Is De Smith willing to do a deal?


We addressed a couple of times on Wednesday the current status of the talks from the players’ perspective.  They fear that the players, sensing a deal is coming, will agree to whatever the owners propose in order to get a resolution.  Complicating matters is the perception by the players that the owners have engaged in a bit of bait and switch, changing numbers and concepts to which the players believed the two sides generally had agreed, in anticipation of an eventual decision by the players to take the best deal that’s offered.

The league believes, we believe, that the ongoing influence of lawyers Jeffrey Kessler and Jim Quinn is keeping a deal from getting done.  The league also believes, we believe, that Kessler and Quinn have been trying to derail the process ever since they were kicked out of the room by NFLPA* executive director DeMaurice Smith, possibly to the point of working behind Smith’s back and lobbying members of the NFLPA* Executive Committee to resist Smith’s recommendations.

The league further believes, we believe, that Kessler and Quinn realize they need only to keep a deal from being reached for roughly two more weeks.  After that, with the Hall of Fame game scrapped and the NBC money that goes along with it forever lost, the league’s offer will begin to shrink, and the players will be less inclined to do a deal.

Some of the facts seem to support the league’s perception regarding the motivations of Kessler and Quinn.  For example, we’ve heard from yet another source (we’re now up to three) that an effort is being made to get “special treatment” for the named plaintiffs in the Tom Brady class action.  We can only wonder how much time has been wasted on the issue, the discussion of which serves only to shrink the available time for dealing with the truly important topics.  We also wonder whether the named plaintiffs really want to pursue special treatment, if doing so means possibly preventing a deal from being completed by reducing the amount of time available to do so.

Another issue relates to the contours of “total revenue,” of which the players reportedly would receive 48 cents.  The players, we’re told by players-side sources, want the sales tax on tickets to be included with the “total revenue” figure.  It’s an objectively ludicrous position, in our view, to give the players 48 percent of the sales taxes, since 100 percent of those taxes are never retained by the league.  And if Kessler and Quinn are wasting time on this issue, it’s even less time that can be devoted to the important issues.

The real question is whether De Smith has the desire and the will to force Kessler and Quinn to focus on the issues important to getting a deal done, and whether Smith ultimately has the nerve to stand up to them when the time comes to do a deal to which they very well may object, given the league’s perception that Kessler prefers to lose a season (or more) in the hopes of pursuing an antitrust verdict so large that the players ultimately would own part (or maybe all) of the league.  Indeed, the general deal that remains within striking distance would be truly fair (in our assessment) to both sides, with plenty of owners not thrilled and plenty of players likewise unhappy.  (Mutual discontent is usually the best sign of a truly fair deal.)  But the only folks who possibly would completely hate the deal would be Kessler and Quinn, not simply because it would cut off their supply of legal fees but also because it would wipe out their plans (if the league’s perception is correct) of a crippling antitrust verdict that would make Kessler the new Marvin Miller.

Although Smith has done much in the past month to win the respect and admiration of the owners, his biggest test officially has arrived.  We think he wants to do a deal, we think he has yet to figure out how to close the deal, and we think he realizes that if he fails to do a deal he won’t be re-elected by the players in March 2012.  If the league’s belief that Kessler and Quinn want to keep a deal from happening is accurate, then Kessler and Quinn necessarily want to see De Smith lose his job, since that will be the practical outcome of a lost season.

Thus, De Smith needs to find a way to neutralize Kessler and Quinn.  While the owners have the ability to nudge their outside lawyers into a position of practical irrelevance (and we think the owners already have), it’s virtually impossible for 1,900 players to come together and remind the lawyers that the lawyers work for the players, not the other way around.  In this specific circumstance, the obligation to put the lawyers in their place falls to De Smith, and his ability to do it — and to then do a deal — will go a long way toward determining whether he’ll be the next Gene Upshaw, or whether his old Patton Boggs nameplate soon will be reattached to the door to his office.

Plenty of people have openly questioned whether De Smith was the right man for the job he now holds.  He can prove them all wrong over the next two weeks and, in so doing, he can secure this gig that he surely digs, for as long as he wants it.

68 responses to “Is De Smith willing to do a deal?

