Report: Group of players want to intervene into mediation

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There is reportedly a break in the ranks among NFL players, and it’s happened earlier than anyone would have imagined.

Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal has the scoop, saying a “breakaway group of players” want a seat at the mediation table and they are close to hiring a lawyer to intervene in mediation.

As many as 70 players described as “mid tier” players could be committed to the law firm.  Kaplan reports they are unhappy that talks broke off in March in Washington D.C.  They reportedly won’t contest the “Brady vs. NFL” antitrust case, but just want a seat at the table.

Albert Breer of NFL Network caught up with NFLPA* rep Mike Vrabel in Minnesota at mediation Wednesday.

“That’s why we’re here. That’s why Ben [Leber] and I are here,” Vrabel said.  “We’re players here to represent players and De works for us. They do (have a seat).  And if they’re unhappy with that seat, we have to vote in a new executive committee, and a new board of reps.”

There is other legal wrangling here that would have to happen that we’ll let Florio get into earlier, but this is a troubling and surprising sign for the NFLPA*.

56 responses to “Report: Group of players want to intervene into mediation

  1. On the NFLPA* side I have always suspected that there may be a little of the “tail wagging the dog” scenario going on.

  2. I thought the players were all individuals now. Why would they need an executive committee if there is no union? Oh wait…the decertification was a sham.

  3. If Vrabel wasn’t in the first group, I would have definitely guessed he was apart of the “mid tier” players. I’m guessing Whitehurst and Billy Volek are the heads of that group lol

  4. “And if they’re unhappy with that seat, we have to vote in a new executive committee”

    Huh? What? Vote for what? There is no union to vote for anything? Again, undoubtable evidense that the decertification was a total sham.

  5. “They are unhappy that talks broke off in March” – I’m very surprised that it took this long for something of this nature to happen. I thought there would have been more players questioning the “non-negotiating” tactics of De Smith much sooner. Hopefully, they’ll get rid of him now.

  6. It makes sense for the mid-tier players to be worried about the negotiations because the goal of the NFLPA* seems to be to get as much money as possible for the elite stars and let the rest of the players fight for the leftover scraps.

  7. “That’s why we’re here. That’s why Ben [Leber] and I are here,” Vrabel said. ”We’re players here to represent players and De works for us. They do (have a seat). And if they’re unhappy with that seat, we have to vote in a new executive committee, and a new board of reps.”

    But since you’re not longer a certified union, I guess players must now look to protect their own interests and voting for a board of representatives no longer applies.

    I liken what the players did to a job applicant who interviews and doesn’t get the position because they were of a certain gender. Then that person (the NFLPA*) goes out the next day and gets a gender reassignment and then files a lawsuit against the employer for not hiring them because they were/are now the opposite gender.

    Whatever, the players are gonna get hosed in this process because they were so quick to shoot themselves in the foot.

  8. the owners must be laughing. Another couple of months and they’ll get everything they wanted

  9. So is Vrabel referring to the union or nonunion executive committee and player represntatives? It seems that they want the advantages of being a union and not being a union at the same time.

    I’m happy to see the “mid-level” players speak up. All of this posturing by the NFLPA (with and without asterisk) is just about expanding the huge paydays first round picks and superstar free agents receive. The “mid-level” productive players stand to gain nothing and could wind up getting released for cost savings if the neverending supercontracts continue to grow.

  10. Many assume that all players would benefit equally from future revenue share programs.

    In practice, though, such programs tend to favor greater payouts for top-tier players and scarce commodities, i.e., first-round draft choices. So the rich get richer, and the rank-and-file get gold stars. (The mid-tier players are also the guys that tend to be stuck with RFA tenders, which are pretty much worthless in this market.) So it seems to me they have a much different risk-reward profile than guys like Tom Brady.

    I’m just waiting for the real NFL alumni to get involved. I just don’t see the Eller parties having the same interests as 95% of the retired players. Given that so many players from the 80s are about to hit retirement age, it may be worth noting there have been scant new developments.

  11. Who knows if this a good or bad thing. I really don’t know why they need to form an executive committee if everyone represents themselves like everyone is saying. I just know de smith isnt doing anything if he was that good a deal would have been done by now.

  12. We’re players here to represent players and De works for us. They do (have a seat). And if they’re unhappy with that seat, we have to vote in a new executive committee, and a new board of reps.”

    WHOA, WHOA, WHOA……just wait a second there! ANY one of these players can sit down at the mediation anytime they want. The individuals who are currently sitting in on the mediation do legally represent any other individual in the NFL. They are either separate indiviuals or a single entity …..A UNION!!!!!

