Players begin P.R. push

From Friday through Sunday, nearly all of the P.R. spin regarding the NFL’s labor dispute was being spun by the league, primarily through a coordinated campaign that apparently included talking points on which the Giants and Dolphins relied, nearly verbatim.

On Monday, the players commenced the process of pushing back.

In a conference call arranged by the NFLPA* and primarily handled by spokesman George Atallah, president Kevin Mawae, and Executive Committee member Drew Brees (with cameos from Sean Morey and Jeff Saturday), the players answered various questions regarding the litigation and the negotiations.

Here are some of the highlights, in no particular order.

Atallah said that there would be no comment on the report that the NFLPA* had instructed incoming rookies to boycott the draft.

Brees made clear his passion for the cause.  “I’m one of the lead plaintiffs for our case because it’s important to me,” Brees said.  “I feel very strongly about our case.  I feel very strongly about the facts and the law.”

Mawae said that any suggestion the players walked away from the bargaining table was a “fabrication and a lie.”  Echoing Cardinals kicker Jay Feely’s description of frustration experienced by the players last week, Mawae said that, during 16 hours at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service on Tuesday and Wednesday, roughly 30 minutes were spent meeting with the owners directly.

Mawae also attacked NFL general counsel Jeff Pash, said that the league’s “paid attorney is lying, not just to us but to the fans of the NFL.”

As to the league’s offer to defer the 18-game season for at least two years, Mawae said “we cannot justify it,” it’s “not gonna happen” and it “never will be” part of any proposal.

Still, Mawae said that the players “want to get a deal done.”  Brees said that the deal offered by the league on Friday was “unreasonable and unrealistic,” and that the league simply hoped to take the offer to the media ans say “we offered a good deal . . . and they walked away.”

And while Feely told PFT Live that the two sides aren’t that far apart, Atallah had this to say about the gap in the positions:  “The perception is that we were really, really close.  The reality is we really, really weren’t.”

It remains to be seen what else the players have to say moving forward.  Feely did a great job today, and the players need more people like him who will take the time to share the players’ position.

60 responses to “Players begin P.R. push

  1. So what was the decertification and failure to extend negotiations if it wasn’t walking away? The truth?

  2. Greed. Unbridled, unadulterated. Say and do anything – regardless of validity or truth – to get their hands on more. Despicable.

  3. I don’t care, I don’t care I don’t care. It’s everyones fault here. The players, the owners- all of you. None of you are as important as you seem to think.

  4. I think i can speak for most fans when i say to both the players and the owners..SHUT THE F*CK UP!!!
    I for one am tired of hearing how sorry you all are and how this hurts us fans most. You guys had your chance to make things right by the fans and you blew it.
    Take your PR and shove it up your overpaid asses

  5. In other words, a whole lot of words saying a whole lot of nothing!!!! By not commenting on the draft, they are acknowledging that is exactly what they are doing, cause if they didn’t advise them to stay away they would say they didn’t. — “And while Feely told PFT Live that the two sides aren’t that far apart, Atallah had this to say about the gap in the positions: “The perception is that we were really, really close. The reality is we really, really weren’t.”” let the cracks begin, it is normal to disagree with the other side, when they start disagreeing with each other it is either a sign of miscommunication or mistrust of leadership, either way doesn’t look good.

  6. “They’re lying, no THEY’RE lying.” Quite frankly I no longer give a sh*t. Speaking as a fan, just get something done. I don’t care how it gets done but I do know that it won’t get done in court. Please, for the sake of all of us, get back to the negotiating table and figure it out.

  7. sounds like the players are a step behind and only can respond to the league. they will lose that chess match. if the players didnt walk away from such a great deal, then spell out what would be a great deal. seems the players only want to discredit the owners rather than build their own case….

  8. Brees said that the deal offered by the league on Friday was “unreasonable and unrealistic,” and that the league simply hoped to take the offer to the media ans say “we offered a good deal . . . and they walked away.”


    No, the league wanted another extension. That last proposal had given ground on issues the Union had complained about publicly.