  1. This is all about De Smith- he’ll spend the next 2 weeks saying a deal can’t be done – he’ll them do the deal and act like he saved the day. He’s a 2-bit Hustler who couldn’t give a rip about the NFL or it’s rank and file players

  2. When are they going to learn they are turning the fans off of the game. This is all a joke. I guess NFL really does stand not for long

  3. This is an absolute mess. So your saying it is now the owners and nflpa vs. Kessler and Quinn now?? lol im confused as sh*t

  4. People are forgetting the UDFAs who this hurts. The fringe roster players aren’t going to get a fair shot to impress in camp.

    Guys like Brees, Manning, Brady….they’ve been preparing for this. They can miss a season. Some of the other players can’t.

    If it gets to the point where games are being missed, I think you see a revolt by some of the players. You’ll see cracks like we saw a spilt amongst some of the owners earlier.

    Hopefully Smith realizes this & doesn’t let it get to that point. You think this thing has been bad now? It has the potential to get much, much worse if this thing is allowed to go on.

    Finish it.

  5. How’s this deal? I’ll trade you ten Rex Ryan foot rubs if you will can this De Smith clown!

  6. If Kessler and Quinn are conspiting against their employer, why not just fire them?

    I don’t understand why you retain the services of a lawyer who is making your job harder than it has to be.

  7. “The league also believes, we believe, that Kessler and Quinn have been trying to derail the process.”

    Wake up and smell the coffee……FIRE these pricks!!!

  8. The owners and players are both losing out at this point. The players’ first mistake was hiring a lawyer instead of a real player rep (Troy Vincent, anyone?). Smith has been posturing and talking the whole time…but how about a proposal to the owners? How about a counter-proposal to the two deals they’ve already offered?
    The lawyers for the league aren’t helping, either. They get paid by the hour, and the owners have the money to pay, so of course they’re dragging this thing out.
    It seems like a lot of the progress was made when the players met directly with the owners – without the lawyers. Get the employees in a room with the employers, and let them find a way to work this thing out.

  9. Enough of this crap is WAY too much! A pox on all their houses. I wouldn’t blame the fans for torching their NFL gear and walking away from this mess.

  10. What a predicament…having to rely on a moron like Smith to manage people to get this stuff done…don’t count on Smith proving anything other than what he’s displayed so far…a big mouth with nothing but attitude…

  11. I guarantee you, if there is not a game on week one, then I am done with football. I run a number of fantasy leagues and have been a DTV Sunday Ticket customer for many years. Wise up owners and players. Cash-paying fans are tired of your petty example of the fish slapping dance (Google it). Each party thinks that they have the biggest fish. Sorry, but that is what it is. Get over it, or we the fans will get over you. I know that I am so close to walking away. I already have some great plans for Sundays that will be much healthier for me than sitting in front of the TV.

  12. I wish the fool would just leave the negotiating table for good because there is no doubt in my mind that he is a main factor in why this hasn’t gotten done yet. I’m really starting to despise this douche bag more than I do Roger. I wanna smack that dumb look off his face!!

  13. This is from Jay Glazer on

    Another player said he was glad they had the call “because now I have a better understanding of what’s really going on before other guys in my locker room ask me. I was watching the news for updates, and judging from what I heard today, the updates didn’t seem to be close to what they were telling us during the call. Now we feel a little more informed.”

    NOW the players are more informed? After how many months? You had to watch the news to get updates? Why wasn’t the “former” leader of your now-decertified union keeping you updated? I guarantee you that most, if not all, of the 32 owners know EXACTLY what’s going on.

    I hope the article is right – I do hope Smith loses his job because of this.

  14. No, de is NOT willing to do a deal, any deal. he wishes for the lockout to last FOREVER and for there never ever to be another game of professional football.

  15. Even if the deal ended up being WORST than what they had previously, they would STILL be millionaires. De Smith, stop trying to be a tough guy and sign the latest, and probably BEST offer the Owners just gave you, because soon when Pre-season games start getting missed, that offer will start decreasing in $$$ and you will then get fired.

  16. If anyone involved was REALLY serious aboutgetting a deal done they’d demand to meet everyday until it’s settled…

  17. Mike—you do realize the influence you yield.

    You also seem to be a populist–you understand the effects of a lockout on the little guy–the bar owner, the fan, the hospitality/service industry.

    Why don’t you do a post every day on the effect of the lockout on a particular sector of the economy and speak more from the fans perspective, rather than these 3 stooges (desmith, goodell, owners) who are going to do what the heck they want anyway unless the fans are spoken for.


