Full text of memo from NFLPA to agents regarding March 11 meeting

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[Editor’s note: Throughout the past six days, I’ve had multiple conversations and other communications regarding a meeting that occurred on Monday, March 11 between a group of agents and a group of players, in conjunction with the NFLPA’s annual meeting. I spent roughly an hour earlier today writing a story about the meeting. NFLPA Executive Committee member Richard Sherman has taken issue with my characterization of the meeting and the memo issued to all agents by the NFLPA after the meeting, which suggests that the meeting did not go well. Thus, I have decided to post the entire memo, so that there is no misunderstanding. The full memo, with no edits or additions or changes, appears below.]

Dear Contract Advisors,

Congratulations and good luck to all of you during the start of this busy free agency period. In the first 48 hours of free agency, we have seen 79 deals totaling $1.7 billion dollars with $842 million guaranteed. We would also like to remind you that we are here for you and your clients to provide you with any information or counsel as you negotiate free agent deals with NFL clubs. Also, we are in the third-year of the 89% cash spending minimum period, and you should feel free to reach out to us for updates on where each of the clubs stand relative to that CBA requirement. We will be posting updates on social media (@NFLPA) about where teams stand in coming days.

As a continuation of the agent community’s request for more information and collaboration, we wanted to provide a recap of our NFLPA Board of Player Rep Meetings that recently concluded.

For three days, we had nearly 200 NFL players in Miami — our largest turnout ever — for intense discussions about how our Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is working, what we may want to change, how to maximize our benefits, and most importantly, how we prepare for the expiration of this current deal in March of 2021. The Executive Committee and Board learned about the history of the CBA, the Lockout in 2011, as well as the major economic portions of the CBA and its operation. We met seven (7) hours a day for three (3) full days so that the players fully understand their options as we prepare for the expiration of the current CBA.

Players are especially serious about preparing for the next round of labor negotiations, and our internal counsel and external counsel were included in all discussions. The meetings also included an auxiliary session where we invited a group of agents to interact with Board members and members of our Executive Committee. The attending agents were: Peter Schaffer, Christina Phillips, Jayson Chayut, Steve Caric, Pat Dye Jr., and Adisa Bakari. Approximately sixty (60) players attended that auxiliary meeting.

Players took to heart the call by this agent group to have a better working relationship and prepare for upcoming labor talks to make greater gains for players. It was in this spirit that they welcomed contract advisors to share their ideas on how we can work better together. During the meeting Peter Schaffer asserted that he represents the bulk – if not all – agents. As a follow- up to the small agent meeting in Indianapolis, players were keenly interested in hearing from the agents about their ideas to prepare for a work stoppage. While the agents who attended the auxiliary session mentioned educating players on the need to save, they offered no specific commitments to create savings plans or engage in specific debt reduction strategies.

The agents in the auxiliary session engaged in some discussion of their positions on certain CBA items like the funding rule and the franchise tags and seemed to be under an impression that those issues were not equally important to players. However, as we have done in previous years, those issues as well as other important issues had been discussed in-depth by players during their sessions throughout the three days of Rep Meetings. Like the agents, we agree that those are items that we would all like to improve and/or change. However, at the auxiliary session, players were dismayed by the lack of any input by the agents on “real world” options when the Owners are likely to push back strongly on changes to these and other economic and restriction issues. For example, there was no discussion on how we should collectively build leverage in order to substantially strengthen players’ ability to effectuate these changes and gains, and/or their plans to prepare players for a lockout or a strike. Rather, at times, the session turned into a lecture on why players “should” believe that these issues are important and almost suggesting that they had the unilateral ability to simply change them. Accordingly, there was a general feeling among the players that the agents came into the session grossly underestimating our players’ understanding of complex CBA/negotiating issues; many of the agents’ remarks focused on emphasizing their value in the CBA negotiation process, and thus the session was clearly not as productive as it could have been.

There was a portion of the meeting when one agent made an unfortunate remark that many players interpreted as extremely condescending, and during a rather heated exchange about the “roles” of the agents in this business, other agents specifically and personally targeted an Executive Committee member about the contract that he signed. The Player leaderships does not know which agents are members of Mr. Schaffer’s representational group, and it may become important that current players know who these agents are in light of some of the comments and information learned during the meeting (including the existence of a derogatory email extolling agents to publicly attack a current player and his decision to represent himself).

