Archive for January, 2011

Dan Rooney Not In Favor of 18 Regular Season Games

January 21st, 2011

Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney was in Pittsburgh Friday afternoon and commented on the current state of NFL labor negotiations and expansion to 18 regular season games. Judy Battista of the New York Times tweeted:

Steelers chairman Dan Rooney has arrived from Ireland. Weighs in on labor. Still doesn’t like 18 games. “I would rather not have the money.”

Rooney expressed his concern about the lack of progress in negotiations with a small group of reporters, but also noted the league’s continued success.

“The games this year couldn’t be better. The ratings are high. So why would you step back?”

Regarding a lockout, Rooney said “We should not let the disruption of next season happen,” and added, “The players, of course, want to play, and that’s what should happen.”

Rooney, a Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee in 2000 and current United States Ambassador to Ireland, has been instrumental in labor negotiations for over three decades. He is considered in league circles as the key piece that brokered the 1976, 1982 and 1993 Collective Bargaining Agreements.

Players across the league are opposed to the 18-game expansion. The current 16 game season already exposes players to repeated opportunities for injury, and lengthening the season would only increase injury potential and likely shorten the average NFL player’s career. 

“The 10-year guys you won’t see any more, except for your quarterbacks. The running backs, you’re really going to see a short lifetime span. The season’s just too long,” said Pittsburgh wide receiver Hines Ward in a September interview. The future health of the league and its players may be in jeopardy.

Goodell Discuses Labor Situation With Jim Rome

January 21st, 2011

On Thursday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell went on ESPN’s “Rome is Burning” to discuss the labor situation. Among his responses to Jim Rome’s questions were that the two sides need to have more productive sessions and “round-the-clock” talks are necessary to get a deal done before a lockout goes into effect March 4.

NFLPA President Kevin Mawae said recently he’s proposed a “lock-in,” where the two sides would mutually lock themselves into a hotel or conference room, and hammer out a deal. 

During the interview, Goodell referred to the rookie wage scale that rewards “unproven rookies” with large contracts as “out of whack.” What he didn’t reveal is that the union already proposed an alternative to the rookie wage scale—called the Proven Performance Plan—which the league rejected.

He also said that the league is working to ensure that players play the game “as safely as possible.” With several Chicago Bears players noting the poor condition of the field at Soldier Field—site of this Sunday’s NFC Championship Game—fans can make the call. The commissioner often cites steps taken as “necessary for the game,” while the union is proactively protecting the players’ rights and working conditions. Does the league care more about the product or the players?

Players still want to know: How does an 18-game schedule make the game safer for them?

Forty days remain until the owner-imposed lockout begins. NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith met with Goodell Wednesday in New York. To watch Rome’s interview with him, click here.

With Lockout Looming, Players Visit Capitol Hill

January 20th, 2011

As the NFL owner-imposed lockout looms over the 2011 season, the NFL risks losing fans that follow the sport at all-time high levels of popularity. Players of the NFL have said publicly that they just want to play football next season and beyond. The economic impact a lockout would have across America is undeniable.

Players visited Capitol Hill on Wednesday to meet with members of Congress and explain to them the negative consequences an NFL lockout would have in cities across the country—affecting far more than just owners and players. Many media outlets covered the players’ trip to Capitol Hill.

For more coverage, click here.

NFL Players, Fans Use #LETUSPLAY Day To Make Statement

January 18th, 2011

On Tuesday, the NFL Players Association hosted a social media event, Let Us Play Day.  The online movement combined different social media platforms, spreading the message from players to fans that they just want to play.

Hundreds of NFL players showed their solidarity by re-tweeting the following message:

“Today is #LETUSPLAY Day. Help #NFL Players & Fans #BlocktheLockout. Visit NFLLockout.com and sign the Petition.”

Troy Polamalu, Ray Rice, Maurice Jones-Drew, Darnell Dockett, Steven Jackson, Anquan Boldin, Ricky Williams, Nick Mangold, Takeo Spikes and Matt Hasselbeck were among the players spreading the word on Twitter to sign the petition to block the lockout.

