Jun 2, 2011
We promised ourselves we would stay away from the NFL labor situation in the FG Daily, mostly because there was no real news to report and we would end up just saying the same thing over and over again. Well, that kind of changed today, so we figure it’s worth mentioning, and it comes when there’s little else to talk about, as well…
NFL, NFLPA participate in “secret” meeting… In perhaps the biggest labor negotiation news since March, representatives from the NFL and NFLPA, including Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith, met face-to-face in Chicago on Tuesday and Wednesday, and it certainly wasn’t just for a slice of deep-dish pizza (although we can’t confirm whether or not there was pizza present). The significance of this meeting is obvious: this was an unplanned, non-court-ordered session of labor talks, that was so secretive even several NFL owners did not know about it, and there were NO LAWYERS (outside of Smith) present. And the news of the meeting began to leak out slowly last night, when the subtle form of transport used by Jerry Jones (a private plane with the Cowboys logo on the tail) was spotted at a Chicago airport. While reports say that a deal is still a ways away, it’s important to realize that this meeting came just days before the Brady v. NFL hearing in the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, and a window to get a fair CBA done for both sides might be in the few weeks before the Court actually rules on the owners’ appeal (which most believe the owners will win).
So, if the owners have the perceived leverage, why negotiate now? Remember, they made an offer at the last mediation sessions, and perhaps the players want to make a conscientious effort to respond to that offer in good faith. And honestly, if the sides care about the fans’ perception – and there are reasons to believe they do and reasons to believe they don’t – this could be the last chance for both sides to come out winners in the court of public opinion. Say the players lose the appeal, as expected, and there is no sign of a deal in sight. Smith could look like the misguided leader who forced his players down a futile path, while Goodell could look like the power- and money-hungry hulk who wants to crush the players out of spite, even at the expense of the NFL season. Even if the owners win the appeal and Goodell eventually (the key word) scores his owners a favorable CBA, his legacy could forever be tarnished. There is incentive, right now, to get this done on both sides. With official mediation in front of Judge Arthur Boylan beginning next week, do we have some light at the end of the tunnel? This is as good a sign as any that Smith realizes his plan might not work out as expected.
And just for kicks, remember that the 1998 NBA Lockout was settled with a similar all-night meeting between David Stern and Billy Hunter. Pressure is the ultimate negotiating tool.
- Would-be free-agent QB Alex Smith once again says he expects to re-sign with the 49ers.
- The Bills will own the NFL’s worst uniforms no longer. They will officially unveil a new uniform on June 24, and it’s expected to be an “updated throwback” look, much like the Chargers did a few years ago. So who now has the worst unis in the NFL (this does not count throwbacks)? My nominees: Vikings, Bengals, Patriots, Titans, Seahawks, Broncos, Falcons.
- Joe Dolan