The Players Respond

March 19th, 2011

The players respond to the letter NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sent to all NFL players on March 17.

March 19, 2011

Roger Goodell
Commissioner
National Football League
280 Park Avenue

New York, NY 10017

Dear Roger:

This responds to the letter you sent to all NFL players on March 17. 

We start by reminding you that we were there at the negotiations and know the truth about what happened, which ultimately led the players to renounce the NFLPA’s status as the collective bargaining representative of NFL players.  The players took this step only as a last resort, and only after two years of trying to reach a reasonable collective bargaining agreement and three weeks of mediation with George Cohen of the FMCS.  At all times during the mediation session we had representatives at the table with the authority to make a deal.  The NFL representatives at the mediation did not, and the owners were mostly absent.

The mediation was the end of a two-year process started on May 18, 2009, when our Executive Director sent you a letter requesting audited financial statements to justify your opting out of the CBA (letter attached).

The NFLPA did all it could to reach a fair collective bargaining agreement and made numerous proposals to address the concerns raised by the owners.  In response, the owners never justified their demands for a massive give-back which would have resulted in the worst economic deal for players in major league pro sports.

That is why we were very troubled to see your letter, and repeated press reports by yourself, Jeff Pash, and the owners, which claim that the owners met the players halfway in the negotiations, and that the owners offered a fair deal to the players.

Your statements are false.

We will let the facts speak for themselves.

  • The proposal by the NFL was not an “a la carte” proposal.  The changes in offseason workouts and other benefits to players were conditioned upon the players accepting an economic framework that was unjustified and unfair.
  • Your proposal called for a pegged amount for the salary cap plus benefits starting at 141M in 2011 and increasing to 161M in 2014, regardless of NFL revenues.  These amounts by themselves would have set the players back years, and were based on unrealistically low revenue projections.  Your proposal also would have given the owners 100% of all revenues above the low projections, including the first year of new TV contracts in 2014.  Your offer did NOT meet the players halfway when it would have given 100% of the additional revenues to the owners.
  • As a result, the players’ share of NFL revenues would have suffered a massive decrease.  This is clear by comparing your proposal to what the players would receive under the 50% share of all revenues they have had for the past twenty years.
  • If NFL revenues grow at 8% over the next four years (consistent with Moody’s projections), which is the same growth rate it has been for the past decade, then the cap plus benefits with our historical share would be 159M in 2011 (18M more per team than your 141M proposal) and grow to 201M per team in 2014 (40M more per team than your 161M proposal).
  • Your proposal would have resulted in a league-wide giveback by the players of 576M in 2011 increasing to 1.2 BILLION in 2014, for a total of more than 3.6 BILLION for just the first four years.  Even if revenues increased at a slower rate of only 5%, the players would still have lost over 2 BILLION over the next four years.  These amounts would be even higher if your stadium deductions apply to the first four years (your proposal did not note any such limits on these deductions).
  • We believe these massive givebacks were not justified at all by the owners, especially given recent projections by Moody’s that NFL media revenues are expected to double to about 8 BILLION per year during the next TV deal.
  • Given that you have repeatedly admitted that your clubs are not losing money, the billions of dollars in givebacks you proposed would have gone directly into the owners’ pockets.  We understand why the owners would want to keep 100% of this additional money, but trying to sell it as a fair deal to the players is not truthful.
  • You proposed a CBA term of ten years.  But you did not include any proposal on the players’ share of revenues after the first four years, which left open entirely how much more the owners would have taken from the players.
  • The owners continued to refuse to give any financial justification for these massive givebacks.  Our auditors and bankers told us the extremely limited information you offered just a few days before the mediation ended would be meaningless.
  • Your rookie compensation proposal went far beyond addressing any problem of rookie “busts”, and amounted to severely restricting veteran salaries for all or most of their careers, since most players play less than 4 years. What your letter doesn’t say is that you proposed to limit compensation long after rookies become veterans — into players’ fourth and fifth years. As our player leadership told you and the owners time and again during the negotiations, the current players would not sell out their future teammates who will be veterans in a few short years.
  • Your proposal did not offer to return the 320M taken from players by the elimination of certain benefits in 2010.  It also did not offer to compensate over 200 players who were adversely affected in 2010 by a change in the free agency rules.  Your letter did not even address a finding by a federal judge that you orchestrated new television contracts to benefit the NFL during the lockout that you imposed.
  • You continued to ask for an 18 game season, offering to delay it for only one more year (you earlier said it could not be implemented in 2011 no matter what due to logistical issues).  This was so even though the players and our medical experts warned you many times that increasing the season would increase the risk of player injury and shorten careers.
  • All of the other elements you offered in the mediation, which you claim the players should have been eager to accept, were conditioned on the players agreeing to a rollback of their traditional share of 50/50 of all revenues to what it was in the 1980′s, which would have given up the successes the players fought for and won by asserting their rights in court, including the financial benefits of free agency the players won in the Freeman McNeil and Reggie White litigations more than 20 years ago.
  • The cap system for the past twenty years has always been one in which the players were guaranteed to share in revenue growth as partners.  Your proposal would have shifted to a system in which players are told how much they will get, instead of knowing their share will grow with revenues, and end the partnership. 

