NFL needs Dan Rooney to be involved in CBA talks

Rosenthal posted on Friday an item regarding a couple of the things that Steelers chairman Dan Rooney said Friday in Pittsburgh, where he’s taking a break from his duties as U.S. Ambassador to Ireland to watch his Steelers try to qualify an eighth time for the Super Bowl.

Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times has expanded on the points made, and Rooney’s comments make clear to us that the league needs him to be involved in the labor negotiations.

We should have a deal,” Rooney said.  “We should not let the disruption of next season happen because of a lockout, a strike, or whatever. . . .  It’s in everybody’s best interest to get a deal. The players, of course, want to play, and that’s what should happen.

“The games this year couldn’t be better.  The ratings are high.  So why would you step back?”

Rooney also said something that plenty of people are thinking.  If long-time NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw were still living, a deal would already be done.

“I think if Gene Upshaw were here, he’s someone I could talk to about this,” Rooney said.  “He’s someone who was for the game at all the time.”

That said, Upshaw crammed down the league’s gullet in 2006 a deal that clearly favors the players.  Why else would the players be more than willing to continue with a system that the owners opted to scuttle two years early after barely two years had passed under the current agreement?

Still, the owners have yet to warm up to Upshaw’s successor, DeMaurice Smith.  “I don’t know the personalities,” Rooney said.  “There is maybe distrust.  Maybe dislike is a better word.  But that’s beyond.  You have a situation like this, you’ve got to get a deal.  You’ve got to forget personalities.”

Regardless of whether Rooney has the time or the inclination to become involved in the process, the process needs him.  The game needs him.  And as the talks intensify (if they ever intensify), we’ve got a feeling that Rooney will have a role.

62 responses to “NFL needs Dan Rooney to be involved in CBA talks

  1. “The players, of course, want to play, and that’s what should happen….That said, Upshaw crammed down the league’s gullet in 2006 a deal that clearly favors the players. Why else would the players be more than willing to continue with a system that the owners opted to scuttle two years early after barely two years had passed under the current agreement?
    If the player’s truly want to play they would take the league’s last offer…or at least make a reasonable counter. Delete the 18 game regular season, lower the players percentage slightly and sign the damn deal

  2. I suppose this may be unfair as I’ll never have the sort of wealth any of the involved parties have, but I can’t even begin to fathom how greedy some of these people must be.

    How can someone like Jerry Jones be taken seriously anymore? I don’t know for sure, but I get the impression that owners like Rooney who really care about the game are in the minority.

  3. Rooney’s right. Gene Upshaw was a player; he loved the game and the guys who play it. De Smith is an attorney. Maybe he’s more interested in the gamesmanship of this contest than in preserving the upcoming season. The owners made their intentions clear by hiring someone with lockout experience.

    So, yes, Rooney’s diplomatic talents are desperately needed. But will his State Department duties allow him to get involved? I recall reading that he had to relinquish his involvement in NFL business when he accepted the ambassador’s post. The fact that he’s unfamiliar with the personalities indicates that he’s out of the loop.

  4. I am certain a deal will be done, but come on NFL and NFLPA. Just make a mutually agreeable CBA and sign the damn thing. I do not want to see the death of the NFL much like the slow and painful death that MLB is dealing with.

    Do not make us turn to the NHL as our new favorite sport. They already complain a lot less and are far more professional from a players standpoint.

  5. And to clarify, I’m certainly not absolving the players of anything here; greed is the name of the game on both sides.

  6. What, if any, do the Rooney family have in terms of debt as far as the Steelers are concerned. If they have little to none, then I understand their position.

    Deb, you seem to be up to date on this franchise. Please advise.

  7. Rooney has no credibility. As a family that made its money off sports books and whose team has extremely unusual covers, i fail to see how this man is the pinnacle of bargaining talent, and honesty.

    The reason that you want this is because you really want to put steelers references in as many articles as possible for the most hits.

  8. If the Steelers cheat, pay refs, and play a dirtier style than any other team, why would ANYONE call for their owner to get involved in the talks?

    Why not let some of these squeaky clean teams with pristine images get in and do some work?

    Funny how people are so quick to hammer a franchise and the team but then want to kiss the owner’s ass when they cannot get things done.

  9. “If the player’s truly want to play they would take the league’s last offer…”

    And just what exactly was the league’s last offer? Oh wait, they haven’t actually made their “last best offer” yet, all they’ve done is nullify the current one, and then turn a cold shoulder to anything that union has to offer so far.

