De Smith on Roger Goodell’s handling of changes to conduct policy: “He lied”

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With still four years to go until potential labor strife, the relationship between the NFL and the NFL Players Association seems as strained as ever.

In an interview with Bryant Gumbel that debuts Tuesday night on HBO, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith addresses among other things the changes to the Personal Conduct Policy that happened after various high-profile off-field incidents in 2014.

Asks Gumbel, “When Roger Goodell can stand up there as he did and say, ‘We’re drafting a new NFL Personal Conduct Policy. We’re gonna do so in conjunction with the union,’ and then doesn’t consult the union, comes up with a new policy, that says what?”

Responds Smith, “That says he lied.”

(NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told HBO: “We repeatedly tried to engage the union but they had no interest in developing a tough and enhanced personal conduct policy.”)

Smith’s beliefs on that point suggest that the relationship between the two men isn’t good.

“He has a job,” Smith said. “And I have a job. My relationship with Roger I would argue is irrelevant.”

But does Smith trust Goodell?

“I don’t have the luxury of trust, now do I?”

Ideally, there would be mutual trust between management and labor, in any industry. Folks can disagree on fundamental issues regarding the business but ultimately be willing and able to believe what the other side says. Without that, every single thing about managing the relationship becomes harder.

Here’s how it creates real problems within the context of negotiations. If, in theory, Goodell and Smith were to talk through issues informally and Goodell or Smith were to tell the other that a proposed deal or term is acceptable and then, for whatever reason, fails to deliver a binding agreement on that point, it becomes impossible for agreements to be reached in expedient fashion between two men who: (1) should know what’s best for their constituencies; (2) should be able to make tentative commitments on behalf of their constituencies; and (3) should be able to deliver on finalizing those terms.

As more broadly applied to labor negotiations, a lack of trust forces each side to constantly read each and every letter of each and every page of each and every written document that reflects agreement made at the table, not simply to confirm that the deal says what it says but to scan for any intentional additions or omissions that alter the deal in a non-obvious way. Those tactics aren’t uncommon in business relationships, but when those things happen, it’s hard to trust.

Making it even harder for the NFLPA to trust the NFL is the skirmish that emerged in early 2016, when the league was caught with its hand in the revenue-sharing cookie jar.

“The players have seen examples over and over and over now of them skirting the rules, of them trying to go around something that was clearly intended, clearly written in a certain way,” NFLPA president Eric Winston told PFT Live at the time. “Whether it’s in personal conduct, whether it’s financial matters. I mean those things ring very loudly to players, and I field a lot of calls about this. I field calls from former players, from current players about this, and they’re upset. I mean, one of those things that go right to the core of our business is money and you can’t take from somebody and expect not to be some hard feelings, expect to be upset. It hurts everything going forward and it’s unfortunate.”

From conduct to money, these specific examples underscores the NFLPA’s belief that “trust but verify” has been replaced with “don’t trust and verify, verify, verify.” And that attitude definitely complicates things as the next round of CBA talks approaches.

38 responses to “De Smith on Roger Goodell’s handling of changes to conduct policy: “He lied”

  1. How does De Smith still have a job? If the NFL is jacking around the NFLPA is because Mr Smith is weak and ineffective

  2. kcchefs58 says:
    August 19, 2017 at 12:05 pm
    The NFL does lacks consistency and does shady things, but all the NFLPA does is consistently whine in hindsight.

    5 1 Rate This

    ——

    way to sound like a lawyer sitting on the fence

    when solving a problem, you seek out the instigator and source
    of the problem

    if goodell is lawyering and lying constanty hiding behind the
    lawyers language and moving on the goal posts, how is that
    the uinon’s fault?

  3. It’s in the NFL’s best interest to keep De Smith in charge of the NFLPA because he is so ineffective dealing with them. He completely blew the last negotiations.

  4. Roger lied? Has he ever told the truth?

    1 0 Rate This

    Oh look another Whiny Pats fan…..who would have thought?

