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Labor talks enter critical stretch

Roger Goodell, DeMaurice Smith, AP

As the labor talks continue on Thursday with the owners and key players returning, one thing is now clear.

Like the rapture guy’s May 21 misadventures, my prediction of an agreement in principle by June 30 likely won’t come to fruition.  (Then again, June 30 ain’t over yet.)  The bigger concern is whether a deal will even get done in time to save the full preseason.

Make no mistake about it.  Those meaningless games are very meaningful to the NFL, given the money that will be paid by the networks (starting with NBC on August 7) for the privilege of broadcasting an exhibition game that will outperform whatever baseball has to offer that same night, even if it’s Red Sox-Yankees.

Once the league starts to lose preseason games and the money that goes along with them, the deal that’s currently on the table won’t be as good, and the achievement of an agreement will be harder.

And so, if a deal is going to be worked out, it needs to come in the next couple of weeks.  That means both sides will need to address the issues that are giving the other side concern.  The phone call between NFLPA* executive director DeMaurice Smith and select Pro Bowlers was aimed at getting out the message that the owners could be taking advantage of the players’ sense that a deal is inevitable.  This allows the owners to take a hard line on various collateral issues, confident that the players will cave.  Thus, Roger Goodell need to get the owners to not do that.

From the owners’ perspective, the concern is that the players’ lawyers are trying to run out the clock, obsessing over irrelevant and/or ludicrous issues in the hopes that the preseason — and the $800 million generated by it — will be lost, making it harder to get a deal done, allowing the lawyers to pursue their visions of a multi-billion-dollar antitrust verdict.  Thus, De Smith needs to get the lawyers to not do that.

It sounds easy, but it will require real leadership from both men.  Here’s hoping that the relationship they’ve forged in recent weeks will fuel their desire to work out a deal that works for everyone.

Here’s also hoping that real urgency will be demonstrated in the coming days, with marathon talks resuming no later than July 5 and continuing until an agreement is finalized.  The time for twiddling thumbs and two days per week of meetings has ended; the fans want to see a legitimate desire to work this out, and it soon will mean working every day, around the clock, with limited breaks and maximum caffeine.

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26 Responses to “Labor talks enter critical stretch”
  1. moneymike23 says: Jun 30, 2011 10:00 AM

    Do you think they will have a deal by August? Thumbs up yes, thumbs down no.

  2. Knightlines says: Jun 30, 2011 10:07 AM

    Lets continue to name the title the same thing over and over, lol… you keep saying “critical”…Has it not been critical all along?

  3. ididntsaythat says: Jun 30, 2011 10:07 AM

    Ahhhh yes! Let the layers screw up the NFL the same way the Lawyers, turned politicians, have screwed up the US!!!!!!

  4. revischrist says: Jun 30, 2011 10:16 AM

    I was at my local sports bar last night and with things as slow as they are due to the ecomony in general,they don’t think they’ll be able to survive without the added boost they get from the NFL. Do these guys understand how many people could be hurt if they don’t come to an agreement? Do they even care?

  5. RexCanCoach says: Jun 30, 2011 10:18 AM

    Back in March I said this would drag on until August and no surprise here, once the owners face losing real money from advertising and ticket sales on preseason games they will become much more accommodating to the players needs.

    OK I admit I am beginning to miss the NFL now. Let’s get this going guys!

  6. myspaceyourface says: Jun 30, 2011 10:26 AM

    I think the announcement comes on Baseball’s All Star Weekend. In part to put the MLB in it’s place and for everyone to realize what America’s sport truly is.

  7. footballguru517 says: Jun 30, 2011 10:33 AM

    Seriously, why is this deal so hard to do??? Get in a room and hammer it out 12 hours a day, six days a week if you have to until it gets done. This meeting for two days a week for a few hours at a time stuff just isn’t gonna cut it.

  8. vtsquirm says: Jun 30, 2011 10:38 AM

    i’m starting to feel that at least some preseason games will be lost. that alone doesn’t bother me, but the uncertainty does.

  9. jsdriscoll says: Jun 30, 2011 10:53 AM

    I find it idiotic that Mssr’s Smith and Goodell could “let” the lawyers screw this up. Who’s in charge, the client or the vendor?

  10. JohnnySinns says: Jun 30, 2011 10:53 AM

    jesus!! somebody let the guy who negotiated Albert Haynesworth’s contract in the room already!!

  11. laeaglefan says: Jun 30, 2011 10:59 AM

    The Rapture HAS come. The lawyers now rule the world.

