Archive for October, 2010

New York Times: NFL PAC Gave Nearly $600,000

October 28th, 2010

The New York Times yesterday ran an Associated Press story detailing the NFL’s recent financial contributions to lawmakers “that could pay off during a looming dispute with the players union.”

 “The National Football League’s political offshoot handed out almost $600,000 in campaign cash in its rookie election cycle,” according to the AP report.

 The NFL’s political action committee, “Gridiron PAC,” has made donations to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, both the House Minority and Senate Majority leaders and the chairmen of the House and Senate judiciary committees, who oversee the league in numerous capacities, as well as several other influential lawmakers.

 These donations, “along with other individual contributions from owners and league executives,” come at a time when NFL owners are preparing to lock out players and fans next season. The NFLPA does not have a political action committee, but continues to tell lawmakers of the extremely negative impact a lockout would have on their own communities and economies. It is estimated that more than 150,000 jobs would be impacted by a lockout and cause more than $140 million in lost revenue in each NFL city.

 “The union wants Congress to use its leverage to help prevent a lockout. The NFL, by contrast, wants Congress to butt out,” wrote the AP.

 The NFL has stated that they believe these labor negotiations are private discussions and do not want members of Congress to help the cause. Joe Browne, a senior adviser to commissioner Roger Goodell, told the AP, “We have not asked (Congress) members to do anything to help bring these negotiations to a conclusion.”

 Browne, however, also appears to contradict the NFL’s claims that it doesn’t want Congress’ help. Said Browne, “Commissioner Goodell believes we have a responsibility to our owners and our employees to represent their interests the best we can in Washington.” 

  For the complete story, click HERE.

Huffington Post: In Coming NFL Labor War, Remember That Players Bear All the Risk

October 27th, 2010

The Huffington Post ran an article today written by Jonathan Weiler stating that the real risk in football doesn’t lie with the owners, it’s with the players.

 “The risk in the NFL is all on the side of the players,” Weiler said. “They are the ones who exist in an intensely competitive market for talent. And they are the ones who put their bodies on the line every day.

 “It’s the players, not the owners who, in football especially, but to lesser degrees in other sports, risk the possibility of a lifetime of pain and discomfort or, as the evidence about the long-term effects of brain trauma increasingly shows, depression and suicide (and those realities the NFL spent many years denying).”

 Added Weiler, “Incompetent owners may cost their team wins on the field, but they will still make a killing off the field.”

 Weiler’s main point throughout the article focuses on the false image that the NFL, owners and some members of the media continually try to impose on the public. 

 “They (NFL owners) assume virtually no risk, earn massive sums of guaranteed money regardless of the product they put on the field and still feel a need — with the indispensable aid of Commissioner Goodell — to distort basic facts about the nature of sports economics and their own profitability.”

 Though some journalists have suggested that the ongoing labor dispute is a fight between millionaires and billionaires, Weiler rejects that framework of thinking.

 Weiler points out that the average player tenure in the league is 3.6 years — though he mentions that the “median” age is likely far lower — and for every highly paid player, “there are dozens of players who may make the league minimum for the short duration in which they play in the league.

 “And given the significant long-term health problems that many NFL players face, the impact of those problems on their job prospects, the bills they owe, those few years of good earnings can evaporate quickly. No NFL owner is ever going to be out on the street.”

 For the complete Huffington Post story, click HERE.

Dave Zirin on MSNBC: “The number one problem is the books are closed”

October 26th, 2010

Dave Zirin, a sports writer and the host of Sirius XM satellite’s Edge of Sports Radio, appeared on MSNBC’s The Dylan Ratigan Show to discuss how team owners, specifically in the NFL, are ruining the game for both players and the fans.

 Zirin addressed a variety of topics, including the impact of the owners’ opaque business practices while expressing his concern for the league’s handling of player safety and disregard for former players’ health care. 

 Ratigan got the discussion started by saying, “Owners want a billion-dollar cut in player compensation in part to offset costs of new mega stadiums like the new $1.6 billion dollar New Meadowlands stadium.”

 What the owners aren’t saying is that players already have contributed to stadium costs through the G-3 program. With $960 million of the players’ money directed to the New Meadowlands stadium alone, it’s understandable why the players would have a hard time accepting salary cuts without more information.

