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Tagliabue claims 2006 deal was never intended to last

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As his legacy suffers from the perception that he urged NFL owners to take what turned out to be a bad deal so that he could stick to his retirement timetable, former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue recently told Peter King of Sports Illustrated that the 2006 Collective Bargaining Agreement never was intended to last.

“We knew it’d be terminated at the earliest possible date,” Tagliabue said.  “We knew it wasn’t sustainable long-term.”

The owners indeed opted out barely two years after the deal was signed, exercising their prerogative in May 2008 to cancel the deal after the 2010 season.

Tagliabue contends that former NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw, who died after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer in August 2008, knew the deal would be ended prematurely, implying that Upshaw “understood the owners would need some relief from the deal if it became too one-sided for the players.”  Even though Upshaw isn’t around to refute or confirm that claim, key lieutenants like NFLPA general counsel Richard Berthelsen and outside counsel Jeffrey Kessler surely were privy to Upshaw’s thinking.

If Berthelsen and Kessler are sharing with current NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith the notion that the deal would be adjusted if necessary, Smith isn’t listening.

Then again, current Commissioner Roger Goodell also was working at the elbow of Tagliabue when the last deal went down.  If Goodell believed that it was accepted that the players would adjust the deal, Goodell would most likely be saying so.

We’re not saying (or suggesting) that Tagliabue is fudging the truth. But his own interests and agenda easily could be clouding the lens through which he recalls the things that were or weren’t said five years ago.

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22 Responses to “Tagliabue claims 2006 deal was never intended to last”
  1. jc1958coo says: Feb 1, 2011 10:39 AM

    i guees they didn’t think football would at an all time high either! when al davis, jery jones give millions to loser picks thats the players fault! no one gets their $$$ back on bad investments !!!

  2. thereisalwaysnextyear says: Feb 1, 2011 10:39 AM

    And this guy is getting $12m per year to NOT work? Geezus.

  3. karlpilkington says: Feb 1, 2011 10:43 AM

    OMG, I just want to watch football next year. Please, please, please sit down and figure this all out.

    Signed,

    NFL FAN

  4. chapnastier says: Feb 1, 2011 10:47 AM

    “We’re not saying (or suggesting) that Tagliabue is fudging the truth.”

    Yes, that is indeed what you are saying. It’s kind of like saying, “Don’t take this personally” before telling someone they are fat.

  5. buffbacker says: Feb 1, 2011 10:56 AM

    I guess the ‘Ol Wiley Ralph Wilson gets the last laugh… Maybe if some of the other “Yes-Men” owners listened to Wilson, who’s been an owner longer than some have been on this planet, they wouldn’t be in this mess!

  6. lhaveprettyfeet says: Feb 1, 2011 11:01 AM

    Um, wasn’t this news yesterday?

  7. richm2256 says: Feb 1, 2011 11:07 AM

    One has to nwonder, if Tagliabue thought then that the deal was “never intended to last”, why on Earth did he agree to it?

  8. wryly1 says: Feb 1, 2011 11:08 AM

    It’s the players that generate virtually ALL the revenues. They play an extremely high risk sport, with an extremely short career span, that only a couple thousand people on the planet are capable of doing. They are entitled to the best they can get. That’s my position and I’m sticking to it.

  9. ladystpaul says: Feb 1, 2011 11:37 AM

    Gee, are you sure Peter King got THIS article right, like he did the last one?

  10. scytherius says: Feb 1, 2011 11:37 AM

    I’d never thought I’d say this. I’ve been watching football since the early 60s. I was at the Ice Bowl. The owners (and it is ENTIRELY their fault) screw up next season, I’m done with football. I bailed on basketball. I do have other things I can do in my life.

  11. pftard says: Feb 1, 2011 11:43 AM

    Sure.., blame the dead guy.

    This isn’t rocket science.., and if both side spent more time negotiating, rather then throwing barbs at each other.., than something would get done.

    But typically.., it’s all about posturing for now, and in the 11th hour, they’ll slap together another bad deal and find themselves right back in the same situation 4 years from now.

  12. olcap says: Feb 1, 2011 11:47 AM

    The premise of this story is ridiculous. Why would Tagliabue CARE about what’s going on now, even to the point, as you suggest, the he is lying about it, or his memory is failing? He’s got his, and Goodell is single-handedly dismantling the NFL into the Non Fun League, and is only offering band-aid type solutions to head injuries among players.

  13. jacksaysfu says: Feb 1, 2011 12:14 PM

    The players are idiots , the owners are idiots and us , the fans pay for it all ! Im so sick of multi millionaires crying about running or playing a sport while the majority of people would do this for free! You all make ridiculous money so stop your girl gossip through the media and twitter and mweet halfway.

  14. idriveamoped says: Feb 1, 2011 12:35 PM

    @wryly1

    Then why even own a business if the employees are suppose to get all the money? That is like saying “Hey I own this roto rooter business, but I don’t want to make any money, but I am here just for jobs don’t worry about me I just want to make sure that your ok, even if it dips majorly into our profits.” Ya right.

    You guys crack me up with this stuff. Had not been for these owners, these guys would be working as failed accountants or something somewhere. “What could someone like Ocho Cinco do besides football, or something football related? “No knock on Ocho, but I can’t picture him doing anything but football” So these players owe just as much to the owners that the owners owe them.

  15. armchairgm9 says: Feb 1, 2011 12:44 PM

    If half the effort either side has spent on PR efforts, TV ads, and trips to congress was instead spent on actually negotiating a deal, we might have hope that this would get done.

  16. harrisonhits2 says: Feb 1, 2011 12:52 PM

    “It’s the players that generate virtually ALL the revenues. They play an extremely high risk sport, with an extremely short career span, that only a couple thousand people on the planet are capable of doing.”

    @wryly1 ,

    Not only would the players not be able to generate any revenue if the teams didn’t provide the funding and infrastructure to play, in no way should someone who is an entertainer for a few years make so much money that they never have to work another day in their lives unless they are one of the top few players.

  17. rcunningham says: Feb 1, 2011 1:06 PM

    I miss Tagliabue.

  18. tombradyswig says: Feb 1, 2011 1:13 PM

    Please come back Paul!! GOD-ell is NO GOOD!!!!!!!

  19. burntorangehorn says: Feb 1, 2011 1:27 PM

    All you people blaming Goodell for the voided CBA and potential lockout can officially hush and let the grownups talk now.

  20. hooterdawg says: Feb 1, 2011 3:01 PM

    This site is more heavily censored than Chinese websites.

  21. hooterdawg says: Feb 1, 2011 3:03 PM

    Tagliabue never tried to be a rockstar by promoting his presence as The Czar of the NFL.

  22. wallyhorse says: Feb 2, 2011 4:11 AM

    It needs to be remembered that the economy was in a much different state when the 2006 deal was signed. When the owners opted out in 2008, they saw how much the economy was already tanking before it collapsed later in 2008.

    I also woner if any owners (even if only limited partners) were affected by the Madoff scandal the way Fred Wilpon and his son were with the Mets. That also could be behind some of this.

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