  18. Freaking lawyers. Blood suckers got me for a pretty penny over the past 6 months.

  19. If De has future aspirations of government office, he needs to grow a spine now and neutralize those attorneys. I’m sorry, but the simple notion of insisting that sales tax be included in “Total Revenue” is ridiculous on it’s face, and alone ought to be enough to cease relations with Kessler and Quinn.

  20. ooooooooh that is it!! THAT IS IT!!!! I AM DONE WITH THE NFL!!!! I just burned all my NFL gear, I’m going to root and support a REAL sport, where the athletes and owners CARE ABOUT THE FANS!!! and their league started on time!!

    “I’m here to announce, that this season I am taking my pride and cheers to…….the WNBA!!”

  21. “He can prove them all wrong over the next two weeks and, in so doing, he can secure this gig that he surely digs, for as long as he wants it.

    May they all take off their powdered wigs, eat a rotten fig, bathe in the excrement of a pig, and induce me to do a jig! That, I would truely “dig”.

  22. Iv been saying it for over two years,..there will be no NFL in 2011,…that is a simple fact,…maybe around Thanksgiving when there still isnt a CBA you will all finally see I was right all this time.

  23. DeSmith can almost certainly forget about the legacy he is trying to forge if he doesn’t get this deal completed. He played hardball, and probably got the owners to give. Now complete the deal, all is forgiving. And give us fans football back.

  24. Reading these articles about the likes of Kessler and Quinn makes me have more respect for professional ambulance chasers.

  25. He’s a litigator who has inflamed the league and hampered the negotiation process more than once with rhetoric, by design. He may be beginning to grasp that his political office jones work out better if he doesn’t piss off millions of fans. But I wouldn’t count on it.

  26. “…given the league’s perception that Kessler prefers to lose a season (or more) in the hopes of pursuing an antitrust verdict so large that the players ultimately would own part (or maybe all) of the league. ”

    Why would they want that? No fans would support such a league. I know I would never want to watch or support such a cess pool of greed and ignorance.

    All of this crap is ruining the league and I will not violate my morals just to watch a sport.

  27. but why did Jay Glazer wait 24hrs to break this story?I calling this BS.How does Glazer get a football story? when he thinks hes a damn MMA fighter?

  28. If he was willing to get a deal done it would have been done by now.

  29. With the owners pursuing this “right of first refusal” bull, no, I would not do that deal. If I was De Smith, I am only willing to do a deal that is beneficial to the players, not an all out cave, and signing any kind of deal that includes a “right of first refusal” is an all out cave.

    The reason that a deal has not been done so far is because of the owners, and most of the people included with ‘John Q. Fan’ are too ignorant to see that the owners are to blame and not the players. Not all of us, but far too many.

  30. Both sides need to fire their lawyers, then they should both be locked in a room and only allowed bathroom breaks and 1 hr food breaks until a deal is done.

  31. Excellent Article. This article hits at the most important point in this whole thing, motivation. Kessler and his attorneys are motivated to stretch things out and create barriers to any possible deal and literally make as big a mess as they can. Kessler lives to be in the court room, build a reputation for himself, and continue raking in 10’s of millions in legal fees.

    Players are motivated to get a deal that provides short and long term security and allows them to play football, not just keep suing.

    Owners are motivated to get a deal that gives them long term profits and allows them to have football.

    Players and owners motivations are very compatible, they both want football. The main issue is simply how to split up the pie.

    The lawyers motivations are 100% incompatible. They do not want football. They want to bring down football and the longer it takes the better for them.

    De Smith needs to decide who he is working for. Is he going to be a leader or let Kessler run the show? Continuing to let Kessler try to worm his way back into control will only serve Kessler’s goals and not the players. Time to step up and serve the people you are working for. A good deal for both sides can be achieved. If lawyers, whose goal is to disrupt any kind of deal, are running the show how are you ever going to get a deal done?

  32. Both sides have lawyers. The owners are the side demanding a better deal than last time.

    I just want to watch pro football and read stories about it. This finger pointing and deal making stuff is becoming mind numbing.

    Is there not some free agency primers or stupid who is better lists to write about?

  33. Totally agree that Tom Brady is not asking for special treatment. Many times has he left money on the table to help his teamates. It doesn’t make sense that all of a sudden he would change his character. Like the article states, it is much more likely that Kessler is using the “special treatment” for Brady, etc. as a another way to drive a wedge between the two parties. Kessler needs to go period. He is conning the players and they don’t even know it. Did Brady and the other plaintiffs really ask for special treatement?

