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Lions explain lockout without placing blame on players

TomLewandAP AP

Of all the teams in the NFL, the Detroit Lions are surely the most hopeful that a football season will occur in 2011.

After all, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh believes they can go 16-0.  Though we’re not ready to share his optimism for such an outcome, we think they can return to the playoffs for the first time in more than a decade.

It would be fitting, then, that as the Lions are peaking, the NFL is staring at a potential full-season lockout.

Team president Tom Lewand shared the organization’s views on the matter with season-ticket holders via e-mail Saturday.

“In the interest of communicating openly with our most valued customers, we wanted to write to keep you updated on how the expiration of the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement may impact the 2011 season,” Lewand said.

“As you probably know, the Collective Bargaining Agreement — the contract between the league and the labor union representing the players — has expired.  The NFL is working hard to reach a new agreement with the players, and we hope the negotiation process does not disrupt this football season.  You should know that it is no way disrupting our preparation for a great 2011 season.

“In the event any games are cancelled, be assured we will provide you with a full refund, with simple interest, for any cancelled preseason or regular-season home games. We will provide you with the details of the refund program at the appropriate time should it become necessary.  In the meantime, if you have any questions about the refund policy, or any other matter, please contact your account representative or any sales representative at (313) 262-2011.

“We are sorry the CBA expiration has created some uncertainty during this offseason.  We understand and respect that what is most important to you and to all of our fans is that we play football in 2011.

“We share your passion for NFL football and your excitement for the upcoming season.  Our coaches and personnel department continue to work diligently to prepare for the NFL Draft in April and to be ready as soon as the teams and the players are able to come to a fair agreement for both sides.

“Thank you for your patience and understanding.  We greatly appreciate your support of the Detroit Lions and will continue to keep you informed of our plans for the 2011 season.”

Did you notice what Lewand did there?  He didn’t blame the union.

And he shouldn’t.  Both sides are trying to cut their best possible deal.  Faced with a near-certain lockout, the players are rolling the dice in a court of law.  It may work, it may not work.  The NFL will try to force them back to the bargaining table.  It may work, it may not work.

Either way, one side shouldn’t blame the other, and neither side should act like they’re doing anything for the fans.  The players have tried time and again to do so.

Their approach (if successful) benefits the fans by preventing a lockout.  But they players aren’t doing it for us.  They’re doing it for them.  Any benefit to us is coincidental.

Indeed, the players weren’t thinking about the fans 24 years ago, when they went on strike.  In that case, as in this case, they did what they thought was in their best interests.

That said, the fans have every right to be upset at one or both parties for failing to get a deal done, instead of trying to apply leverage in order to secure slightly “better” terms.  Along they way, they’ve compromised their relationship to the point where some major feather unruffling needs to happen before the parties will agree on anything.

We credit the Lions for doing their part toward mending fences, by not further inflaming the situation with rhetoric aimed at getting the fans riled up against the players.

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27 Responses to “Lions explain lockout without placing blame on players”
  1. lennydpocketqb says: Mar 13, 2011 8:07 AM

    Good for Detroit in not pointing fingers at the players but let’s be honest here Mike. Detroit can’t point fingers at what they haven’t had in over a decade.

  2. foobarfoofoo says: Mar 13, 2011 8:34 AM

    He also writes that the CBA expired, which is only partially true … the owners pulled the plug two years early.

    And based on the last offer from the owners to the players, it looks like the players could have gotten a deal not much worse than the one which was unanimously cancelled by the owners.

    BTW: Is trading players or draft picks allowed during the lockout period or during the draft? I guess so, but is it?

  3. wryly1 says: Mar 13, 2011 8:40 AM

    Good on him. Thoughtful piece. Lewand isn’t a bad exec. Problem for him is he still works for perhaps the worst owner in major professional sports, William Clay Ford – who set the franchise back decades by first alienating Barry Sanders and subsequently hiring Matt Millen as GM.

  4. geobh says: Mar 13, 2011 9:00 AM

    change the name of the league and re-open for business.

  5. jc1958cool says: Mar 13, 2011 9:02 AM

    i wonder how that lockout insurance is working for the ford family? heaven knows they’ll go broke without it! the owners took thee insurance for ONE reason, 32 magotts!

  6. gbfanforever says: Mar 13, 2011 9:10 AM

    Of course they dare not blame the players in the D. Same reason that they won’t in other blue collar places like Pennsylvania, Ohio, and here in Wisconsin where we’ve grown more than a little tired of watching the ultra wealthy blame workers for every financial problem.

  7. dewalt2990 says: Mar 13, 2011 9:14 AM

    The Lions doing things right again?? I’m getting used to this.