 Zirin cited the number one problem dividing team owners and players is the NFL’s refusal to open its books.

 “How more opaque can you get then them (owners) saying we’re losing money but we’re just not going to show you the books,” noted Zirin. “Take our word for it and even though your average playing career is three-and-a-half years and you die two decades before the typical American male, trust us.”

 Zirin also pointed out the fact that NFL owners will still make billions even if there is no football played next year. Combined with the savings from not having to pay player costs, team owners clearly are willing and able to ride out the storm of a lockout in 2011.

 To view the video, click HERE or below.

Stand As One – Photos

October 21st, 2010

For more photos»

Destination: Lockout Island

October 18th, 2010

Fans, players and sponsors sure aren’t happy with the direction NFL owners are steering things…

Wall Street Journal Sheds Light on NFL’s Labor Strategy

October 13th, 2010

Under the headline, “NFL Braces for a Costly Labor Fight,” the Wall Street Journal reported today that “the lack of progress on a new contract with the players union had already begun to create financial losses.” 

The financial losses referenced in the WSJ article were outlined in a recent NFL report presented to team owners during a private meeting Tuesday at the league’s annual fall owners’ meeting. 

According to the WSJ, who spoke with two senior league officials that had access to the NFL report, “even if a deal were reached late next summer that allowed the league to play the entire season, total losses could reach $1 billion.” 

Ironically, the $1 billion figure is almost equal to the amount NFL owners asked back from the players without justification earlier this year during labor talks. 

The WSJ cited the share of league revenue as one of the key sticking point in current negotiations between owners and players, but also confirmed with NFL officials that “every team is profitable.” Considering team owners voted unanimously in 2008 to opt out of the current CBA early, the question remains as to why the owners continue to stall towards reaching an agreement on a new contract. 

“The NFL’s statements and disclosures come at a time when progress in negotiations has stalled,” noted the WSJ. “They also represent the first time the league has laid bare some of its internal financial estimates.” 

With NFL owners continuing to make moves towards locking out the players in 2011, the WSJ shed some light on the negotiating strategy NFL owners could use in upcoming labor talks with the players union. 

“NFL officials said that if the league can’t agree with the players on a new collective-bargaining agreement soon, the league’s future proposals to the union are likely to get worse rather than better.” 

The NFL’s outside counsel, Bob Batterman, instituted a similar labor strategy of insisting players accept a terrible deal now or receive even worse deals later down the road, while representing the NHL’s owners during the longest lockout in sports. 

Should the NFL’s owners decide to lock out players starting in March, more than half the owners’ costs will go away. In addition, more than half of the owners’ revenues will be guaranteed in a lockout due to the roughly $4.5 billion cushion the league’s television contracts provide. 

It is estimated that more than 150,000 jobs would be impacted by a lockout and cause more than $140 million in lost revenue in each NFL city. So, who stands to lose the most in a lockout?

For the complete WSJ story, click HERE.

October 13th, 2010

The players and fans didn’t ask for this fight. The players want to play football. This is a LOCKOUT, not a STRIKE. Players did not opt out of the CBA early. Players did not hire the same lawyer that locked out hockey to represent them. Players did not renegotiate television contracts to guarantee revenues even if there are no games. Players did not opt out of funding assistant coaches’ pension and benefits programs. Players did not hire two former NFLPA Presidents in an attempt to divide and conquer. Players did not want to fundamentally change the competitive balance of the NFL by entering into an uncapped year. Players did not pursue a Supreme Court case seeking anti-trust immunity to control things such as free agency. Players did not short-change their revenue sharing obligations to small market teams.
Players are focused on making sure that the NFL games are staged in 2011 without interruption. The NFL players have pledged to the fans.
We are men, and we are family men who love our country, our game and our fans.
As we face an uncertain future and the threat of being locked out of the game we love and rely on to provide for our families, we make to you this solemn promise:
To the Players who have come before us, fought and paid the price for pensions, health care and free agency — to men like John Mackey, Alan Page, Dan Marino, Freeman McNeil, Boomer Esiason, Reggie White and Kevin Mawae;
To the stadium workers, officers, businesses and everyone who gets their hands dirty working for this game;
To each and every player who risks everything for the thrill of this game;
To everyone who loves this game and lives as we do for kickoff;
And to the few who stand against us;
The Players and fans will STAND AS ONE.

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