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Source: Robert Kraft’s rant was directed at Jeff Kessler, not Bob Batterman

Image (1) robert-kraft.jpg for post 83575

One of the most interesting nuggets contained in Michael Silver’s comprehensive breakdown of Thursday’s breakthrough day at the bargaining table arises from Robert Kraft’s Shakespearean take on lawyers.

Kraft, who previously said that a deal would be accomplished in a week if the attorneys-at-law were told to hit-the-road, reportedly (per Silver) chewed out the league’s chief outside counsel in the presence of union representatives.

Specifically, Silver reported that “on Wednesday, according to several people familiar with the meetings, . . . Kraft snapp[ed] at Bob Batterman, the labor attorney retained by the league for these negotiations, because he felt Batterman was speaking in legalese platitudes.”

A source with knowledge of the situation claims that Kraft’s comments were directed not at Batterman, but at union lawyer Jeffrey Kessler, whom the NFL owners almost uniformly despise for his sue-first-and-ask-questions-later reputation.

Per the source, Kraft made generalized comments regarding the importance of getting the lawyers out of the process.  Kraft, we’re told, was talking about Kessler.  The union reps, we’re told, concluded that Kraft was talking about Batterman.  (Which would make Silver’s report accurate, if he got his information from union sources.)

Either way, Kraft has a point, to a point.  Lawyers can bog down the process, obsessing over details that can be worked out later, after the important decisions are made.  But that doesn’t mean the lawyers should leave the room; sometimes, sound legal advice is the only thing protecting a hard-charging businessman from making a huge mistake.  (Indeed, if the NFL had gotten better legal advice when renegotiating the network television deals, the league possibly wouldn’t have ignored its obligation to maximize revenue shared by the owners and the players in order to finagle more leverage against a lockout.  Then again, it’s entirely possible that the league was getting good legal advice, but chose to ignore it.)

So the lawyers should still be in the room.  But they should be told to speak only when their input is needed to avert not a pothole but a canyon.

UPDATE:  Reached for comment, Silver was resolute in his reporting.  “I have multiple sources on this, from both camps, and I stand by my report,” Silver told PFT  via e-mail.

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40 Responses to “Source: Robert Kraft’s rant was directed at Jeff Kessler, not Bob Batterman”
  1. chucka2 says: Mar 6, 2011 5:43 PM

    Continued negotiations = pothole
    No football in the fall = canyon!

    Chuck A

  2. stoney18 says: Mar 6, 2011 5:54 PM

    While it is often tempting to remember Shakespeare’s lines from Henry VI – “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” – in moment’s of legal contention, they do have their role. Albeit, they should counsel and inform when necessary, and in a manner free of contention. They should not be seen as negotiators or in any way usurping that role. Mr. Kraft may well have a point and is certainly one of the owners who would much rather see this resolved sooner than later. He is a fan and moved to the owner’s box from seats in the end zone.

  3. jnbnet says: Mar 6, 2011 5:58 PM

    I agree with Mr. Kraft. We often have to deal with lawyer at work. When we do, it almost always ends up costing our client much more money than it should.

  4. fatfreddystubbs says: Mar 6, 2011 6:23 PM

    Oh, Thank God! I was just sayin to some earlier today that if Bob Kraft’s rant was directed at Batterman, rather than Kessler, I don’t think i can go on.

  5. paulnoga says: Mar 6, 2011 6:24 PM

    Where does the Negotiations stop and the Soap Opera start?

  6. ttommytom says: Mar 6, 2011 6:26 PM

    If some people didn’t suck, we would not need most lawyers. Unfortunately some people suck and they become a necessary evil.

    I don’t hate them for what they do. I do dislike that there is such a need for them in this sue you, screw you world we now live in.

    I grew up in an era when lawyers were needed for the signing of contracts. Not dictating the contracts. I miss those days.

  7. joelvis72 says: Mar 6, 2011 6:26 PM

    I work in a law office and can confirm that almost all the ones I deal with, in the office and out, have greater love for the sounds of their own voices than they do for the law.

  8. grikes says: Mar 6, 2011 6:32 PM

    So, I appreciate updates from the CBA talks as much as the next guy, but a post about whether or not Bob Kraft is was upset at Jeff Kessler or Bob Batterman? Three days ago?

    Who cares?

    Wake me when this is over.

  9. tv426 says: Mar 6, 2011 6:34 PM

    I never thought I’d say this, but I’m starting to actually like someone from the New Eng organization.

  10. thefiesty1 says: Mar 6, 2011 6:42 PM

    Get the cheisters out of the room. Their only there to run up their fees. How much in attorney fees have both sides waisted so far?

  11. philriverslovespenis says: Mar 6, 2011 7:00 PM

    Thumbs up if you like Kraft calling out lawyers. Thumbs down if you like lawyers.

  12. dfinpds says: Mar 6, 2011 7:00 PM

    And a lawyer thinks the lawyers are neccessary………go figure…..