The agents also raised their opinion that there is a need to eliminate “inducements” – referring to payments by some agents to some entry level players. The agents did not take the opportunity to raise:

• agents’ fees;
• any ongoing concerns of the 1.5% default fee on the SRA; or
• the efforts of agents regarding continuing education.

One of the items of business that our player leadership implemented during the resolutions portion of Rep Meeting was passage of a resolution regarding “inducements” that agents wanted us to consider. We would like feedback from all agents regarding this issue, and a copy of that resolution is attached.

Following the auxiliary meeting, every member of the NFLPA Executive Committee voted to share the following statement:

“We do believe that agents can play an important role in helping to prepare our men for issues that matter to us, and we will continue to seek input, as we have in the past. We want to emphasize that contract advisors are, above all else, agents of this Player’s Union, and all agents owe a fiduciary duty to their clients and the collective body of players. The invitation extended to the agents to attend the auxiliary meeting was done in the hope of building better relationships and to provide a constructive conversation as we prepare for the expiration of the CBA. However, both the tone and specific statements by some of the agents showed an overall lack of understanding of the role of the elected player leadership and at times specifically demonstrated a lack of respect for the rights of players to represent themselves if they so choose.”

18 responses to “Full text of memo from NFLPA to agents regarding March 11 meeting

  1. I think the NFLPA is completely off their rocker if they are even slightly considering going on strike. There are several key reasons, and I’m shocked that the union representing the players is so far out of touch. First of all, only a small handful of the highest earning players can afford to go on strike. Many of the low earning players have family that depend on their income. Second, the NFL is forming a strong relationship with the AAF. That relationship could get even stronger as they contemplate “sharing” players. Many of the players in the AAF are just as good as the players on the back half of NFL rosters, and most of those AAF players would jump at any opportunity to play for an NFL team. The NFL players who would end up losing their jobs are the same players that won’t benefit from a strike. Third, the NFLPA always loses when there is a work stoppage, and now the NFL has more artillery (the AAF). Fourth, the fans generally side with the players, but when they go out on strike, the hard working fans, many of whom are working paycheck to paycheck, turn around and support the owners and resent the millionaire players. Fifth, the most watched programming on TV is NFL football. Don’t underestimate that relationship. The NFL has a strong hand. The minor leagues that cooperate with the NFL could get TV deals if the NFL thinks it can benefit from having strong minor leagues, with a lot of hungry replacement players. Sixth, if the NFLPA thinks they can organize the minor league players, those TV contracts could get cancelled with one phone call, and all those minor league players’ dreams would get washed down the drain. Last but not least, the games will continue, even if there is a players’ strike. What the players actually need is a new union. One that knows how to cooperate with NFL owners, rather than constantly getting whipped by them. The owners would give the players more money if they were approached with respect and dignity. That’s the way billionaires think. Try fighting them and you’ll lose every time. The players end up being the losers.

  2. So what.
    Let the players fend for themselves.
    What I read here is that ALL of them (players, agents, and the NFLPA) are just as GREEDY as they characterize the owners as being.

  3. The NFLPA should look at being in the business of being ”agents” for it’s members and therefore have the goals aligned. For now the goals of agents are really not close to being the same as those of the NFLPA.

  4. So hoping for a very long strike and the owners pay replacement players for a very long until forever.

    The NFLPA has gotten out of hand and they need a serious beat-down.

  5. With the AAF having players ready to pull from

    And the XFL likely having a Fall season option in case of a strike

    What EXACTLY do the players want in the Next CBA?????

  6. There are plenty of things for the players to be concerned about for the next CBA. Getting Roger out of the discipline game, for one thing. Bring on the independent reviews for everything. Quit testing for marijuana. I don’t know if the NFLPA has this on their radar, but given how short the average career is, better pay for new players would be good.

    I don’t understand the grousing about players. The NFL owners are making huge amounts of money and the players want to get a bigger piece of the pie. What’s so terrible about that? Most unionized employees’ CBAs last about three years. The fact that the NFL’s contracts are for 10 years means that bargaining is a high-stakes effort. This is just two parties getting ready to negotiate a big business deal. Nothing for fans to get angry about.

  7. Classic union tactics, making false promises and telling its members what they should be thinking.

  8. remizak says:
    March 17, 2019 at 5:26 pm

    There are plenty of things for the players to be concerned about for the next CBA. Getting Roger out of the discipline game, for one thing. Bring on the independent reviews for everything. Quit testing for marijuana. I don’t know if the NFLPA has this on their radar, but given how short the average career is, better pay for new players would be good.