    The fact is the players are grandstanding that they need full access to the owner’s books as the only way to validate the owner’s claims to diminishing profitability, when in reality they want that unfettered access to find ammunition to use against the owners. Any reasonable person would agree that there is a way for privacy to be maintained while getting to the truth about league profitability. It seems pretty clear the Union has no interest in maintaining that privacy.

    Look, if an owner wants to pay his half-wit son $500k a year to pick lint out of his belly button, then that’s the owner’s prerogative. The Union should only care if that salary comes from their portion of the pie. I find it hard to believe that an independent firm couldn’t identify frivolous expenditures like those and present them anonymously.

    To me, the Union was completely unwilling to compromise on this issue. In my book, not even considering alternative solutions to a disagreement is not negotiating in good faith, thus the lockout is on the players.

  9. So they pull Mo’s misshapen little mug out of the frame and subsitute it with Atallah the Undertaker? Great. At least Smith had comic value. George is the stuff nightmares are made of.

  10. Replace these employees who refuse to work for this offer and I will still watch. Teach these guys that the game can live without their name on the back of the jersey.

  11. My head hurts. I can’t believe for one minute that the NFLPA* is this stupid.

    What am I missing ? The deal should have closed Friday.

  12. Where does the law say the owners of any business have to give workers some % of revenues? No worker can tell the owners of a private company what % money they are deserved. I hope the owners lock them out for two years, tear up the entire CBA and restructure base salaries with incentives for player performance.

  13. @marjones45 …

    No need to run an article like that on Friday with a rapid-fire succession of releases from team owners and presidents about how they were soooo fair and those nasty ol’ players just wouldn’t listen. Funny how they conveniently left out the part about the owners being the ones demanding the additional money, the owners closing the league, and the players offering weeks ago to take cuts putting them back to 2002 levels–a proposal that was rejected.

    It’s about time the players started speaking up for themselves. Too many fans have the erroneous idea that spoiled athletes are demanding more money or threatening to strike. That is not what’s happening.

  14. “Replace these employees who refuse to work for this offer and I will still watch.”

    Yeah, right. I will NOT watch. A professional football league that doesn’t include Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson, Larry Fitzgerald, Brady, Manning, etc … doesn’t include me, either.

  15. This just shows how cluless the players are and how clueless they think we are. In most mediations, the parties NEVER meet face-to-face, with the most effective method shuttle diplomacy by the mediator. That minimizes hard feelings and gives the parties a chance to hear a nuetral, third party perspective. The worst thing to happen would’ve been to have a whole bunch of owners hanging around spouting off their opinion. The reason for Goodell’s frigging job is to provide one unified voice for the owners and a more efficient method to make decisions. they met, gave him settlement parameters, and he tried to do the deal within those terms. Geez, thank god for baseball season.

  16. So who is going to be the juice head Sosa and McGuire of the NFL to save this sport now? You crap on us fans and we show you quick who has the biggest stick in the room! Go ahead and try it NFL

  17. When will the players (formally know as the NFLPA) get it? The fans will never understand how they think that making more money then their bosses is viable for any business including the NFL. The Kings of their court can stick their apologies to the fans, unless they fight for more benefits for the players before them, and some sort of rookie wage scale that makes sense for everyone. If every business had to operate with more then 60% labor costs where would this country be? Stop the insanity, and take what they offer you, because it’s more then fair already!

  18. Lets see, boycott the draft from a union that does not exist anymore

    The player who is the president of the players union which is no longer a union, and he himself is no longer a player…makes complete sense to me.

    and De Maurice Smith is also auditioning for the recasting of Bozo the Clown. He just might win an Oscar for his part.

  19. It’s painful to watch DeMaurice Smith talk – always looks like he forgot to put in his top dentures. Dude hit every branch on the way down when he fell from the ugly tree.

  20. Not sure how the players think this will gain them sympathy.

    From what I saw the offer given was fairly reasonable and looked like the owners were trying to concede some items. At the very least if the NFLPA* was negotiating in good faith the offer should have been enough to justify another extension but DeMaurice “Hoffa” Smith wanted to continue his grand standing and try to put the blame on the owners.

    Too bad it backfired and the NFLPA* came away Friday looking like unreasonable d**che bags.

