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Sean Gilbert has plan for getting players out of CBA

Gilbert AP

Former NFL defensive lineman Sean Gilbert has made it clear he plans to go on the offensive against NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith.

Next March, Smith’s position will be up for a vote, and Gilbert plans to run.

Gilbert launched his campaign with The $29 Million Tip, a small, softcover book that takes the position the players got the short end of the 2011 labor deal.  He intensified his efforts by making the rounds at Radio Row last month in New York, in the days preceding Super Bowl XLVIII.

More recently, Gilbert went to the Scouting Combine.  Gilbert tells Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal that he met with 25-to-30 agents during his time in Indianapolis.

Gilbert continues to argue that the CBA is too friendly to management.  “Even if the owners had the leverage, it doesn’t mean you have to give back everything,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert, who once sat out an entire year in a contract dispute, also explained to Mullen that he has a plan for pulling the plug on the current CBA.

“The way I see this, it’s not a 10-year deal,” Gilbert said, referring to the stated term of the agreement.

Gilbert didn’t explain how that would happen.  Presumably, he believes there’s language in the CBA that permits an argument, based on the applicable facts, that the deal should be scuttled.  Obviously, it would be an aggressive position to take.  If successful, it could set the stage for a work stoppage.

Before he’ll ever be in position to make that specific push, he’ll need to win the March 2015 election.  In that regard, the key event on the NFLPA calendar isn’t the replacement of up to eight members of the Executive Committee next month in Orlando.  The battle for NFLPA executive director largely will be won when the various teams elect their player representatives later this year.

With 32 teams, Gilbert will need only 17 votes to win the job.  If he can get 17 players who would vote for him to successfully run for the player rep positions on their respective teams, Gilbert can win the job.

If he does, we’d presumably learn at that time a lot more about how he plans to shorten a labor deal that, to date, has been very favorable to the owners — as evidenced by the fact that none of them are complaining about it.

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44 Responses to “Sean Gilbert has plan for getting players out of CBA”
  1. thestrategyexpert says: Feb 27, 2014 2:23 PM

    I think both the players and the owners/league need better representation. Take your chances with Gilbert, anything is better than DeMaurice Smith, he doesn’t belong in that role.

  2. sowcrates says: Feb 27, 2014 2:31 PM

    I’m not advocating Gilbert, or changing the CBA or a work stoppage or anything of the sort necessarily…but I do think it warrants pointing out that the rookie wage scale has NOT worked in the favor of run-of-the-mill veteran players. The only players benefitting are mega all-stars and franchise or near-franchise QBs. If I’m a 22 year old RB or a 28 year old linebacker with some starting experience but mostly a backup/special teams role, I’m all for seeing if there’s a better situation out there

  3. alldonesmith says: Feb 27, 2014 2:33 PM

    If his plan is to stop football to get more money for the players, let’s hope he never gets elected. The greed all around in professional sports (including the owners) is disgusting.

  4. sbrian3915 says: Feb 27, 2014 2:35 PM

    The players should want no part of a guy who scuttled a whole year of his career over a few million dollars being in charge of their union.

  5. makimaguro says: Feb 27, 2014 2:45 PM

    Where was he a couple of years ago? Little late now.

  6. realfootballfan says: Feb 27, 2014 2:52 PM

    Somebody needs to get them a better deal. The current CBA is a joke for the players.

  7. meatcarroll says: Feb 27, 2014 2:55 PM

    You can argue athletes are “overpaid” based on their true contributions to society, but there is no arguing with the billions of dollars they annually generate. They deserve a much larger cut. Where else should that money go, the already billionaire owners’ pockets? Hell, I’d be in favor of dissolving the draft and abolishing the salary cap too, which is an arbitrary and silly number to restrict player salaries. Make it a true free market, which is what these owners allegedly love in the first place.