    I don’t understand the grousing about players. The NFL owners are making huge amounts of money and the players want to get a bigger piece of the pie. What’s so terrible about that? Most unionized employees’ CBAs last about three years. The fact that the NFL’s contracts are for 10 years means that bargaining is a high-stakes effort. This is just two parties getting ready to negotiate a big business deal. Nothing for fans to get angry about.
    _____________________

    Getting the league Reduce the commissioner’s power when it comes to discipline, is never going to happen. Or will cost too much from the NLPA to justify.

    Completely eliminating testing for MJ will not happen till it becomes federally legal. And as it is, it’s an issue that only affects less than two percent of the union. Why would the union concede any for something affects less than two percent of its members? Besides, most of the players, around ninety-eight percent, only get tested once a year, at time known year round to all the players.

    The players are making a lot of money too. The salary cap has risen significantly since the last CBA. Since 2014, the cap has risen $10-12m every year. While during the ten years that preceded the current CBA, the rise was only $4-7m each year. Both parties, owners & players, have benefited greatly from the current CBA.

  9. Personally I think unless something drastic happens between now and then this CBA negotiation will include a long work stoppage because this is a time when the players pay and the salary cap has been increasing faster than ever before. And it comes at a time when there are a lot of teams that can’t fill their stadiums on game day. Look at about ANY Chargers home game, they can’t even fill a 27,000 seat stadium and if they do it’s because 50% of the fans are their opponents fans. Or how about the Ravens Wild-card game where the mid-tier was 50-60% empty and the upper deck was 80-90% empty = FOR A PLAYOFF GAME! And then there’s the Bucs who can’t even give tickets away! And I saw a lot of games from week 12 to week 17 where the home team had a chance at making the Playoffs and yet the stands weren’t anywhere close to being full.

    The players demanding more money couldn’t be at a worse time, a time when too many teams can’t fill the stands and if anyone thinks the owners will just roll over and give the players even more money when a lot of the owners have declining revenue(in seat sales and consessions), well guess what, IT AIN’T HAPPENING!

  10. Steve Cunningham says:
    March 17, 2019 at 9:54 pm
    Personally I think unless something drastic happens between now and then this CBA negotiation will include a long work stoppage because this is a time when the players pay and the salary cap has been increasing faster than ever before. And it comes at a time when there are a lot of teams that can’t fill their stadiums on game day. Look at about ANY Chargers home game, they can’t even fill a 27,000 seat stadium and if they do it’s because 50% of the fans are their opponents fans. Or how about the Ravens Wild-card game where the mid-tier was 50-60% empty and the upper deck was 80-90% empty = FOR A PLAYOFF GAME! And then there’s the Bucs who can’t even give tickets away! And I saw a lot of games from week 12 to week 17 where the home team had a chance at making the Playoffs and yet the stands weren’t anywhere close to being full.

    The players demanding more money couldn’t be at a worse time, a time when too many teams can’t fill the stands and if anyone thinks the owners will just roll over and give the players even more money when a lot of the owners have declining revenue(in seat sales and consessions), well guess what, IT AIN’T HAPPENING!

    1 1 Rate This
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    The NFL isn’t a ticket driven league, they make their money from the broadcast rights. Under the current deals each team makes $255 million in broadcast rights. Which is up 150% since 2010. And with ABC looking to get back in the game this will rise again when the current contracts expire.

    So basically every team has all of their football costs (salaries, benefits, travel costs etc.) paid for by just the TV deals. Teams aren’t locking players out due to ticket sales, and the players aren’t going on strike over ticket sales, because either of those things happening could upset where they make their real money from. There’s a reason they voted to end all TV blackouts.

  11. “Dear Contract Advisors”??

    Did the job title of agent somehow become offensive and I missed it, or is this the union’s image advisors trying to make an offensive point?

  12. did anyone else see that Birmingham-San Diego game on NFL Network last night? That was just as exciting as any good NFL game. My heart was pounding and I was legitimately excited when Novak made that field goal!

  13. Just read your original post and with the exception of specifically naming Sherman as the Executive Committee member that negotiated his own contract (which we all knew), I don’t see where he could find any fault with how the meeting was represented. I don’t understand what he’s upset about other than like you said, this is something the owners are relishing. Ever since Malcolm Butler slammed the door on his face, Richard really has been acting a bit irrationally.

  14. Follow the Kaep clown show with a strike and just see what happens to the league. The NFL is big business, but most people don’t identify with a bunch of overpaid cry babies or any union activity whatsoever.

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