    If it wasn’t adversarial it wouldn’t be normal…..but gee can’t we enjoy football without this already?

  5. For all the screaming, De Smith hasn’t made a credible case the CBA has in any way not been beneficial to playrs. The good of the game is what matters most. De Smith should recognize it’s OWNERS who spend the money and take the risks and his complaint about a $100 million fund that wasn’t clearly marked for anything is a little disingenuous. Stop complaining about a commissioner who chances are will be gone by 2019.

  6. Lets be real here – this whole charade is orchestrated by the NFL for the benefit of the paying public. The NFLPA are cut from the same cloth as the guys on the other side of the table – its just a little pantomine to make it look like the NFL actually has opposition.

  7. His is not Roger Goodell’s fault. This is the fault of the players and YOU! It was the players that didn’t save their money and couldn’t stick out the strike. Players like Vince Young had to take out these high interest loans to stay afloat. It was the players telling YOU to get a deal done to get out of this problem. You guys agreed to allow Roger Goodell to have all this power. You all voted on it. You nobody to blame but yourself. Look into the mirror.

  8. Why aren’t the league and the union working now to come up with a replacement for the CBA? It sounds like Smith is determined to have a strike regardless of whether or not the league is willing to negotiate. The owners are, for the most part, billionaires.The income from their teams is inconsequential to them.If they lost the income from an entire season, it wouldn’t make much difference to them as long as the value of their franchise didn’t fall too much.Are the players willing to lose an entire season’s pay? Remember that the guy who make veterans minimum or just a bit more, have the same vote as the guys pulling down millions. Will Le’veon Bell or Antonio Brown share their largess with the guys in the trenches? I think not.

  9. tylawspick6 says:
    August 19, 2017 at 12:17 pm
    kcchefs58 says:
    August 19, 2017 at 12:05 pm
    The NFL does lacks consistency and does shady things, but all the NFLPA does is consistently whine in hindsight.

    5 1 Rate This

    ——

    way to sound like a lawyer sitting on the fence

    when solving a problem, you seek out the instigator and source
    of the problem

    if goodell is lawyering and lying constanty hiding behind the
    lawyers language and moving on the goal posts, how is that
    the uinon’s fault?
    —————————
    The NFLPA agreed to the CBA and have been complaining about it ever since. It is always the NFL’s fault, according to them. I haven’t once heard the NFLPA take responsibility for it.

  10. Smith seems to forget that the NFL doesn’t have to get along with the union, but the union does have to get along with the NFL

  11. I hope that the NFLPA walks out this year, and, stays out until they get everything they can dream of. That way, some members of the sports media can celebrate and be happy.
    Also, they, the NFLPA should boycott any and every game played that does not have Kaep starting. Then, the sjws and NAACP can be overjoyed.

  12. lynnko says:
    August 19, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    Smith seems to forget that the NFL doesn’t have to get along with the union, but the union does have to get along with the NFL

    —–

    Then why have a CBA at all?

    I am assuming you’re kidding and that’s a joke. If not, you’re clearly someone with a very low IQ.

  13. The NFL has no respect for the players association. Just think the owners knowingly conspired
    with each other to illegally cap salaries in the last year of the prior collective bargaining agreement.
    They knew that at the end of negotiations they could leverage the players and force them to
    sign a releases from any labor violations as a condition to end the walkout. The NFLPA
    gave in and also gave in on the conduct issues.
    Perhaps the Players association should have been able to forensically determine that the teams
    we’re enforcing a secret cap and file charges with the Labor department which would have
    reversed or at least limit the owners leverage during the last CBA negotiations.but they did not.
    The bottom line is that in old days the players could count on some owners to be reasonable.
    Owners like Dan Rooney would do what’s best for the league.. Paul Taglibue valued labor peace
    as a central theme during his tenure.
    Roger Goodell is completely different. His focus is on revenues and allegedly protecting the
    shield. He is incapable of accepting compromise or of making admissions he is wrong.
    He will never really work with the NFLPA.

