We weren’t surprised by the hostile reaction of Seahawks guard Chester Pitts to the letter from Commissioner Roger Goodell to all players. Though Goodell makes very good points and we fully support his call for continued talks (as should all fans), the players do not want to allow themselves to be divided and conquered, so they’ve stiffened their spines and dug in their heels, even if their short-term position ultimately hurts their long-term interests.
And their short-term position apparently includes a refusal to continue negotiations. We currently suspect that a small handful of people (maybe lawyers like Jeffrey Kessler, maybe one or more players) want to push the process through the April 6 hearing in Minnesota, under the assumption that the players will obtain an order lifting the lockout, and thus giving the players more leverage.
But if the players lose the hearing and the lockout continues, the players lose leverage. A lot of it. (And anyone who says that the players definitely will secure an order lifting the lockout is lying or stupid, or both.)
Seahawks guard Chester Pitts, a representative to the NFLPA*, apparently has been listening to whoever is trying to force the process to litigation. An entry posted by Pitts on his Twitter page this morning shows that someone is telling Pitts that negotiations can’t continue because the NFLPA* has decertified.
“He and the owners lie to the public every day,” Pitts said of Goodell. “That letter is the equivalent of spam! How is it all of sudden he now wants to negotiate when he knows that window has closed. A trade association can not collectively bargain! The courts must now decide.”
In another message, Pitts said, “The movement of the case determines the next step. But no the class can’t bargain. Those are the rules of the antitrust laws.”
Chester, you’re just flat wrong, on both counts.
Negotiations may continue. Period.
Specifically, the lawyers representing the class may continue the negotiations. Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy recently suggested that the league would even consider signing paperwork that would allow the NFLPA* to be involved in exchange for a commitment that the NFL wouldn’t use it against the NFLPA* in court proceedings regarding whether the decertification is a sham, which of course it is — and Pitts knows it.
So how do we know that the lawyers can pick up where the non-asterisk NFLPA left off? Because NFLPA* executive director DeMaurice Smith said so Thursday.
“We have lawyers and class counsel who are representing us,” Smith told Mike Francesa of WFAN. “There’s no reason why those lawyers and class counsel and lawyers for the league can’t get together and talk and negotiate.”
Our guess is that one of the folks who have decided to push the case to the April 6 hearing and to resist further negotiations fed Pitts a line of crap when he started asking why negotiations weren’t continuing.
If that’s the case, Pitts should be upset. And he should commence the process of finding out who lied to him, and why they did it.