Player anger and mistrust triggered litigation option

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Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports, who has provided some excellent details as to the events that have unfolded during the labor dispute, now provides a thorough look at what the players were thinking as this past week unfolded.

For those of you who’ll claim that it’s biased in favor of the players, we recommend regarding it as a window into their minds.

The column focuses on the ultimatum provided by NFLPA* executive director DeMaurice Smith on Friday afternoon, reiterating his two-year-old demand for audited financial statements in exchange for another extension of the deadline to negotiate under the old labor deal.  It was more, the players contend, than a P.R. ploy aimed at making the league appear to be the party that abandoned the process.

“It was our way of telling the fans that we did everything we could — and it was a message to the league that we’d had enough,” NFLPA* assistant executive director of external affairs George Atlallah told Silver.  “It was a message that we had had enough of the deception and the disrespect — and the control.”

We’ll defer to Silver’s article for the rest of the details.  He paints a picture of a players contingent that became increasingly frustrated and upset in recent weeks due to the manner in which they believed they were being treated.  Silver’s account of the players’ perception as to the final days of negotiation contrasts sharply with the league’s belief that the NFLPA* was simply going through the motions before attempting to strike a better deal via the courts.

As Giants co-owner John Mara, a man viewed as a moderate member of the league’s negotiating team, said Friday, “One thing that became painfully apparent to me during this period was that their objective was to go the litigation route.  I think that they believe that that gives them the best leverage.  I never really got the feeling during the past two weeks that they were serious about negotiating, and it’s unfortunate because that’s not what collective bargaining is all about.”

Obviously, the players have a different take.  Silver has done a very good job of illustrating it.

34 responses to “Player anger and mistrust triggered litigation option

  1. Look, I was blaming both sides equally until I actually heard some of De Smith’s speeches. Does he realize how fast he’s turning the fans against the players? He talks like football players are soldiers, and on Sunday they are fighting for our country. I think he even compared the plight of the players to the racial oppression going on in the 1960’s at one point. Disguisting. They are grown men playing a game for a minimum of 400k/year, not shining shoes for 10 cents a day and forced to sit on the back of the bus. Really makes me sick, hey De Smith, did you know fans don’t want to pay $100 dollars per ticket and 30 dollars for parking at the stadium so we can see our favorite player on an episode of MTV cribs? Sure there’s fault on both sides here, but just listening to this bottom feeding slime De Smith talk has COMPLETELY turned me against the players. The worst part is invoking the memory of Dave Duerson and Reggie White so this slimebag can get more money for head plantiffs who are all making 15 MIILLION DOLLARS A YEAR. Using the memory of dead players to get more money for yourselves, stay classy, De Smith.

  2. * The artist formerly known as the executive director of the NFLPA* Duh Smith.

    * The former collective bargaining association of a group of men, who even at the 3.5 year average career x the league minimum, make more money than the average American over an entire lifetime.

  3. The article didn’t tell me something I didn’t already know. The owners think they are keepers of the game, but their nothing more then land barons. Its a power play to “take back our league”?? Please! I guess fans pay out the nose to see owners sit in their luxury boxes. Fan’s enjoy having tickets raised every year, even though the great majority of owners don’t know how to put a consistent winner on the field. Blame the players for owners falling in love with workout wonders & not based on game tape. Blame the players for over paying based on potential and not production. Everybody was outraged when the CEO’s of the big 3 flew to Washington in their private jets, but when these owners do the samething its ok. They want the taxpayers money to build a new stadium…sure go ahead. They charge PSL’S AND squeeze out the average family? Sure go ahead. Its all the greedy players fault, not the billionaires. The majority of people voted its the players fault, which I find amazing.

  4. I’m sorry, but when one party’s whole argument about why they need more of the split is because they aren’t making it financially, the refusal to turn over the financial data to support that is nothing more than bad faith. No one would ever just take another’s word in such a contract situation, let alone if that other party had already tried to screwed you over by leaving money on the table in your joint deal with a 3rd party in order to cover their own ass and gain leverage to be used against you in later negotiations.