  8. swive says: Mar 13, 2011 9:22 AM

    I am convinced that the Lion’s management team (front office and coaching staff) finally, finally, FINALLY gets it. They are doing things the right way. Finally!

  9. chapnastier says: Mar 13, 2011 9:29 AM

    So let me get this straight… they shouldn’t say it is the players fault when all of the evidence says it was the players fault?

  10. 1historian says: Mar 13, 2011 10:21 AM

    Go to the Lions’ website and read the statement there about the lockout – it’s a different story.

  11. oldbyrd says: Mar 13, 2011 10:24 AM

    By what stretch of the imagination should anyone that owns a business, have to open their books to socialists????

  12. richm2256 says: Mar 13, 2011 10:52 AM

    Class statement…… good for the Lions! Every team should make a similar statement to their ticket holders.

  13. FoozieGrooler says: Mar 13, 2011 10:57 AM

    chapnastier says: Mar 13, 2011 9:29 AM

    “..they shouldn’t say it is the players fault when all of the evidence says it was the players fault?”

    To the best of my knowledge, the players have not “flat-out refused” to give back $1 billion (or any portion thereof), they just want to know why. Considering the amount being asked, I don’t think that’s an unreasonable request.

    Besides, wasn’t a lockout part of the owners plans all along? Weren’t they hoping to sit back and collect their “lockout insurance” while starving the players out?

  14. realitypolice says: Mar 13, 2011 10:57 AM

    chapnastier says:
    Mar 13, 2011 9:29 AM
    So let me get this straight… they shouldn’t say it is the players fault when all of the evidence says it was the players fault?
    ====================

    Yes, of course, all of the evidence points to it being the players fault.

    It was the players who decided to opt out of the CBA two years early. Oops, that was the owners.

    It was the players who insist they need to hold back more revenue but refuse to show anyone why. Oops, that was the owners.

    It was the players who want to get paid less to play more games. Oops, that was the owners.

    Listen, if you want side with the owners because you’re jealous of people you consider inferior to you getting to drive cars you don’t get to drive, sleep with women who wouldn’t look twice at you, live in houses you wouldn’t be allowed to step foot in, and just generally have a life 1000% better than yours, so be it.

    But don’t pretend the facts are on your side.

  15. realitypolice says: Mar 13, 2011 11:03 AM

    oldbyrd says:
    Mar 13, 2011 10:24 AM
    By what stretch of the imagination should anyone that owns a business, have to open their books to socialists????
    ========================

    I am a businessman and generally anti-union. But the relationship between the players and the owners is not an employee-employer relationship as you apparently understand it.

    The NFL has referred to the players numerous times (when they aren’t involved in a CBA negotiation) as PARTNERS. This is in fact true to the extent that player compensation is DIRECTLY TIED to revenues.

    Now the league wants to pull a billion dollars out of that pie and their partners want to know why. Sounds reasonable.

    Not really a “socialist” concept, not that you probably really have any understanding of what that means, either.

  16. thefiesty1 says: Mar 13, 2011 11:03 AM

    The lions just may go 16-0 with a bunch of scabs. Whoops, I forgot it’s Detroit, never mind.

  17. Deb says: Mar 13, 2011 11:23 AM

    @chapnastier …

    A mind is a terrible thing to waste, chap. The time you spend taking everything said to you on a television network as gospel would be better spent reading history books. The only reason you believe the evidence says all the blame rests on the players is because you’ve been spoonfed a lot of anti-labor pap and swallowed it without question.

    The owners (meaning a powerful contingent of owners, not all owners) signed an agreement they didn’t want, and didn’t intend to honor, in order to buy time. They instructed their television partners to withhold some of their revenue stream and funnel it into a lockout fund that would finance them during cessation of business. They hired a lockout specialist to lead their negotiating team. Most people could connect the dots and see they intended to lock out the players, who tried to circumvent this move by decertifying.

    Never in the history of the world has any ownership group provided any safety measure or benefit to any group of workers that wasn’t won through collective efforts. Whether or not you work in a union shop, you benefit from the men and women who gave their lives in those efforts.

    Unions have become too powerful in some instances and mave have overreached in some of their demands, making it difficult for businesses to function effectively. But that doesn’t mean they weren’t and aren’t needed, or that corporate America has suddenly become trustworth and magnanimous.

    @oldbyrd …

    Not everyone who disagrees with you is a socialist. And when publicly traded companies layoff workers or slash benefits, they provide evidence that their revenues have taken a hit.

    These aren’t publicly held companies but they are organizations that could not generate any revenue without the cooperation of these players. They have a long history of being disingenuous with their players, who can’t be blamed for wanting to see documentation before agreeing to give up close to a billion dollars.