  21. Awww…poor players. They have it soooo rough. Their careers are only 3 years long and they only make in that 3 years what it takes us salt of the earth types to make in 30 years… blah blah blah.

    Meanwhile thousands are dying in war every year and the men and women in uniform make pennies compared to these clowns…thousands died in Japan this past week but these guys are SOOO important. These people have some nerve. Who do they really think they are?? They are ENTERTAINERS nothing more….Too bad us fans cannot sue these selfish kooks…(inlcuding the owners)

  22. if the satement “we want 10 years of financial information” isn’t walking away from the table (and a big screw you) i don’t know what is .

  23. DeMaurice Hussein Smith is going to train wreck the NFL in a rigged courtroom in front of his “main man” Judge Doty. Then he’ll place a call in to the Red House, er, uh, I mean White House, to give props to Maobama and whatever mob contacts he used from Chicago to get the Minnesota court to bounce this legal nugget into Doty’s filthy nubs for the win. Book it!

  24. Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Drew Brees can each kiss my hairy, union-loathing buttocks! These guys are either too stupid to know that they are being used by DeMaurice Smith and his free market, private ownership-hating associates or they buy into his thinking! Either way, I’m done rooting for anyone of these 3 stooges!

  25. Deb says: Mar 14, 2011 5:54 PM

    It’s about time the players started speaking up for themselves. Too many fans have the erroneous idea that spoiled athletes are demanding more money or threatening to strike. That is not what’s happening.


    Deb, get a clue, will you? They ARE spoiled athletes who think:

    1) They are above the law.
    2) They are above the game.
    3) That if they’re better than another player, they HAVE to be paid more to gain “respect”.

    Give me a break. Show me one…JUST ONE…other successful business where the labor costs are over 60% to the employees…not including all of the other things that go towards them out of the owners share. Let me save you some time….that business DOES NOT EXIST.

  26. I only stop by here to read the pettiness.
    Fans used to give a real crap about the PLAYERS on the team who represented their town. The Owners were a conduit to getting the team better.
    Now it’s the Owners saying “Hey, we have a captive audience in the stadiums, $8 beer and $40 for parking and PCL’s… you see where I’m going with this……

  27. eff the players. Business owners take all the risk and the unions expect them to share like freaking third graders.

    As a season ticket holder I hope they cancel the season and lets see how many players survive.

  28. r8rsfan says: Mar 14, 2011 5:15 PM
    “Greed. Unbridled, unadulterated. Say and do anything – regardless of validity or truth – to get their hands on more. Despicable”

    Uhm, the players never asked for a penny, in fact they offered to take a pay cut.

    johnn916 says: Mar 14, 2011 5:36 PM
    “Replace these employees who refuse to work”

    They didn’t refuse to work, that would be called a strike – the owners locked them out.

    Geez, people are stupid…

  29. The Wall Street Journal reported today that
    the owners had put away enough money to make thru 2011 without football.

    I hope so, I wish they would cancel the season and we would see how fast the majority of these players would tell Brees to stuff it.

  30. You know, I really like the fact that the players now seem to have somewhere between 30 and 40 spokesmen. That does not include the 5-10 people that like to be called Anonomous Source. The best part is that they all have a different take on what is going on. You are beginning to look like, NO, you do look like a THREE RING CIRCUS and all of you are clowns.

  31. Deb says: Mar 14, 2011 5:54 PM

    It’s about time the players started speaking up for themselves. Too many fans have the erroneous idea that spoiled athletes are demanding more money or threatening to strike. That is not what’s happening.

    You’re right, but only in a small degree — they’re not on strike.

    Rather, they’re spoiled athletes who, despite making too much of the pie in an unsustainable compensation model, threated to destroy the NFL if they didn’t get even more of the pie. And that’s exactly what is happening right now.

    Take the Packers. In 2010 the Packers, mid-pack in revenues, operating profits, etc., made $9.8 million. The year prior (2009), $9.8 wouldn’t have put you in the Top-10 for QB compensation. In fact, you’d have 12th, just above Carson Palmer at $9.5 million.