    The decision to decertify and sue is a no-brainer because it opens up the chance to use discovery to get this information, which the owners obviously don’t want to give. They’ll stall and delay as long as possible, but sooner or later, they’re gonna have to give the info up. You’ll see the owners deal before that happens.

  5. So let me see if I understand this correctly, since “it’s not about the money” the NFLPA decided to take there ball and go home because there feelings where hurt. Honestly that’s insane, when you let emotions rule your decsion making you have major problems. Goodell finally succeed in his efforts of herding cats…I mean getting the owners to compromise, and it blows because of hurt feelings. There are millions of out of work americans that would love to be able to have a good paying job with benefits now, and the players are keeping us from our game because they got there feelings hurt, this is unbelievable.

  6. “I can’t give you an informed economic breakdown – yet – but I can tell you that, having spoken to numerous players with high-level union involvement over the past several weeks, this wasn’t just a scrum over money. For the players, things got personal and stayed that way, and ultimately Smith and his members did what proud athletes usually do when they feel they’ve been threatened, disrespected and treated dismissively: They stood tall, puffed out their chests and got ready to rumble.”

    So we’re supposed to believe this wasn’t all about the money, huh?

    It’s ALWAYS about the money! Pride always takes a back seat to money in negotiations, and frankly, if it WAS about “pride”, then De Smith is an idiot and the wrong man for a job that calls for a level-headed, cool-tempered individual, and the players are collective morons for having elected a guy who would let his “pride” rule the day.

    This article may as well have ben written by De Smith himself and is typical of the crap produced by Michael Silver.

    I’m not buying the union’s crap, not even with Monopoly money. They went through the motions simply to try and garner fan support that might make the owners blink again, like they did in the last CBA. This was ALWAYS about going to court, and the union proved that this week.

    I’m neutral here, I think BOTH sides suck equally, but you can’t tell me that the Owners – however late it was – made some serious concessions to the union, and the union not only shot them down but didn’t even offer a counter proposal. Oh wait, they gave the owners a 15 minute window to do something they KNEW they would never do: open the books. De Smith hasn’t shown ONE CASE of where the union made a legitimate counter-offer after turning down the owners time after time.

    The union wouldn’t have accepted one dime less than what they’re getting now, despite clear signs that, like every other business in America, the NFL is suffering from the most crippling recession since the Depression. They don’t care about the survival of the NFL, just like the UAW didn’t care about the survival of the Big Three until it was too late. They’re greedy and short-sighted, and they want their money NOW and don’t care if they kill the Golden Goose.

    Why should they? Every single ruling by Doty has favored them, and they have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

  7. Ridiculous that they even elected this man who cares far more about the legal intricacies of this case than he does about football. Almost every NFLPA leader before Smith had ties to the NFL, either as a former player or an executive. How they decided to elect a DC lawyer over 2 players (I believe it was Troy Vincent & trace Armstrong) AND give him a standing ovation upon his being elected is BEYOND ME. Wonder if they’re all ready to stand up & cheer for him now? Again, he cares far less about football than any of his predecessors & I feel that shouldn’t be brushed under the rug. He has less incentive to make it work than would a former player; he merely wants to feel HE WON, as all lawyers do (i.e. whether they’re defending a guilty party or not).

  8. Screw the union. They are just as bad as any other union. The whole sham of decertifying, suing, and reforming is nothing but a strongarm tactic.

    I hope the NFL owners, when this is all over, gives Drew Brees and buddies the middle-finger and refuses to bring any of them back. Take the stance of not hiring any unionized player. There’s nothing that can force them to hire a player that’s in a union.

  9. Well Boo Hoo. My heart goes out to the mistrustful, pittiful players who feel so terribly mistreated. All of us should wish to be treated so well and receive the preferential treatment most players have enjoyed. I don’t care if I ever see Tom Brady, Peyton Manning or any of the greedy multimillionaire socialists in NFL uniforms again. Dear owners: PLEASE begin signing the replacements soon!