    It’s like a marraige where two independent parties come together for mutual benefit. How would a marriage ever work if they invited their divorce lawyer to be a permanent houseguest and run their household? This cannot work until they get the Gimp (Kessler) out of the process.

  34. Brady will be happy to take down the league. What does he care. His wife will support him. And he can get on with his manpurse designing

  35. If the long-standing rumors are correct (and I think they are) that Smith is using this position to try to launch a political career, then there are things that he must do and things that he can’t do.

    He can’t come out of this deal looking like he’s actually given something back to the owners, even when that’s what will really be happening (because that’s what its going to take to get a deal done).

    He must be seen as a “savior” in all of this, riding to the players’ and fans’ rescue and saving the season from being cancelled by the greedy owners. He also must come out of this looking like he’s won and the owners have lost.

    If Smith can get a deal done and spin the results to make it look like he’s responsible for saving the season and bringing in more money for the players, then a deal will get done. If he can’t successfully spin it that way, it won’t happen.

  36. With each update on the lockout, I see the 2011 season slip just a little farther away.

  37. Demaurice Smith has been a MAJOR impediment to getting a deal done. A more sensible player rep would already have this resolved. I hope a deal is done in the next 2 weeks. If this drags on, maybe the players will realize they need someone else in charge.

  38. Buried deep in the story was an example of one of the “sticking points” in the negotiations – the players want 48% of the taxes received on ticket sales – of which 100% of those taxes are to be paid to the various taxing bodies.

    This further shows to stupid and un-realistic Smith, the player’s lawyers and, to some degree the players are being in these negotiations.

    “Ohhh….but it’s just a negotiating point…”

    You negotiate on points that are actually valid, not something that neither the owners or the league can control such as taxes.

    Would someone please send DeSmith and half of these idiots back to the kid’s table and let the adults have a go at the negotiations?

    Nothing but b/millionaire morons running the show these days.

  39. the NFL looses 100% of the taxes collected?! I’ll call BS on that one.

    Every local business gets tax credit for the jobs they create in the community. I’ve seen some estimates that it’s ALL credited back to businesses. (I saw it on Oprah, so it MUST be true, right? I mean no one from Chicago ever told lies.. it’s impossible).

    Gross is gross. If that’s what they agreed to, that’s what they should be splitting.

  40. lawyers are the lowest form of life: they feast on human misery – yours and mine, but never theirs. They go to bed every night and thank God for all the misery in the world, and pray it keeps getting worse.

  41. Can’t De Smith fire Kessler?

    If the scenario you paint that Smith is just posturing in his comments and really wants to make a deal, and Kessler is the one holding him back, wouldn’t it make sense to just poopcan him?

    De Smith, whatever you think of him otherwise, doesn’t seem to be a guy that would allow his plans to be thwarted by underlings.

  42. Everyone who is panicking about the 2011 season being completely lost is over-reacting. When paychecks are being missed (by players AND owners) a deal will get done quickly.

    Everyone who is saying “I’ll never watch again” is kidding themselves. They will watch, time heals all wounds. These same sentiments were expressed during both player strikes of the 80s.

    I’m not stunned at this turn of events. I want a deal, but it needs to sustain the long-term interests of the sport. The players taking this to court as their primary strategy will result in paychecks being missed. They screwed themselves in this one.

  43. If the Rams and Bears don’t meet at Canton, Ohio for the Hall of Fame Game, this thing is going to really start pissing me off. I’ve been putting up with it and following it because I love football and I want to know what is going on. But when it comes down to it, I don’t care who wins, the rich or the richer. I just want to watch football and play fantasy football!!!! Come ON!!!

    GO RAMS!!!

  44. Stop with the “pity the poor players” bit!

    When a player makes the choice to do illegal drugs/PEDs, etc and gets suspended w/o pay, he knows he can come back and make the money back with “likely to-be-earned incentives” in his contract.

    However who suffers for that players decision? The TEAM and the Owner, that’s who. The team loses a productive player for the entire period of the suspension, plus they might have to promote (and pay more to) a player from outside the team or the practice squad.

    IMO, the following should be levied against the player who chooses to take illegal drugs/PEDs, etc.

