In an interview aired Friday on ESPN, Chiefs linebacker and NFLPA* Executive Committee member Mike Vrabel said that the players want to negotiate, but not with men like outside counsel Bob Batterman, in-house counsel Jeff Pash, or Commissioner Roger Goodell. Instead, Vrabel said the players want to talk directly to Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, and Panthers owner Jerry Richardson.
The league accepts, sort of.
“The NFL’s negotiating team — accompanied by the three owners Mike mentioned, Jerry Jones, Jerry Richardson and Robert Kraft — is prepared to meet immediately. Just tell us when and where,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said.
In other words, Batterman, Pash, and Goodell will be there, too.
But we think this is a point on which the owners would be wise to yield. Bring Batterman, Pash, and Goodell to the meetings, but let the players meet with the owners. If that’s what it will take to kick-start stalled talks, so be it.
Besides, the league had a chance to get this done with Pash and Batterman and Goodell running the show, and it didn’t work. If they are interested in working out a fair deal and getting the players back to work, they should be happy to stand down and let the guys who sign the checks determine how big those checks will be.