  8. salmen76 says: Feb 27, 2014 2:57 PM

    Wow. This is very interesting. I always thought the players got a bad deal. And they did. I wish Sean Gilbert luck. I believe if every single player walked out they would have the NFL over a barrel. No players means no games. Or worse, no players means games played by scabs. The players take ALL the risks. They should get MOST of the revenue. That’s why the owners selected Goodell as comish. So they could take more from the players to give to themselves. They knew Goodell would crap on the players for the owners. Pete Rozel nor Paul Tagleabue would have done that to the players. And it was Tagleabue that scuttled Goodell’s attempt to torch the saints players for the pseudo Bounty Scandal. But the owners are stuck with Goodell for now whether they like him or not. Geaux Saints!

  9. jm91rs says: Feb 27, 2014 3:01 PM

    If the league makes enough money to pay Goodell 44 Million, then the players could probably get a little more. Clearly the owners are very happy with their last deal.

  10. djstat says: Feb 27, 2014 3:05 PM

    Sean Gilbert is a self serving jerk. Always has been. As a fan if there is a labor dispute that stops games I will sue him

  11. jgedgar70 says: Feb 27, 2014 3:10 PM

    Several thoughts:

    1) How did you manage to find a picture of Gilbert in a Panthers uniform where he wasn’t flat on his back? That’s the only position we ever saw him in here. A complete joke.

    2) Memo to the players: This is the same fool that sat out a season because, in his words, God told him to hold out for the richest DT contract in history. He proports to be a devout Chrisian. I guess he missed that “love of money is the root of all evil” thing in 1 Timothy 6. Again, a complete joke.

    3) If he manages to get elected, his constant bloviating about how he’s going to stick it to the owners is going to lead to a very long work stoppage. If it goes on for a whole year, both sides will find a public with a smaller appetite for the NFL, and history will record that the NFL was on track to permanent status as America’s most popular game until Roger Goddell and Sean Gilbert killed it.

  12. greenbaydean says: Feb 27, 2014 3:16 PM

    NFLPA better watch what it wishes for. Federal Labor Law with treble damages cuts both ways. NFL owners have far deeper pockets and far better lawyers. If the NFLPA breaks what seems to be a iron clad, fairly negotiated labor agreement and loses in court they could be on the hook for billions of dollars times three.

  13. jamaltimore says: Feb 27, 2014 3:18 PM

    If he wins and protests the cba the league should immediately drop the age limitation on players entering the league and put open for work signs up for all to get a shot at NFL job.

    pay the college kids like they should be and tell the union to use all their union funds to pay the players who still want to sit on the sidelines.

  14. mackcarrington says: Feb 27, 2014 3:21 PM

    Gene Upshaw sold the players out years ago.

  15. joefelicelli says: Feb 27, 2014 3:23 PM

    The players have no platform to make a living playing a game if not for the greedy billionaire owners. And for any 100 players that would walk in favor of holding out for a new deal, there are thousands who would line up for a chance to get to play this game for whatever they could get.

    The bottom line here is there is no good way for the players to gain leverage. The union has to falter and give in, because their options are either put all of their constituents out of work, or take what the owners give them.

    If the players all walk, the fans will get bent out of shape, and the league might stumble for a year or two, but then things will move on, and a new crop of players will come out of college and play without the benefit of a union, and eventually, the league will re-establish its spot as the dominant sport in the US.

    They need to just deal with this contract, especially now that the cap is jumping by considerable amounts after 2 years of pretty flat cap. See what happens over the next 2-3 years, and see whether something needs to be addressed or modified, or whether it just took the 3 years into the new deal before the benefits start materializing.

  16. andymannfl says: Feb 27, 2014 3:25 PM

    Now I see where nephew Revis gets his “mevis” character.

    Yeah, Gilbert sat out a year of his career and only had three decent years after that before injuries finished him for the remainder of his part-time career. Not sure what qualifies him for this position except for his expertise in greed.

