As we were writing a blurb urging the owners to respond to the letter from the NFLPA* by taking the high road, the league was issuing a public response from general counsel Jeff Pash.
It would have been better to do it privately. Fortunately, the content of Pash’s message isn’t inflammatory.
“We are pleased now to have received a reply to the comprehensive proposal that we made eight days ago,” Pash says. “The points made in the players’ letter are precisely the kind of points that collective bargaining is intended to address. Debating the merits of the offer in this fashion is what collective bargaining is all about. But we would note that three facts we have consistently identified over the past week are ignored and we therefore assume acknowledged. First, the proposal called for player costs of between $19 and $20 billion over the next four seasons; second, the player cost figure in 2011 was above the actual cash spending for 2009 and 2010; and third, the economic offer, combined with other elements of the proposal, was a substantial move by the clubs to keep negotiations going and avoid a work stoppage and related litigation.
“This letter again proves that the most sensible step for everyone is to get back to bargaining. So we again accept Mike Vrabel’s suggestion that the union’s executive committee meet with our negotiating team, including Jerry Richardson, Robert Kraft and Jerry Jones, to resume bargaining. If Mike will let us know when and where he and his colleagues would like to meet, we will be there. We are ready.”
The final paragraph ignores the portion of the letter in which the NFLPA* invites the NFL to contact class counsel to continue talks. Though the owners almost uniformly despise Jeffrey Kessler (which means he’s doing something right), they need to hold their collective noses and make the call and start the process.
As Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy acknowledged several days ago on PFT Live, there’s a way to involve the NFLPA* without jeopardizing the players’ position as to the validity of the decertification of the union. Still, the process must commence with the NFL’s lawyers calling Kessler or Barbara Berens or one of the other various attorneys named on the complaint filed on March 11.
So have David Boies call Kessler and begin the process of working out terms of continued discussions. And then get back to work. The back-and-forth nonsense is turning people off. The two sides need to find a way to turn the negotiations back on.