  13. thegonz13 says: Mar 6, 2011 7:14 PM

    What do you call 5,000 lawyers chained at the bottom of the ocean… right, Robert?

  14. hobartbaker says: Mar 6, 2011 7:31 PM

    Silver! is resolute in his misreporting. As always.

  15. hobartbaker says: Mar 6, 2011 7:41 PM

    If you cleared all the lawyers or former lawyers out of the room, the hotel wait staff would have to decide the issue.

  16. goldsteel says: Mar 6, 2011 7:42 PM

    Have you ever seen the story “Bleak House”? In essence it’s a story of a law dispute that is only resolved when the money has run out. The lawyers drag the case on and on until someone’s fortune is exhausted from legal fees. My point? Is the NFL entering into it’s own form of Bleak House?

  17. zackd2 says: Mar 6, 2011 8:06 PM

    UPDATE: We still don’t have the true story

  18. raynman49 says: Mar 6, 2011 8:26 PM

    3 hours without a story. It’s gonna be a long off season.

  19. sportsjustice says: Mar 6, 2011 8:31 PM

    So Bob Kraft saved the day again? I hope he gets enshrined in the Hall of Fame while he’s still able to smell the roses. This one owner has defined the modern NFL of the last 20 years.

  20. sportsjustice says: Mar 6, 2011 8:37 PM

    … And what I mean by that is he built and paid for Gillette Stadium himself with no PSA’s and no tax payer money. He saved the team from moving to St. Louis by buying the old stadium and handcuffing the current owners from relocating by not accepting a fortune to release the team from it’s deal with Foxboro. Then he turned around and paid the most money for a pro team in sports history at the time of purchase. He brought coach Belichick to town. He’s been deeply involved with every NFL deal and the sport is lucky to have him.

  21. hobartbaker says: Mar 6, 2011 8:38 PM

    You kick the Keister, and praise the Betterman. Only Silver! could get something so obvious and straightforward twisted around.

  22. vonsmoky71165 says: Mar 6, 2011 8:47 PM

    Ok so who the hell made Michael Silver the almighty of journalists. Is he the only one of the media allowed in the room during mediation? Does anybody really believe that Yahoo! sports is the final and absolute word of sports? PFT seems that no matter what that the only person they listen to is Micheal Silver. What about Adam Schefter, Chris Mortensen, Mike Mayock, Alex Marvez, or even Jason LaCanfora. Aren’t they journalists as well?

  23. thefiesty1 says: Mar 6, 2011 9:07 PM

    The hotel wait staff would have settled this fiasco by now and saved both sides thousands of $$ for each.

  24. backindasaddle says: Mar 6, 2011 9:14 PM

    Kraft has been around a long time, has multiple business concerns, is super sharp and negotiated many a deal. I think he knows what he’s doing very very well. He also knows that the lawyers gum up the works while in the process of negotiating.

    Let the lawyers take a look at the negotiated pieces and legal ramifications of same on an ongoing basis. But don’t allow them to be at the negotiations because they’ll muck it up. Let them work out a contract post-negotiation while feeding them the info on a daily basis. They could even work from recordings of the negotiation sections. But get them out of the room.

  25. hooterdawg says: Mar 6, 2011 9:42 PM

    People should not forget that Robert Kraft is among the hawks who opted out of the previous CBA because he wanted a better, richer deal for himself. He may have paid for his current stadium, but he wants some of his money back by taxing the players for a larger contribution from their paychecks ( an additional 1 billion off the top). Let there be no doubt that the NFL lawyers are fighting for what Robert Kraft and his ilk are demanding. Patriot fans may give this reality check a thumbs down, but the fact remains that Kraft is one of the strongest and wealthiest NFL voices, and his opinion swings a lot of wood with other owners.

  26. rushbacker says: Mar 6, 2011 9:50 PM

    Come on guys, take it easy on the lawyers– it’s only 98% of them that give the rest a bad name.

  27. shooliganza says: Mar 6, 2011 10:04 PM

    The more interesting rumblings are that Kraft has lost cache with the the other owners because it was his leadership that brought about the illegal TV contracts and assured the owners they would fly. Now that Judge Doty has destroyed that leverage, the owners are going to be forced into an embarrassing settlement to a new CBA which is worse for them than the old one OR enter a period of non-CBA individual player negotiations that will leave some teams out of business permanently. Many owners now realize it was Kraft who’s been leading this idiot’s charge, convinced the rich will always get the legal decisions they demand (see the Special Master and his amazing sealed decision). What can he do but yell at the lawyers. What do failed business men do? Blame the lawyers.

  28. dcpatfan says: Mar 6, 2011 10:08 PM

    cant wait till he gets back from Israel…”those lawyers are toast”

  29. Kave Krew says: Mar 6, 2011 10:18 PM

    Yes, Bob Kraft did save the Patriots, not only from moving to St. Louis but mostly from themselves. They were a mess of a franchise when he bought them and he turned it completely around in a short few years.

