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Joe Banner explains why league thinks offer to players was “fair”

JoeBannerAP AP

Various league officials and owners have used the same word when describing the offer made last week to the players.

Fair.

But fair is in the eye of the beholder, and the question isn’t whether the person who made an offer thinks it was fair, but whether the recipient of the offer reaches that same conclusion.

So we asked Eagles president Joe Banner, who was involved in the negotiation process, to explain during a visit to ProFootballTalk Live why he believes the offer was fair.  Our friends at the Eagles’ official website transcribed the answer, along with the rest of the interview.

“Well, I think, as briefly as I can, there are a number of non-dollar issues,” Banner said.  “There are things I’ve mentioned around the offseason work schedule, life-long health benefits, a legitimate way to try to address the players that retired before 1993 that we all recognize are an important part of where we are today, improved work conditions, health insurance, the issue of 16 games vs. 18 games. On those positions, the specific proposals that the union made on almost all of those issues were adopted or virtually adopted in the league’s final proposal. So obviously there were a significant number of consequential concessions, from our perspective, in that. Then, as I just mentioned, the league held very firm on a rookie system that was a significant change from the first round previously but offered to maintain the position for all the other draft picks consistent with what it was developing from 2008, 2009, 2010 and would continue to progress, and did seek a significant restructuring of the first round.

“Really to say that, fairly, a really significant restructuring of probably about the first dozen picks, a moderate restructuring maybe of the next dozen picks then a very slight restructuring of the 10 picks who would follow after that. And then with respect to the economics, we would split the difference which, as I just said, left from our perspective the veterans in a position because of the adjustments to the rookie pool to actually be similar to, in a very short time significantly better off, than they were under the old proposals. It seems like other than the sacrifices being asked of the first-round draft picks, that was a very significant move in a fairly neutral place. I don’t think anybody had illusions that they were going to come back and say yes. But certainly a place from which was very reasonable to anticipate a continuation of negotiations and it certainly warranted a counter-proposal reflective of that kind of movement or affirmation of some of the issues that have been negotiated over the week of the players’ position of those issues.

“I think in summary that’s why. I mean I think the one specific part of it I could add, if you looked going forward over the next four years this would produce somewhere between $19 and $20 billion dollars in cap and benefits for the players. If you look back at the last four years, that number was a little bit over $17 billion dollars. I know we’re talking numbers that are hard for the average fan to relate to, but you are talking about a significant increase over the next four years vs. the past four years in the combination of cap and benefits to the players and in a formula that accomplishes what the owners needed to do in there to be able to get the game and keep it as strong as it is by doing things like investing in stadiums and investing in the NFL Network and assuming the operating costs on these new stadiums. That was long-winded, but I think that’s why we thought it was a fair proposal and one that certainly would warrant a continuation of discussions.”

Here’s what we take away from Banner’s comments.  First, and as the folks at NFLLabor.com immediately noticed, Banner said that the league offered to pay to the players more than $2 billion more over the next four years than what had been paid to players over the last four years.  (Rosenthal noticed it, too, which I didn’t notice before writing this piece.)  The increase in real dollars results from ongoing growth of the pie, even as the players’ piece of it shrinks, along with the changes to the procedure for paying first-round draft picks.

Second, it’s now abundantly clear that the offer made by the league wasn’t expected to be accepted.  Instead, the league was hoping to do enough to get another extension.  Given the general feeling of frustration emanating from the players’ camp regarding the amount of time spent sitting around (as Cardinals kicker Jay Feely explained earlier this week on PFT Live), it’s safe to assume that the players didn’t really want to be jerked around for several more days before the league got serious as the next extended deadline approached.

Third, and as we’ve said before and will continue to say again, the offer needs to be met with a response from the players, and the negotiations need to continue.  We firmly believe that a majority, at a minimum, of the players would be in favor of continuing talks.  And we fear that a small minority of lawyers and/or players have decided that they know better, and that they have decided to blindly push the legal process through the April 6 hearing under the assumption that a preliminary injunction lifting the lockout will be granted.

If it isn’t, and when the league picks up significant leverage in the wake of such a ruling, the folks calling the shots now will have a lot of explaining to do to their constituents and/or clients.

Here’s hoping that some of those constituents and/or clients demand an explanation starting tomorrow, when the NFLPA* gathers for its annual meeting in Marco Island, Florida.

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31 Responses to “Joe Banner explains why league thinks offer to players was “fair””
  1. gbfanforever says: Mar 16, 2011 6:32 PM

    Wake me up when you decide to offer some balance to your reporting

  2. toe4 says: Mar 16, 2011 6:46 PM

    The fans have been suckered in by the NFL PR machine. On Wednesday of last week the prevailing wind was pro-player… on Friday it was pro-owner. What happened on Thursday?