    Actually, it’s the owners who don’t care if there’s a 2011 season or not.

    The owners want a lockout without the bad PR- they want an impasse to be declared so they can lay down their last best offer, which the union will have to accept. At least for the time being…

  10. encinitasraider said:

    nobody needs this clown involved….Does he even no what time of day it is?


    I read this and realized that you have you have somehow confused Ambassador Rooney with Al Davis.

  11. Why not get George W Bush involved since he was a baseball team co-owner? Besides halfway through negotiations the NFL will invade Canada looking for footballs of mass destruction.

  12. nssmuckers said:

    How can someone like Jerry Jones be taken seriously anymore? I don’t know for sure, but I get the impression that owners like Rooney who really care about the game are in the minority.


    I think that owners like that may have been in the minority for a long time.

    My impression is that the owners are silenced by agreement (though I haven’t heard that explicitly said). Hopefully there is enough power in a subset of the owners that would rather get the deal done and move on to improving the game or the marketing of it.

  13. 2 of the PRICKS in charge of the labor situation are low life, SCUM lawyers… Goodell & Smith… probably haven’t played football sense pee-wee & only care about making there pockets AS FAT AS POSSIBLE…
    @encinitasraider….who are you calling a clown, you have a zombie freak calling the shots in oakland sucking the life out of everyone
    @speedel…yuck fou….

  14. @Uncle Leo …

    When Steelers founder Art Rooney died, the team was divided equally among his five sons, with the remaining 20 percent going to his in-laws. In late ’08/early ’09, the team had to restructure for several reasons, including meeting NFL requirements that the majority owner hold at least a 30 percent share. To make the deal work, the Steelers took on several minority owners, but Dan still had to borrow $250 million to buy out his brothers.

    The NFL owners unanimously agreed to the deal, but it required a special waiver because that amount exceeds the debt NFL owners are normally allowed to carry. I don’t know where Dan and his son Art II, the team president, stand in terms of settling the debt, but it’s been less than a year since they took out the loan, so I’m sure they’re not debt-free.

    @tmc4real and speedel …

    People respect Dan Rooney because they actually know something about him instead of just mouthing off in ignorance. For instance, the gambling interests were racetracks, not casinos frequented by the Five Families. And they’ve been separate from the team for decades. With the restructuring, there’s no longer any common ownership at all.

    Dan’s personal wealth always has been tied up in the team, which his dad bought with money he won at Saratoga. He’s never had the liquidity of Jerry Jones, Paul Allen, or Dan Snyder. One reason the Steelers were known for not paying megabucks to free agents was because Dan couldn’t compete with financially with the signing bonuses those men could pay. When Allen wanted to sign LB Chad Brown, he flew him to Seattle and handed him a check for millions. Chad was gone in a snap. The Steelers didn’t have a chance.

    This man has never paid any refs, nor has it ever been alleged by anyone reputable–not even another owner–that he has. Under Mr. Rooneys ownership, the Steelers went 40 years without winning one single playoff game. Under Dan Rooney’s direction, they went 26 years between winning Super Bowls. So it’s idiotic to say he was paying people to win. 🙄

  15. This is an excellent plan – the Rooney family has always run a class franchise, a successful franchise (both financially and competitively). This is the first owner statement that hasn’t been filled with vitriol.

  16. People are getting tired of the millionaires fighting billionaires.
    I want players to start getting paid bonuses for actually winning games.
    The XFL had a great concept in that winning players got paid more then losers. This needs to be brought into today’s sports.
    The formula?
    I have no idea.
    You all work it out…. your both all lawyered up.
    All I know is all sports have gravy trainers and sand baggers and you throw a “winners incentive” into each contest means it will actually mean something for players.
    By the way… only Super Bowl winners should gets rings.
    You ALL need to toughen up.
    In sports as a whole LeBron James just wants to play with his friends so he doesn’t count for anything… and wait till the NBA CBA negotiations get under way…. The NBA players are going to hit an owners ICEBERG because of the damage he and Bosh did by leaving money on the table and forcing a sign and trade.
    NFL players better wake up.
    NFL and NBA players are ALL replaceable… fans cheer for the team.
    I live in Cleveland.
    Not from here at all.
    You talk about a town that needs a title?
    I feel for these people.
    But they still buy tickets.

  17. Unfortunately, the only entity out there that can put the fear of God into the owners is Congress. Congress needs to ask the NFL if it wants to be a national institution or a business. If they are the former, they may continue to enjoy all of the socialistic benefits thus entailed, but they will lower prices and raise salaries. If they are the latter, then hello trust-busting. No more salary cap, no more profit sharing, no more draft, no more rules in free agency, no more season schedule, no more Super Bowl. Anything even close to resembling collusion is gone.