  14. This isn’t the NFLPA complaining about the CBA. This is the NFL breaking the CBA and the NFLPA catching them and having a court hold them accountable. How is that not the fault of the NFL? How is it whining about the CBA? SMH

  15. The NFLPA is a complete joke and Smith has been a complete failure as it’s leader . The time to talk tough was at the last CBA negotiation not with 4 years left in the contract . Thinking Smith is starting to feel the heat for the botched CBA so he’s trying to reinvent himself from a meek failure into a tough , no nonsense guy to keep his job .

  16. It is amazing that the conduct of maybe 5% of the players is creating such a huge issue. One would think the 95% that don’t break the law would be upset that these efforts aren’t spent on more worthwhile initiatives. Just shows how bad of a union the NFLPA is. Worst in sports.

  17. Smith ALWAYS wants to make it fight. If the NFLPA is unhappy with the current agreement it’s because Smith is terrible at his job. Upshaw, God rest his soul, was a man that got great things accomplished by working WITH people, not against them.

    How Smith still even has a job is beyond me.

  18. Imagine that !!! Roger lied…after dozens of suspensions and investigations that have effected the outcome of several games. Goodells not just the problem . The CBA the NFL players Union and the NFL owners agreed to is the issue and nothing can change till that does….

  19. monkeesfan says:
    August 19, 2017 at 12:39 pm
    For all the screaming, De Smith hasn’t made a credible case the CBA has in any way not been beneficial to playrs. The good of the game is what matters most. De Smith should recognize it’s OWNERS who spend the money and take the risks and his complaint about a $100 million fund that wasn’t clearly marked for anything is a little disingenuous. Stop complaining about a commissioner who chances are will be gone by 2019
    —–
    You have no earthly idea, not a clue about what you’re yapping about. Please list all these so called “risks” the owners are taking. The way the NFL CBA is written almost all the risk has been eliminated from owning an NFL team. Did you know that before any revenue is shared with the players the first $1.5 billion goes to the owners for infrastructure costs? Did you know that most owners also receive public funding of some sort for their stadium?

    So please tell list for us all what risks are owners taking? Even poorer performing teams are guaranteed additional revenue via revenue sharing. The NFL also has antitrust exemptions to protect it from lawsuits something few businesses enjoy. No other business I can think of is as insulated from risk as an NFL team.

    If you want a league with risks you would have to look at the EPL soccer league where your team can get regulated to a lower division and there aren’t multiple protections built in such as salary caps to keep player salaries in check.

  20. De Smith is the pot calling the kettle black. These guys should just get in the ring. Goodell lied? Doesn’t sound like it here.

  21. I’m just tired of both these sides whining and complaining and shaking their tallywhackers at each other. Just shut up and do your jobs, which is to keep the players, the game, the fan base and the cash flow healthy. All you do by this public pissing match is tear down what you’re supposed to be protecting. We get it; labor and management don’t agree. Well then, start talking NOW about the important things and quit whining about you agreed to years ago.

  22. I have been posting this response 3-4 times an hour for 6 hours:

    monkeesfan says:
    August 19, 2017 at 12:39 pm
    The good of the game is what matters most. De Smith should recognize it’s OWNERS who spend the money and take the risks and his complaint about a $100 million fund that wasn’t clearly marked for anything is a little disingenuous.
    ________________

    Someone was disingenuous about that $120M alright but it wasn’t Smith. To this day it’s hard to fathom how that wasn’t a bigger story or how Goodell survived it. What other non equity holding CEO would have survived defrauding a business partner of $120M? The CBA is very specific about what can be excluded from the shared funds pool and the category in question was completely made up. At the time league spokesman Brian McCarthy characterized it as a “technical accounting issue under the CBA involving the funding of stadium construction and renovation projects.” If that were the case why in his own arbitration did Goodell rule it was legit forcing the issue to Special Master Stephen Burbank? “Technical accounting issue” is incredibly similar to the bs Haslam’s outfit tried to sell when their scam first came to light and something the league didn’t buy as an excuse from the Broncos when they were cheating the cap.