  13. The renegade players are unofficially known as the “Lose The Little Gargoyle Movement”. Their banner has a lawn jockey wearing a fedora inside a circle with a big red X through it.

  14. I knew this would happen sooner or later.
    Once again, bad leadership on the players side..

  15. This is the group that has come to realize that they will be the first group cut and replaced by the lower cost rookies. Thanks to the new rookie pay scale.
    They better get a few more on board if they want a seat at the table, 70 is only about 4% of the NFLPA*. If they could convince another 500 to get on board, they might have a chance. This could get interesting.

  16. viguyoo7 dont think this is a court of law or anything. Its simply a table, with people sitting around it, negotiating. They can and should sit around it to see if the people representing them are doing it in their best interest. What do these guys have to hide??? Are they “opening the books??” to the people they are representing?? These players must not think so…..

  17. bfridley says:

    League: Winning!!


    So you’re saying Roger Goodell and Jerry Jones are the NFL equivalent of Charlie Sheen?

  18. Good. More players deserve input in the eventual agreement than just Brady, Manning, Brees, Vincent Jackson, Ben Leber, Logan Mankins, Brian Robison, Osi Umenyiora, Mike Vrabel, and Von Miller (who’s not even an NFL player). If mid-tier guys want to make sure their interests are represented at the bargaining table it is their right and their responsibility to inject themselves in the proceedings in this manner. So instead of being used as anecdotes or statistics by either sides, the guys who actually make up the bulk of rosters can have direct representation in the eventual settlement.

  19. Wow; what a shocker…No one could have predicted this happening! /sarcasm

  20. i knew it wasnt all the palyers that think they are slaves and want more and more money. some of them realize how good they have it and want to try to get a fair deal done.there are a lot of players out there that are smart hard working people.

    the ones that had everything handed to them because of how athletic they were, are the ones that think they are untouchable and are entitled to whatever they want, and when police say turn down your radio or let me see your ID, they think they dont have to listen to the officer. those players will ruin the game.

    hopefully the level headed players will get more people on board and work towards a new agreement

  21. In a legal action these players have no standing, they can not take a seat at the table. Sorry boys.
    Hey Deb. Is this statement true? I’m not being a smart $ss, I am serious.

  22. Nobody is winning. In fact, things are setting up for the worst of all outcomes.

    Judge Nelson is widely expected to rule for the players and lift the lockout. The league is widely expected to appeal this decision which means the lockout isn’t lifted, pending appeal. So let’s all burn another 2-3 months while the league exhausts its appeals.

    Chances are good that the league wins on appeal. It’s at least 50/50 based on the makeup of the justices who form the pool that would hear the appeal.

    So they will be ordered back to mediation before the NLRB or as part of this antitrust lawsuit sometime in late July.

    This sucks.

  23. I have long thought that we would start to see some type of class warfare among the players.

    The simple truth is that the interests of the megastar plaintiff’s like Manning and Brady do not align with the interests of mid and low level players. If the Brady suit is successful (thereby eliminating the salary cap/floor) guys like Brady and Manning stand to get richer, while the low level guys will take a huge salary hit due to the elimination of any minimum salary.

  24. Hooray! This will end up being a great lesson for Smith. When the NFL makes major concessions on the last day of negotiations… don’t spit in their face, make an extension, and counter-offer and negotiate off that final offer. You would have had a deal in probably two weeks had you gone that route.

  25. Wonder if ol’ Vrabes said “Let me go grab a few beers for us and we’ll talk about it.”

  26. So, isn’t there an essentially bad repercussion from the NFPLA continuing to act like it represents the players after it decertified and explicitly stated it no longer represented the players?

    Shouldn’t that eventually lead to the current player suit being thrown out on the grounds that they ARE represented by a union and therefore have no standing to sue under anti-trust?

    This ‘non-union’ union representation still puzzles me.

  27. Dee made a tactical error by using the stars as his window dressing. These guys cant even bother to show up, yet they whine the owners aren’t there.

    The mid-tier guys are the players should be watching out for. They gain the most in a Rookie Pay Scale. They gain the most by most of the issues at stake.

    Further Vrabel’s comments will come back to haunt him and the Union in the decertification case.

    Hell if I am an owner, I wait and wait and wait. If they lose the first round, appeal. Let the first crack open, then the next.

    Water torture. drip, drip, drip.

  28. if there is 70 it means there are a helluva lot more than 70 nfl players against their leadership.

  29. Finally, some players I can respect through this process. Can we get their names so I can take them off my “greedy a-hole” list.