  17. jnbnet says: Feb 27, 2014 3:41 PM

    There will always be some people who are unhappy with their CBA. The salary cap keeps things competitive. If there was no cap, then the wealthy teams would go out and try to “buy” a Lombardi. And you have to consider that the owners “own” the teams. Do workers for any other private company make a greater share than the owners? they are the ones who put up the money to purchase thier respective teams, and in some cases, to build a new stadium. Yes, the players do put a lot a risk…just as millions of american works do every day….police, soldiers, construction workers, fire fighters and countless others. Players need to understand their standing plan for life after football. Not everyone will get the monster contract. If you are a “depth player”, then you have to accept that and plan accordingly. Even the losest paid NFL player makes more than millions of hard working Americans.

  18. pancaketaco says: Feb 27, 2014 3:45 PM

    I don’t care about the players or the owners, I’m just like them I’m in this for me and I’d like to still have an affordable product…so for those of you who think the players got the shaft on the last deal and think the players should get a bigger piece of the pie…here is one fact for you. The owners are not going to take a paycut therefore, they are going to take it out of their fans and advertisers…expect to pay more for everything, from tickets, parking, NFL ticket, DirectTV, time warner, etc.

    I wouldn’t be surprised that if in 3-5 years the NFL ticket is gone and you have to pay $30-$50 per game.

    NFL owners are shrewd businessmen that are in this for 1 reason…profit!

  19. patfanken says: Feb 27, 2014 3:51 PM

    As someone who went through 2 NFL training camps back in the early 70′s, hoping to make an NFL team and be paid the princely sum of $14,500; I am sick and tired of hearing NFL players, agents, and NFLPA officials constantly complain about how tough they have it.

    Compared to TC’s prior to the new CBA, players are getting a 6 week virtual vacation. There is no question that the quality of play over the past few years has gone down. You see now players at the so called “highest level” using tackling techniques that a HS coach wouldn’t accept. But under current work rules, NFL coaches are unable to teach them with all the contact limitations. It not only hurts the product, its down right dangerous.

    No one forces anyone to play in the NFL. In fact, it seems to me that there are many more applicants than positions. Guys like Gilbert think its “all about them”, they care little about the great game they are destroying, and accept for the money, little about the players and coaches.

    IMHO, Gilbert and Goodell are both cut from the same cloth. They actually deserve each other. A pox on both their houses

  20. ragnarthegreat says: Feb 27, 2014 3:55 PM

    The whole game would be changed if the players and owners had to finish out a contract. Today the owners promise a player a ton of money and then cut him near the end. So a 5 year deal is really a “who knows?” deal. Contracts would shorten which could benefit both sides. Money would go up for the performers and quickly down (think 3 year contract) for those who don’t. And none of his cashing in big on a 5 year contract and trying to coast to the finish. With today’s contracts being almost meaningless, reform is needed. If Gilbert is the guy, great. Get him in there.

  21. rcali says: Feb 27, 2014 3:56 PM

    Pure economics. The more you pay the players, the more they spend (we know they do), the better off everybody else is. Does anybody really think Jerry Jones needs another $10-20 mill in profits a year sitting in his bank acccount? There are only so many face lifts one man can spend money on!

  22. isphet71 says: Feb 27, 2014 4:03 PM

    I wish I had their problems. “We don’t make enough millions.” Lol.

  23. 33vikes says: Feb 27, 2014 4:08 PM

    Scuttle the CBA? Good luck with that one! If it goes, the favorable practice and hitting rules that are a part of it go too.
    This guy needs to find a new platform to run on.

  24. sumkat says: Feb 27, 2014 4:10 PM

    Sean Gilbert, the NFLPA version of Mitt Romney

    All you need is someone who isn’t completely ridiculous to run that reasonable people can vote for as opposed to the clearly overmatched person in office. Who do you get? Someone completely ridiculous

  25. nflcommissioner says: Feb 27, 2014 4:10 PM

    Wasn’t he a defensive version of Ryan Leaf ?

