Archive for February, 2011

Documents in TV Contracts Case Now Public

February 25th, 2011

The NFLPA and NFL presented arguments to US District Judge David Doty in Minneapolis Thursday as the Players Association appealed a previous ruling by Special Master Stephen Burbank.

The NFLPA challenged a somewhat split ruling handed down by Burbank Feb. 1, saying the NFL clearly negotiated television contracts without using “good faith” and “best efforts” to achieve deals which mutually benefitted Players and owners during the term of the Reggie White settlement agreement (SSA). As part of the SSA, which governs the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Players allow the NFL to negotiate contracts on the Players’ behalf. Since the money from those contracts are part of the Total Revenues shared between the owners and Players, the Settlement Agreement obligates the NFL to use its best efforts to maximize revenues.

However, in 2008 and 2009, the NFL reopened its network contracts and demanded new lockout payment provisions – meaning the networks would have to pay the NFL during the 2011 season even if no games are played, and the NFL could repay the networks over the life of the contract. Therefore, the NFLPA asserts that when the NFL built its $4 billion “Lockout Insurance” fund, it violated its obligation to the Players by acting in complete self-interest and leaving money on the table.

The objection shows the NFL intended to use this guaranteed money as leverage over the Players as owners pursued a new CBA. The original complaint was filed in June, 2010.

After Thursday’s hearing and in line with a motion filed by the NFLPA, Doty released to the public redacted versions of Burbank’s ruling and the NFLPA’s objection to the public. The Feb. 1 ruling by Burbank, was released for the first time Thursday. According to the Associated Press: “Doty only agreed to a redacted release out of respect for commercial confidentiality of the TV contracts. Many figures and details are blacked out, though a few noteworthy nuggets emerged from the unsealing.

Burbank’s opinion is available in redacted form HERE.

Also according to the Associated Press: “The NFLPA’s objection to Burbank’s ruling includes testimony from Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones that says the league needed to ‘realistically assume’ a lockout to get a CBA it wants. It also includes chart-style NFL memos that acknowledge a ‘strengthened position in labor negotiations’ as reasons for redoing the broadcast contracts.”

The NFLPA’s objection is available in redacted form HERE.

As Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated writes, “The players would be in a tough spot if Doty rules against them because, contrary to popular perception, this is not a battle of billionaires versus millionaires. On average only a handful of players on each team make $1 million or more each year. The league knows this — just as clubs know which of their players are strung out financially and have taken advances on future salaries. With a $4 billion war chest, teams could find it easier to hold out and squeeze players.” Trotter was in court Thursday, and his full story can be read here.

The full Associated Press story can be found here.

What Does an NFL Lockout Mean to You? Pt. 2

February 24th, 2011

NFL Fans and Players tell us what a Lockout Means…What does a Lockout Mean to you? Send us your video telling us What the Lockout Means — or post a comment here, or on Facebook or Twitter. Or make your own video and get it to us through those channels!

Statement by FMCS Director Cohen on NFL, NFLPA Talks

February 24th, 2011

Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011
For Immediate Release

WASHINGTON — One week ago, the National Football League and the National Football League Players Association accepted the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service’s invitation to conduct their continuing negotiations under my auspices, together with Deputy Director Scot Beckenbaugh. Because of the number and importance of the unresolved issues, I recommended and the parties agreed to a bargaining schedule commencing last Friday and continuing for seven consecutive days, through today.

Our time together has been devoted to establishing an atmosphere conducive to meaningful negotiations and, of course, matters of process and substance. I can report that throughout this extensive period the parties engaged in highly focused, constructive dialogue concerning a host of issues covering both economics and player-related conditions. The tenor of the across-the-table discussions reflected a noteworthy level of mutual respect even in the face of strongly held competing positions. The parties met both in full committee and in subcommittees where discrete, technical issues lent themselves to smaller groups.

At bottom, some progress was made, but very strong differences remain on the all-important core issues that separate the parties. Nonetheless, I recommended and the parties have agreed to resume the mediation process in my office commencing next Tuesday (March 1). During the intervening weekend, the parties have been asked by us to assess their current positions on those outstanding issues.

I have shared the terms of this release with the parties, and they have authorized me to represent that it accurately reflects the course of mediation to date.

Due to the extraordinary sensitivity of these ongoing negotiations, the FMCS will refrain from any public comment while the mediation process continues and, further, I have requested and the parties have agreed to do likewise.


National Geographic Puts Spotlight on Brain Trauma

February 23rd, 2011

National Geographic recently published an article on brain trauma and the long term effects of concussions. The article by Luna Shy shows that repetitive small blows to the head could lead to brain degeneration and long-term behavioral and cognitive problems.

Over the past six years, University of North Carolina researchers have complied impact data from the University’s football team. On average, a UNC football player received 950 hits to the head in a season. A college season consists of 12-13 game regular season games with the possibility of a post season game and daily practices.  The current NFL schedule consists of a 16 game regular season with four preseason games and the opportunity of up to four post season contests in addition to practices. NFL players can be exposed to up to ten more games and over 500 more hits to the head than the average college player.

What troubles researchers is the fact that small hits may cause as much damage as large ones. “What’s come to the fore is the risk of repetitive minor hit injuries,” said Hunt Batjer, co-chair for the NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee.

According to the report “Dangers of the Game: Injuries in the NFL,” Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI) is the most common specified injury type in the game and the second most common overall in the NFL.  MTBI as a share of total injuries increases each week as the season progresses. Lengthening the regular season will expose players to an increased chance for injury, which in turn exposes them to increased risk of long-term brain injury.

While there have been changes in the monitoring of concussions, continued research and education about MTBI is needed. The NFL has begun testing new materials and technology for helmets, but until the safety of players have been ensured, it‘s difficult to find justification for expanding the regular season and putting players at an increased risk of brain injury.

Read the National Geographic article here.

NFL Super Fans Forum on Ustream Video

February 21st, 2011

Check out the video of the Ustream NFL Super Fans Forum from earlier today. NFL super fans from all over the country gathered to talk about the pending NFL Lockout and participated in a live Ustream chat with NFLPA officials.

NFL Super Fans Forum on Ustream

February 18th, 2011

Who: NFL super fans and NFLPA officials

What: NFL super fans from all over the country will gather to talk about the pending NFL Lockout and participate in a live Ustream chat with NFLPA officials. The goal is to raise awareness, get fans involved and inform them of the facts concerning a NFL lockout. Several super fans in select NFL cities will host “Lockout Lockdown” parties during the Ustream chat. In addition, any fan with Internet access is welcome to join the Ustream chat.

When: Monday, February 21, 2011 from 3 p.m. – 4 p.m. EST (Ustream Chat)

Where: Ustream –  Fans, be sure that you have a Ustream account and are logged in so that you may ask questions in the “Chat” feed.  More information on the “Lockout Lockdown” locations, times and specials can be found HERE.  

Contact: Jillian Ricard or DolFanJill (Twitter)

The History Of The NFL’s Bargaining Techniques

February 17th, 2011

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