    Nothing. Oh, the NFL unrolled a marketing blitz aimed at attacking the thumbs on this website, but other than that, nothing.

    In more important news, I purchased a strawberry topsy turvy today. Strawberries grown upside down. Winning!

  3. waitingguilty says: Mar 16, 2011 6:50 PM

    @gbfan…

    Huh?

    This is about as unbiased an explanation of a very hard to explain situation as I’ve seen.

    You need to accept the fact that most rational people believe the players did the negotiations a disservice by opting to litigate. In most people’s opinions there should have been a counter and an extension.

    The reporting is not unbalanced, it’s just correct.

  4. agor4004 says: Mar 16, 2011 6:51 PM

    Jd. Nelson will deny the PI because the players cannot show likelihood of success on the merits because the “sham” defense remains a question of fact to be decided by the NLRB. However, the owners don’t gain much leverage from that because the likelihood remains that the “sham” defense is a loser, at which time the players can refile the motion for PI, which in turn would be granted. All of this confirms your point Mike, the players need to respond to the owners’ last proposal, now.

  5. eaglebobby says: Mar 16, 2011 6:52 PM

    I hope this judge not only denies the players their expected victory by not lifting the lockout, and I hope she orders them both (which the owners want to do) back to mediation and tell them not to leave until an agreement is reached.

  6. randolph32 says: Mar 16, 2011 6:53 PM

    Get happy GBFAN, you won the SB!

    The most important point was ‘we didn’t expect them to take it, but we expected a COUNTER OFFER’….makes since when one is bargaining. Obviously the Union decided, long before it arrived, that litigation was their best alternative.

    If it doesn’t end up that way, I’d figure out a way to sue the idiots and collect from them the rest of their life!

  7. phillyforlife says: Mar 16, 2011 6:55 PM

    THE PLAYERS SUCK THE OWNERS SUCK AND THE NFL SUCK’S AND IS DEAD TO ME. Long live the MLB and The NHL at least most of the player in those two sports are smart enough to keep their money. Like I have said before NFL and NBA players are just dumb you decide the common denominator between the two.

  8. phillyforlife says: Mar 16, 2011 6:57 PM

    They going to be in Marco hell thats 20 minutes from here where do I sign up to picket those douche-bags

  9. jakek2 says: Mar 16, 2011 7:00 PM

    Joe – Since I am one of the few on this site with half a brain, let’s see….what you’re telling me is that you conceded a bunch of terms that you were only holding as chips but did nothing more as far as the pie is concerned? The NFLPA saw right through it and now you’re trying to wage a war in the court of public opinion? Got it.

    Unfortunately, you’ll probably succeed in swaying the public opinion because the public is as dumb as a bag of hammers.

  10. lichnor says: Mar 16, 2011 7:00 PM

    “….the issue of 16 games vs. 18 games…”

    This was never an issue.

    Anyone who thinks this was anything more than a fake issue the NFL created so they could, at a later date, during negotiations, say, “Hey, we gave up the 18 games, what did they give up?” is a moron.

  11. anonymouslyanonymouscommentor says: Mar 16, 2011 7:02 PM

    Biggest thing from this is that the owners’ didn’t expect them to take the offer. They can’t be happy he just said that.

  12. h0c2000 says: Mar 16, 2011 7:04 PM

    What do you think the No Football League say? League rump swab.

  13. tdurk34 says: Mar 16, 2011 7:12 PM

    @gbforever
    Ok, let me see. The owners offer detailed explainations of their offer, whether you agree or not, they are offering details. The players on the other hand are name calling, playing the blame game, and telling future players to stay away from the draft.

    Huh, I see your point……next time a player or their lawyers say an intelligent thing will be the first time.

    Too much time out in the cold huh?

  14. saberstud75 says: Mar 16, 2011 7:18 PM

    Wake me up when a player says something that resembles an intelligent statement about this.

  15. chapnastier says: Mar 16, 2011 7:19 PM

    The players didn’t want to be jerked around? You mean they didn’t understand the definition of the word negotiation. These spoiled brats will ruin football.

    gbfanforever is right on with his comment.

  16. jimphin says: Mar 16, 2011 7:27 PM

    Until the NFLPA decides to open their books from the past 10 years and show us where the over 200 million anual budget is being spent…I don’t think we will have a resolution to this issue. I remember the good ole days (back in the early 90’s) when their anual budget was only 4 mill.

    We may come to find out that DeMaurice Smith has one mean hat collection.

  17. jc1958cool says: Mar 16, 2011 7:27 PM

    open the books or end the lockout!