  26. rickywatts80 says: Feb 27, 2014 4:45 PM

    The NFL players are party to the WORST CBA in professional sports. These players are subjected to far more serious injury and health issues than their professional counterparts, have the shortest careers, and make the least amount of money in the sport that generates the most. Mediocre baseball players regularly get $50 million guaranteed contracts. NFL players have been getting hosed for a long time.

  27. DonRSD says: Feb 27, 2014 4:52 PM

    Just like the housing market, this NFL bubble will pop.
    May take 10-20 years, but it will pop.

    GO BIG BLUE!!!

  28. justwinbaby29 says: Feb 27, 2014 5:01 PM

    Never thought I’d say this but go Dee Smith! Don’t want to hear the words NFL work stoppage until at least 2021.

    But Gilbert would have no case. Any court would uphold the CBA.

  29. godofwine330 says: Feb 27, 2014 5:18 PM

    The issue that needs to be addressed is the franchise tag. The tag was set in place so a star player ala Tom Brady wouldn’t be able to just up and leave a team with no compensation, but it was intended for a deal to be worked out between the team and the player and the tag simply being a stopgap.

    NFL teams have taken advantage by simply signing the player to a 1 year deal where the player holds all of the injury liability and often times the teams have no intention to work out a long-term deal and this stinks for the players. The next year, if the player survives the season unscathed, the player is also offered no guarantees, and the team is making no moves to progress toward a long-term contract. As rickywatts80 elluded the NFL players are subject to far worse injuries than the other major sports and they don’t have guaranteed contracts – hockey players have guaranteed contracts and they don’t even have a network. In that floundering league there are scrubs make more than NFL stars.

    This needs to change.

  30. ninersapologist says: Feb 27, 2014 5:27 PM

    I’m so tired of hearing about how the players deserve more of the revenue. Why? You are EMPLOYEES. Nothing more. They are just highly visible employees who come with a lot of social clout and responsibility because of advertising and TV deals. Having your name on a jersey is part of the deal. Did you pay for cost of the jersey? The shipping? Cover the labor for the employees to produce these jersey’s? Nope.

    No one is forcing you to play ball. These guys chose this profession. Kids dream of becoming professional athletes so they can get pad the big bucks and once they get there they complain and want more.

    Owners own. They were business men who earned their money and this is why they were successful. Players should play and be grateful for what their employers deem they are worth. Don’t like it? Hit the bricks.

  31. theparadoxx82 says: Feb 27, 2014 5:32 PM

    Ban top paid players from NFLPA positions..

    that’ll fix most of the problems right there.

  32. borisbulldog says: Feb 27, 2014 5:45 PM

    Isn’t this the clown that said God told him to sit out a year when the Redskins tried to franchise him?

  33. Ed Bandell says: Feb 27, 2014 5:51 PM

    I applaud Gilbert for his endeavors, but really, what does he think he can get done? The NFL will have a plethora of the highest paid attorneys. The owners of the franchises do have the leverage.

    There would be no NFL without the owners. Conversely there would be no NFL without the talent, but I think after several years of former NFL players being locked out, eventually a lot of them would either cross the line, or the new crop of college players facing a choice of playing by the rules or get a real job away from football would be an easy decision. That’s if it really came down to drawing a line in the sand. The NFL has turned to scab players before, and I am sure they will again.

  34. judsonjr says: Feb 27, 2014 5:58 PM

    Didn’t the players get themselves into this? They thought the fat contracts for top rookies were taking money away from the vets.

    Now the rookies come with 4 years of low pay. So if you are a middle of the road 28 year old HB, you are going to be out of a job. Teams aren’t going to pay $5m a year for 4YPC and 1000 yards. They can get 3.7 to 3.8 YPC from rookies for 500K, and if they get lucky they get a stud on the cheap for a few years.

    Now the model seems to be:

    - Pay your QB and a couple other guys top dollar
    - Play as many of your own draftees as you can
    - Resign your best draftees to long term deals while they are on the rise, but won’t break the bank
    - Find 28 to 30 year old vets that will take a 1 or 2 year deal
    - Try to get a hometown discount on your own 30 year old+ vets

  35. 2manyconcussions says: Feb 27, 2014 5:59 PM

    The players should be careful how much they whine about getting rich playing a game.

