As the dust settles on Tuesday’s unexpected brouhaha regarding the efforts of four named plaintiffs in the Brady antitrust lawsuit — or agents and/or lawyers working on their behalf — to get something for themselves as a settlement of the case approaches, one of the guys who reported that an effort was made to block the franchise tag from ever being used on Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and Saints quarterback Drew Brees reports that the issue ultimately was dropped based in part on the reaction from other players.
Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com reports, citing an unnamed player, that some members of the NFLPA* Executive Committee were “infuriated” by the news. “They want blood,” the unnamed player told Freeman.
The Executive Committee was meeting on Tuesday in Washington, in advance of an expected Wednesday analysis of the proposed labor deal. Since Brees is a member of the Executive Committee, there’s a chance that things may have gotten a little awkward in the room.
Freeman also opines that, to the extent Brees, Manning (via his agent), and Chargers receiver Vincent Jackson are now saying they never asked for special treatment, they’re telling the truth. Sort of. As Freeman sees it, others had been pushing the issue on behalf of players who, as a result, were able to maintain plausible deniability.
As we first heard the story last month, CAA was attempting to secure the exemption for its clients, Brees and Manning. On Tuesday, Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports reported that an effort was being made to make Jackson and Patriots guard Logan Mankins free agents in 2011, or to get them $10 million each for the money they lost via the rules of the uncapped year and their ensuing holdouts. Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe and Freeman reported that the effort of behalf of Brees and Manning was still being made. And Adam Schefter of ESPN reported that Jackson’s agents had confirmed that Jackson indeed wanted free agency, or free money.
The issue has now been resolved, via the face-saving suggestion that the NFLPA* has decided it would be too cumbersome to negotiate deals for some or all of the 10 named plaintiffs in the Brady antitrust case. The more likely explanation is that, with a storm of criticism coming from players, some in the media, and fans, the NFLPA* realized that it wasn’t the best issue to have on the table at a time when the deal was so close to being struck.
And that’s one of the realities of the new media world in which we operate. As a PFT commenter pointed out, the twists and turns of the Reggie White antitrust action in the early 1990s weren’t covered and analyzed and reacted to in real time. Today, everything is subject to immediate assessment and scrutiny. And whoever was pushing this issue as of Tuesday grossly underestimated the extent to which the information would instantaneously trigger strong feelings that could be expressed just as instantaneously.