Green Bay Restaurant Owner, NFLPA President Discuss Lockout and Labor Negotiations

January 3rd, 2011

NFLPA President Kevin Mawae was joined by Jerry Watson, owner of the Stadium View Bar and Grill in Green Bay, Wis., during a conference call with national media to discuss the impact of an NFL owner-imposed lockout and talk about the ongoing labor negotiations between the players union and NFL. The call was hosted by George Atallah, NFLPA Assistant Executive Director of External Affairs. Here are some of the highlights from the call:

Open the Books

Mawae: “For owners to tell me – say it to my face across a bargaining table that we need 18% back in player salaries, but we don’t want to show you our books to prove why that’s such a problem for us, it’s hard for me to imagine that.”

Watson: “Why can’t they (NFL owners) open their books? If somebody comes in and they want to buy my bar, guess what I’m going to have to do in order to sell it? I’m going to have to show them the books.”

Mawae: “There’s many issues that are concerning to owners -the 18-game schedule, the rookie salary structure, all of the things that they’ve addressed to us we’ve addressed back to them and given them viable solutions for what their concerns are. But, not one time have they ever said, ‘You know what, we’ll show you our books to prove to you why it’s not working for us.’ And that’s a hard thing for myself and other players to understand.”

Watson: “If they won’t open them, you know what that tells a dumb old truck driver, i.e., me? They’ve got something to hide.”

Mawae: “Week-in and week-out players are hearing that the ratings are out of the roof for just a normal Sunday afternoon football game. You (NFL owners) can’t cry poverty and can’t cry economic hurt without actually proving it.”

Atallah: “I started my career on Wall Street at Goldman Sachs. Goldman Sachs also happens to work with the NFL and its teams. I would be hard-pressed to find a Goldman Sachs executive, especially in this environment today that would advise its clients to do any kind of business transaction without financial transparency. That’s the bottom line.”

NFL Owner-Imposed Lockout

Watson: “This place went from 5,000 square feet to a 25,000 square foot place because of one reason. Not because of my sweet smiling face, but because of the Green Bay Packers. We would not exist … our business would be one-third depleted just from the Packers not playing.”

Watson: “There’s nothing in this town, in fact the state of Wisconsin, I don’t think, that doesn’t revolve around the Green Bay Packers. It’s one-third of my business. It’s one-third of a lot of businesses in the area.”

Watson: “Game days, we go from a sleepy little town of 100,000 people to a bustling town of a couple hundred thousand people, and everybody’s here doing one thing, they’re spending money and that’s what keeps this economy going.”

Mawae: “We’re going to continue to harp to our players to save money and prepare their families. It’s going to be difficult for us to look at our players when they have no healthcare in March provided by the NFL, explaining to every one of the players why nearly $300 million has been taken out of their pensions and retirement funds for this years’ active players, and how do we make that kind of money up in the event that we do get locked out.”

Mawae: “The ideal situation would be to have a deal done before March 3, before the expiration of this Collective Bargaining Agreement that we’re in right now in order to prevent a lockout in the off-season and during the regular season. But, the further we go along in the process without getting it done then the more our players are digging in for the long-term effects of a lockout.”

Rookie Salary Cap

Mawae: “We offered a deal that would save them (NFL owners) $200 million, of which we asked that $100 million would go directly to former players in terms of retirement, pension and healthcare, but that they would have to guarantee that the other $100 million would be spent – 100% of the $100 million would be spent on active players, and they told us they could not guarantee that.”

Mawae: “In regards to the rookie [salary cap], it’s something that they’ve asked us to fix. It’s the problem that they created through the draft system and the way the owners have started paying the rookies. It’s their problem that they created, they’ve asked us to fix it, and we’ve addressed it.”

Link to Yahoo! Sports article on the NFLPA’s Proven Performance Plan HERE.

18 Regular Season Games

Mawae: “Our counterproposal was to significantly reduce the exposure of risk to our players in the off-season through shortened OTAS, mini-camps and training camps. In addition to that, we asked for better healthcare upon retirement of our players. At the point now, we only have five years of post-career medical health insurance. So, they’re asking us to add more [health] risk to what we’re doing, yet not increase the medical [benefits] that we get at the end of our careers.”

Owner Revenue Sharing

Mawae: “The greater problem that nobody’s talking about, that nobody in the media’s talking about, and that the owners are afraid to even bring up is that the revenue sharing system that they have is not working for them.”

 Mawae: “I sat across from the owners and had a couple of them tell me that, ‘I’m tired of piggybacking the guys that aren’t willing to spend money to make money.’ And so, until they start addressing that issue [amongst themselves] at a greater level, then they’ll always have problems.”

One Response to “Green Bay Restaurant Owner, NFLPA President Discuss Lockout and Labor Negotiations”

  1. Sandy Grant Says:

    Pay the players, what they deserve. I find it hard to believe that health care is only offered to them for 5 years. I don’t know anything about the business side of the NFL but, someones getting very rich. And even though many players do have multi-million dollar contracts, there are also several players, that do not make “bank”
    Hopefully, the players get what they need. I would hate to even think about a year without our team. GO PACK

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