  18. CKL says: Mar 13, 2011 11:24 AM

    Color me shocked that an employee who works for an owner who helped run another heavily unionized business won’t criticize the union!
    That would be suicidal in that town I would imagine.
    That said it would be the smart strategy for both sides not to slam the others to the media but the union heads are failing the worst at it.

  19. dewalt2990 says: Mar 13, 2011 11:40 AM

    The “statement” on the Lions website is a statement by the NFL, not the Lions dude, all you have to do is read the title, “Read an update from the NFL regarding current labor negotiations.” Look down two inches on your screen and click the “Quote Sheet” from Tom Lewand’s press conference.

  20. liontomyself says: Mar 13, 2011 1:01 PM

    realitypolice says:

    It was the players who decided to opt out of the CBA two years early. Oops, that was the owners.

    _________________

    So you are saying that the clause was in the last CBA without the Union knowing about it? Oops, that was the players who allowed it to be in there…..

    So….yes……the players agreed to “opt out” 2 years early.

    And the decertification was set in motion as soon as pen was set to paper. The union knew the owners would opt out because it was a bad deal and the players would never negoiate for less than what that CBA gave them.

  21. canadianvikingfaniii says: Mar 13, 2011 1:02 PM

    With a statement like that the NFL and NFLPA should just have the Lion’s front office handle the PR.

  22. liontomyself says: Mar 13, 2011 1:16 PM

    realitypolice says:

    It was the players who insist they need to hold back more revenue but refuse to show anyone why. Oops, that was the owners.

    _____________

    They don’t need to show anyone why. You are acting like they are trying to modify a current agreement. They aren’t. The current agreement expired……which the union allowed (why agree to an opt out clause if you don’t think it will be used AND agree it can be used?).

    The owners are negotiating a NEW agreement and the union wants nothing less than the last agreement (refusal to negotiate).

    The owners took less profit in the last CBA and they want more in this CBA. Plain and simple.

    The owners forced themselves over a barrel and demanded that the players needed more profit in the last CBA……..”Oops, that was the” players………..and why thhere was an opt out clause.

  23. t1mmy10 says: Mar 13, 2011 1:32 PM

    “You should know that it is no way disrupting our preparation for a great 2011 season.”

    Of course, except when you take into account canceled OTA’s, players being able to work out at team facilities, and coaches being able to work with & talk to players…

    Yep, in no way is this disrupting their preparation.

  24. liontomyself says: Mar 13, 2011 1:43 PM

    Deb says:

    The owners (meaning a powerful contingent of owners, not all owners) signed an agreement they didn’t want, and didn’t intend to honor, in order to buy time.
    _________

    Didn’t intend to honor it? They DID honor the last CBA. It had an opt out clause and they used it. Are you saying the union didn’t agree the owners could (therefore WOULD) opt out? If they didn’t agree, why would they sign it?

    It doesn’t why the owners are negotiating a NEW agreement. The CBA expired and they are negotiating. The union wants nothing less than the last agreement and are not negotiating a new contract. They are now using your (and my) tax dollars in order to maintain status quo on THEIR billions…….but, I guess you are happy with your tax dollars being used to see who gets a larger percentage of $9B……I for one am not. And for that reason alone, I blame the players. If the players union isn’t strong enough to negotiate the players best interests without using my tax dollars, why is it needed?

  25. Deb says: Mar 13, 2011 3:04 PM

    @liontomyself …

    Spare me. Like most people on here, you blame the players either because a) they are guys making millions to play a game and you’re a jealous couch potato, or b) you believe anyone who questions the greed of big business is a socialist instigator.

    The players have not asked for more money. The players have not threatened to strike. The players are not the ones who’ve launched a propaganda war. The players are simply trying to protect themselves and ascertain why they’re being asked to take a slice off the top of the revenue pie before calculating their percentages. http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-plaschke-20110313,0,5359904.column It’s a perfectly reasonable question, so why won’t the owners answer it?

  26. Deb says: Mar 13, 2011 3:07 PM

    CKL says:

    That said it would be the smart strategy for both sides not to slam the others to the media but the union heads are failing the worst at it.

    ————————————————-
    The players don’t own a television network or have corporate partners and a Web site to spread their message or an army of shills posting on sites like this (how many of these pro-owner user names do you recognize?). With all due respect, if you think they’re doing the lion’s share of slamming, you’re out of your mind.

  27. liontomyself says: Mar 14, 2011 8:40 PM

    Deb, Deb, Deb….so narrow minded. “If you don’t agree with me, I will label you Socialist, lazy, uninformed or all of the above.”

    What I originally said to you was removed / not allowed (probably for what I said about your “conclusions” for those who don’t agree with you)……..so, I will just leave it at :

    They players are WRONG. And, it is showing more and more.

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