  18. @ Uncle Leo Actually the Rooney family (Dan and Art Jr.) is definitely in debt ever since they bought out the rest of the shares owned by the rest of their family.

    They had been looking for an outside partner to buy a large amount of the Steelers shares, but were never satisfied with any of the candidates they talked to. So they ended up taking out a very, very sizable loan from a Pittsburgh bank.

  19. De Smith seems like a politician, a guy who wants to stick it to the league so he can enhance his own resume them move on to other work.

    Some mush-heads, like Bryant Gumbel, said Gene Upshaw was a lapdog because he never completely stuck it to owners in negotiations.

    Yes, just look out how that Us vs Them strategy has helped the auto industry. Oh wait, it nearly crushed that industry.

    It also reduced baseball from the national pastime to a regional sport that is only relevant in a few cities.

    Upshaw always realized that as the league grows, so grows the player’s compensation. And what makes the league grow is the fact that it is the most competitive league there is.

    A league where the Bengals lose due to their own incompetence, not because they play in a small market.

  20. The tiny, hunchbacked loyal helper of Hillary, peered along his wizened nose through his thick spectacles, tugged at his pointy ears, and with a thin cackle, shouted out….”Double, double, toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble!”.

  21. That 18 game season is imho the sticking that nobody, Ambassador Rooney included, will get past in 2011. The players don’t want or need to play the extra two games, and I don’t blame them one bit.

    I’d personally like for those league officials –yes, that includes you, Roger Goodell– that are trying so hard to cram this down everyone’s throats to strap on some pads, and try going 120 full contact minutes with these guys. If they survive the ordeal, it just might give them a new perspective on at least one unreasonable demand of theirs.

  22. Rooney looks like Weekend at Bernies…

    Rooney is a joke of a owner…..just look what happend when the AFL and NFL merged…these guys should be in the NFC…

  23. I think instead of blaming the lack of player/owner leadership we should look at the middleman. Roger Goodell is a scumbag who has done nothing but talk out of both sides of his mouth about anything and everything since he got the job. With a guy like that basically running the show nobody should be surprised that distrust between the two sides is as prevalent as it is.

  24. Rooney cares about the game and he happens to have one of the most respected, popular and successful teams in the league. To have him say these things is a real indicator of how the talks have progressed to this point.

  25. cup1981:

    Baseball isn’t suffering a slow and painful death. What died in baseball – and in all the other sports for that matter – was the civic instincts of the fan base: Back in the mid-20th Century, a team didn’t have to be a “contender” to fill its stadium – if the team was mediocre, the fans focused on finishing in the “first division,” which meant 4th place or higher when each league had 8 teams, and 5th place or higher when they had 10 teams; and a bad team made the fans hope like the devil that they didn’t finish in the cellar.

    Talk of salary caps? Kvetching about “competitive balance”? Didn’t happen back then – maybe that’s because the core fans in those days were the generation that fought in and won World War II.

    Today, however, we have a bunch of spoiled, narcissistic crybabies who rip into a team for “choking” if they don’t win the World Series or the Super Bowl (“Second place is the first loser” – boo hoo!) – and who turn the local ballpark into a ghost town if the team isn’t going to make the playoffs.

  26. Don’t you love this site? They credit Terry glenn (who is again arrested) as a Cowboy, when he is clearly a long time patriot. Now they are praising Gene Upshaw without associating him with the organization he was truly known from, the Raiders.

  27. Not a big fan of the Rooney rule, I think it has more of a negative outcome rather than a positive, but Ronney is an outstanding human being I believe that everything he talks about he truly believes with his heart and soul, not a Steeler fan in fact I’m a 49er fan and every time they reach the playoffs or the super bowl i wanna run as fast as i can into spiked steal wall!!! But on a lighter note I absolutely admire an owner of his character and class. IMO he should be apart of the NFLPA I know he would have got something done by now.

  28. Today is Myron Cope’s birthday the inventor of the terrible towel. for all of you Steeler haters and wannabes the proceeds do not go to the Steelers or the NFL they are given to charity groups around Pittsburgh

  29. “I think if Gene Upshaw were here, he’s someone I could talk to about this,” Rooney said. “He’s someone who was for the game at all the time.”

    Where are all those people who slammed Gene Upshaw for being too soft, where are you?