    1st offense: Suspension w/o pay, not eligible for contract incentives, not eligible for the pro bowl, post-season awards, fine of 10% of his contract plus any costs to the team including all costs related to paying his replacement

    2nd offense: Suspension w/o pay for 8 games, all of the above for 1st offense, LOSS of a credited year toward free agency

    3rd offense: Suspension w/o pay for entire season, loss of 2 credited years toward free agency, the player must refund HALF of his last signing bonus to his team, fine of no less than $2 million

    I propose this b/c players can get away with whatever they want b/c the union will protect them however there is no protection for the team or the owners. Teams/owners MUST have some recourse against players who, by their own volition, decide to violate the rules that they have been educated on many many times

  45. the NFL looses 100% of the taxes collected?! I’ll call BS on that one.
    The taxes in question are sales taxes, not income taxes. Sales tax goes to the local governments regardless, and is not a part of revenue like the article states.

    On the original topic. I want to be excited about the NFL Season. But if there’s not? I will find something else to do. That won’t be a problem. And when football does return? I might be too caught up in other stuff to care.

  46. dikshuttle says:
    Jun 30, 2011 9:22 AM
    the NFL looses 100% of the taxes collected?! I’ll call BS on that one.

    Every local business gets tax credit for the jobs they create in the community. I’ve seen some estimates that it’s ALL credited back to businesses. (I saw it on Oprah, so it MUST be true, right? I mean no one from Chicago ever told lies.. it’s impossible).

    Gross is gross. If that’s what they agreed to, that’s what they should be splitting.

    Multiple choice for why this post is incorrect as can be:

    1) You didn’t read the article carefully.

    2) You’ve never run any business.

    3) You truly don’t understand the difference between SALES TAX and other taxes.

    4) There are other more unkind choices but I won’t say them.
    Before I saw the bit about Kessler wanting SALES TAX to count in revenues I thought the single biggest amount of gall involving ST is the fact that as business owners, we are expected to collect them for the state and the state then makes us PAY THEM A HUGE FEE to remit payment with a credit card. I was wrong…this Kessler thing is up there with that.

    Kudos to Mr.Whitequail who has been dumping on Kessler for ages here. You, sir, were so right.

  47. What the media seems to always fail to report in these stories is the fact that there are 2 components that drive up their costs that are borne solely by the owners, and are ultimately passed down to the fans:

    1. Escalating player-related expenses such as salaries, bonuses, healthcare, perks, etc

    2. Stadium costs

    Players don’t give a damn about the fans, they want their money and the perks and that’s it.

  48. If Kessler succeeds in ruining football (like Miller did Baseball) he will be the most hated man in the USA. He might even find that people willing to do harm to him. Given some of the passion I have seen displayed by fans, Kessler would be more or less painting a bulls eye on his back.

    The fact that he is trying to ruin football makes me hate him. I can only imagine what some of the crazies out there might do.

  49. Let’s see… Kessler and Quinn are hoping for an anti-trust court win that will give the players a lottery-type win in the billions. Isn’t that in the players’ best interest? Kessler and Quinn are not representing “football” or the fans. They represent the players. To them, winning a massive court case is their job and anything less is not doing their job. They are not “evil,” they are just doing what they were hired to do.

  50. Lets be realistic. The part about the taxes is a major deal-breaker. Anybody who has a spreadsheet can see the numbers. Example:
    If the tax was 8.25% and the sales were One Million dollars, the tax would be $82,500. To include taxes in the 48% the players take of the combined $1,082,500 would be $519,600. The players don’t pay the taxes on the sales; the owners do. This means that the players get $519,600 and the owners get $480,400 with $82,500 for taxes.
    Players would get 51.96% and owners would get 48.04%. That’s WORSE than the previous CBA and everybody knows it, including the lawyers and the owners.
    To include taxes as part of the funds distribution guarantees no agreement, no training camp, no free agents, no draft choices signed, NOTHING.

    That’s what DeMoron wants! The meetings are just for show. If he was serious, he would have submitted a counter proposal to the league’s TWO offers.

  51. duh is just like bam and the dimrats. he wont propose a thing. he just wants to go judge-shopping, or head to the nlrb.

    and eastside etc… duh is also a lawyer.

    they should have called the nflpa* reps, but they called pro bowlers. that is because they want the money guys on their side.

    the rank and file should take a very negative message from that. as should the team reps.

    if the players, or more likely, the union*, wish to count everything in the world as profit, then they should also incur a share of each team’s losses.

    scab ball is starting to look real good.

  52. De is useless. The deal the NFL offered in March was better than what they will get now. He needs to go even if they get a deal. He can take the lawyers with him.

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