  30. I bet Kevin Kolb is one of those “mid tier players”. He’s due a major contract if traded.

    Adrian Peterson should join them. He’s due 10+ million this season.

  31. These players should get together and create a new union that’s interested in all the players’ well being.

  32. The owners have had their millions and billions for a long time. They have their families in line already. Can you imagine these mid-tier players hearing it all day long from their wives, baby mamas, mothers, children, hangers on, etc. Poor suckers never had a chance.

  33. At some point, don’t the lawyers need to tell Vrabel to shut up?

    Sometimes it becomes very obvious that we have ascribed a higher level of intelligence to twenty and thirty somethings than they may have. That’s not to say all of them are dumb but even the brightest have no background in labor law other than what their lawyers and agents tell them. Both those parties stand to gain quite a bit.

    The mid-level players could get hurt by a sustained stoppage… especially those toward the end of their career. There becomes more incentive to go with a capped rookie.

  34. If they have to vote in a new executive committee and board wouldn’t that constitute being a UNION, and that is a no no for one that has just decertified.

  35. Sorry if this has been mentioned already but … if you no longer have a union because you properly decertified, then how can “De” be there to represent you and how can you vote in new leadership. I hope the owners jump all over this statement as proof that decertification was a sham.

  36. I would be willing to bet that at the head of this new “mid tier” group is:

    Hines Ward, Antonio Cromartie, & Quintin Mikell.

    It was only a matter of time before the guys not in great financial shape or those who just want to play football & don’t really care about the outlandish payday, stood up & said enough.

    Whomever you are, congrats & thanks!

    For those of you who say they don’t have a seat….. Think again. They will get a seat, if not on the players side, they will sit in on the owners side to say they aren’t being mistreated rather misrepresented. Someone please tell me what court of law you know of that will tell you that you cannot switch legal counsel? Remember, this case is in the courts now. If players in this league feel that they are being misrepresented, they are more than welcome to request different legal counsel. And as individual players, not a Union, they have every right to sit in on the mediation to make sure they are being represented properly…. You know that thing where you can face your accuser. The league is accusing the Union’s decertification as a sham. Therefore, individual players have the right to the mediation process because it is part of the lawsuit filed by Tom Brady on behalf of all the players. Whomever thinks these “mid tier” players have no rights, your 110% wrong. And bet your ass the mediator will let these guys in too, especially if he sees that these players aren’t being represented in the fashion they want to be represented.

  37. as long as de smith is the executive director, there will be on CBA. That is not his goal.

  38. @dickroy …

    If you’re serious, I’m flattered. As a one-time employment attorney, Mike has done a great job of explaining the complex labor law issues. It’s not my strongest area, but I know everyone’s right that Vrabel was foolish to admitting aloud what we all knew: The supposedly decertified union is still in charge. If the union has decertified and each player is an island to himself, I can’t see a reason to deny these men a seat at the table.

    Whatever law firm these guys hire will say a lot. If they can secure a highly respected firm, it means their argument has merit. As long as they’re not trying to interfere with the antitrust suit, it may be as easy as the other parties agreeing to their participation. Since it appears the players are at odds, the owners would probably agree. I think it would be foolish for the players to bar them; that would only create more discord among the rank and file. If one or both parties refuse their admittance, I suppose they’ll either have to present their case to Judge Nelson or file suit.

    I hope they’ll be able to participate because the current parties don’t seem to be getting very far.

  39. @ Deb

    I was serious and I thank you for your information. I can tell you are an intellegent person posting on here. I very much enjoy your input.

  40. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. They need to have a convention with ALL players and ALL owners with no lawyers. The committee approach only gets something resulting in a moose.

    The lawyers for these 70 only want a piece of the pie. The players have NO organized agenda thanks to De Smith.

  41. a. vrabel is there cause he heard there was free beer.

    b. mid tier players are there to force a settlement by the former union’s former leadership.

    c. of course decert was a sham.

    d. is upshaw’s agent tom condon still on the former union’s retirees compensation board? of course agents are filling the top paid playters and draftees heads full of schitt.

  42. I guess they found out what a hs gym teachermakes and what to do a bit better and know that they are the onces getting screwed if this goes into the season when the check start not showing up

  43. Not buying it. Wont happen. If there are 70 players and at least 50 agents, why no quotes from at least what this site loves so much an unnamed source? This is just another rumor with no back up.

  44. @dickroy ….

    Thank you … I really appreciate it. Don’t know more than the basics about the other major sports, but have loved football since I was a kid. And I learn a lot from PFT/CFT. Takes my mind off the economy 🙂

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