    There were 4 cornerbacks that made more. Six defensive ends. A mere 3 defensive tackles. Four linebackers (with three more barely under that number). And so it goes. With over three-dozen players making more than the Packers.

    Heck, Phillip Rivers alone made $25 million. Which was $15 million more than the mid-point Packers and, by extension, more than half the franchises in the NFL.

    Think about it. One player made more than at least half the franchises in the NFL.

    Can you possibly see that the business model is broken because of the idiotic 2006 CBA…?

    And the players know this. But for them, bankrupting the NFL for a paycheck today doesn’t matter. They’re, mostly, going to be gone from the NFL in a decade or less. So who cares, right?

    And the proof is in the pudding of their actions. Not only did they refuse to compromise in the slightest when it came to the CBA negotiations, but they have a history of only looking out for themselves. When do they go to the table and demand the old guys are taken care of properly? Increased vet benefits and pensions for the guys who played for peanuts in the 60’s and 70’s? Where in this negotiation is any spirit of fairness for the next generation of football players who will have to suffer as the NFL’s popularity declines due to the inevitable loss of competitive balance and, therefore, fan interest.

    The answer is NEVER. NEVER to they meaningfully help those that came before them. It’s always them, those that play today. Never the past, never the future. Rather it’s what they can grab for themselves today, damn everyone else.

    And that grab everything today attitude is precisely what destroyed competitive balance in Baseball and Basketball. And, ultimately, severely damaged them as leagues. Basketball is down 45%. Baseball has been declining for a decade, or more.

    So the owners, OTOH, as repulsive as many of them are, are the ones who are aligned with fan interest. The owners, many of them, come from families who’ve been in the NFL since the 30’s. This is a, for them, multi-generational family (big) business and they care about its future. Unlike the players who only care about their money and will, career over, move on to car dealerships, or growing dope, or whatever is they have to do because half of them pissed away fortunes.

  32. the Players are clearly the reason they aren’t negotiating right now… they decertified ending the discussion… end of story..

    I agree with the above at this point: fire anyone who won’t work for the deal, we’ll be fine watching new talent….

  33. So, if they were nowhere close to an agreement. The players are essentially saying that the offer on the table was crap and they don’t think its anywhere close to what they want?

    Wow… Sure is hard to support them when they dont even think the offer made was reasonable.

  34. I think what I’m getting from this thread the most is that Republicans are just plain braindead. End of story. Y’all been brainwashed by watching too much Faux Noize.

  35. At this point I hope they cancel the season so I can get a refund on my season tickets and move on from this league. The NCAA has it’s own warts, but I’d rather go back to spending my money on a product that I can rely on. Will I watch the NFL TV? Sure. But I’m done wasting my money on their overpriced tickets, parking, beer, psl’s, food, etc. I bet the MLB is smiling right now.

  36. Who cares? You already blew it. De Maurice shot your wad for you. Get over it. You’ve killed any PR you had with the fans.

  37. NFL Sunday Ticket….CANCELLED as of today
    NFL Network…expendable
    NFL Draft…can’t come soon enough
    DeMaurice Smith…to blame.

    I’m so pissed I can’t see straight. You can’t leave the fate of the league in the hands of employees and a politician, there’s a reason the guys who own the teams are in that spot…and vice versa.

  38. @palinforpresidentofnorthkorea …

    Hon, my experience with the censors today is that I’m not allowed to post any comments to you no matter how benign they are–not even when I’m joking around with you. Don’t ask me why. The censors and I are from different planets, and I don’t speak their language. I’m desperately trying to be respectful of them, but frankly, have no desire to learn to speak lunacy.

    On the off chance this one goes through, I have a working understanding of the issues in this dispute between owners and players–which is more than I can say for most of the people commenting. But you’re getting into the fine points of labor law. The NFLPA is now a trade assn. operating on behalf of players. Exactly how that differs from a union, I couldn’t say. Will agree with you that the differences seem a little blurred.

  39. Bring on the scrubs!

    1987 was a fun year. At first I was disappointed when the strike began, but then I realized that those guys wanted it so badly… they put on a great show.