NFLPA Player Board Members Hamza Abdullah and Bruce Gradkowski were at the NFLPA headquarters for New Rep Orientation and were excited to join the conversation on Twitter.

@HamzaAbdullah21: #LockoutMeans instability, my wife & children are looking to me for answers that I don’t have, #LETUSPLAY

@HamzaAbdullah21: “#LockoutMeans stores that support football might close & players want football just as much as the fans, #LETUSPLAY

@bgradkowski5: A lockout to the fans would mean no more fantasy fball!! Monday mornings would be miserable! & my life would be boring! #LETUSPLAY @NFLLockout

Fans also showed their concerns about life without the NFL.

@JoeGoodberry: #lockoutmeans nothing for fans to talk about in the offseason. No player trades. No free agency. No camps. #LETUSPLAY

@niftyfoodie : Football is the only sport I watch and care about. Don’t even think about taking it away! #LETUSPLAY

@SB_MikeMay#lockoutmeans if the World Series sucks as bad as last year, have no choice but to watch…nothing else on, #LETUSPLAY

NFLPA President Kevin and NFLPA Assistant Executive Director of External Affairs George Atallah took the time to answer questions from fans on Ustream and Twitter.

@haynesd: In the end, do you think the negotiations are bringing owners and players closer or just creating a bigger divide? #LETUSPLAY

@NFLLockout: Kevin Mawae- Meetings are not productive when someone says to you “none of your business”

@Seminolefinatic when would be the soonest we will know something regarding the CBA?

@NFLLockout We’d prefer sooner rather than later. Right now, 44 days to go is the unfortunate reality.

The response for this social media blitz was so great that hashtag #LETUSPLAY was a worldwide trending topic for more than 3 hours this morning. 

Thank you everyone for your support of the players, fans and NFLLockout.com.

To view the  complete Ustream/Twitter chat with Mawae and Atallah, click here.

NFL Owners On The Record

January 18th, 2011

As NFL owners meet Tuesday in Atlanta, speculation continues on whether or not a deal with players will be reached by the March 3rd deadline.  While NFL owners try to maintain a united front, the fact is they have expressed differing opinions when it comes to issues involving the Collective Bargaining Agreement.  Here is a breakdown of some contrasting statements made by NFL owners:

Optimistic Owners- CBA done by March

Arthur Blank (Atlanta Falcons)

“We remain confident that a new agreement can and will be reached.”1/3/10

Robert Kraft (New England Patriots)

“I want to assure our fans and everyone else that I’m doing everything within my power to try to help to see if there isn’t a way we can’t have labor peace before the season ends. In my mind, it’s possible and actually something that should happen. – 11/28/10

Wayne Weaver (Jacksonville Jaguars)

“I know we’ll get a deal done. Will it be before a March deadline? I would think so. I would hope so. But if not, we’ll (still) get a deal done. There are enough pressure points.”12/19/10

Pessimistic Owners- CBA done by March

Jerry Richardson (Carolina Panthers)

 “I personally am not as optimistic as some are that we are making much progress.”1/4/11

John Mara (part-owner, New York Giants)

 “It’s hard to say [if a deal is going to be reached]. It really is. I have a history with labor negotiations and you just never know.”1/4/11

Stephen Ross (Miami Dolphins)

“All owners want to see the labor negotiations to be concluded and we don’t have to worry about missing a game next year. Right now, it’s out of everybody’s hands. I don’t know what’s going on personally. We’re briefed, but there are some negotiations. I don’t think it is fast enough, hopefully they’ll be concluded satisfactorily for both sides.”11/17/10

Optimistic Owner- Lockout Consequences

Jerry Jones (Dallas Cowboys)

 In the web-only version of a 60 Minutes interview featuring Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, reporter Scott Pelley asked Jones if a lockout would be “disastrous” to the league.