  10. …and maybe we should call in Unicef to take care of the horribly deprived, oppressed NFL player/children.

    I’m waiting for the advertisements requsting my donation. I can just envision the tearful players in their tatered Armani suits standing in front of their dirty, unwashed Bentleys with their hands out. Call “Save the Players” today! For your donation of only $500,000 monthy you can save a suffering NFL player from this terrible fate!

  11. The NFLPA* felt they were being ‘dissed? Really? When they live the lifestyle? Really?

    That’s a great frickin’ reason to put nine billion dollars a year in jeopardy. Other sports and businesses are already at work taking the money away from the NFLPA* and the NFL.

    Remember NFLPA*, you may get what you asked for!

  12. For those of you who missed it, here’s the owners last offer:

    1. More than split the economic difference between the two sides, increasing the proposed cap for 2011 significantly and accepting the Union’s proposed cap number for 2014 ($161 million per club).

    2. An entry level compensation system based on the Union’s “rookie cap” proposal, rather than the wage scale proposed by the clubs. Under the NFL proposal, players drafted in rounds 2-7 would be paid the same or more than they are paid today. Savings from the first round would be reallocated to veteran players and benefits.

    3. A guarantee of up to $1 million of a player’s salary for the contract year after his injury – the first time that the clubs have offered a standard multi-year injury guarantee.

    4. Immediate implementation of changes to promote player health and safety by:

    a. Reducing the off-season program by five weeks, reducing OTAs from 14 to 10, and limiting on-field practice time and contact;

    b. Limiting full-contact practices in the preseason and regular season; and

    c. Increasing number of days off for players.

    5. Commit that any change to an 18-game season will be made only by agreement and that the 2011 and 2012 seasons will be played under the current 16-game format.

    6. Owner funding of $82 million in 2011-12 to support additional benefits to former players, which would increase retirement benefits for more than 2000 former players by nearly 60 percent.

    7. Offer current players the opportunity to remain in the player medical plan for life.

    8. Third party arbitration for appeals in the drug and steroid programs.

    9. Improvements in the Mackey plan, disability plan, and degree completion bonus program.

    10. A per-club cash minimum spend of 90 percent of the salary cap over three seasons.

    Seems like a pretty good offer to me.

    The NFLPA made a major mistake hiring a former trial lawyer and litigation partner of a big Washington D.C. law firm to be the executive director of their union instead of a football guy.

    Smith is using the players as patsies to pad the pockets of his fellow trial lawyers by turning down a reasonable offer and taking this coup d’état attempt to the courts.

    The players want judges and trial lawyers to hand them full control of the NFL without the expense of buying enough franchises to control the management vote or the responsibility of actually running a profitable league.

    Players are acting like hijackers instead of honorable men content to earn more money in three years than most of us will make in a lifetime and then taking their (scholarship-paid) college degrees and NFL notoriety, moving on and earning a living like the rest of us.

  13. @txchief:

    How about a sobbing Bryant McKinnie crying for help because “last night I went to a bar, and could only afford SIX BUDWEISERS!!!! Booooo hooooo hooooo!!!!”.

    Oh the humanity of it all; owners, step up and help this poor man before he resorts to having to drink a forty of Black Bull.

  14. just a FYI to the are EMPLOYEE’S not partners.dont see how that is hard to understand and NO boss is going to open there books to you, that’s just absurd to even think that they would.I think something not even thought or talked about is that when money is brought up,is there anything or deal that we make or do thats going to raise the ticket prices because right now you do not want that in this economy….i was never really on a side till the last day or 2.(All i wanted was a rookie wage scale)..Now im officially on the owners side

  15. DeMaurice Smith keeps talking out of both sides of his mouth – the Packers opened their books, the NFLPA acted as if they haven’t. They want to pretend the cost of doing business in the league hasn’t changed.