  12. waitingguilty says: Jun 30, 2011 10:59 AM

    Come on man, you’ve been saying a deal needs to get done “in the next couple of weeks” for the last 2 months!

  13. grpatriot says: Jun 30, 2011 11:08 AM

    Seems like everyone is optimistic but, De Smith?
    Unfortunately, he can torpedo any attempt to get a fair CBA in time for pre-season. What possible advantage would the *NFLPA have to do that?
    Fans, Players and Owners are ready to get this done. Why do I have this bad feeling that it’s not in De Smith’s plans? Could it be lititgation?
    Millions are at stake for the lawyers! Prolonging this CBA debate is in their best interests. Billable hours, which increase for actual in court time. Could add up to a big payday for them.
    Back to Kraft who stated during the SuperBowl, “get the Lawyers out of the room and we’ll get a deal done!” Will De Smith take that advise?

  14. Spencer says: Jun 30, 2011 11:20 AM

    This is going to drag out until the last minute.

  15. supashug says: Jun 30, 2011 11:31 AM

    but what source is saying its critical today, help us out, where do you get your info from

  16. evrybdyhas1 says: Jun 30, 2011 12:06 PM

    NFL=no fan love.

  17. tnazvol says: Jun 30, 2011 12:06 PM

    How hard could it be to kick Kessler in the huevos and tell him to shut the !@#$ up?

  18. tommyf15 says: Jun 30, 2011 12:10 PM

    footballguru517 says:
    Seriously, why is this deal so hard to do??? Get in a room and hammer it out 12 hours a day, six days a week if you have to until it gets done.

    There you have it. They key to getting a deal done is to just get it done. Why didn’t anyone else think of that?

    (sarcasm off)

    Did you ever stop to think that maybe it isn’t that easy?

    All these complicated issues out there, all these other ramifications to deal with, and all someone had to do all along was to tell the owners and the players to JUST GIDDER DUNN? Well, that’s a relief.

    OK, you get everyone in that room, and tell these two sides in heavy conflict over billions of dollars and life-altering health issues, that goshdarnit, they just need to work it out.

  19. golions1 says: Jun 30, 2011 12:11 PM

    We need Obama to order them back to work.

  20. tommyf15 says: Jun 30, 2011 12:31 PM

    grpatriot says:
    Seems like everyone is optimistic but, De Smith?
    Unfortunately, he can torpedo any attempt to get a fair CBA in time for pre-season. What possible advantage would the *NFLPA have to do that?
    Fans, Players and Owners are ready to get this done. Why do I have this bad feeling that it’s not in De Smith’s plans? Could it be lititgation?
    Millions are at stake for the lawyers! Prolonging this CBA debate is in their best interests. Billable hours, which increase for actual in court time. Could add up to a big payday for them.

    Wow, another PFT pro-owner sycophant clings to the absurd notion that DeMaurice Smith is getting paid by the hour.

  21. thephantomstranger says: Jun 30, 2011 12:35 PM

    If it’s obvious to us that they have to get this done before preseason games are lost or else everyone loses, they must realize it too. They probably have a hard deadline in mind of around July 15, and they’re not going to give in much until it gets close to that date. These things always happen at the 11th hour, but we don’t really know when the 11th hour is in their minds.

  22. CKL says: Jun 30, 2011 1:03 PM

    LOL come on tommyf…you kept saying Goodell was a lawyer up until about a bazillion people corrected you. It happens. Cut the guy a break. I don’t even see anything he said in that post that makes him an “owner sycophant” but I know this: I have seen this guy posting on PFT before the labor dispute started. I can’t say the same for you. Methinks thou doth protest too much about who is a sycophant.

  23. tommyf15 says: Jun 30, 2011 1:12 PM

    CKL says:
    LOL come on tommyf…you kept saying Goodell was a lawyer up until about a bazillion people corrected you.

    A bazillion = one. The first time I saw it I researched it and fessed up to my mistake.

    That wasn’t the only thing that I felt made the post sycophantically pro-owner.

  24. db105 says: Jun 30, 2011 2:33 PM

    Hope this drags on so that the preseason games are missed and season ticket holders can get refunded for the meaningless and worthless games.

  25. vetdana says: Jun 30, 2011 4:05 PM

    I agree with the basic premise of this blurb that once we start losing games…..a resolution will be much harder to negotiate because each sides position well be “cast in stone”. I would go one step further and say that “we would , at this point, probably lose the whole season”.

  26. PanchoHerreraFanClub says: Jun 30, 2011 4:20 PM

    As silly as this sounds all the owners need to do to save the preseason and the season is to unlock the doors.

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