  40. Ohhhhh… I didn’t know that the players offered “a good deal”. I’m glad they spoke….that changes everything.
    To both sides… please don’t try to convince me. I don’t care. Get the deal done or go away.

  41. robf2010 says:
    Mar 14, 2011 6:08 PM
    “Replace these employees who refuse to work for this offer and I will still watch.”

    Yeah, right. I will NOT watch. A professional football league that doesn’t include Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson, Larry Fitzgerald, Brady, Manning, etc … doesn’t include me, either.


    So your saying you’ve only watched football for a few years? I mean non of those players were there in the 80’s, 90’s and only a few of them have been in the league longer than 4 years. When they retire will you stop watching football? Good riddance.

  42. @jerseydevil856 and moseszd …

    The 59+ percent which goes to players is divvied up after the owners take a billion dollars off the top. They now want to take another billion dollars off the top. That figure includes health care and benefits to retired players who were used until they could no longer perform, then tossed out with nothing to fall back on. And they did not make millions of dollars.

    In a free-market economy, the market determines what a product is worth. These players are more than employees; they are also the product on the field. Without them, the owners earn nothing. Their compensation is comparable to what a top actor receives for a film. The producer puts up the capital to get the film made, the actor provides the star power. This is how it works in a capitalist system.

    Several weeks ago when no one was paying much attention to the negotiations, the players offered an across-the-board split that would have set their cut back to pre-2002 levels. With that, they would not have required a look at the books. The owners turned them down. The owners are the ones who came into this making demands. The owners are the ones who have shut down the league. The owners are also the ones who bid the players into their current salary structure.

    You want to paint them as the bad guys because you hate the idea of a guy getting paid big money to play a game. Too bad. Either you believe in a free market or you don’t. You can’t have it both ways.

  43. @3octavefart
    By the way, your name says it all. The union disbanded. There is no more union. The owners locked the doors to those people who no longer work for them and have no legitimate right to enter their premises. The NFLPA decided to become trespassers when it chose decertification rather than mediation.

  44. So the player’s rep is actually a player, and the lawyer that represents the players can’t agrre how close they were? Were these guys even in the same room?

  45. The players are FULLOF IT. The owners gave a bunch by the deadline. I am sure there were things like the 60% raise in Retired players Pensions, no 18 game schedule and a move to cut the money they wanted that could have been a starting point to at least get an extension to negotiate further.

    The players did not want a deal except totally on their terms and it was the players that walked away from any extension. Now they are trying to cover their rears because they know the Fans have had it.

    I canceled my Direct TV Season Ticket auto deduct for 2011 and have canceled my season tickets for the entire Family. Just as I promised to take off on Baseball and have never spent one dime on the Sport since the Strike if a Game is missed this year I will do the same with Football.

  46. Pathetic …… play the blame game…..apparently 9 BILLION isn’t enough for these people…..not enough to go around? Pathetic!!!!

  47. “I feel sorry for the fans losing in this process”. Blah blah blah. Give me a break. Don’t treat us like we’re complete idiots.
    Good PR =negotiate on a new contract until done. Lose the leaks to the press. Let us know when it’s completed

    Bad PR = Telling rookies, who have dreamed of this day since childhood, not to go to the draft if a deal isn,t done. Not to mention messing with the draft is messing with the fans.
    How about both sides get locked in a room until this thing is done. This is the golden goose, try not to f$%&* it up!!!

    ay ar

  48. I love how the players are calling it manipulation when the players are the only ones who keep throwing tweets out there trying to get the fans on their side, but who in their right minds would open their books for the last 10 years….what benefit would that make! Players….show us your books! Ask the NBA….opening the books doesn’t even work! I just find it interesting how pretty boy BREES is shooting for the sympothy vote! OWNERS STAY STRONG!!!!

  49. The owners are just as greedy as the players, yet they’re getting sympathy votes. I don’t understand how anyone can feel sorry for billionaires. Way too much tragedy in the world to give a damn about these arrogant clowns, players and owners alike.
    Also, if the players are about fairness, why no beef about the rookie payscale from the vets? To me, that is the epitome of waste, giving an unproven rookie 10 times what an experienced veteran makes. Think of the millions wasted and the ridiculous busts produced.

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