their place.

  15. sebuc40 says: Feb 24, 2010 7:52 PM

    He better get the owners to lock out before November! The union might just find a much less favorable environment after that!

  16. slipkid says: Feb 24, 2010 9:00 PM

    owners still make $ if there is a lockout.
    players cant eat bling.
    de is pronounced duh.

  17. edgy1957 says: Feb 25, 2010 10:46 AM

    You guys make me laugh. Only now are some of you willing to show that your true “loyalties” to the owners are nothing more than jealousy for what the players make. Of course, don’t think you youngsters are alone. Back when I was younger and players made a lot less and didn’t have free agency, the fans were no more sympathetic to their plight and thought that they were overpaid and they should be happy for doing nothing more than play a children’s game. 45 years later, those same guys are trying to guilt the players into helping them with their medical bills because the owners have already told them to go to hell.

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