    The NFLPA wins a lot of PR battles but has failed to make any credible case for itself. Nowhere are the players being shafted; they’re using a lawyer to call plays in this negotiation. The owners are the ones who spend the money to make the money, not the players.

  16. anyone on the owners side is just not understanding the complexities of the negotiations. Yes the owners made a great last ditch offer but, the numbers are the problem. you cannot compare your job or employment to to the players of the former NFLPA. The are more than just employees and just less than partners. They are like tom Hanks in Forrest Gump… without him the movie is a flop. Without the TOP TALENT the NFL is just college football. The players want FULL DISCLOSURE. Just like the owners want when considering a players injury.

    If the owners have truly been losing money through the fault of the previous CBA simply open the books and prove it. If the owners were being truthful then it would have been no problem showing the books to the players and finalizing a new CBA.

  17. Trial lawyers are and have to be by their nature street brawlers who love to fight and argue. That is why the union hired one. No surprise that he (or Quinn) is talking the way he’s talking. I will say that the language they both used yesterday and in the few days prior were a complete turnoff as far as getting me to understand or appreciate their side in the least bit and I have felt all along that both sides have their right and wrong.

    Pash said that not having a deal was a failure on both their parts. He’s right. Smith and his people have never yet stepped up to take ONE iota of responsibility for it. That coupled with their street brawler language and refusal to counter the league offer with anything but a giant middle finger has made it much harder for me to have sympathy for their position.

  18. These players are living in a fantasy land. The more they talk the dummer and greedier they sound. They want to make millions yet they don’t want to be controled by their employer. Hey dumb-asses… you have to give a little something to get a little something in return. And what really cracks me up here is how idiotic it is to apply the concept of an anti-trust here. The only reason the players are apid as much as they are is because of the exclusive nature of the NFL. If there were three or four successful leagues then the product would not be worth as much. That fact that there is only one place to get it is what makes it so valuable and is also what makes it so these dumbasses can earn more than minimum wage. No one has sympathy for you when you turn your back on the one thing that has made you all richer than you ever deserved to be, the exlusivity of the NFL product. It is supply and demand morons. You really think people are going to pay big money for tickets to go see a game with two or three legit football stars in it? That is what happens when there is more than one league. Wake up players. Your a bunch of greedy pricks who invest nothing in the league. All you do is show up to play and get paid. You bear no risk of investment. Stop whinning.

  19. The players are angry…The owners should really pi$$ed and really take revenge on the players when they settle….like making them ride more busses instead of charters to travel to games.

    Brutal retribution is what I want to see.

  20. So since the players feel as though they are “partners” and not employees who get paid a salary…then shouldnt every player wearing a Minnesota Viking uniform have to give up X amount of their paychecks and savings to help repair the businesses stadium?
    Shouldn’t the owner of the Colts demand Peyton Manning to turn over all his financial data to him before agreeing to pay him a salary that will make him the highest paid player in the history of the game? See how much he is making from all the endorsement deals and other business deals he has going before determining how much he really needs to be paid per season…

  21. Shocking…..the man who made his money being a top litigator in D.C. thinks he can get a better deal for his clients (in this case the players) via litigation. As soon as Dotty ruled that the TV “war chest” was unfair the owners lost the major advantage they would possess in a drawn out litigation….if you didn’t see this coming upon this ruling than you haven’t done your research on De Smith

  22. Mike Silver wrote
    “For the players, things got personal and stayed that way, and ultimately Smith and his members did what proud athletes usually do when they feel they’ve been threatened, disrespected and treated dismissively: They stood tall, puffed out their chests and got ready to rumble.”

    While I’m not condoning the actions that caused the players to think that, taking it personally never helps.

    I wonder if that last ditch offer might have been accepted if they hadn’t taken things personally.

    Oh well. The courts have been friends of the players over the years. I don’t know why that would suddenly change. But I’m not a lawyer, either.