“No.  I do not.  But I know that the sentiment is not to have a lockout.” 12/10

Pessimistic Owners- Lockout Consequences

Bill Ford (Detroit Lions)

Ford did not offer a forecast on when an agreement might be reached, but he said “that would be awful” if the talks carried on to the point that some of the regular season games had to be canceled. – 1/7/11

Steve Tisch (part-owner, New York Giants)

“Nobody wants to see a locked out season.  Especially the fans, the ownership, and the players.” 1/4/11

Robert Kraft (New England Patriots)

“The whole ripple effect of the NFL and the impact, it wouldn’t be good. We collectively would lose a billion dollars, even if we played every game but we had this vacuum from the end of the season until the beginning of September.” -  11/28/11

Optimistic Owners- 18-Game Season

Jerry Jones (Dallas Cowboys)

“I am very much for the 18-game season.  I think the nature of how you would prepare for those 18 games would have less physical impact than we have now.  – 9/1/10

At the end of the day I think we will be going to 18 games, but certainly with the positive input of players” – 9/1/10

Stephen Ross (Miami Dolphins)

“The additional games, the studies show will not really increase injuries”11/16/10

Pessimistic Owners- 18 Game Season

Bill Ford (Detroit Lions)

“Obviously, on the one hand, nobody likes the preseason much, with four games. On the other hand, the toll it takes on a player to play 16 games will increase that much more with 18 games. So I don’t know where this is going to end. That is one I can’t predict.”1/7/11

#LETUSPLAY Day USTREAM/Twitter Chat with Kevin Mawae and George Atallah

January 18th, 2011

Participate in a discussion about the current issues surrounding the potential NFL Lockout in 2011 with Assistant Executive Director of External Affairs of the NFLPA George Atallah, NFLPA President Kevin Mawae, and more during Let Us Play Day on January 18, 2011. Submit questions to them via @NFLLockout or on Facebook.com/NFLLockout

Or follow us on Twitter @NFLLockout and on Ustream

NFLPA Execs Hold Conference Call to Discuss Labor Dispute

January 14th, 2011

NFLPA executives Kevin Mawae (NFLPA President), Jeff Saturday (NFLPA Executive Committee and Indianapolis Colts), Richard Berthelsen (NFLPA General Counsel) and George Atallah (NFLPA Assistant Executive Director of External Affairs) hosted a conference call with national media to discuss the ongoing labor negotiations between the players union and NFL. Here are some of the highlights from the call:

Lockout

Saturday:  “Players want to play, so we’re not doing anything until we’re locked out by the owners. Everything that we would have to do would be because owners put us in a situation to have to react”

Mawae:  “I proposed early on that instead of having these talks about lockouts that management has been pushing onto the players that we do a lock-in where we sequester ourselves and our bargaining units in a hotel somewhere and just stay in that hotel until it gets done, and that request was turned down by management.”

Mawae: “I do believe 100% that our players are more united now than they ever have been in the history of this NFL.”

Berthelsen: “The word lockout was never even in the NFL’s vocabulary until Mr. Batterman came aboard.”         

Berthelsen: “Any suggestion that we want a lockout is coming from outer space.”

Open the Books

Jeff Saturday: “We want fans to have a game, we want players to have a game, we want this thing to be done and be completed. And until the owners open their books or come up with a proposal that we can accept and move on and move forward, all we’re doing is reacting. We are waiting. We are literally waiting on the owners.”

Let Us Play

Mawae: “I want our fans to know that as players we want to be on the field. We don’t want a lockout. We didn’t ask for this, we didn’t opt out of the deal, and we are committed to getting a deal done, but it takes two sides to get a deal done and do it the right way.”

Saturday: “We want to keep playing. And until the owners lock the doors and don’t let us in, every one of our guys is going to show up, and be ready, and be ready to play games.”

Atallah: “Let us play or tell us why we can’t … The players have said they are ready to play and lace up and strap up come March in training camp and everything. Take a lockout off the table.”

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