  36. dcapettini says: Feb 27, 2014 6:05 PM

    Veteran minimum contracts are for more than the average guy makes in 20 years, and they don’t work anywhere near 50 weeks a year. Football players make more money than Doctors, Congressmen, Governors, football coaches, college professors, ambassadors, generals, cancer researchers, spies and the President of the United States. After a few years in the league they get a pension for the rest of their life, with medical benefits. Tom Brady and his wife make more money than Robert Kraft.

    So please spare me how football players get “screwed”. The guys who got screwed are the ones who got blown up in Iraq or busted up in a “training” accident. Or, the people who worked for 30+ years and are now being told that we can’t afford their pensions.

  37. bearclaw69 says: Feb 27, 2014 6:24 PM

    I’m so sick of the players whining that they deserve more of the revenue pie because “we take all of the risks”. Really? What financial risk did you idiots take in putting up money to build a stadium, or to hire an entire organization or to sign contracts to pay other idiots who otherwise would be bagging groceries somewhere MILLIONS of dollars to play a game? A friggin GAME! The players are LUCKY to be paid what they are getting. There is a rule in business that these morons had better figure out soon, and that is the Golden Rule, as in he who HAS the gold, MAKES the rules. Employees do not own anything. They had better do as they are told or they will be ex-employees very quickly.

  38. billytodd2013blbaad says: Feb 27, 2014 6:32 PM

    did Gilbert ever really amount to anything? seriously.. this guy was a joke and if the players think it’s bad now, let this guy get elected.

  39. qdog112 says: Feb 27, 2014 7:13 PM

    Gilbert is delusional. We all know the owners got the better of the players. They always do. The greed in their leverage, along with fans who side with them, gives them the power.

    Players are seen as greedy and unworthy, while fans who should support labor, run around backing the rich overloads. Case in point, even lockouts are blamed on the players, which is an action by the owners.

    I fail to see how Sean Gilbert could deliver a better deal than De Smith, who fans hated for trying to be firm with the league. He was called an idiot for trying to get a better deal. The players were ready to break and solidarity was waning.

    If Gilbert thinks he can keep the players and fans together better than Smith, he is wrong.

  40. afcdomination says: Feb 27, 2014 8:31 PM

    NFL players are ridiculously well paid, and yet we will still see some of those guys sue the NFL in the coming years.

    I just want to watch football, honestly I strongly believe in the system and in the NFL marketing machine. they could dump the entire league, find a whole new group of guys, and have a lot of stars equal to what they have now.

    if you aren’t happy with the ridiculously good deal in place that forces owners to raise ticket prices to a point where its almost cheaper for an entire season of sunday ticket than one Sunday’s ticket; then get the heck out

  41. timpiker says: Feb 27, 2014 8:49 PM

    I could care less about a bunch of millionaires. I’m sick of paying more and more money to watch what is quickly becoming flag football with skirts.

  42. packerbackernj says: Feb 27, 2014 8:52 PM

    As long as players can pee away millions of dollars and are living check to check they will never have enough leverage to make the owners bend. By week 3 of a year long hold out 80% of the players will cross because getting a job at Burger King can’t pay the monthly interest of their cars, homes, birthday party loans, let alone a principle payment.

  43. 12brichandfamous says: Feb 27, 2014 9:11 PM

    Gilbert is making a huge mistake if he thinks the NFLPA membership wants to be on strike for an entire season. The vast majority of players cannot survive that financially. that drove the CBA last time.

  44. psychotim says: Feb 27, 2014 9:18 PM

    “Tom Brady and his wife make more money than Robert Kraft.”

    Tom Brady’s net worth: $120 million
    Gisele Bundchen’s net worth: $290 million

    Robert Kraft’s net worth? $2.3 billion.

    I’m guessing Kraft hauls in a bigger annual salary.

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