  18. pflynn20 says: Mar 16, 2011 7:27 PM

    Joe ” Nickles” Banner. No wonder the players walked away from the table.

  19. iknowfootballandyoudont says: Mar 16, 2011 7:30 PM

    It was MORE than fair. But greed blinds the uninformed.

  20. frankvzappa says: Mar 16, 2011 7:34 PM

    *glossy eyes, blank stare*

  21. shieldsisland37 says: Mar 16, 2011 7:34 PM

    2011 PFT offseason.

    1. Player x does this in offseason.
    2. Player y says this is owners fault.
    3. Owner says this is players fault.
    4. rinse and repeat.

  22. PanchoHerreraFanClub says: Mar 16, 2011 8:02 PM

    Earth to Mike: the players did response, they decertified, walked away and sued. If you don’t read that as a response, you are missing the story big time.

  23. 3octaveFart says: Mar 16, 2011 8:37 PM

    iknowfootballandyoudont says: Mar 16, 2011 7:30 PM

    I sure wish you’d quit talking as if you were present during the negotiations.

  24. tcdun says: Mar 16, 2011 8:50 PM

    Yep,the players WALKED AWAY from negotiations that had the owners compromising on at least 8 issues and compromising several times on most of those issues. The least the players could do was counter offer and negotiate for another week to see how close the two side could get.
    It is clear that the players union and their poor choice for a leader,never wanted to negotiate in good faith but were just going along for PR purposes until they thought the fans were on their side and then they were running to court,as they had planned to do from day one.Smith seems to want to make a name for himself instead of represent the players best interests !!!

    And to the uninformed…
    The owners have already been giving the union independently audited financial statements for many years now (it is a clause in the just expired CBA agreement that the owners have been living up to 100%) . In addition to that the owners offered the union all the financial info they asked for ,audited by an agreed on ,unbiased auditing firm of the unions choice. This is more financial info than the League makes available to each owner about the other owners finances.
    This was a huge offer by the owners but Smith didn’t really want that,he wanted to go to court in hopes that Judge Doty would give him what he couldn’r get in a fair negotiation.Now that Doty is out,the union should get reasonable and hope the owners don’t take their reasonable offers off the table and play hard ball with the inept union leadership.

  25. zaggs says: Mar 16, 2011 8:54 PM

    “Second, it’s now abundantly clear that the offer made by the league wasn’t expected to be accepted. Instead, the league was hoping to do enough to get another extension.”

    Absolutely pathetic! They cave on several issues, then split the difference on the financials, yet that somehow means they were just jerking around? Outside of caving 100% on every issue the players wanted what the heck else were the owners supposed to do?

  26. commandercornpone says: Mar 16, 2011 8:56 PM

    the agents wouldnt like that joe, cutting rookie 1st rounder salaries.

    gee is gene upshaw’s agent tom condon still on the retirees’ compensation board? what the nfl and union pay retirees isnt any of condon’s damn business.

  27. thelionsfan00 says: Mar 16, 2011 10:12 PM

    Heres an idea, give the billion dollars in question back to the fans, this way a family of four could afford to goto a football game and the NFL may not price themselves out of small markets…

  28. bamasucks says: Mar 16, 2011 10:45 PM

    jakek2,

    glad to know that you realize that at least half of your brain is missing.

  29. joepags says: Mar 17, 2011 8:35 AM

    poor eagles fans…the only superbowl they will ever win is the salary cap bowl!!! they wont win, until big red is gone and joe banner.

  30. richm2256 says: Mar 17, 2011 9:29 AM

    PanchoHerreraFanClub says:
    Earth to Mike: the players did response, they decertified, walked away and sued. If you don’t read that as a response, you are missing the story big time.

    ————————————————–

    So you see the entire negotiation process as being: I make an offer to you, and your “counter-offer” is to leave the table, walk out of the room, and head dirctly to court?

    In that context, yeah, they “negotiated”.

    Moron.

    Signed,
    “Earth”

  31. edgy says: Mar 18, 2011 11:54 AM

    Shockingly, I don’t buy it. Look, if we take what the owners say then the $2 billion extra per year is nothing more than them negotiating for better TV terms instead of leaving money on the table for the sake of lockout insurance and the revenue from increased ticket prices.

    The owners offer was said to have gone down from $1 billion to $325 million and if that’s the case then really, folks, how they can scream that they need this money for profitability and then put 2/3 of it off that table? It’s because they didn’t need it for that but to pay for their new palaces, which don’t share all that extra revenue with the players or the other owners. If they really needed all that money, they wouldn’t have budged but they did so it would seem that while you might think that they’re being flexible, I think that they’re showing that they’re not nearly as bad off as you’ve been led to believe. Liar, Liar, Goodell On Fire.

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