    If anyone can break down the walls to get to an agreement, it’s Bob Kraft. I hope he can pull this miracle off while in Israel.

  30. jnbnet says: Mar 6, 2011 10:49 PM

    … And what I mean by that is he built and paid for Gillette Stadium himself with no PSA’s and no tax payer money. He saved the team from moving to St. Louis by buying the old stadium and handcuffing the current owners from relocating by not accepting a fortune to release the team from it’s deal with Foxboro. Then he turned around and paid the most money for a pro team in sports history at the time of purchase. He brought coach Belichick to town. He’s been deeply involved with every NFL deal and the sport is lucky to have him.

    And don’t forget that he also turned down a Free stadium in Connecticut. He Saw through (then govorner) Rolland’s offer. Rolland ended up in jail

  31. realitypolice says: Mar 6, 2011 11:17 PM

    I am a businessman myself, albeit on a much smaller scale than Robert Kraft, but I feel his pain with the lawyers.

    So many times the businessmen on both sides hammer out multi million dollar deals in a matter of days, only to have those deals delayed for months (sometimes years) once they get turned over to the lawyers.

    I’m sure Robert Kraft was mining decades of experience with deals getting f***** up by lawyers when he made those comments.

  32. knightringonow says: Mar 6, 2011 11:25 PM

    Your 4 foot frame says, Indeed, if the NFL had gotten better legal advice when renegotiating the network television deals, the league possibly wouldn’t have ignored its obligation to maximize revenue shared by the owners and the players in order to finagle more leverage against a lockout.  Then again, it’s entirely possible that the league was getting good legal advice, but chose to ignore it.)

    First, what? F-ing lawyer.

    Second, are you delerious? no one. — ever– until this very posting has EVER suggested that the last TV NFL deal was anything less than an NFL home run. Sheesh, Pat Bowlen has been given Saint-like status because deal was so NFL-good. I recall talk that Fox so overpaid “…they could never make
    money on the deal”.

    Are there other sites with better info, heighth, and less hair? I’m tiring of this narcissism and riches.

  33. zackd2 says: Mar 6, 2011 11:39 PM

    The same people making fun of lawyers are the same one with lawyers on speed dial so they can sue if there’s a hair on their french fry tonight.

  34. mrcowpatty says: Mar 7, 2011 12:36 AM

    It really piss me off when really rich people get pissed off. Kind of reminds me of Mel Brooks, it’s good to be the King and OH! Piss boy Piss boy!!!

  35. pondbridge says: Mar 7, 2011 1:42 AM

    Bill Parcells saved the Patriots franchise. Continue that team with DOA coaches like Ron Rust and the team would be nothing, wherever they happened to be located. Kraft bristles when reality conflicts with his carefully Krafted (geddit?) self-image as the genius owner in the NFL.

  36. joyjoy69 says: Mar 7, 2011 2:14 AM

    OK, lawyer bias! There is another possibility. The lawyers were in the room and told the league no problem – giving bad advise…

  37. nwhmpshr says: Mar 7, 2011 10:27 AM

    I know Robert Kraft has been elevated to sainthood in New England with all that has gone on but history has been sanitized a bit.

    I clearly remember Kraft trying to get the Massachusetts taxpayers to pay for the stadium and the Mass. legislature told him to go fly a kite. Kraft then threatened to move the team to Connecticut.

  38. universalcynic says: Mar 7, 2011 10:29 AM

    (Indeed, if the NFL had gotten better legal advice when renegotiating the network television deals, the league possibly wouldn’t have ignored its obligation to maximize revenue shared by the owners and the players in order to finagle more leverage against a lockout. Then again, it’s entirely possible that the league was getting good legal advice, but chose to ignore it.) – MF

    ??!?!?!?!?

    Holy legal platitudes Batman!

  39. BAMNATION says: Mar 8, 2011 3:49 AM

    Kraft and Mayo go great together!

    Anyway – there is some hope the CBA may have some conclusion by the end of this is better than what we all thought a week ago…..

  40. dienavinjohnson says: Mar 8, 2011 11:14 AM

    I never had anything against lawyers until I got divorced. My (ex)wife and I had worked out the details of how we wanted to procede. She, on the advice of the chick mafia at her work, went to a “free consultation” at a lawyer in town. Long story short, $10,000 later she fired her “free” lawyer, we settled for the original terms that we had agreed to 2 years earlier, and we both moved on with our lives.

    The kicker? There was $150 left on my retainer with MY lawyer after all was said and done. I received an invoice in the mail a couple of weeks after the case was closed charging me, you guessed it, $150 for a phone conference with the clerk of courts, reviewing the decision, and MAILING ME THE BILL. We did all of that at the court at our final hearing. He just couldn’t stand giving money back.

    What else should anyone expect from a group of people who care more about what is legal than what is right? So, in sum, first, let’s kill all the lawyers!

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