    Not only did Upshaw get it done, he got the players the best deal they ever had, or will have.

    Where are you?

  30. I think both side need to get a deal done regardless who gets involved. I also think both sides need to take pay cuts or whatever. Both sides fighting over a bigger piece of the pie,both sides wanting more money. Driving the price to actually go see your favorite team play closer and closer out of reach of the fans but i guess the fans don’t figure into their equation.

  31. If, as Mr. Rooney says, the players want to play, then they need to tell this left wing, Washington lawyer to get it done by Mar 3, or you are out.

  32. Not once has any NFL fan who thought about the new CBA has thought to themselves that this movement needs Dan Rooney involved. The NFL isn’t Ireland so his expertise lately hasn’t focused on this game and the NFLPA isn’t the IRA.

  33. Everyone knows Upshaw raped the owners last go round, but there was never a work stoppage under Upshaw after there was what 2 under his predecessor? Can bag the guy but he knew what was important.
    If DeSmith actually leads the NFL to a strike since it looks like the league is going the impasse route he will be the man held responsible and will see his political ambitions dry up quickly. Owners could easily tar and feather him in a PR war and place the blame on him got a strike. It’s hard to replace a legend, it’s even harder when you try to make a bigger name for yourself right after replacing him.
    Most owners made their fortunes outside football and obviously would not be so brash if they didn’t know what they were doing.

  34. thetooloftools:

    Actually, British soccer has been doing a variant of what you are suggesting for decades: It awards descending per-player shares of a huge postseason pool for every place in the standings.

    The NFL could easily set up the same thing, using all the money the owners would presumably save under their proposed rookie wage-scale plan.

    Another interesting thing that could be done is to bring back the old College All-Star Game at the start of the preseason – except that this time around have the team with the worst record the year before play the college players (the NFL/Super Bowl champion had to play the college guys in the game’s original form). This way, the players on a weak team have an incentive not to finish last overall, since then they’d have to show up for training camp next summer a week earlier than everybody else.

  35. If the NFL is really, really serious about settling this thing,,,,,, how about,,,,, they open the books….
    If they’re broke or operating on a shoe string budget,, then all will have to bite the bullet….
    But,,,,, let’s say,,,, the owners have enough money to fly around in one or more private jets,,,,, then maybe there may be some extra money to spread around….

    Maybe the first pig that flies over will take a picture of those open books,,,, for all to see….

  36. I guess because I am an owner (Green Bay Packers) I should give my 2 cents worth. I am not a billionaire, so I can probably look at this clearer than most of my fellow owners. Most of the players, approximately 90% are easily replaceable. The elite 10% are the players that everyone pays to see. Generally the top 10% make quite a bit more than the rest of the players in the league, but not always. My feeling is if you are easily replaceable you are probably not worth more than a million dollars a year, if I could get Art Rooney, Al Davis and Jerry Jones (all reasonable men) to sit down and listen to my ideas we could figure this thing out in an hour. I wish I had more time to expound on my ideas but I have a game to prepare for.

  37. So let me get this straight…. Rooney needs to be involved because he used to be able to talk to Gene Upshaw? Awful lot of speculative brown nosing going on here. Nothing qualifies him more than any other owner to be involved.

  38. “If, as Mr. Rooney says, the players want to play…”

    Uh, the players didn’t kill the current CBA (which would’ve lasted ’til 2013) the owners did.

    Green Bay made a profit of $20M in ’08 and saw that profit drop to a mere $10M in ’09. Big tragedy right? How much do you think Dallas made? Oh, they’re hurting in Dallas but not enough to actually open their books…BS!

  39. As if Gene Upshaw wasn’t in charge of the NFLPA when the last stoppage of play occurred, and as if Rooney wasn’t heavily involved in the last CBA that the owners overwhelmingly had to ditch. Yeah, good idea.

  40. encinitasraider says: Jan 22, 2011 10:06 PM

    “nobody needs this clown involved….Does he even no what time of day it is?”

    I’m betting he “knows” how to spell “know”.

  41. Anyone who can help needs to be involved. You idiots that are dogging Dan Rooney can’t call yourselves football fans. The Rooneys (especially Dan) have been extremely involved with helping the league become what it is today. This is not about which team you like or dislike, this is about NFL fans being able to watch our favorite sport in 2011. The players from all teams have bonded together as a union, so it amazes me the fans can’t do the same. How can anyone call themselves a football fan and talk sh*t about a man that can help their favorite sport just because he doesn’t own their favorite team.

