In the wake of Thursday’s unprecedented confusion, with the NFL approving a labor deal that the NFLPA* either hadn’t seen or wouldn’t accept, plenty of you have asked for a full list of the open issues that existed.
Via an e-mail sent to teammates on Saturday, Saints quarterback Drew Brees — a member of the NFLPA* Executive Committee and one of the 10 named plaintiffs in the Brady antitrust class action — listed the remaining areas of dispute.
Here’s a summary of the e-mail, a copy of which we obtained earlier tonight.
For starters, Brees said that a few of the open issues are “deal breakers.” Though it may simply be rhetoric, it’s a troubling sign at a time when things are supposedly close to being done.
Brees identified three primary outstanding issues: (1) workers’ compensation; (2) minimum cash spend; and (3) injury guarantees.
As to workers’ compensation, Brees writes that “the NFL is trying to impose a system where they can restrict which states we can file for workers comp.” He calls it a “major benefit when it comes to long term health care,” and he vows that “[w]e will never let them restrict our health and safety long term.”
As to the minimum cash spend, Brees writes that “we want to force owners to spend a minimum percentage of the cap every year in cash.” Brees adds, “We cannot have teams like KC spend only 67% of the cap like they did in 2009. It doesn’t matter how high the cap is if they are only going to spend that much. So with a minimum in place, it requires all teams to be at or above that minimum. More money in players pockets.”
As to injury guarantees, Brees explains that “you will have at least a portion of the your contract guaranteed for injury for the first 3 years of your deal.”
Brees also addresses the recertification of the union as a pending issue to be resolved. “As you know, when we were locked out on March 11, we were forced to decertify as a Union so we could sue the NFL under the anti-trust laws and file for an injunction saying the lockout was illegal,” Brees writes. “That lawsuit is the Brady vs. NFL case. As part of the settlement for that case (in other words, as part of this deal getting done), the NFL would require us as players to reconstitute as a Union. Why? Because it protects them from the anti-trust laws and keeps them from getting sued by everyone for acting as a monopoly.”
Brees fails to mention that this also will protect the draft from legal attack by the likes of Andrew Luck, which in turn will preserve the rookie wage scale. As he should have said, “More money in [current] players pockets.”
Brees then lists six areas in which he wants to see “significant improvements” after recertification: (1) disability benefits for retired players as well as a revamped disability system; (2) all other benefits; (3) regulations for team doctors, physicians, trainers, etc.; (4) drug policy; (5) personal conduct policy; and (6) regulation of agents, financial advisors, etc.
As to the last point, the players don’t need concessions from the league. The NFLPA* can do whatever it wants by way of regulating agents and financial advisors.
Brees also explains that the league’s proposal could force the players to continue to operate under the non-economic terms of the 2006 CBA, if a new agreement isn’t reached on those terms within three days after recertification. You know, the same noneconomic terms of the 2006 CBA under which the players were more than willing to continue before the lockout.
Brees closes the e-mail with the following rallying cry:
“This has been a long and tough process, fellas. We can see the finish line, but there are still some hurdles to get through before we can present this deal to you. And we must make sure that we do things the right way, both legally and morally. If we decide to reconstitute as a Union, that is something every player in the NFL will have to sign off on. We will only recommend that to you if we feel it is in the best interest of the players. And we will only recommend a deal to you if it is a fair deal. We are not there yet.
“Our legal team will be working tirelessly through the weekend with the NFL attorneys. De Smith will also be in constant communication with Goodell as they continue to hammer through these make or break issues.
“Stay tuned for daily emails that will keep you informed and feel free to contact me or [Jon Stinchcomb] with any questions or concerns. And please don’t believe anything you read or hear in the media. It is all speculation. They have no clue as to what is going on. They print what sells. If you don’t hear it from us, take it with a grain of salt.”
Well, we’ve got a clue as to at least one thing. Make that two: the contents of the two e-mails Brees has sent to his teammates.
Besides, Drew is grossly underestimating the media when claiming that the media has “no clue” as to what is going on. Surely, plenty of people with knowledge of the various facts and issues are talking to the media.
The more likely reality is that Brees and the rest of the NFLPA* leadership don’t want the players to be influenced by anyone but the NFLPA* leadership. The easiest way to do that is to issue a blanket statement that the media is full of crap.
Even if, you know, we aren’t.