  23. Prime example why I support the Owners. D Smith has whipped up this distrust argument which is ridiculous. The players are now making decisions based on emotion instead of business – bad choice.

    If it wasn’t for the suits who built the NFL infrastructure – built it, marketed it and sold it to us fans – the NFL would be just like the NHL and the NBA a sport with declining fan bases and revenues.

    The owners are responsible for building and maintaining a sustainable product. I want them to be profitable so my team has better players, better mgmt, better facilities and a better experience for me.

    The players are passing through. I loved Dan Fouts, and I love Phillip Rivers – but I know – they are just working her for xx years – they too will move on or get cut

  24. I heard Chester Pitts on NFL Radio crying over distrusting owners. Thing is – his owner Paul Allen still paid Pitts millions even though he played less than 30 plays this year after loafing through 17 weeks of football

    The claim that owners cant be trusted is laughable. They are in it for billions – and in it for the long term

    If a player is lazy he gets benched – if an owner is lazy he loses his business.

  25. Our kings are benevolent!! They look out for us. And organized power is always looking out for those beneath them. Those knights should take what the kings give them and be happy!

  26. I never trusted moss of my bosses over my career either. But, if it got so bad I that I could stand it, I just change jobs. The union sucks and the players are greedy. The owners aren’t much better. So, get over it players and move on.

  27. Those trying to compare the NFL to the regular work place are overlooking the fact that NFL is not like working at your local bar. You can’t just pick up and leave. the players are not “hired hands,” they are partners. Why? Because the NFL entered into an agreement with the players back in the early 90s to make them partners. They agreed to divide revenue with the players by a predetermined formula after taking out a certain percentage for capital costs. The owners want to keep the partnership model but claim they need more upfront for capital costs.

    Why did the NFL do this? Because the players had them dead to rights and they knew it. A jury had found the NFL violated the Sherman Anti-Trust Act in McNeil v. NFL, and the floodgates were opening on lawsuits they were going to lose. The owners were going to lose something very, very important to them. What was that? Their antitrust exemption. So they bargained for and got the agreement which eventually became the CBA. They have since been found to have committed bad faith in their television contract negotiations. Why? Because they tried to screw their PARTNERS, not their employees.

    As part of that agreement, the players have given up their right to engage in the free market system. Giving up that right, has allowed the owners to keep their costs at a calculated reasonable level, which has allowed the NFL to flourish, while the other sports leagues have floundered. Now, the owners want to keep the benefits of that system, while not having to meet any of the costs (which would be something as simple as sharing information with your “partners”).

    The only way you can believe the owners are in the right here, is for you to believe that the NFL’s exemption from the antitrust laws doesn’t benefit the owners. And if you believe that, you’re a moron.

  28. brmorgen82 — Thank you.

    I completely agree. I was neutral and more or less leaning towards the players. But now that more facts are coming out and truth is being shown I am disgusted with the players. I’m now firmly with the owners. They face all the risk in growing the game and growing the $$$. How about they both share in that risk. How about all the NFL Players open up their financial records dating back 1o years so we can see how they spend their money. The IDIOT known as De Maruice Smith has refused to negotiate in good-faith because he believes that through litigation he can always get a better deal. What a jerk and how dare he drag the sport of football through the mudd. Bleep the NFLPA.

  29. I believe D. Smith is over-playing his hand. His bluster is unwarranted unless his clients ordered him to push the limits.

    We’re going to find out just what an MVP Gene Upshaw (RIP) was for the game, the entire NFL. Tagliabue too. The players and owners are picking the wrong time, a deep recession, to cook their golden goose.

    I liken this to the disconnect between the Beltway/Wall St. and Main St. They seem to have forgotten the “new normal”. Life will go on without them, and some will never return.

  30. @ eaglelover1….you my friend took the words from my mouth as i was scrolling down to comment. you are dead nuts on. glad at least two people think alike on this issue.

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