  42. The NFL and NBA will have work stoppages next season. Productivity among males in America will be at an all time high. I for one need to strip the hardwood floors in the living room and refinish them. Then I could stain the floors a wee bit darker. Not a dark brown but not the clear wood stain that is on it now. With no sports to watch I could very easily find a few college football games to watch and have NHL scores sent to my phone. PROGRESS!

  43. johnnyshore says: Jan 23, 2011 1:42 AM

    “The NFL needs another Democrat?”

    Rooney is well known in these parts as a staunch conservative. But he’s also his own man, someone who isn’t afraid to break ranks and speak his own mind, as he did when he supported a Democrat for President.

  44. This is the first rodeo on this for DeMaurice Smith and Roger Goodell and neither wants to lose their job on a deal that looks like they got their lunch handed to him.

    Smith razzled dazzled the players with his formulas and calculations to basically piss on the grave of Gene Upshaw. He came out of nowhere and he’s got nowhere to go if he seems like he’s caving….he’ll be back to being someone no one ever heard of before.

    Goodell has new school owners rubbing up against old school owners. But what both camps have in common now is debt. Everyone went out and either totally financed or partially financed new stadiums and now have mortages. Gone are the days of the teams being secondary passive tenants in multi-purpose stadiums where the baseball team has more power….the old cement cylinders are laregly gone….excpet Oakland, where Al Davis rules in the place that time forgot.

    That’s why 18 games is the only answer. It’s several hundreds of millions of more TV revenue and it’s the only way both sides walk away with more money. Forget the percentage mentality. They need more money.

    But in these things everything comes down to a game of chicken. And we’ll be lining up at KFC in march to see who gets roasted.

  45. johnnyshore says:
    The NFL needs another Democrat?
    Though it’s silly to bring politics into NFL threads, Rooney was a lifelong conservative Republican.

    @contraryguy …

    That’d be a cute joke if Rooney supported the 18-game season … but he doesn’t.

    @mybuttsayspft …

    Since you can’t divorce yourself from football rivalries to intelligently consider labor issues and Rooney’s proven negotiating skills, your anti-Steeler fan is showing.

  46. @rayc91 …

    Read your post and thought, “Everyone knows Upshaw was the great HoF guard for the Raiders!” Then I realized they probably don’t. Makes me sad for the people who never saw the warriors of my childhood–or the Steelers kick-butt rivalry w/the Raidahs. Brady & Manning? That’s nothing compared to Bradshaw (Go Steelers!) & the Snake (Roll Tide!). RIP Gene. We sure could use you now.

  47. mr rooney does need to be involved,not because he loves the league,but because he is respected by the players.i doubt that there is a more respected owner in the nfl right now as mr rooney is! this lawyer is just gonna do what lawyers do best,throw a monkey wrench into everything and delay the process as long as possible!

  48. If the owners insist that they can’t operate because they are losing money and can’t “grow the game”, prove it! Open your books. Let the fans and the players see that your claims are legit. The owners are negotiating like the North Korens. Those of you who think that the owners can just replace the players, think again. Other football leagues have failed. The players are the product, they are who we pay to see, they are not just employees. Nobody pays to see the stadium or the owner sitting in his luxury box. Forbes said that league is heathy and that none of the owers positions are justified.

  49. rooney would be a step up from goodell !! why is he even talking, everyone knows he’s jerry jones puppet! oh it’s howdie doodie time again! lmao

  50. The NFL’s Antitrust exemption is sacred. There’s no way DeMaurice Smith actually believes Congress would step into this situation (or the federal judiciary) and threaten to pull the exemption. It would have far-reaching implications that would go well beyond the NFL.

    These are all just negotiating tactics anyway. If they can’t come to a deal, the league will impose its last, best offer, the union will decertify, and the league will simply impose the same rules as under the last, best offer provision to avoid any more headaches.

    In other words, the players are f*****.

  51. Millionaires, Billionaires? People complain that players and owners make too much money while at the same time fans keep going to the games and paying outrageous prices for tickets, food, drink and huge amounts of NFL licensed gear . As long as the money is there the owners will take it and the players will keep asking for more for their share.

    Recession? Not much in the NFL. Why does any player make millions? Because the owners are making millions. Why do the owners make millions? Because the fans keep paying higher and higher prices for the same stuff over and over again. No athlete “deserves” to make millions. They do it because fans keep ponying up the money. I’m pretty sure that the idea of cutting salaries has never been considered while lowering the cost for the fans. Just a thought.

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