You had ample time over the last two years to make a proposal that would be fair to both sides, but you failed to do so.  During the last week of the mediation, we waited the entire week for the NFL to make a new economic proposal.  That proposal did not come until 12:30 on Friday, and, when we examined it, we found it was worse than the proposal the NFL had made the prior week when we agreed to extend the mediation.  At that point it became clear to everyone that the NFL had no intention to make a good faith effort to resolve these issues in collective bargaining and the owners were determined to carry out the lockout strategy they decided on in 2007. 

We thus had no choice except to conclude that it was in the best interests of all NFL players to renounce collective bargaining so the players could pursue their antitrust rights to stop the lockout. We no longer have the authority to collectively bargain on behalf of the NFL players, and are supporting the players who are asserting their antitrust rights in the Brady litigation. We have heard that you have offered to have discussions with representatives of the players.  As you know, the players are represented by class counsel in the Brady litigation, with the NFLPA and its Executive Committee serving as an advisor to any such settlement discussions. If you have any desire to discuss a settlement of the issues in that case, you should contact Class Counsel.

Sincerely,

Kevin Mawae
Charlie Batch
Drew Brees
Brian Dawkins
Domonique Foxworth
Scott Fujita
Sean Morey
Tony Richardson
Jeff Saturday
Mike Vrabel
Brian Waters

Cc:      All NFL Players

10 Responses to “The Players Respond”

  1. Kgilly52 Says:

    Wow.. The owners are THIEVES

  2. Phil Says:

    It will be interesting to see how the final numbers, whenever they will be agreed upon, will compare to the numbers proposed by the owners right now.

  3. Ron Varney Says:

    Roger Goodell and ownership, as a fan of football it is the players who make the exciting plays and place their bodies on the line week after week. So to shame them by offering them less at the 11th hour I say ‘shame on you.’ Apologize to the players by offering them a real good faith offer and stop lying in public on how good you are to the players. Put up and shut up, now.
    Ron Varney

  4. Buffalo Soldier Says:

    That’s right don’t let the owners screw you guys…stand up and fight for your rights…..can I borrow a couple dollars from one of you guys

  5. Ben Ransom Says:

    This pointing fingers gets more ignorant as the days go by. Fans are only interested in football, not the arguments between millionaires and billionaires… this is ridiculous, but if you want to keep football away from the fans, then we will show how much we appreciate you by staying away.

  6. Niels Schroeter Says:

    The players deserve a major share of the upside. It’s their bodies and quality of life that are put on the line every time they suit up. The owners need to come to grips with this.

  7. Tadd Morganti Says:

    Great job players!!! Keep up the fight!

  8. Tracey Says:

    I’m a big fan of the Nfl and what they are doing to the players is really wrong they waitted to the last min.. To do antthing and left the players in the dark.. What kind of ppl would do that.. the more games you have the injuries will happen and the players who do there best and get hurt… So I dont know what they are doing in the office,, But its not doing any good to help the players out they need to come to and agreement with the whole NFL teams and not think of themself .. There are alot of players who will lose alot if they keep pushing them.. I would keep pushing back and dont give up cos if the owners cant even face the players then what kind of season are we gonna have if any .. NO LOCKOUT this is the only sport I watch and look forward to watching every year win are lose..

  9. BARBER Says:

    WELL,LOOKING FORWARD TO 2012.BECAUSE IF THE OWNERS DON’T RELIZE HOW IMPORTANT THE QUALITY OF PLAYERS AND THEIR WELL BEING IS TO THE SPORT,THEN THIS SPORT WILL NEVER BE THE SAME.

  10. Accessteam Says:

    Ben Ransom has it right. There is NO excuse for punishing the FANS who provide the billions of dollars of revenue everyone is fighting over. You guys are going to kill the Goose. I haven’t gone to a baseball game since the strike and fear I am going to lose my second favorite sport forever becasue if the season is affected, I will NEVER watch another NFL game and hope no one else does either.

Leave a Reply

NFL Lockout Petition

  1. Do your part as a fan and help us lift the lockout by signing this Petition
  2. (required)
  3. (valid email required)
  4. Terms & Conditions
 

cforms contact form by delicious:days

Press