    BTW, I give all credit to owners like Lamar Hunt, Debartolo, Wellington Mara, Ralph Wilson and others that ponied up money to keep the league and even other teams afloat back when there was no guarantee of a profit but since the advent of the cap today’s owners are guaranteed a profit.

  23. FrameGate is the most clear example. The evidence exonerates Brady. Science explains why PSI drops in the cold. But science could never explain it if it stayed the same as Roger insists it should have.

    After stating the NFL would take PSI throughout the 2015 season, the NFL renegged on that and refused. Anyone who believes otherwise is in favor of Making America Gullible Again.

    All any NFL fan wants is to have a fair game and even playing field. When the NFL trumps up charges to bench Brady for 1/4th a season to help other owners get a shot at a Championiship, that’s tantamount to fixing games.

    Roger Goodell = the NFL’s own Blacksox scandal. That’s his legacy – and that of the corrupt owners.

    If they want a new CBA they’d better fire Goodell before they even bother with negotiations.

  24. We, as fans of the NFL and our own particular team, are interested in basically only in a few things. Watching good football with friends and family. cheering for our team, Celebrating when they win and dejected when they lose.

    Listening to Smith bitch about the CBA is ridiculous. We don’t care you have a bone to pick with the NFL… you negotiated the fricking deal. NFL players, deservedly so, make a ton of money. It’s a short-term career for most, but if reasonably intelligent, can have a great start in setting thier families up for life.

    If you want to gripe, do it directly to the NFL. We, as fans, do not want to hear your constant whining and threats. All we want is good football. And don’t forget… we pay all your damn salaries. Got it?

  25. Nofoolnodrool says:
    August 19, 2017 at 12:22 pm
    Roger lied? Has he ever told the truth?

    1 0 Rate This

    Oh look another Whiny Pats fan…..who would have thought?

    If it wasn’t adversarial it wouldn’t be normal…..but gee can’t we enjoy football without this already?

    ————

    And yet another thread with you “whining about Pats fans”….. Face it…..it doesn’t matter, a Mike Tomlin coached team is not going to beat a BB coached team

  26. 6thsense10 – you ask me to name the risks NFL owners are undertaking – it’s called spending the money to own the teams. The owners are the ones spending the money so they and their players and coaches can make the money; and keep in mind the salary cap keeps going up – meaning the owners are paying players more and more. “Almost all risk has been eliminated from owning an NFL team.” It has? The $100-plus million debt of the Oakland Raiders suggests that isn’t entirely true (and also that by the time the Raiders skedaddle to Vegas they will have a new ownership group), and the fact owners are the ones spending the money to make the money is by definition taking the risks. Antitrust exemptions are irrelevant here. That $100 million issue DeMaurice Smith complains about wasn’t (and isn’t) a clear cut case of anything; Smith’s assertion is ex post facto chest beating.

    “Did you know that most owners receive some kind of public financing (for stadiums)?” Yeas and it’s irrelevant here. The fact the salary cap keeps increasing shows the players in objective fact are benefitting from the present CBA.

    This is about hissy fits driven by hatred of Roger Goodell, and they’re right to hate Goodell – he indeed thinks in terms of marketing, revenue, and his own thin-skinned hatred of anyone who actually disagrees with him. People don’t realize, despite that five-year extension story that’s circulating, how Goodell is in fact not that popular with the owners anymore than he is with players (Hub Arkush noted this in one of the season preview magazines while Sally Jenkins has noted how owners have been quietly undermining Goodell via front office hires over his head and covert negotiations with the NFLPA for a new personal conduct policy).

    Hissy fits, though, are never good policy, and the fact the owners and players are in this together shows they need to work together and eliminate any prospect of a stoppage.

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